Newsletter: Volume 36, February 2002
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Speed Training Without
Aches and Pains: Acceleration Gliders
When done every three days or so, these little "pick-ups"
will warm up your legs while they improve your running form. These
are not sprints and are not hard to do. Your mission is to play
with your momentum while running with less effort. The acceleration
part is easy to do on a short stretch of downhill. Simply pick up
the turnover of your feet (not your stride length) on the downhill,
propelled by gravity, touching lightly with your feet. As you "coast²
onto flat ground, maintain that increase without any significant
effort. Then let the momentum gradually decrease back to your easy
running pace for that day. Your goal is to glide very smoothly,
even with a quicker turnover.
Acceleration Gliders in Six Easy Steps
1. Start your warm-up by walking for five minutes, then walking
and jogging very slowly for 5-10 minutes and then easing into your
running pace for that day. Warm down by reversing this procedure.
2. Go down! After you're warmed up, use a slight downhill segment
of 20-40 running steps to get a little momentum. Be sure to keep
the legs and body relaxed throughout, without increasing your stride
length. As you reach the flat, coast along with the added momentum,
touching the ground lightly and feet near the surface of the road
or trail. If no downhill is available, pick up your leg rhythm by
shortening your stride length and gradually increasing the turnover
of your feet and legs for 20-30 steps. (Turnover is simply the number
of steps you take per minute.)
3. After the first few steps of the acceleration, when you feel
comfortable at the faster rhythm, let the stride lengthen just a
bit if you wish, but don't let it get too long. Avoid any feeling
of tension or over-stretching in the back of your legs.
4. You're now up to speed so just glide, keeping the feet low to
the ground and using very little effort. At the first sign of this,
reduce stride length, and touch lighter on your feet.
5. Continue gliding for between 10-30 steps.
6. Rest by jogging very slowly or walking between accelerations.
Your acceleration glider program
- Each of these offers you a chance to work on more efficient
running form as described on pp. 114-115 in the Marathon You Can
Do It (Shelter Publications, 2001).
- Warm up before each session with 10-20 minutes of walking and
easy running (with walking breaks if you wish).
- Keep the legs relaxed throughout the warm-up, the gliders themselves
and afterward. Ease into the gliders, using downhills as the accelerations.
If you don't have a downhill available, accelerate by shortening
the stride, picking up the turnover rate of the legs, and then
relaxing as you glide.
- Start with three to five gliders and increase by one or two
each session to a maximum of 10 or 12.
- Two of these sessions per week will help to reinforce form improvements
- You can use these as a warm-up before hills, speed sessions
or races. You may also do them during your recovery and maintenance
runs each week.
COFFEE: Filtering the facts
The Athlete's Kitchen
Copyright: Nancy Clark, January 2002
"I have 2 cups of coffee in the morning. How bad is that...???"
"Should I drink coffee before I exercise?"
"Does coffee count towards my daily water requirement?"
Coffee is a universally loved beverage. Every culture the world
around enjoys some type of caffeinated beverage, be it tea in England
and Japan, espresso in Italy, or a "coffee regular" in America.
Questions abound about the role of coffee in a sports diet: Is coffee
good, bad or irrelevant? The purpose of this article is to answer
some of the questions athletes commonly ask about coffee as it relates
to their daily diet as well as to their exercise program.
Is coffee bad for me? That is, will it hurt my health? Because
coffee is so widely consumed, it has been extensively researched.
To date, there is no obvious connection between caffeine and heart
disease, cancer or blood pressure. Hence, the general answer, according
to leading medical and scientific experts, is normal coffee consumption
produces no adverse health effects. (The average American consumes
200 milligram caffeine per day; the equivalent of about 8 to 10
ounces??an average mug?-?of coffee.) For the 10% of Americans who
ingest more than 1,000 milligrams caffeine per day and sustain themselves
on the cream and sugar in coffee plus a few cigarettes alongside,
heart disease is indeed more common??and linked to the poor diet
and unhealthful lifestyle.
What does coffee do to my body? The caffeine in coffee is a mild
stimulant that increases the activity of the central nervous system.
Hence, caffeine helps you stay alert and enhances mental focus.
Caffeine's stimulant effect peaks in about one hour and then declines
as the liver breaks down the caffeine. If you are an occasional
coffee drinker, you'll tend to be more sensitive to caffeine's stimulant
effects as compared to the daily coffee consumer who has developed
a tolerance to caffeine.
What about coffee and women? Pregnant women should prudently limit
caffeine to less than 300 mg. per day (<12 ounces of coffee). Women
who are trying to get pregnant might want to reduce caffeine intake
even more, but more research is needed to clarify the controversy
over the effects of caffeine on fertility. Women who are worried
about getting osteoporosis may have heard that caffeine is linked
to low bone density. The solution is to consume at least 8 ounces
of milk per day. How about putting more milk in your coffee or enjoying
Do people get addicted to coffee? Although coffee has been a popular
beverage for centuries, its sustained popularity fails to classify
it as "addictive." Coffee is not associated with the behaviors
found with hard drugs (such as a need for more and more coffee,
anti-social behavior, severe difficulty stopping consumption). If
you are a regular coffee drinker who decides to cut coffee out of
your diet, you may develop headaches, fatigue or drowsiness. The
solution: gradually decrease your caffeine intake rather than eliminate
coffee cold turkey. And be aware, if you should get a headache due
to caffeine withdrawal, caffeine-containing medicines such as Anacin
or Excedrin will foil your efforts to reduce your caffeine intake!
How much caffeine is in espresso? Ounce for ounce, espresso is
about twice as strong as coffee (35 vs 18 milligrams caffeine per
ounce of Starbuck's). But because the espresso serving is so small,
you end up with less caffeine: 35 mg from one shot (one ounce) of
espresso vs 140 mg from an 8-ounce Starbuck's coffee.
