MARATHON OLYMPIC CHAMPIONS (XXVI) – Atlanta 1996: FATUMA ROBA (1973-)

“This is not only a special thing for me but also for my country and all African women”

Fatuma Roba

Atlanta was selected over Athens, Belgrade, Manchester, Melbourne, and Toronto to host the Summer Games of 1996. Athens seemed the right candidate, as these Olympics marked the centennial of the inaugural 1896 in Athens. Despite being favourite during the first voting rounds, finally Atlanta won the bid, and gave the United States its fourth Olympics.

24 countries appeared for the first time in these Olympics, including eleven former Soviet republics. Strangely enough, these Games turned a profit thanks to the record revenues obtained through private funding. Although it didn´t go without criticism for being overly marketed, as the Head of the IOC Juan Antonio Samaranch pointed out.

In women athletics Marie-José Pérec won the rare 200 and 400 metres double. As for the marathon it was going to be a tough race, due to the summertime heat, humidity and numerous hills. Thus, the course was 31% uphill, 33% downhill and only 36% flat.

In the marathon women scene countries could include up to three runners who had completed a sub 2.35 marathon. Otherwise they could include only one runner, if she had completed the distance below the 2.50 threshold.

Spain was able to send a full team, formed by Ana Isabel Alonso, who had obtained the national record (still valid) the year before with 2.26.51, Mónica Pont (2.27.53) and Rocío Ríos (2.28.20). Other strong nations were Japan, which team included Yunko Asari, world champion in 1995, and the team for the USA. Also, to consider the gold medallist in Barcelona 1992, Russian competitor Valentina Yegorova, and among the African nations Kenya had Tegla Loroupe while Ethiopia was sending Fatuma Roba. Nevertheless, many more nations had strong candidates for the victory. The women´s marathon was ripe and the level of competitiveness harder than ever before.

Fatuma Roba was born in Bekoji, Ethiopia, one of seven children in a farming family. As many others the best way to get from one place to another and to get to school was running. With Abebe Bikila as his greatest hero she joined the police force after finishing the school. She debuted in the marathon in Addis Ababa in 1993. Being 19 she managed to win in 2.44.20. Invited to run the marathon in Paris the following year she improved her PB (2.35.25) and finished 11th. Qualified for the 1995 World Championships she only finished 19th in 2.39.27. But Roba decided to keep with the marathon distance. Averaging 125 miles per week, mostly at high altitude, managed to ensure victories in 1996 in the marathons of Marrakech and Rome, breaking the 2.30.00 barrier and ensuring her place in the Olympic marathon of Atlanta 1996. She was only 22.

The marathon was scheduled on Sunday July 28th at 7.05. Atlanta was still empty and 88 runners ready to go. Europe was the best represented continent with half of the athletes. Temperature was 21⁰C. It was foggy and with 93% humidity.

As soon as the race started, Uta Pippig, from Germany, took the lead. She started opening a gap with the other contenders, so when crossing the 10k (34.09) was 28s ahead of a pack of five that included Yegorova, Roba, Lidia Simon (Romania), Dörre-Heinig (Germany) and Manuela Machado (Portugal).

As it happens often in marathons, early leaders are unable to keep their advantage. At 17k Roba managed to overpass Pippig, and by the 20k (1.08.45) she was 6s ahead of her previous pack, now including the Japanese Yuko Arimori, with Pippig falling back.

By the 30k Roba had opened a wider gap. Crossing in 1.42.57 she had an advantage of 61s with a group including Arimori, Yegorova, Simon and Machado. As runners got to the latter stages Roba´s pace seemed unreachable for her closer opponents, now running in a single file.

When reaching the last checkpoint at the 40k (2.18.40) Roba had the gold medal at her reach, being 105s ahead of the next runner. She crossed the finish line in 2.26.05 to get a national record. Yegorova got the silver medal with 2.28.05 and added a new Olympic medal to her gold in Barcelona 1992. Meanwhile Arimori won the bronze for Japan with 2.28.39.

