Thanksgiving race, off to Portland, and should we trust Pro coaches just because they're pro's?

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This will be a kind of update post on everything.

HS runners: It was a crazy end of the season. At state, as a team they got 2nd which was a nice improvement. Coming in, getting 3rd was pretty much what we'd expected so moving up one place, the best placing in school history, was a pretty big accomplishment. Individually, the top guy, Ryan had his first and only off day all season. I think the pace/heat got to him.

Then the following week I was home for the Nike South meet. The course was almost completely mud so it made for an interesting race. Team wise, we were slightly off and got 4th. It was mostly due to the fact that some of the guys are not good mud runners, and when the depth isn't the best, that hurts. They all ran tough though and did the best they could on the day. Unfortunately, as a team they are in the same spot as last year, having to hope for some at large bid to nationals. Individually, Ryan ran an incredible race to win and upset the #2 ranked runner in the nation. Ryan was in the zone and it was one of the most impressive races I've ever seen. So, ryan is off to portland for sure as an individual, and I'll be making the long trip out there to watch him. An article on him is here

My racing- A couple days later on thanksgiving I ran the Run Thru the Woods 5 miler. I made it 3 for 3 for the fall road racing with a win over the 5+mi course. There was solid competition and I ended up winning in 24:36, about 10sec ahead of Adam Davis. The course, as always, was long, and they directed us to go the wrong way so who knows how much that added on. If we use the 3rd place finishers (Sean Wade), Garmin GPS data it comes out to about a 23:55-24:00 for 5mi. I felt really good during the race and it felt pretty relaxed. We went out pretty conservative in about 5min and stayed that way until the last 2mi. I threw in random surges to see how everyone was doing throughout but didn't really start moving until the last bit. Again, using the GPS data, my last mile was about 4:28-30ish, so a nice close.

That's probably it for my fall racing. We're gearing up for indoors now and to take a shot at qualifying for USA indoors in New Mexico. For now, I'm back in Va. after a great thanksgiving, then off to Portland next week to stay with Alan in the altitude house and watch Ryan tear it up at nationals.

As some have asked, I will post the HS guys training once Ryan's finished up with his season.




Do the Pro's know best?
I'm doing some research on periodization of training for my thesis and in doing so came across some research done in regards to figuring out what strength and conditioning coaches did in pro sports. Now, I know that you can not grasp a program in just a survey, but it does provide some interesting info.

In 2001, 26 of NFL strength coaches responded to a survey. Of those 26, 8 did not follow a periodized training program...Are you kidding me?? (most of the non-periodized program followed the crazy HIT training...)

Compare that to the MLB in 2005, 18 of 21 coaches followed a periodized strength program.

Lastly, in the NHL in 2004, 21 of 23 coaches followed a periodized strength training program.

Antioxidants=Overated

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Just a quick congrats to the HS guys for placing 2nd at the state meet this past weekend. Not a perfect race due to the tough conditions but as a whole they did what they had to to get on the podium and reach the highest place in school history. Off to NTN regionals next!


I've been wanting to write something about this for a while but haven't quiet had the time. It's a topic I want to delve into more completely, but for now this short review will have to do.

Antioxidants are everywhere. They are being portrayed almost as a super cure. Are they good things? Yes. But once again we underestimate our body.

The villain in this battle is Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS), or as called in the press, free radicals. These ROS are the enemies. All sorts of claims have been made about how bad these things are and a whole industry has arisen around the good guys, antioxidants, which get rid of the ROS. Some have gone so far as to warn about the effects of intense aerobic exercise because it increases ROS. Once again, we have a situation where we initially overemphasize and overeact to a discovery.

Recently, more and more research has come down the line that show that ROS aren't necessarily as bad as we initially thought. FOr a good, but complex, summary of the findings, read this journal article:
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2745747/pdf/12263_2009_Article_131.pdf

Combining the findings that ROS are stimuli for signalling pathways for adaptations with what I talked about last blog, that glycogen depletion is a stimuli, you have to wonder about some of our accepted nutrition practices.

Should we be trying to minimize glycogen depletion/ROS with nutrition during or right after a workout? I don't know the answer, and it is certainly a complex one, but in certain situations I'd say don't. I've already talked about glycogen depletion, but how many times do you see people taking antioxidants right after a workout or even a mixed drink with antioxidants during. Could this have some sort of impact on the signalling pathway? Definately, but how much and what exactly is unknown at this time. My general recomendation for antioxidants would probably be to not take any during training and probably not immediately after a workout. A short time post workout might aid in recovery once the signalling is under way. (Quick Note: I'm talking about large doses such as a Vitamin C supplement, not those found in natural foods such as fruit.)

