MARATHON OLYMPIC CHAMPIONS (XX) – Los Angeles 1984: JOAN BENOIT (1957-)

“There’s not a better feeling than when you have found that moment of balance and harmony when both running and life come together. Then you know why you run and that you couldn’t live without it.”

 

Joan Benoit

A lot did happen before women could compete in the Olympic marathon. Much was thanks to German coach and physician Ernst van Aaken, who in the last 60s already encouraged women to long distance running while trying to convince governing bodies of organising women´s championships and women-only races. He organised the first women marathon championships in his hometown, Waldniel, in West Germany. Victory was for Christa Kofferschläger in 2.59.25. 00The United States followed suit organising their first championships one year later, with victory for Judy Ikenberry in 2.55.18.

With scientific data proving that women were as capable of running a marathon than men, women marathoners and performances improved dramatically. By 1979 the world record stood in 2.27.32 (Grete Waitz), when the 3 hours barrier was still unbroken by 1970. The Boston marathon was the first to allow women to enter and wear official race numbers in 1972. The victory was for Nina Kuscsik in 3.10.26, although she had already run “unofficially” the three previous editions. Many more women-only marathons appeared in the calendar.

Nevertheless, it wasn’t until February 1982 that the IOC members decided that the women Olympic marathon would take place. Before Olympics women marathon debuted in the European Championships of 1982 in Athens, with victory for the Portuguese Rosa Mota in 2.36.04.

Los Angeles hosted the Olympics for a second time, after having done so in 1932. Because of the boycott from the United States to Moscow 1980, 14 Eastern Bloc countries didn´t participate in Los Angeles 1984, including the Soviet Union and East Germany. In athletics Carl Lewis got 4 gold medals equalling what Jesse Owens did in Berlin 1936. Among women Nawal El Moutawakel became the first Muslim African woman to win an Olympic medal, after his victory in the inaugural 400m hurdles.

Joan Benoit was born in Cape Elizabeth, Maine, in the United States. In college she was not very good in athletics. Her first marathon was in 1979, by chance, after registering for a marathon as a “long run” the day after winning a 10k race. She easily finished second and decided to try her luck in the Boston Marathon two months later, that she won. Her marathon career had started. She won a few more marathons and set a world record (2.22.43) in Boston in 1983 before classifying for the 1984 Olympics.

The Olympic marathon would start on the track of the Santa Monica City College to finish in the Olympic Stadium. The course was quite hilly, especially in the first eight and last ten kilometres sections. It was scheduled for August 5th, the same day than the men, at 8.00.

49 women from 28 countries were present for the inaugural marathon race. Besides Benoit most of the big names were running: from Norway Ingrid Kristiansen, with the European record (2.24.26), and Grete Waitz, with five consecutive victories in the New York marathon 1979-83; British Joyce Smith, already 46 and winner of Tokyo 1979-80 and London 1981-82; and Rosa Mota, from Portugal, European champion and winner of the Chicago marathon in 1983.

During the uphill first kilometres the course obliged for a slow pace, crossing the 5k in 18.15. When it turned downhill pace fastened, arriving to the 10k (35.24) with Benoit leading, only 5s ahead of Kristiansen. Many runners were still shortly behind.

Getting to the 20k (1.08.32) Benoit´s lead was already 72s over Mota, who was herself 12s ahead of Kristiansen and Italian Laura Fogli. Things were turning good for Benoit, as her advantage only increased as kilometres went by. By the 30k (1.42.23) she was almost 2 minutes ahead of a group with Mota, Kristiansen and Waitz.

With temperature on the rise and the course getting to an exposed roadway the pace slowed for everyone. Arriving to the 40k Benoit was still 87s ahead of Waitz. Victory was almost hers. Thus, Benoit crossed the finish line to become the first Olympic marathon winner in 2.24.52, with the whole stadium recognising such achievement. Second place was for Waitz (2.26.18) and third for Mota (2.26.57), both unable to close the distance with the powerful Benoit.

Benoit´s winning time was better than the time achieved by male winners in 13 Olympic marathons!

After the Olympics Benoit got married and won in Boston again in 1985. Injuries prevented her for competing again in the Olympics of 1988 and 1992, although she has continued competing in the marathon distance with great success. In master category she has won in world class marathons while setting a long series of records. Her last achievement was in 2019, when in order to celebrate the 40th anniversary of her first victory in the Boston Marathon she managed to finish in 3.04.00, at 61 and accompanied by her daughter.

She has never retired from a marathon race.

In our next entry we will tell what happened in the men marathon.