From left to right: Arimori (Japan), Roba (Ethiopia) and Yegorova (Russia)

Rocío Ríos, coming from behind, managed to recover 2 positions in the last 2k to finish 5th with 2.30.50, ensuring the best position ever for a Spanish female marathoner in the Olympics.

Fatuma Roba continued her marathon career winning three consecutive Boston marathons in 1997, 1998 and 1999. She attended the World Championships of 1999 in Seville, getting a 4th place. Again, competing in the Olympics, she got a 9th place at Sydney 2000. She improved her PB up to 2.23.21 and continued running marathons with consistency at the highest level until 2004.

 

Sources:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1996_Summer_Olympics

https://www.encyclopedia.com/sports/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/roba-fatuma

https://worldathletics.org/athletes/ethiopia/fatuma-roba-14259747

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fatuma_Roba

“The Olympic Marathon”, DE Martin & RWH Gynn. Human Kinetics, 2000.

Rocío Ríos (Spain)
Olympic cauldron Atlanta 1996

MARATHON PISUERGA MIV (06/09/2020 – 89)

Marathon in Covid-19 times

As we know well the Covid-19 pandemic has had disastrous effects on sports and racing calendars across the world. Firstly, marathons were delayed to later dates, when we all thought that things could be luckily sorted sooner. But reality always surprises us, and finally most marathons and races in this 2020 have finally cancelled or delayed until next year.

During August, and feeling the lack of objectives, I decided to run a marathon to celebrate my birthday. At the end I finished running 44 kilometres (15.5 laps) in the Campo Grande park, Lisbon. I thought about repeating the experience in Valladolid (Spain) on September 8th, a local holiday date, following an easy course of 4.2k. I talked about it with my lively friend Quique Benito, and then he did the same with Pepe Turón. No more was needed to sow the seed of the Pisuerga MIV (Marathon Independent of Valladolid) marathon. It would serve as a celebration of the 40th anniversary of the first marathon run in Valladolid, in September 1980, and the first marathon for Pepe when he was only 17.

Considering the restrictions to the sports practice, that were hardened even more just days before the race, it was decided to keep the number of participants very limited, and do it in 2 rounds, first one on Saturday 5th (13 runners), also divided in two waves, at 8.00 and 9.00, and next one on Sunday 6th (2 runners) at 8.38. Doing so ensured enough social distance along the course, which followed the riverside of the Pisuerga river, in the Ribera de Castilla Park. A bit over 2k we had to run 20.5 laps to complete the marathon distance, a course with some sections in common with the traditional “Cross de las 12 Uvas”, that traditionally closes the calendar year in Valladolid on December 31st.

I was supposed to help with the organization details, but being out of Valladolid until Saturday evening, all details of the organisation, course measurement, drinks, runner bags and so on were shared between Pepe and Quique. Without their effot this marathon would have never taken place.

On Sunday only Pepe and I were running, with Quique in assistance duties. It was a great personal experience, as the race started and finished just 500 metres from my home and followed the paths of the park where I started running in February of a distant 1991. Impossible to recount how many training sessions I have done in the Ribera de Castilla Park during the years.

Knowing that surfacing roots had caused some falls on the previous day, I took extra care with them. The course was demanding, but after so long without competition, I enjoyed pretty much every lap on the course. Race finished in 4.14.51, not a very good time, although in a demanding cross course and avoiding any fall. And more importantly, another great marathon experience added.

The later talks in the finish area promised more independent races ahead. A hopeful thought floats in the air suggesting that we may be at the beginning of the end of these hard times.

See you soon!

Finisher trophy
Crossing the finish line

ARGININE SUPPLEMENTATION: DOES IT REALLY IMPROVE SPORTS PERFORMANCE?

The use of nutritional supplements is common among athletes to maintain health and improve athletic performance. Proteins and amino acids are specially consumed as ergogenic aids, with a frequency of 35–40%.

