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Run Long, Run Healthy Weekly Roundup — February 3, 2022

Your weekly guided tour of the best new research and articles on running from around the web.

Each week, Boston Marathon winner Amby Burfoot, also the world’s most experienced running editor, curates the latest and most useful content on running and health from around the internet. “I spend hours finding the best new research and articles, so you can review them in minutes.”

THIS WEEK: Run strong after pregnancy. Bernd Heinrich returns to the ultra-marathon. Best motivation tips. Should you try a plant-based diet? Use the “pedal pump” for faster lactate clearance. Don’t wear spikes in training. A new treatment for knee pain. Endurance fatigue strikes runners and cyclists differently. Sports drinks can cause dental erosion. More.

Have fourth baby. Run first marathon. Finish in 2:26. Whaaat?

It’s hard to imagine a mid-30s runner, a specialist in the mile, who gives birth to a fourth child, and then decides to train for her first marathon. Even harder—almost impossible—to imagine that she finishes in 2:26:53. But that’s what 35-year-old Sara Vaughn did in December. How? I like that she took things slow, at least at first. And that she rehearsed “potential challenges.” I think that’s essential for marathon runners. But best of all, she admitted, “Marathon training is not always fun and enjoyable.” So she took steps to deal with that problem. More at Outside.

At 81, Bernd Heinrich decided to tackle another ultra marathon

Bernd Heinrich is one of my favorite runners, and this is an article I wrote about him. He’s the naturalist-ultrarunner-author, now 81, who ran one of the greatest races ever in 1981 when he set a still-standing American 100K master’s record (62 miles) at age 41. He averaged 6:24 per mile. Last fall he decided to run half the distance (31 miles) at twice the age. Two weeks later he was in the hospital for two brain surgeries related to a car accident a month before his 31-miler. Here he reflects on what he has learned from a life in the woods and on the roads. What’s next? “I’m aiming for another 20 years. I’ll run now and then, on a flexible schedule, and see how it goes.” More at Outside.

Best motivation tips from experts

Since motivation is job one, here’s a great NYT piece by Christie Aschwanden. She looks at studies, interviews experts, and comes up with a nice list of suggestions. My favorite could be summarized as: Don’t catastrophize. Just because you miss one workout (or a week, or a month) doesn’t mean you can’t and won’t get back into your program. You will. Return as soon as you can, but also give yourself the necessary time. We all know friends are key. Also, I like the idea of prioritizing exercise time by putting it into your daily calendar. More at the NY Times.

Should you consider a plant-based diet?

I just noticed that the shiny-strength-training-unit-on-the-wall that has bought a lot of TV ads recently—Tonal—is also publishing some solid nutrition and training blogs. Plus, a lot of my friends are talking about plant-based eating, influenced by the Netflix movie The Game Changers, which includes Scott Jurek’s Appalachian Trail run of several years ago. Here’s a top sports nutritionist, Lauren Antonnuci, discussing protein and plant-based eating. She says: no problem. More at Tonal.

Do the pedal pump for better lactate clearance

Delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) following a hard race or workout can substantially limit your next training sessions. Here’s a technique—the “pedal pump”—that might make a real difference versus passive rest in how you feel 20 minutes after a hard effort. It involves more or less what it sounds like. While lying on your back, pretend you are pumping on and off the accelerator pedal of your car. (Or have someone “pump” your forefeet backwards toward your shins. Short YouTube video.) This maneuver “significantly lowered blood lactate concentrations at minute 20 of recovery.” More at Sports Medicine-Open.

Ouch! Don’t wear spikes in training

Swedish researchers wanted to see what they could learn about injuries in teen track athletes. First the good news: 91 percent of new injuries were non-traumatic. Now the bad: Athletes training in spikes suffered a six to eight times greater risk of injuries. Girls had a higher overall injury rate than boys. A bit of a surprise: Many of the injuries occurred in the quadriceps group. More at J of Science & Medicine in Sports.

Some spectator cheers are helpful. But others? No way

We’ve all run races, especially marathons, where someone encouraged us with cheers we knew to be complete bull____. Like: “You’re looking great.” (“No I’m not. I’m walking and there’s snot dribbling down my face.”) Or maybe: “You’re almost there.” (“Since when is 10 miles to go almost there?”) These cheers didn’t help much. On the other hand, informed and authentic cheers do definitely help. The authors of this paper say you should offer friends cheers with IMPACT—Instruction, Motivation, Personalization, Confidence building, and Tailored to the distance. “Great pace, keep it going.” That’s good. Also, “You got this Alice, we’re proud of you.” More at The Sport Psychologist.

Fatigue occurs differently in runners versus cyclists

Sometimes you see an interesting report and are not quite sure what to make of it. How can I use this information? This study is one of those. It concludes that running performance is more limited by the central nervous system (the brain) than cycling, where it’s all about loss of muscle function. This probably happens because you get to sit down most of the time while cycling, which places less strain on the spine than running. Implication: It should be possible to combine running and cycling in an intelligent manner. I’m sure top triathletes have figured this out. More at Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise.

Should you consider extracorporeal shockwave treatments for knee pain?

Many runners fear knee arthritis and certainly wish to avoid surgery. One potential alternative is extracorporeal shockwave therapy, which has produced good results with plantar fasciitis. Here a research group tested EST in a randomized controlled trial of patients with knee osteoarthritis. Conclusion: EST “has clinical benefits for pain and physical function improvement” and “improvement in physical performance.” More at Amer J of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation.

Too many sports drinks can lead to dental erosion

I think most runners want to achieve high-level wellness in addition to fast race times. This means taking good care of all body systems, including the teeth. That can be a challenge on a high-carb diet, though healthy high-carbs aren’t as bad as the junky stuff. This paper looked at exercise and dental erosion, which is irreversible. It found more erosion among those who were more physically active, especially with “frequent consumption of sports drinks.” In fact, they had “more than a 2.5-fold increase in the odds of erosive lesions.” More at Applied Sciences.

SHORT STUFF you won’t want to miss

> Your genes are not too tight [pun intended]; exercise has benefits for all

> Why diet and exercise should be part of cancer treatment

> Moderate, continuous training might beat high-intensity for type 2 diabetics


“It’s only cold if you’re standing still.” —Anon.

“There’s no such thing as bad weather, only unsuitable clothing.” —Ranulph Fiennes, British endurance explorer.

That’s it for now. Thanks for reading. Stay well, and see you next week.