 

More to watch:

A video with highlights of the marathon in:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8HU2FGc0mOE&t=468s

 

Sources:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1984_Summer_Olympics#Athletics

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Athletics_at_the_1984_Summer_Olympics_%E2%80%93_Women%27s_marathon

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

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

Los Angeles Olympic Coliseum

OLIVE OIL: EFFECTS OF ITS COMPONENTS ON HEALTH

The Mediterranean diet is known as one of the healthiest in the world and associated with longevity and well-being. It has shown protective effects against cancer and other cardiovascular and inflammatory diseases. This diet is composed of a variety of cereals, fruits, beans, vegetables, nuts and central to all of them olive oil, and more specifically, extra virgin olive oil.

The olive oil is composed majorly of fatty acids, although it has more than 200 extra minor components. It can be found in two forms:

  • Extra virgin olive oil. Obtained by pressing olives without further treatments, allowing preservation of the minor components within the oil.
  • Refined olive oil. Obtained by mechanical extraction and refinement, a process in which it loses most of the phenols, although preserving the fatty acids.

The benefits from olive oil are derived from its unique nutritional composition, and especially three of its components:

  • Monounsaturated fatty acids. The most abundant is the oleic acid that represents 55-83% of the olive oil. It also has polyunsaturated fatty acids (4-20%, linoleic and linolenic acids) and saturated fatty acids (8-14%, palmitic and stearic acids).
  • Hydroxytyrosol. A minor component in extra virgin olive oil, it is a polyphenol with important anti-inflammatory and anti-tumour effects. It also improves the lipid profile and reducing oxidative stress.
  • Oleuropein. It is an antioxidant found in unripe olives and olive tree leaves. It has shown improvements in various inflammation models and anti-tumour properties by inducing the apoptosis (programmed cellular death) in cancerous cells, especially in colon cancer.

 

Effects on cardiovascular diseases

Oxidative stress initiates the atherosclerotic process that damages the endothelium of blood vessels, increasing the risk of heart attacks and other cardiovascular disorders.

Risk factors for developing cardiovascular disorders are smoking, sedentarism and low-quality diets. Vegetable, fruits and good-quality fats have though a beneficial impact on these complications.

The extra virgin olive oil is useful as a tool for primary prevention in healthy individuals by reducing the level of some risk parameters (interleukin-6, VCAM and ICAM-1). Additionally, it helps to reduce the levels of “bad cholesterol”, or LDL, while increasing the levels of the “good cholesterol”, or HDL.

High levels of HDL in plasma are good because it works by transporting the cholesterol from the tissues to the liver, where it is prepared for excretion (bile and faeces).

But the extra virgin olive oil can also be used in secondary prevention in sick individuals. In a study the ingestion of 19g of olive oil over 1 year increased the HDL levels in patients with high cardiovascular risk. In another study with obese adult women a high-fat breakfast with 25mL of extra virgin olive oil reduced body fat and blood pressure. And these are only 2 examples of the positive cardiovascular effects associated with the regular ingestion of extra virgin olive oil.

These effects are synergistically potentiated when extra virgin olive oil was combined with fish oil. Therefore, individuals receiving 10mL/day of extra virgin olive oil and 3g/day of fish oil diminished the ratio between bad and good cholesterol (LDL/HDL). Olive oil helped cell membranes in the uptake of the omega-3 from fish oil. Simultaneous consumption was better than each of them on their own.

 

Effects on gut microbiota

The composition of gut microbiota is a protective factor against cardiovascular and inflammatory diseases, and its balance is key for health maintenance.

The consumption of extra virgin olive oil is linked to a higher biodiversity of intestinal bacteria. Each fatty acid has different effects, although the mechanisms involved are not understood yet. Polyphenols influence the microbiota composition acting as prebiotics, by inhibiting the growth of pathogenic bacteria, such as E. coli, and stimulating the probiotics, such the Bifidobacterium.

 

Effects on inflammation

Different studies have shown that diets rich in polyphenols and monounsaturated fatty acids are associated with reduced production of cytokines (TNF-alpha and IL-6) by fat tissue. These are the molecules involved in inflammatory processes.

 

Conclusions

Closely associated to the Mediterranean Diet is the extra virgin olive oil. Its intake generates health benefits in many studies carried out in animals and humans, among them:

  • Prevention of cardiovascular diseases.
  • Improvement of inflammatory parameters.
  • Better gut microbiota composition.