However, the supplements with vasodilatory effects are growing lately in popularity, as there is evidence of positive effects on athletic performance. Among them, we already dedicated a post to beetroot juice. But Arginine has also gained great attention.

Arginine (Arg) is a non-essential amino acid. It means that its consumption is not essential, being synthesized in the small intestine from proline, glutamate, and glutamine. It is related to nitric oxide (NO) synthesis, that increases blood flow to the skeletal muscles, consequently improving performance, and plays an important role as a cell signalling molecule in many biological systems.

But Arg has also other additional effects. Among them:

  • Stimulation of growth hormone (GH) release, which contributes to muscle mass growth.
  • Improved oxidation of carbohydrates and oxygen efficiency.
  • Reduction of lactate levels post-exercise.

Thus, there are various effects that could justify its use as a performance enhancing agent, in aerobic (≤VO2max) and anaerobic (>VO2max) exercises.

A recent meta-review looked at the available literature on the topic. 15 articles that adjusting to the selection procedures were included. The main data follows.

 

Arg on aerobic exercise

Arg supplementation protocols (<7 days or acute) and dosages (6–10 g/day) improved several physiological parameters and performance outcomes (time to exhaustion, power output, and exercise capacity) at moderate exercise intensities.

These results could be explained by improvements in blood flow and oxygen supply to the muscles.

 

Arg on anaerobic exercise

Chronic Arg supplementation (2-12 g/day) improved the results of one maximum bout of bench press (lifting a weight from a position lying on a bench and feet on the floor).

The positive effects observed could be explained because Arg enhances GH-releasing hormone, while also playing a key role in the synthesis of creatine, the main substrate of anaerobic performance.

Despite these positive effects other authors didn´t find improvements in other anaerobic exercises measuring muscle strength, maximum number of repetitions or sprint power after ingesting 6 g/day of Arg using acute or chronic supplementation.

 

Conclusions

Arg supplementation could have positive effects on anaerobic and aerobic performance.

Acute Arg supplementation should include a dose of 10-11 g (0.15 g/kg) ingested 60-90 minutes before exercise.

Chronic Arg supplementation would consist of doses of variable quantity (from 1.5-2 g/day to 10-12 g/day) for periods going from 4 to 8 weeks.

 

Did you use Arginine supplementation yourself?

If so, we would like to read about your experiences.

 

Bibliography

Effects of Arginine Supplementation on Athletic Performance Based on Energy Metabolism: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Viribay A, Burgos J, Fernández-Landa J, Seco-Calvo J, Mielgo-Ayuso J. Nutrients. 2020;12(5):1300. Published 2020 May 2. doi:10.3390/nu12051300

Arginine 3D structure

CARBOHYDRATES (CHO) CONSUMPTION DURING ULTRA-MARATHONS: 60, 90 OR 120 GRAMS/HOUR?

Ultra-endurance events (> 4h), especially in mountainous terrains, have become very popular in recent years. Runners in these events are exposed to various topographic, climatic, altitude and temperature conditions.

The demanding racing conditions carries extreme physiological demands. Among them we could highlight negative energy balance, dehydration, decrease in blood glucose levels, glycogen depletion, exercise-induced muscle damage (EIMD) and inflammation.

Carbohydrates (CHO), as the main substrate of muscles, plays a key role in preventing fatigue, being it peripheral (muscles) or central (central nervous system).

After exhaustive exercise bouts with glycogen depletion high CHO diets are required for periods up to 48h to replenish glycogen depots (liver and muscles). If there is also EIMD, as in most ultra-endurance events, this recovery period may extend up to 10 days.

During endurance exercise CHO intake is known to delay neuromuscular fatigue and improve exercise performance. Current recommendations for ultra-events lasting more than 2.5h is 90 g/h, although the usual intake of athletes is around 60 g/h.

A recent study has compared the results of different levels of CHO ingestion (60, 90, or an over-recommended dosage of 120 g/h) on the performance and post-race muscular function and recovery.