How much caffeine do Coke and Pepsi have compared to coffee? The
typical 9-ounce mug of coffee averages 200 milligrams of caffeine.
This is about 5 times more than the 35 to 50 milligrams in a can
of cola. The real kick from soft drinks comes from sugar, not caffeine.
If I drink too much beer, will coffee help me sober up? No. Coffee
will just make you a wide-awake drunk. Coffee does not speed the
time needed for the liver to detoxify alcohol. But coffee does get
some water into your body, and that can have a positive effect.
Does coffee count towards my daily fluid needs? Yes. All fluids
count--plain water, juice, soup, watermelon--and even coffee. The
rumor that coffee dehydrates people lacks scientific support. Yes,
coffee can make you urinate more in two hours??but not in 24 hours.
Even during exercise in the heat, athletes can consume coffee and
not be concerned about dehydration.
What about pre-exercise coffee: Will it help me perform better?
Perhaps. Studies suggest caffeine taken an hour pre-exercise can
enhance performance and make the effort seem easier. Caffeine also
mobilizes fat so more gets burned for fuel. Some researchers believe
this helps athletes burn less glycogen and enhances endurance. The
recommended "dose" is about 1.5 to 3 milligrams caffeine per pound
body weight (225 to 450 mg caffeine for a 150 lb person; the equivalent
of 10 to 20 ounces of coffee). Caffeine's response varies from person
to person. Hence, trial and error will teach you the best practices
regarding caffeine intake for your body. If you are unaccustomed
to drinking coffee, take heed: Consuming a mugful of coffee on an
empty stomach an hour before, let's say a running event or a rugby
game, can leave you feeling unduly jittery, nervous and suffering
from "coffee stomach." Yet, if you always drink coffee before
you exercise, you'll likely want to maintain that practice before
a competition--if for no other reason than it can promote regular
bowel movements and keep you out of the portatoilets mid event.
Isn't caffeine considered an illegal drug by the Olympic Committee?
Yes, caffeine in very high doses is considered illegal by the IOC.
However the amount most athletes generally consume is far below
the legal limit. You'd have to drink 3 to 4 mugs within the hour
pre-exercise to reach the limit. That much would likely hurt performance...
Nancy Clark, MS, RD counsels clients privately at SportsMedicine
Associates in Brookline MA. Her best seller Nancy Clark's Sports
Nutrition Guidebook, 2nd Edition is available at www.nancyclarkrd.com
or by sending $23 to Sports Nutrition Services, 830 Boylston St.
#205, Brookline MA 02467
"Helping active people win with good nutrition."
When chocolate is your comfort food of choice, choose a big mug
of hot chocolate made with fat-free milk. From Liz Applegate's "Soul
Food,² Runner's World, February 2002, p. 24, www.runnersworld.com
See the February issue of Runner's World for Jeff's article on
"Romulus, Remus, and Running," where he dispels six different
popular running myths. www.runnersworld.com
Preventing and Treating
By Matt Fitzgerald
We've all had the experience of getting out of bed a day or two
after a hard workout or race only to discover that our muscles feel
as though they were tenderized by a tire iron in our sleep. This
phenomenon, known as delayed-onset muscle soreness (DOMS), is believed
to be caused by micro-tearing of muscle fibers during exercise.
Not only is it uncomfortable, but it also interferes with your ability
to return to hard exercise and in extreme cases can lead to overuse
Fortunately, there are several measures you can take to minimize
and treat post-exercise muscle soreness. On the prevention side,
building up to hard workouts and races gradually will make your
muscles more resistant to breakdown. Increase the volume and/or
intensity of your training only very slightly from one week to the
next, and allow yourself plenty of time to get some good, hard workouts
under your belt before racing. Warming up thoroughly before high-intensity
exercise also prevents soreness by warming and lubricating the muscles.
Cooling down has a similar effect by jump-starting the recovery
The most effective way to minimize DOMS after working out is to
promote muscle tissue repair with smart post-exercise nutrition.
Consuming a recovery drink, such as Endurox R4, containing carbohydrate
and protein in a 4 to 1 ratio accelerates tissue repair by stimulating
an insulin response that results in faster delivery of protein to
the muscles. In clinical tests, Endurox R4 stimulated a 92-percent
greater insulin response than a conventional sports drink containing
no protein and decreased post-exercise muscle damage by 36 percent.
Delayed-onset muscle soreness is a normal consequence of training
and racing. However, by following a few simple guidelines like warming
up thoroughly and drinking Endurox R4 after workouts, you can minimize
the discomfort and delayed recovery caused by muscle damage.
Matt Fitzgerald is the author of "Triathlete Magazine's Complete
Book of Triathlon", forthcoming from Warner Books (Spring 2003).
Pint for pint, these little blue jewels may contain more antioxidants
than any other fruit or vegetable. The most powerful health-promoting
compounds in blueberries are anthocyanins, phytochemicals that belong
to the flavonoid family. Besides combating the free-radical damage
linked to heart disease and cancer, anthocyanins may boost brainpower
at least in rats. When fed blueberry extract for nine weeks, elderly
rats outperformed a control group at such tasks as navigating mazes
and balancing on rotating logs. And when aging rats ate a blueberry-enriched
diet for four months, they performed as well in memory tests as
younger rats. Another blueberry benefit: like cranberries, they
seem to fight off urinary tract infections by preventing E. coli
bacteria from adhering to the bladder wall. From Time, "10
Foods That Pack a Wallop," January 21, 2002, p. 80.
COMING NEXT MONTH:
- Hills: How to run them and how they build strength
- Article by Nancy Clark
- New sale items
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