The effects linked to the extra virgin olive oil are related to its composition:

  • Content of monounsaturated fatty acids, especially oleic fatty acid.
  • Polyphenols, especially oleuropein and hydroxytyrosol.

 

If you are not using it yet: don´t forget to introduce extra virgin olive oil into your diet.

Your health will thank you.

 

Bibliography:

Effects of Olive Oil and Its Minor Components on Cardiovascular Diseases, Inflammation, and Gut Microbiota.

Marcelino G, Hiane PA, Freitas KC, Santana LF, Pott A, Donadon JR, Guimarães RCA.

Nutrients. 2019 Aug 7;11(8). pii: E1826. doi: 10.3390/nu11081826.

Oleic acid 3D structure
Hydroxytyrosol structure
Oleuropein 3D structure

ANXIETY: IT IS THE BODY WHO PAYS IT

(Post by Gonçalo Duque Plaza. Clinical Psychologist, Life Coach and Hypnotherapist)

 

Did you notice today what is your body telling you?

The question may seem strange to you, but the truth is that the body is the best barometer of our discomfort, to indicate what is out of order.

  • Do you sometimes feel an increase in your heart rate or blood pressure?
  • Do you feel discomfort or contractions in the abdominal area?
  • Do you feel sometimes dizziness or light head?
  • Are you agitated or nervous without cause?
  • Do you suddenly feel frozen, as “without a drop of blood” on your limbs?
  • Do you frequently feel your respiratory rate increase without reason?

These are just a few of the signals that our body sends us to give notice of a situation of anxiety or stress.

Anxiety is a natural response of the body, which prepares us for environmental changes, leading us to a state of alert, and ready to react to any situation we could find.

However, this state of anxiety or stress exerts a tension that triggers a set of organic, mental, psychological and behavioural responses. These responses trigger significant physiological changes on a set of glands regulating the body.

When this state of anxiety or stress is maintained at high levels and/or prolonged over time, it can finish wearing body and mind. In other words, it would be as if the engine of a machine was in permanent operation at high speed, to the point of reaching dysfunctional proportions.

Therefore, psychosomatic ailments may arise, or a greater predisposition to the development of diseases due to impaired function or injuries of body organs. We would be talking about ailments such as digestive ulcers, hypertension, blood pressure disorders, gastrointestinal inflammation or metabolic disorders, among others.

Having made this observation, it is essential that we spend more time taking care of ourselves, reducing the exaggerated rate of the motor of our “machine”, in order to promote our physical and mental health.

Leisure and relaxation moments are an excellent mechanism to combat mental, physical and psychological stress. It is the way to replace unpleasant thoughts with more positive and relaxing ones.

You just need to stop for a while and allow yourself a few (long) minutes.

 

Here are a few simple exercises that you can practice. They will help you connect body and mind, and thus reduce the state of tension caused by the fast pace we are trying to live:

 

  1. Choose a place in your home that is yours alone and surround yourself with objects that give you comfort.

Establish a daily period to be in that space, without discomfort, and doing an activity that relaxes you. You can choose to read a book or magazine, listen to soothing music, or do meditation – mobiles are prohibited!

Make that moment a habit.

 

  1. Once a month schedule a different activity with your friends.

The mind needs social reinforcement to activate the release of substances that promote well-being and tranquillity.

 

  1. List five activities that bring you pleasure.

They can be simple things like reading, going to the cinema or the theatre, visit a new restaurant or walking in nature. Try to do these activities every month of the year.

You will thus be sending your brain a message of self-esteem.

 

  1. Define three things that help you calm down.

Write them on a sheet, and next to each one, detail what you must do to carry out that action.

When you feel anxious, go to that worksheet and try one of those defined options.

 

  1. Start a leisure activity that you have never experienced before.

It can be a new sport, dancing, writing, drawing, painting or learning a new language.

 

  1. Organise a “playlist” with music that encourages you.

Give it the name “Top Energy.” Music is a powerful instrument at the service of our brain, managing to activate components responsible for the regulation of our own emotions.

 

The challenge is simple:

 

LOOK FOR YOU, AND SAVE TIME TO TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF

 

We only have one body and one mind.

 

Respect yourself.

 

If you think you need help to develop this process, do not hesitate to book an appointment (Spanish and Portuguese) in our social networks:

 

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/gduqueplaza/

Instagram: @goncaloduqueplazaueplaza

THE MARATHON GAMES: SPANISH RANKINGS

With the extra time that some of us have been granted by government, we decided to map the marathon “maniacs” efforts from the Spanish runners.