 

The study

Twenty-six elite trail-runners participating in a mountain marathon (Oiartzun Marathon, Spain, 4000 metres of cumulative slope) were randomly distributed in three groups with different CHO intakes: LOW (60 g/h), MED (90 g/h) and HIGH (120 g/h) with a 2:1 glucose/fructose ratio. Runners had no injury, disease or were taking any medication.

Neuromuscular function was evaluated using an Abalakov Jump test (x3 vertical jumps with 30s breaks) and a half-squat test (one repetition at maximal weight, followed 5 minutes later by 3 repetitions at maximal speed and 70% of maximal capacity).

Aerobic power capacity was evaluated through a VO2max test, performed on an ergometric tape (constant speed of 20 km/h and 1% slope) measuring time until exhaustion.

Measurements were done at baseline (T1) and 24h after completing the race (T2). Athletes followed a personalized diet (9 g CHO, 1.5 g protein and 0.5 g fat per kilogram of body weight and day) from 48h before the race until 24h after completion.

 

The results

There were found changes in Abalakov jump height and half-squat maximum between T1 and T2 in groups consuming 60 and 90 g CHO/h, but not in the group consuming 120 g CH/h.

In the Abalakov jump test the group consuming 120 g CHO/h had a better response 24 h following the mountain marathon race than the runners consuming 60 g/h or 90 g CHO/h.

Regarding high intensity run capacity, runners that consumed 120 g CHO/h during the mountain marathon showed higher lactate production and better performance in the aerobic power-capacity test carried out 24 h after the race.

No significant improvements in overall race performance, although runners ingesting 120 g CHO/h tended to faster times.

 

Conclusions

  • Consumption of 120 g CHO/h is possible without serious gastrointestinal problems.
  • Endurance athletes can train the gut to improve CHO intake, digestion, absorption and utilization during exercise.
  • Higher CHO intake during exercise could be an enhancing performance strategy, but also a tool to optimize long-term recovery and help in multi-stage competitions.

 

Bibliography

Effects of 120 vs. 60 and 90 g/h Carbohydrate Intake during a Trail Marathon on Neuromuscular Function and High Intensity Run Capacity Recovery. Urdampilleta A, Arribalzaga S, Viribay A, Castañeda-Babarro A, Seco-Calvo J, Mielgo-Ayuso J. Nutrients. 2020; 12(7):2094.

Pre and post-race tests (from Urdanpilleta et al. 2020)
Race fueling protocol and timing (from Urdanpilleta et al. 2020)

THE “PHONE BOXES” RACE: NIKE GRID (LONDON) 2010

Races have been expanding its scope over recent years. Or at least were until the Covid-19 pandemic. And we are not talking uniquely about distances or terrain. Not long ago we dedicated one of our posts to go through the different running modalities.

Among the not-so traditional races there are obstacles, “beer miles”, “capturing the cheese” or even zombies’ races. And with the restrictions to run outdoors the virtual races and all types of “indoors” races, only limited by imagination, have been doing headlines.

In oneKmore we already run our share of weird events, such it was the race subject of our post: the Nike Grid, that we run while living in London in 2010.

Nike Grid Rules

NIKE GRID 1 (April 2010)

The first edition was only a “test version” that lasted 24 hours. With the registration process you got and ID number, that was necessary to clock your runs.

What made this race different? London was divided into a Grid of postcodes, a total of 48, and each of them had 3 or 4 “active” phone boxes. Participants had to make a call and dial their unique code at the start phone box, and again do the same at the finish phone box to finish the run and get points.

The objective was to complete as many runs as possible, between those specific phone boxes in a postcode, to get points. And you could get extra points if collecting “badges”, by unlocking additional rewards, such doing the fastest run among two specific phone boxes for example.

Basically, you could decide where, when or for how long you wanted to run. And you could try to win a postcode or unlock as many badges as possible in different postcodes. Classifications were available online, although in 2010 the mobile phones were not as advanced as they are today.