This goes further than just glycogen depletion and ROS. Remember that some sort of damage or buildup is often the stimulus that leads to adaptation. Another example is that muscle tearing is huge in hypertrophy. The key thing to take away is to remember what your stimulus is for the workout and what you are trying to accomplish. Often times, fatigue or its by products are the keys to subsequent adaptation. Minimize them in a race. But maybe not in practice.

Evidence for Doubling, training in glycogen depleted state

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One of the topics that has generated a large amount of response on this blog has been on the debate over singles versus doubles. I thought I'd share some of the current research that may explain why doubles provide a benefit.

Some researchers have suggested that training in a fatigued state may enhance subsequent adaptations. It has been found that training in a glycogen depleted state enhances gene transcription of several markers of training adaptation (Yeo et al. 2008, Hansen et al. 2005). Low muscle glycogen amplifies the activation of signalling proteins (in particular AMPK and MAPK for those who are interested). Both of these proteins help control gene transcription, which ultimately result in adaptations like increased mitochondria.


In two studies on training every day versus training twice every other day, increases in enzyme activity have been more significantly increased in the twice every other day group. In the study by Hansen et al., they used knee extensor exercises with one leg being trained every day and the other twice every other day (2005). The twice every other day leg should significant better time till exhaustion at the end of the training, along with the increased enzyme activity.

In the study by Yeo et al., they compared two different groups using cycling as the means of training (2008). The groups performed either easy or interval training, with the every day group alternating each day between hard and easy. The twice every other day group performed an easy ride early, then the interval session. In their study glycogen content, fat oxidation, and CS and HAD enzyme activity were higher in the twice every other day group, but performance was equally increased in both groups.

What these studies and their findings suggest is that occasional training in a depleted state may lead to increased adaptations. This shouldn't be surprising if you just understand the basics of training and adaptation. What you are doing when training is putting a certain amount of stress on the body. Then during recovery it responds to that stress by increasing its defenses against that stress. For example in weight training, you tear the muscle fibers slightly while training, and then repair them to even stronger levels during recovery so that it can better withstand that stress the next time.

So it should not be surprising that training in a glycogen depleted state produces more stress than normal. The body then adapts. The thing to remember is that the adaptation is specific to the stress and requires recovery. Without recovery, those adaptations aren't taking place. It's a balancing act.

In practical terms, this might help explain why doing doubles is just as beneficial as singles in certain circumstances. It might also explain why Kenyan runners have success with short periods of training 3x a day. By having a 6am run before their main 10am workout they might be enhancing adaptation to a degree. Similarly, the pre-fatigued idea could explain why Special or Specific blocks of training work in Canova's training.

Another practical application is for long runs. Some long runs may need to be done without fuel intake, especially if training for a marathon. Once again, it's a trade off. If you take fuel, your able to have a better quality workout, but you are not able to push into those levels of glycogen depletion to force fuel source adaptations.

On this note, it's important to remember what training adaptation you are looking for. Training with low glycogen for a long run for example may give adaptations that are good for a marathon runner, but perhaps not for some FT 800m runner. Remember, what you are trying to put in crisis to adapt. A good example of this is in the Yeo study mentioned above with cyclists. Performance change was the same in both groups. However, the twice every other day group increased glycogen content,fat oxidation and enzymes related to substrate use. WHy? Because the group was training in a lower glycogen state. Thus, several of the bodies adaptations were aimed at fixing this problem. Over a 1hr time trial, these adaptations didn't matter, thus the performance was the same between the two groups. It is possible, and perhaps likely, that training with low glycogen stores could result in negative consequences for shorter events.

Once again, athletes and coaches have generally figured out all of this stuff for themselves. Back in the 50's-60's Van Aaken was suggesting that his athletes do a hard day of training with minimal food intake, for example. It's just now that science comes along and explains the mechanisms to why it might work.

The bottom line with all this research is to remember it is simply a process of stress and adaptation. Just be aware of what stress you are putting on the body.

Part 3:
Revisiting Singles vs. Doubles: Evidence from Dathan Ritzenhein
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