To do so we used the data uniquely from the runners with more than 50 marathons, according to the “official” (kind of) rankings in the web (125 runners):

https://coleccionistamaratones.wordpress.com/2013/10/24/ranking-de-maratonianos-con-mas-de-50-maratones/

Obviously, there were different ways to use the data, and an important limitation, as this ranking ONLY considers runners with 50 or more marathons completed. Doing a full analysis with every runner in the country would be out of our reach.

As for the population data we used the last numbers (2018) from the Instituto Nacional de Estadística.

Firstly, we performed and analysis for autonomous regions (17 in total), correcting the marathons for the population, and represented the data in a heat map. We found that the correction by population was a way to average most populous areas with the less populated ones. The highlights would be:

  • Castilla-Leon tops the ranking with 69 marathons per 100 thousand people.
  • La Rioja and Comunidad Valenciana completes the podium, but La Rioja gets its second position with a unique athlete (Antonio Tarazona).
  • Cataluña and Madrid have almost identical marathon levels per population.
  • Baleares is the only region without runners with more than 50 marathons in the ranking.

Secondly, we followed the same procedure for provinces (50 plus Ceuta and Melilla) and elaborated a top 10 ranking.

Up to 14 provinces didn´t have any runner in the rankings at the time of writing this article: in Andalucía: Almería, Granada, Huelva, Málaga; in Aragón: Huesca; Baleares; in Cataluña: Tarragona; in Castilla la Mancha: Albacete, Cuenca, Guadalajara; in Castilla y León: Ávila; and in Galicia: A Coruña, Lugo, Pontevedra.

Highlights of this classification corrected again by population:

  • At the top of the rankings is surprisingly Soria, thanks to its low population and a superb Antonio Huerta with 197 marathons.
  • Ourense and Burgos complete the podium.
  • Castellón is in fourth place with a total of 594 marathons, of which Santi Hitos has run 310.
  • Castilla y León introduces also Segovia (with only Javi Sanz and 129 marathons) and Valladolid in the top 10, while País Vasco introduces also 2 of its 3 provinces into the top 10: Álava and Guipúzcoa.
  • Valencia closes the top 10 with a total of 1389 marathons, that are somehow diluted by its high population.

Let´s the Marathon Games begin!!!

(when can run again)

 

You can also find us in:

www.facebook.com/onekmore

INJURY PREVENTION DURING MARATHON TRAINING

marathon course
Photo by Yuri Catalano (Unsplash)

Marathon popularity has been steadily growing over recent years. Unfortunately, with long-distance running sometimes also come the undesired injuries, often located in the lower limbs. The incidence of injuries among long distance runners is somewhere between 6 and 44%.

Among the risk factors for running related injuries a recent article has pointed out three factors:

  • history of previous injuries
  • absence of interval training
  • insufficient running experience (< 5 years)

 

The study

A recently published study has investigated preventive measures taken by runners in the 16-week preparation period before a race. Therefore, the SUMMUM-2016 study recruited participants who had signed up for the Utrecht marathon and half-marathon and followed them for 16 weeks until race day (March 20th, 2016).

Runners received a questionnaire at the start of the 16 weeks period. It was determined to know demographic factors such as: sex, age, height, weight, educational level, lifestyle (smoking, diseases, food supplements…) and training methods (training surface, experience and training levels, use of heart rate monitoring systems…).

After this initial assessment runners received another two questionnaires, one every 2 weeks related to injuries (in muscles, tendons, joints or bones related with running), and another one, once a month, related to preventive measures (warming-up, cooling-down, stretching, compression socks, kinesiotape or type of shoes).

In these questionnaires runners had to evaluate the severity of their injuries, to distinguish between substantial and non-substantial injuries, to exclude minor symptoms not impairing the training level and uniquely an expected outcome of heavy training.

The number of runners included in the study was 161 (response rate 74.1%), with the following characteristics:

  • average age 40.7 years
  • average height 177.7 cm
  • average weight of 72.6 kg
  • 78% highly educated
  • 44% women
  • 23% used food supplements
  • 6% were already in training
  • 4% registered for the half-marathon and 28.6% for the full distance
  • 9% of the runners had completed one or more full marathons and 72.7% one or more half marathons
  • 6% of runners at baseline reported a running-related injury in the previous 12 months

 

The results

During the 16-weeks preparation period 17.7% of participants reported substantial injuries. The location of these injuries was as follows: lower leg (4.3%), ankle (3.0%), foot/toe (2.8%) and knee (2.6%).