By claiming victory in the SE16 postcode, we got two pairs of Nike shoes Lunar Glide, personalised with our initials and the claimed postcode. A good reward for an interesting competition.

When we thought that this was a one-off race, the Nike Grid competition got an upgrade.

Nike Grid 1 SE16 Leaderboard

NIKE GRID 2 (October 2010)

Very similar rules, but now the competition was going to last for a full 15 days!!! And now you could also compete as part of a team, a part of the city (north vs. south, east vs. west) or as a university, among other options. But things didn´t finish here: runs done at certain times, as early dawn and late at night, gave double points. And you had to be aware of your phone and email for extra surprise games also.

We focused again on the SE16 postcode, that is where we lived. After a few days and opening a “safe” points distance with the second runner, we started clocking runs in the nearby SE17 and unlocking other badges. Though we never tried to clock runs in the 48 postcodes of London, as some others did.

By chance we teamed with some runners in other areas of London to form the AudioFuel Team. And that was a fun addition to the competition, as at the same time we had to keep an eye in our SE16 territory, started helping the AudioFuel Team keep/claim other territories.

Team AudioFuel (AFX) with Sak Nagayan

With only 2 days to go and the victory in SE16 almost ensured, we focused our energy in SE17. We had reached the second position, but still a few hundred points behind the leader. We started Friday at 5am clocking double points for each run. After taking advantage of the 2 hours window, it was time to get some rest and go to work. Later that day we came back and continued doing runs for a few hours more. For some reason, the guy heading the classification hadn´t come during the whole day: could he be gone outside of London for the weekend?

On the final day we were again at 5am in SE17. The competition was closing at 18.00 and the points difference seemed reasonably attainable in the hours left. Obviously considering that the running leader didn´t come back to start collecting points also.

And yes, people in the streets sometimes looked as we were crazy. Other runners even had to give explanations to the police that it was only a game, as a reason for being running as mad at night in some dodgy areas.

At midday we were finally in first position in SE17! But we didn´t leave anything to chance, and after lunch we went back once again. Those were our last runs, already slow, to get the final points in the postcode. The fatigue was intense, especially after the efforts of the last two days.

Finally, we claimed victory in SE16 and SE17 at individual level, and additional ones as part of the AudioFuel Team. Total distance run was 241 kms (calculated as the crow flies, much longer in reality) in 374 total runs (total playing time 35h12m), for a “Serious” addiction level.

Nike Grid 2 personal scores

That gave us a further 2 pairs of trainers, 3 t-shirts and our victorious names in posters in some phone boxes of the postcodes we have claimed. A good ending for a great competition that didn´t come back again.

If you feel curious the Youtube channel of the competition is still alive and has some videos in:

https://www.youtube.com/user/NikeGrid

What was your craziest race yet? We would like to read about it.

The champions: Player Crowns
Conmemorative phone box in SE16

EPIGENETIC CONTROL OF AGEING THROUGH PHYSICAL ACTIVITY AND NUTRITION

Adapted from Petracci et al. 2020

Epigenetics refers to changes in the genome or genes, that do not involve changes in the nucleotide sequence, or mutations.

Our date of birth, or “chronological age” is not always the best index of our ageing process. Some markers have been proposed to define a “biological age” or “epigenetic age”, where the status of our body organs can be evaluated.

The importance of physical activity is such, that it modulates genes expression through epigenetic changes to lower our “epigenetic age”. Thus, biological ageing can be controlled with the right combination of lifestyle factors: exercise, nutrition and healthy habits.

 

Physical activity

Physical activity is known to have multiple beneficial effects on health, acting as a modulator of risk factors towards various diseases, and usually leading to a longer and healthier lifespan.

WHO estimates that physical inactivity is the fourth leading factor to global mortality, causing 3.2 million deaths every year. Current guidelines indicate that healthy adults should do at least 150 min of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity every week.

Adaptations to exercise are:

  • increase in skeletal muscle size.
  • increase in muscle oxidative capacity by genesis of mitochondria.
  • improvement of cardiovascular system physiology and vessels health.

