All of the studies I've shared (~600 studies) are available on my RESOURCES PAGE.
The weekly summary is also available in my Substack newsletter - Endurance: Ideas + Implementation.
THIS WEEK'S QUICK SUMMARY:
- any type of resistance training improves middle-aged runners running economy.
- 10 years of ultra-marathon running did not appear to negatively affect runners' hearts.
- orthotic insoles may increase comfort and running speed.
- caffeine, odours, music and extrinsic motivation may reduce mental fatigue.
- conservative pacing in an uphill and downhill race appears to be optimal.
STUDY DETAILS -
- To assess the influence of three types of resistance training interventions on running economy (RE), ankle propulsive function, and Achilles tendon (AT) stiffness in middle-aged runners.
- 26 middle-aged runners (51±5 yrs) participated in one of three different 10-week resistance training interventions:
- heavy resistance training (HRT)
- heavy resistance training + plyometrics (HRT+P)
- endurance resistance training + plyometrics (ERT+P)
- Absolute and relative running economy and peak isometric plantarflexor torque improved over time with no interaction or group effects.
- Resistance training, regardless of type, improved running economy and isometric plantar flexor strength for middle-aged runners.
PRACTICAL TAKEAWAY - resistance training is a useful means of improving running economy in middle-aged runners.
Resistance training has been shown to help ultramarathon runners specifically in uphill marathons. Previous research I shared suggests that 12 weeks of 3 sessions/week of plyometrics could improve the cost of running for ultramarathon runners. If you search for "strength" on the resources page there are many other studies into running economy and resistance training.
PHYSIOLOGY: Echocardiographic Assessment of Left Ventricular Function 10 Years after the Ultra-Endurance Running Event Eco-Trail de Paris® 2011
STUDY DETAILS -
- The aim of our study is to evaluate the 10-year evolution of the parameters of the left ventricular systolic and diastolic functions of amateur subjects regularly practising ultra-endurance running events using resting echocardiography.
- 66 participants who participated in the 2011 edition of the Eco-Trail de Paris® were contacted by e-mail. Demographic data, sports practice, and the results of an echocardiography scan carried out during the year 2021 evaluating left ventricular systolic and diastolic function variables were collected.
- Over the past 10 years, the participants reported having completed an average of 4 ± 2 ultra-trails per year. No significant differences were observed between left ventricular diastolic and systolic echocardiographic parameters between the years 2011 and 2021.
- Among amateur participants, long-distance running is not associated with an alteration in the echocardiographic parameters of resting left ventricular systolic and diastolic function after 10 years of practice.
- These results suggest a potential adaptation role of the cardiovascular system to regular and moderate long-distance running practice.
PRACTICAL TAKEAWAY - 10 years of training and racing for ultra-marathons did not appear to have a negative impact on heart function.
It appears that the heart adapts to different forms of exercise with structural changes. In addition, Nick Tiller shared this study which suggests "There are a multitude of health benefits from exercise and these are very unlikely to be outweighed by any small risk of arrhythmias."
STUDY DETAILS -
- To investigate whether running with Aetrex Orthotics improves comfort and performance and reduces injury whilst running.
- Runners were recruited on a voluntary basis if they were 18 or older with no serious health conditions, ongoing foot pain or deformity, previous foot surgery in their lifetime or any surgery in the past 6 mo.
- Participants in the intervention group ran with Aetrex L700 Speed Orthotics, whilst participants in the control group ran without orthotics.
- Participants in the intervention group reported higher comfort scores and faster running speeds than those in the control group.
- This preliminary report provides evidence for orthotics use in increasing comfort levels and running speed.
PRACTICAL TAKEAWAY - this study suggests that orthotic insoles may increase comfort and running speed.
In the discussion we had on Twitter, it appears that flat-footed athletes seem to use orthotic insoles more and that Sidas, Superfeet, and Sole are the preffered brands.
PHYSIOLOGY: How to Tackle Mental Fatigue
STUDY DETAILS -
- The objective of this review is to provide an overview of the different mental fatigue (MF) countermeasures currently explored in literature.
- Countermeasures were classified by the timing of application (before, during or after the moment of MF) and type of intervention (behavioural, physiological and psychological).
- Within the physiological countermeasures it seems that the use of odours during a MF task or caffeine before the MF task are the most promising interventions in combating MF.
- Promising behavioural (e.g., listening to music) and psychological (e.g., extrinsic motivation) countermeasures of MF have also been reported.
- The present systematic review reveals that a wide range of countermeasures have been found to successfully counteract MF on a subjective, (neuro)physiological and/or behavioural level. Of these, caffeine, odours, music and extrinsic motivation are the most evidenced for countering MF.
PRACTICAL TAKEAWAY - caffeine before and music or extrinsic motivation may help with mental fatigue. These may be things to try in an ultramarathon to enhance performance.
PACING: Uneven but Conservative Pacing Is Associated With Performance During Uphill and Downhill Running
STUDY DETAILS -
- To investigate the relationship between pacing strategy and performance during uphill and downhill running—specifically, what distribution of energy corresponds to faster race finish times between and among participants.
- Eighteen years of race data from a 10.2-mile running race with an uphill first half and a downhill second half were analyzed to identify relationships between pacing and performance.
- A pacing coefficient (PC), equal to a participant’s ascent time divided by finishing time (FT), was used to define each participant’s pacing strategy.
- PCs were positively associated with faster FTs and better finishing positions.
- PCs above .600 were associated with the fastest average FTs and best average finishing position within age and gender categories.
- Participants performed the best when energy expenditure increased no more than 10.4% during the uphill portion compared to their overall average.
PRACTICAL TAKEAWAY - conservative pacing in an uphill and downhill race appears to be best.