Runners with a previous history of injuries used at least one additional, and not previously used, preventive measure. The most used preventive measures were asking for advice on running shoes (60%) and stretching exercises before/after training (46%). Other less popular measures were the use of compression socks (21.1%) braces, bandages or kinesiotape.

Maybe these runners decided to use these extra measures because they didn´t feel fully recovered from their previous injuries.

 

The conclusion

Although the number of runners in the study was limited, and there was no distinction between those running the half-marathon and those going for the full distance, the use of preventive measures could be an indication for health professionals about the potential for upcoming running related injuries.

 

Bibliography

In training for a marathon: Runners and running-related injury prevention.

Hofstede H, Franke TPC, van Eijk RPA, Backx FJG, Kemler E, Huisstede BMA

Phys Ther Sport. 2020 Jan; 41:80-86. doi: 10.1016/j.ptsp.2019.11.006. 

marathon course
Photo by Thomas Dils (Unsplash)

MARATHON OLYMPIC CHAMPIONS (XIX) – Moscow 1980: WALDEMAR CIERPINSKI (1950-)

Cierpinski finishing the marathon
Cierpinski in the podium with Nijboer in the background

The Olympics in Moscow 1980 were marked by the boycott of 66 countries to protest the Soviet-Afghan war. This was a big step back, as only 80 countries participated, the lowest number since 1956. Nevertheless, the competing countries had won 71% of all the medals in the Montreal Olympics of 1976, probably because the extended doping programs in Eastern Bloc countries.

As a protest, up to 16 additional countries decided to participate under the Olympic flag. Without much opposition the Soviet Union topped easily the medal stands. The boycotting countries alternatively participated in the so-called “Olympic Boycott Games”, in Philadelphia (USA).

In athletics, Ethiopian Miruts Yifter got a double, winning the 5000 metres and 10000 metres, and joining an exclusive “club” also including Hannes Kolehmainen, Emil Zátopek and Lasse Viren. Worth mentioning also the duels between Sebastian Coe and Steve Ovett over the 800 and 1500 metres, with a victory for each one. 

Regarding the marathon, Moscow 1980 was the last time that the event was exclusively masculine. Women finally got their way into the Olympic marathon four years later, giving us a lot of epic stories to tell.  Powerful marathon nations such as the United States and Japan missed the Games, and their athletes the chance to compete at the highest levels.

Marathon was scheduled for August 1 at 17.15. Although many runners had trained in cold conditions, weather was warm (26°C). The course was flat, with start and finish inside Lenin Central Stadium, built alongside the river and a capacity over 100 thousand spectators.

74 runners took the start, among them the reigning champion Waldemar Cierpinski, from the German Democratic Republic. The two best marathon runners in the world were missing: Bill Rodgers (USA), winner of the New York Marathon in 1976-79, Fukuoka in 1977, and Boston in 1978-80, and Toshihiko Seko (Japan) winner in Fukuoka in 1979-80.

At 10k (31.16) soviet (now Belarus) Vladimir Kotov had a 6s lead over teammate (now Kyrgyzstan) Setymkul Dzhumanazarov and young (18 years old) French record-holder sensation Jean-Michel Charbonnel. The “easy” pace allowed to reach the 20k (1.03.42) with a pack of 22 athletes, but the hot weather was to become unbearable for the weakest among them.

Mexican Rodolfo Gómez after watching Lasse Viren, whom he feared the most, doing a stop to piss, decided to force his pace, crossing the 25k first (1.17.55). Between the 25 and 30k he lengthened his lead to 23s, with 9 runners still following him closely, and Viren abandoning the race.

As the kilometres went by Gómez lead decreased. By 35k (1.49.47) he was only 3s ahead of Cierpinski, Gerard Nijboer (Netherlands) and Dereji Nedi (Ethiopia), with the whole Soviet team just 2s behind.

The intense pace had started to put things in place. The effort of leading the race for so long sent Gómez to the 7th position in the 40k, and 80s behind front-leader Cierpinski, who crossed that point in 2.04.35. He was managing a lead of 19s over Dzhumanazarov and Nijboer.

Entering the Olympic Stadium and the last 200 metres it was clear that victory was for Cierpinski, managing to equal Abebe Bikila´s feat in the Olympics of 1960 and 1964. His superb time was 2.11.03, despite the heat and humidity. Before him only 6 athletes had been able to run faster than 2.13 in an Olympic marathon!

Second place was for Dutch athlete Nijboer (2.11.20), who managed to beat the whole Soviet team entering in 3rd, 4th and 5th place, with the bronze medal going to Dzhumanazarov. The Soviet result was the second best ever in marathon, after the Olympics of 1908 where the United States managed a 1st, 3rd and 4th place.