Body mass index, or BMI, has been correlated with increased age acceleration. Thus, physical activity as a tool of weight control, might be a key factor in slowing age acceleration by providing long-lasting effects on health.

The physiological products of exercise are the free radicals. Regular moderate exercise is beneficial because while it elevates free radical production, at the same time it also activates the endogenous antioxidant defence systems. But there is a measure for everything. If the exercise is too strenuous, oxidative stress and cell damage could exceed its beneficial effects.

 

Nutrition

Nutrition also plays an important role in controlling biological age. What we eat supports our skeletal muscles and the mechanisms that trigger the effects of physical activity.

Consequently, there is a crosstalk between physical activity and nutrition. Components in the food can alter our genetic imprint and improve physical performance and health. That is the origin of the term “nutri(epi)genomics”.

Thus, a balanced diet should provide enough macronutrients:

  • Proteins: constituents of muscles and tendons, and important functions as enzymes, hormones, and neurotransmitters
  • Carbohydrates: major energy source of the central nervous system and muscles.
  • Fats: responsible of cell membrane structure, absorption of fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, K), brain health, hormone production and energy source for muscle metabolism.

But also include enough micronutrients: vitamins and minerals.

The diet of choice should include a variety of foods of natural origin over highly processed foods. The Mediterranean diet could be a good choice, preferred over other Western style diets, linked to hypertension, heart disease, diabetes and increased risk of cancer. These outcomes are probably related to epigenetic alterations. Mediterranean diet would provide better results in terms of exercise performance and the recovery process. Obviously, diet should be balanced according to the goals and nutritional requirements of every sport modality.

On the other hand, fasting and caloric restriction, without malnutrition, have been proved to increase lifespan. These positive effects seem to be mediated by reduced oxidative stress, increased DNA repair and inhibition of critical inflammatory genes, among other factors.

 

Conclusion

A healthy diet in combination with proper physical activity levels, could be extremely helpful in delaying the ageing process.

It is never too late to change your routines and stop, or even reverse, the deleterious epigenetic changes associated with ageing.

 

Bibliography

The Role of Nutri(epi)genomics in Achieving the Body’s Full Potential in Physical Activity. Petracci I, Gabbianelli R, Bordoni L. Antioxidants (Basel). 2020;9(6):498. Published 2020 Jun 7. doi:10.3390/antiox9060498

SELENIUM (Se) EFFECTS ON ATHLETIC PERFORMANCE

Photo by Nicolas Hoizey (Unsplash)

Exercise increases oxygen consumption to levels between 10 and 15 times above values at rest.  The main biological product of exercise are the oxygen reactive species, or ROS, which damage cell membranes and skeletal muscles. ROS are counteracted by the antioxidant defence systems of the body, for whom Selenium (Se) is an important factor.

Selenium is a minor, or trace element, in mammals, that can be found in seafood, lentils, beans, whole grains, organ meats, dairy and vegetables. It has two important functions:

  • Antioxidant, as protective of oxidative damage, specially through the enzyme glutathione peroxidase.
  • Modulation of the immune system, with a protective role against viral infections.

Se dietary intake has been set at 55 micrograms/day, with usual dietary supplements offering levels between 180 and 240 micrograms/day, usually in the form of selenomethionine or sodium selenite. Levels above 400 micrograms/day are known to cause selenosis disease, characterised by an increased breakability of hair and nails.

Because of the properties of Se it could be useful to improve athletic performance, fasten muscles recovery and increase defence systems. Thus, Se supplementation is often used as an aid for sports. But does it really offer any improvement in performance?

A recent meta-analysis studied the available scientific literature to answer this question. From all articles available, only 6 complied with the inclusion criteria.

 

Remarks

Data showed no evidence of beneficial effects on aerobic or anaerobic performance while using Se supplementation.

Despite this lack of performance improvements, Se supplementation could contribute to keep optimal antioxidant levels on active individuals, help in the recovery process and prevent viral infections.

