HEAT: Post-exercise Hot Water Immersion Elicits Heat Acclimation Adaptations That Are Retained for at Least Two Weeks
Heat acclimation can be a challenge for athletes who need to race or compete in hot climates. There are multiple factors that make an acclimation period difficult to plan: the training conditions, the practicalities of heat acclimation (at home or at the race venue), the duration of the acclimation period, and the need to time this effectively before a race. This study tested the effectiveness and duration of retention of a heat acclimation protocol finding:
Heat acclimation adaptations from post-exercise HWI are retained for at least 2-weeks. As such, for athletes who reside in temperate conditions, taking a hot bath following routine training on six consecutive days during the pre-taper phase represents a simple, practical and effective heat acclimation strategy.
PRACTICAL TAKE AWAY - it is possible to acclimate at home.
NUTRITION: Commercial Hype Versus Reality: Our Current Scientific Understanding of Gluten and Athletic Performance
There have been many different opinions shared on the gluten-free diet and it's impact on sports performance. This study tries to get to the bottom of the details and understand what's true and what's just hype:
Recent explosion in the prevalence of gluten-free athletes, exacerbated by unsubstantiated commercial health claims, has led to some professional athletes touting gluten-free diet as the secret to their success. Forty-one percent of athletes report adhering to a gluten-free diet (GFD), which is four-fold higher than the population-based clinical requirements. Many nonceliac athletes believe that gluten avoidance improves gastrointestinal well-being, reduces inflammation, and provides an ergogenic edge, despite the fact that limited data yet exist to support any of these benefits.
PRACTICAL TAKE AWAY - "Current limited evidence does not support the performance or health benefits of a [gluten-free diet] for [non-celiac athletes]. Adoption of this diet should be carefully deliberated and prescribed under appropriate medical and/or dietetic guidance."
RACING: The Science Behind Competition and Winning in Athletics: Using World-Level Competition Data to Explore Pacing and Tactics
"The purpose of this study was to examine whether World Championship and Olympic medallist endurance athletes pace similarly to their race opponents, where and when critical differences in intra-race pacing occur, and the tactical strategies employed to optimally manage energy resources."
The study looked at the performance in multiple different events from 800m all the way up to the 50km race walk. I found the pacing strategies of the longer events particularly interesting:
In the women's marathon and men's 50 km racewalk, the pace differs between medalists and non-medalists from the start onward, changing the competition in terms of pacing and tactics more into an individual time-trial type events than head-to-head style competition. This inevitably means the dynamics of the competitive and tactical challenges in the race change with the style of event pacing.
However, it is also evident in events such as the marathon and racewalks, particularly among women, that the pacing trajectories of medalists vs. other athletes can take completely different paths from the start of the race, indicating the specific impact of opponents on each race distance is likely to be different across race distances. As such, some races might be less about direct impacts of head-to-head competition than being more akin to contested time-trial performances.
PRACTICAL TAKE AWAY - for longer races (the kind of races I'm interested in) a time-trial type performance may be optimal.
RECOVERY: Cold-Water Immersion Does Not Accelerate Performance Recovery After 10-km Street Run: Randomized Controlled Clinical Trial
Cold water immersion, or ice baths, or lying in a river (if you're a trail runner) are suggested a means to aid recovery after hard training. This study aimed to test whether or not it is CWI is beneficial for recovery:
The effects of CWI are unclear in the literature and, although the number of street runners has been growing, there is a gap in the scientific evidence regarding the use of CWI to recover runners' performance after a 10-km street run.
10-min CWI at 10°C was no more effective than water immersion and rest in recovering muscle damage markers after 10-km runs.
PRACTICAL TAKE AWAY - an ice bath is probably not helping your recover.