Later that year most of the top marathoners who had missed the Olympics were invited to compete in Fukuoka, where Cierpinksi only finished 6th, with victory for local runner Seko. Nevertheless, it was a race where he never did good. Despite this defeat he never placed lower than 6th in any major championship. The boycott of the Soviet Union to the Olympics of 1984 in Los Angeles denied him the chance of trying a third gold medal.

As for Nijboer, he didn´t manage to improve the European record result he managed in Amsterdam (2.09.01) just before these Olympics. He would become though European champion in 1982, competing again in the Olympics in 1984 and 1988 without much success.

The other medallist, Dzhumanazarov, reached his peak result in Moscow. He got the bronze medal with a finishing time only 19s slower than his PB. His best result afterwards was 5th in the Tokyo Marathon the following year.

 

Extras:

No more records have been broken in Olympic Games than in Moscow 1980: 36 World and 74 Olympic records. These otherwise amazing results were already at the time overshadowed by suspicion, as the use of doping techniques was widespread.

After the fall of the Berlin Wall, documents uncovered at the Stasi (official state security service of East Germany) headquarters implicated Cierpinski in the East Germany´s state-sponsored doping system. Former competitor Frank Shorter, who finished second in Montreal 1976 behind him, advocated with other athletes to have his victories stripped.

 

More to watch:

A video with the highlights of the marathon in Moscow 1980 can be seen in:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uKb4qXu7CV0

A film related to doping-state sponsored programs:

https://www.onekmore.com/en/2019/06/19/icarus-2017-en/

 

Sources:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1980_Summer_Olympics#Athletics

https://www.sports-reference.com/olympics/summer/1980/ATH/mens-marathon.html

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

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

Marathon through the Red Square
Lenin Central Olympic Stadium

SELF-ESTEEM FOR LIFE AND SPORT

Self-esteem is the assessment that we have about ourselves, in other words, our self-evaluation. This feeling is important for everyone´s daily life and even more in the world of sports, where it can affect performance. 

Since we are young all that surrounds us ends up determining our self-esteem. The environment, the situations lived and the people around us influence the self-esteem we have in the adulthood.

In the world of sports, athletes set goals, and their self-esteem is determined by whether they can achieve them, or if for any reason the performance is far from the desired one. This performance evaluation can become so demanding in professional sports as to stop practicing sports altogether. Even more, it can affect the athletes after retirement, marking their future away from the tracks.

However, self-esteem problems do not only affect professional athletes. Many times, even at amateur level, we demand ourselves as if we were professionals and our life depended on it.

As in so many other circumstances in life, a midpoint is ideal. Excessive self-esteem can lead us to face challenges without enough preparation or believe that we can achieve everything only because we want it. Too low self-esteem will limit our results and cause us harm, preventing us from enjoying other things in life.

Thus, self-esteem affects the athlete’s wellbeing and success. Like many other skills in life, it can also be trained, with the aim of improving performance and make the competition stimulating.

In our search for self-esteem, we can always resort to the help of professionals in mental health, although the environment also plays a fundamental role in it. Coaches and training partners are important to relativize the bad results and value effort and dedication.

We accompany this entry with a figure in which we indicate various strategies to help us improve our self-esteem, for a better personal life and sports results. By applying some of these principles, we will be able to enjoy an active and fuller life.

Follow us and see you soon.

 

Sources and more information in:

https://www.patriciaramirezloeffler.com/

http://www.psicod.com/la-autoestima-en-el-deporte-asi-afecta-al-bienestar-y-rendimiento/

https://www.sportlife.es/salud/articulo/deporte-medicina-autoestima

Photo by Amanda Jones (Unsplash)

BIOMECHANICAL DIFFERENCES BETWEEN TREADMILL AND OVERGROUND RUNNING

Running treadmills are present in almost every gym, and besides training they are also used for research and clinical purposes.

In the United States a survey showed that 17% of runners preferred to run on a treadmill. Additionally, they were also used by elite athletes as a supplementary training mode.

In the clinical field treadmill running is used in combination with video analysis to study running technique and give footwear and orthotic recommendations, but also for performance enhancement, injury prevention and rehabilitation.

For research purposes treadmills are commonly used to evaluate running biomechanics. A common belief is that running in a treadmill requires less propulsion, because the belt is moving the supporting leg under the body, instead of the runner moving the body over the supporting leg.