The article points out to the importance of optimal Se levels in blood as a preventive strategy against viral infections, such as the one from Covid-19.

Keep healthy and active and see you soon.

 

Bibliography

The Role of Selenium Mineral Trace Element in Exercise: Antioxidant Defense System, Muscle Performance, Hormone Response, and Athletic Performance. A Systematic Review. Fernández-Lázaro D, Fernandez-Lazaro CI, Mielgo-Ayuso J, Navascués LJ, Córdova Martínez A, Seco-Calvo J. Nutrients. 2020;12(6):1790. Published 2020 Jun 16. doi:10.3390/nu12061790

Foods rich in Selenium (Se)

Book: EPIC RUNS OF THE WORLD (various authors, 2019, 328 pages)

“The journey is always the destination, not the time, distance, pace and other stats that your watch feeds you”.

Brian Metzler.

We got this book at a time when most of us had traveling impeded, at some level or another. It was the chance to let the mind travel, as the book says, to some of the most “epic runs of the world”.

The book comprises runs in every continent, so even if you are not a runner and/or traveller probably there is still the chance of having one of them not very far from you. You have 200 to choose from.

Some of the runs are proper races, encompassing all distances and levels: Easy, Harder and Epic, according to the classification used in the book. Everyone has the possibility of running one. But there are also other non-racing runs included, usually chosen because of the surroundings, going from amazing landscapes, to waterfronts, coastal paths and many more.

Every chapter is focused on one run explained in depth by an author, accompanied by other 3 thematically similar races explained more briefly. Accompanying the explanations there is a short and useful informative section with advices on how to get to the course or where to sleep. Additionally, complementing the text there are very beautiful pictures, sometimes at double page. That would be a good reason to go for the paperback book instead of choosing its electronic version.

Patagonian marathon in southern Chile (Fernanda Paradizo/Shutterstock)

From the 50 races explained in more detail America and Europe are the best represented continents, with 17 and 13 races respectively. Among them some very well-known races:  Badwater 135, Barkley Marathon or the Boston Marathon. Asia only had 8 races in this list, the same than Oceania, and ahead of African 4 epic runs.

Wherever you have run before, you will always find a “dream run” to add to your bucket list: Who would not want to run the Comrades Marathon in South Africa? Or the Athens Marathon departing from the mythical town of Marathon? Or a race so extreme as the North Pole Marathon, if you can afford its hefty registration of 16000€?

A great addition to your running library. If you can´t travel now, this book will offer you an alternative, and new ideas for your next running adventure.

Advice 1: never forget to pack your running shoes in your next trip. You don´t know if an epic run is waiting there for you.

Advice 2: go for the paperback version of the book.

Woman running on the sidewalk next to Bondi Beach, New South Wales (stevecoleimages/Getty Images)

CARBOHYDRATES AND PROTEINS ON ATHLETIC PERFORMANCE: TOGETHER BUT NOT MIXED?

Photo by Jana Werschay (Pixabay)

Restoration of energy stores and recovery of muscle damage are key factors determining the performance in endurance events. Therefore, nutrition aimed to fasten and help in these processes has received a lot of attention lately and is the focus of a recent meta-analysis comparing the effects of carbohydrates CHO and carbohydrates+proteins CHO+PRO ingestion on athletic performance.

Carbohydrates are stored as glycogen in the liver and muscles and is a major energy source during long moderate/high intensity exercise. Low muscle glycogen concentration leads to fatigue.

Restoration of glycogen levels usually takes 24 hours, if there is enough supply of carbohydrates. For short-term recovery (less than 8h) is recommended to consume 1.2-1.5g of carbohydrates per kilogram of weight and hour. Moreover, it has been suggested to start taking carbohydrates immediately, within 30 minutes of finishing the effort, and at frequent intervals onwards. Doing it so keeps high the levels of glucose and insulin in plasma, maximizing muscle glycogen synthesis.