This topic is the focus of a recent meta-analysis, that used data from 33 articles on the topic that complied with the inclusion criteria.

 

The studies

The main characteristics were:

  • 494 participants (349 males, 111 females, 34 not specified)
  • 16 studies included only males, 15 a mix of males and females and 2 did not specify gender
  • 30 studies recruited participants runners or physically active, and 3 did not specify it
  • 21 studies specified that the participants had prior experience with treadmill running
  • In the overground conditions: 9 studies used a synthetic track, 3 a concrete road, 19 an indoor lab runway and 2 studies a combination of overground surfaces (track, grass, concrete).
  • Running speeds ranged between 9.4 and 23.0 km/h (not specified in 4 studies)
  • 14 studies provided <6 min of familiarization immediately before data collection, 10 provided ≥ 6 min, and 9 did not specify the familiarization procedure.

 

The results

Spatiotemporal parameters, kinetic, muscle activity and muscle-tendon relation were largely comparable between treadmill and overground running.

sagittal (or anteroposterior) plane is perpendicular to the ground, separating left from right (see image). There were differences in some sagittal plane measurements:

  • Sagittal foot-ground angle.
  • Knee flexion during the footstrike and stance stages.
  • Vertical displacement of the pelvis.

Additionally, there were inconclusive results regarding muscle activity, with some studies reporting lower muscle activity while running in a treadmill, while others didn´t find any difference.

 

The conclusions

Biomechanics were mostly similar between treadmill and overground running. The small differences could be due to differences in surface stiffness, insufficient treadmill running experience, differences in air resistance and altered speed perception.

These factors should be considered to minimize biomechanical differences and improve training effectiveness using running treadmills.

We hope you liked it. See you soon.

 

Bibliography

Is Motorized Treadmill Running Biomechanically Comparable to Overground Running? A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Cross-Over Studies.

Van Hooren B, Fuller JT, Buckley JD, Miller JR, Sewell K, Rao G, Barton C, Bishop C, Willy RW.

Sports Med. 2019 Dec 4. doi: 10.1007/s40279-019-01237-z.

STRONGER (2017, D Gordon Green, 119min)

With so many races cancelled it looks that there is going to be some extra time available, and maybe watching a movie is not the worst option. We propose the 2017 film Stronger, available in some streaming services.

This film follows the real story of Jeff Bauman, a survivor of the Boston Marathon bombings. It is based on the autobiography co-written by Bauman himself, portrayed by Jake Gyllenhaal, with Tatiana Maslany as his ex-girlfriend/girlfriend Erin Hurley.

What happened in the Boston Marathon bombings? During the 2013 edition two homemade bombs were detonated near the finish line, killing 3 people and injuring hundred others.

The first part of the film tells how Jeff Bauman lost both of their legs while waiting near the finish line for his ex-girlfriend Erin, who was running the marathon. Although injured, his contribution was vital to identify one of the terrorists.

After being discharged from hospital, Jeff struggles between adapting to an undesired hero role, known everywhere, and the fact that he has lost both of his legs for being in the wrong place at the worst time. His relationship with Erin has its ups and downs, as she moves into his house, where he lives with his alcoholic mother.

During the bombings he was helped by Carlos Arredondo. Meeting Carlos gives him the energy to surpass his self-imposed limitations: he understands that may be also an inspiration for others. He then focuses on his rehabilitation, trying to adapt to his prosthetic legs, and resuming his relationship with Erin, now pregnant.

After getting married and giving birth, Erin is finally able of finishing the Boston Marathon, which she couldn´t do in 2013. 

 

Score: 4 / 5

Pros: good acting; the balance between the drama and getting cheesy; digital effects for the missing legs.

Cons: maybe is difficult to identify all members of the Bauman family.

For: fans of sports films, especially those who run the Boston Marathon and like baseball too.

Real life Jeff Bauman being helped by Carlos Arredondo, inmediately after the bombings
Jeff Bauman & Jake Gyllenhaal (2016)

MARATHON OLYMPIC CHAMPIONS (XVIII) – Montreal 1976: WALDEMAR CIERPINSKI (1950-)

Cierpinski in 1976
Montreal 1976 gold medal

Montreal won unexpectedly the vote that decided the organiser for the 1976 Olympics. The favourites had been Moscow and Los Angeles, that would also host the Games in the next two occasions (Moscow 1980 and Los Angeles 1984).

The construction plans for the venues in Montreal were very expensive. Additionally, they skyrocketed, due to labour strikes, overtime work and a downturn in world economy. Only the Olympic stadium cost more than the whole Munich Olympic Games four years earlier.