For athletes participating in endurance events lasting more than 1h, carbohydrates are recommended at levels of 30-60g/h and intervals of 15-20 minutes.

Regarding the simultaneous consumption of carbohydrates and proteins the articles found differed greatly in many aspects such as: protocol design, duration of recovery, preceding exercise to deplete the muscle glycogen levels, or exercise type, among others. Additionally, many studies used Time-To-Exhaustion or TTE, while others used Time-Trial performance, or TT, a test usually considered more physiological and reliable.

Co-ingestion of carbohydrates and proteins (CHO+PRO), significantly improved athletic performance when compared with carbohydrates (CHO) alone. TTE was 2.2 minutes longer in the athletes that used CHO+PRO. Thus, there is an ergogenic effect of CHO+PRO, with performance benefits present when protein is added to an optimal amount of CHO.

And this improvement in performance by combining the ingestion of both substances was only evident during long-term recovery periods, longer than 8h. On the contrary, no significant effects were found using both substances when the recovery period was shorter than 8h.

 

Conclusion

  • IF you have more than 8h recovery time: combine CHO+PRO ingestion, during and/or following an exercise bout.
  • IF you have less than 8h recovery time: there is no difference between using CHO and CHO+PRO, but you should ensure to replenish adequately glycogen deposits.

 

Bibliography

The Effect of Ingesting Carbohydrate and Proteins on Athletic Performance: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials. Kloby Nielsen LL, Tandrup Lambert MN, Jeppesen PB. Nutrients. 2020;12(5):1483. Published 2020 May 20. doi:10.3390/nu12051483

Photo by Peggy Marco (Pixabay)

THE MARATHONS THAT DIDN’T HAPPEN: CONFESSIONS OF A MARATHON WITHDRAWAL SYNDROME

The worldwide Covid-19 crisis has sent most of our running plans overboard in the last few months. Nowadays, for many, is enough to run outdoors, after strict confinement protocols.

Racing is seen each day more sceptically. Major-cities marathons are cancelled every day, and from the six Major Marathons that should take place in 2020 Chicago, New York, Boston and Berlin were already cancelled, Tokyo took place only for elite runners, and London is still on the cards for October 4th at the time of writing, although it will probably be cancelled too.

Onekmore had planned to cross the 100-marathons barrier in 2020. It seemed an easy achievement after entering into the new year with 86 marathons, but things soon got a wrong turn in marathon number 88.

Looking back to pre-Covid times, some marathon plans fell apart too. With time for reflection, it comes the regret of those races that didn´t happen for one reason or another. If including those “missed” opportunities the 100 marathons would have already happened.

A short list follows:

  • In 2012: Milton Keynes, Cambridge Boundary Run and Trionium Picnic marathons.
  • In 2014: Fairlands Valley Challenge and Lanzarote, cancelled because of a heavy storm.
  • Berlin Marathon twice, in 2011 and 2015, because of a wedding and a moving between countries. Luckily, we run the 2014 edition.
  • In 2020 pre-Covid: Marrakech, due to illness.
  • In 2020 post-Covid: Valdebebas; Badajoz and Aguilar de Campoo (cancelled); Madrid (postponed to November?); EcoLisbon (to 2021) and Vienna (to 2022).

With the racing calendar on hold it is difficult to plan any future races, even more if they imply moving some other place.

The running world has tried to adapt and move towards the “virtual” challenges. Although it may look as a way forward for some, we don’t think is for us. Registering to run in your backyard or a nearby road trying to convince yourself that you are running, let´s say, the Berlin Marathon, feels like playing a role-game. Doubtfully, the feeling of achievement after completing a virtual race will be like the “high” of a real-world race.

But we are nobody to tell what is “real” or not. If people decide to pay a registration fee in exchange for a medal and a t-shirt: let´s do it. It will always help to keep organising companies afloat until things get back to normal.

As for us, in the meantime, we will set our own challenges. There is no need of further recognition, beyond our own, and the feeling of gratitude for being able to run outdoors.

Greetings.