But another big blow came only 48 hours before the opening ceremony. 24 African and Caribbean countries abandoned the competition, protesting for a New Zealand´s team that had competed in South Africa, still under a pro-apartheid regime. This boycott also affected the marathon, as 7 African nations had already sent participants.

Among the great figures of the Olympics we could highlight Romanian gymnast Nadia Comaneci, who at 14 won 3 gold medals, scoring for the first time a perfect 10. In athletics, Finnish Lasse Viren got a “double-double” by revalidating his titles in the 5000 and 10000 metres.

The marathon scene had been interesting since Munich Olympic marathon. Some of the runners who had a role in 1972 would also stand out in Montreal.

Frank Shorter was one of the favourites. Besides his gold medal in Munich had won four consecutive marathons in Fukuoka. His comrade Bill Rodgers was also in the cards, after winning the 1975 Boston Marathon, as was Canadian Jerome Drayton, winner of the Fukuoka marathon the same year. The silver medallist from Munich, Karel Lismont from Belgium was also competing. A last-minute entry was new to the marathon: Viren trying to get a third gold medal in the same Olympics, as Emil Zátopek had done in Stockholm 1952.

The marathon course for Montreal was a square encircling the city to avoid the numerous hills, starting and finishing in the Olympic Stadium. It was the first time that a counter mounted on a bicycle was used to measure the distance. This inexpensive method, developed by Alan Jones, offered a 0.1% precision (Clain Jones counter).

Race was scheduled for July 31st at 15.30. 67 athletes were present, less than expected because of the aforementioned boycott from some African nations. The temperature was 25°C, although the drizzle present soften the heat feeling.

Waldemar Cierpinski was born in Neugattersleben, in the German Democratic Republic. He was steeplechase runner until 1974, when he made his marathon debut in the Kosice marathon finishing third. He came back one year later to finish 7th, improving his time by 3 minutes. In 1976 and only two months before the Games he did well in Wittenberg marathon with 2.12.21.

After the race start, runners made three laps on the stadium track before departing. At the 10k (30.48) Bill Rodgers was at the front accompanied by Swedish Goran Bengtsson and Portuguese Anacleto Pinto. They were only 1 second ahead of a big pack with most of the favourites.

By the 15k Shorter took the lead and decided to test the group. He started changing the pace, trying to thin the group. It was a strategy that had worked well for him in Munich 1972. By the 20k (1.01.24) the front pack was reduced to 8. Still too many, and including Cierpinski, Viren, Lismont and other great runners.

As the race continued some runners started falling behind. By the 30k (1.32.08) only Cierpinski had been able to keep Shorter´s pace. 15 seconds behind were Drayton and India´s runner Shivnath Singh. Viren was 13s back, followed by Lismont another 8s behind.

Shortly afterwards, a powerful attack from Cierpinski opened a gap with Shorter. At 40k (2.03.42) his lead was 32s. Following in third was runner from United States Don Kardong, with Lismont in fourth.

Cierpinski entered the stadium, where he must run an additional lap on the track, indicated in the lap counter. As he approached the finish line, the lap counter remained in “1”, to indicate Shorter, coming second, that he still had a lap to run. No speaking English or French, he couldn´t understand the race officials. Doubtful about having to give an extra lap, Cierpinski continued running, being greeted in the finish line by Shorter himself after running an extra 400 metres.

Cierpinki´s time was 2.09.55, with Shorter entering in 2.10.45. Shorter was now silver medallist, after winning the gold four years earlier. The third place was taken by Lismont (2.11.12), who only entering the stadium beat Kardong for 3s and added a bronze medal to his Olympic tally after his silver in Munich 1972. Lasse Viren performance was also remarkable, finishing 5th in his marathon debut, in such a top-class field, with many of the top marathon runners in the world.

Most of these runners would compete against each other later. Moscow 1980 was to be the next Olympic date. What happened in its marathon will be the subject of our next entry.

PS: Only 12 weeks after the Olympic marathon, race director Fred Lebow decided that the New York Marathon, that until then had been run doing loops in Central Park, traversed all five boroughs in city. This decision changed marathon history. New York marathon became an international race with the highest standards and contributed decisively to the “marathon boom” of the 70s. In 1976 the showdown between Frank Shorter and Bill Rodgers was won by the latest in 2.10.09, more than 3 minutes ahead of Shorter.

 

Sources:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1976_Summer_Olympics

https://www.sports-reference.com/olympics/summer/1976/ATH/mens-marathon.html

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

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

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

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