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Which sporting event has the most extreme energy expenditure?

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Written By Asker Jeukendrup for mysportscience.com
Follow Asker on Twitter @Jeukendrup

It is often said that the Tour de France is perhaps the most gruelling endurance event on the planet. The same is sometimes said about Ironman. We saw in my previous blog that energy expenditure in the Tour de France averages almost 6000 kcal per day for 3 weeks (5).  It has been measured that energy expenditure can be as high as 9000 kcal per day. How does this compare to other sports? Is this really the most extreme sport? Is it Ironman… Or is there another event?

In the literature we can find energy expenditure values for a number of events and I have tried to find the highest values for energy expenditure in the literature. If someone knows of other papers that report extreme values please let me know and I will update this list.

There is a report of a male distance runner covering ∼100 km/day for 1,000 km (1), He averaged around 6,000 kcal/day.

Another report describes 2 elite cyclists averaging around 330 km/day for 10 days and expending 7,000 kcal per day (2)

There is also a report of a team of elite cyclists expending 6,500 kcal/day who covered nearly 4,900 km in 6 days during the Race across America (RAAM) (3).

Similar values were also reported in cross country skiers during intense training (6,000 kcal/day) (6).

Dr Mike Stroud, a Polar explorer and researcher, measured energy expenditure in man-haulers over several polar expeditions during the 1980s and 1990s (7). Before these studies the very high energy costs of polar travel on foot appreciated. During a modern-day, one-way expedition to the South Pole that repeated Scott’s route (“Footsteps of Scott expedition”), an average of 6,000 kcal were expended every 24 h. Mike Stroud himself together with Sir Ranulph Fiennes crossed Antarctica by foot and expended on average nearly 7,000 kcal/day.

During this crossing there was a period of approximately 10 days, while ascending to the plateau, during which they averaged nearly 11,000 kcal/day).

A recent study by Dr Brent Ruby and Colleagues (4) compared measurements at Ironman Hawaii (2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike and 26 mile run (3.8km; 180km and 42km respectively) and the Western State 100 (a 100 mile (160km) ultramarathon). Energy expenditure during the Hawaii Ironman averaged 9,040 kcal (plus or minus 1,390 kcal). In the Western State energy expenditure was as high as 16,310 kcal (plus or minus 2,960) but of course the duration of this event was more than 24 hours on average (26.8h).

It is clear that daily energy expenditure can be much higher than the reported average of 6000 kcal per day for the Tour de France cyclist. Values can be even higher than the extreme values reported during the longest and hardest days in the Tour.

What make the Tour de France unique though is that these extreme energy expenditures are achieved within 4-6 hours of racing per day and also that this is sustained over a period of 3 weeks.

Most other sports with extreme energy expenditures achieve their high numbers by exercising more hours per day at a lower intensity and sometimes by eliminating sleep.

Which is the most extreme sport? Difficult to say… would you rather do a day in the Tour than a day crossing Antartica, or running a 100 mile race in the heat without sleeping?

 

References 

1. Eden B, Abernethy P. Nutritional intake during an ultraendurance running race. International J Sports Nutr 4: 166–174, 1994.
2. Gabel K, Aldous A, Edgington C. Dietary intake of two elite male cyclists during 10-day, 2,050-mile ride. Int J Sports Nutr 5: 56–61, 1995.
3. Hulton A, Lahart I, Williams K, Godfrey R, Charlesworth S, Wilson M, Pedlar C, Whyte G. Energy expenditure in the race across america (RAAM). Int J Sports Med 31: 463–467, 2010.
4. Ruby BC, Cuddy JS, Hailes WS, Dumke CL, Slivka DR, Shriver TC, Schoeller DA Extreme endurance and the metabolic range of sustained activity is uniquely available for every human not just the elite few. Comparative Exercise Physiology, 11(1): 1-7, 2015.
5. Saris WH, van Erp-Baart MA, Brouns F, Westerterp KR, ten Hoor F. Study on food intake and energy expenditure during extreme sustained exercise: the Tour de France. Int J Sports Med;10 Suppl 1:S26-31, 1989
6. Sjodin A, Andersson A, Hogberg J, Westerterp KR. Energy balance in cross-country skiers: a study using doubly labeled water. Med Sci Sports Exercise 26: 720–724, 1994.
7. Stroud M, Coward W, Sawyer M. Measurements of energy expenditure using iso- tope-labelled water (2H218O) during an Arctic expedition. Eur J Appl Physiol 67: 375– 379, 1993

Road To Kona: Nutrition with Sarah Piampiano

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Follow professional Ironman Triathlete Sarah Piampiano on her journey to Kona.

In this video, Sarah takes us behind the scenes of how she plans and executes her nutrition plan, and explains why it her changes have been so important.

Trust the process… Trust the plan. 

Magnesium and Muscle Cramps

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Anyone who has suffered from a muscle cramp during or after exercise understands that it’s definitely something worth trying to avoid.

For those who have been lucky enough to evade them, a muscle cramp is a sudden, involuntary, painful contraction of a muscle. These symptoms generally ease off within seconds to minutes but are often accompanied by a palpable knotting of the muscle. While magnesium does play many important roles in the body, unfortunately the prevention/reduction of exercise-induced muscle cramps is not one of these. It is easy to be confused considering the heavy marketing for magnesium supplements and the prevention of cramps, but to date the scientific research suggests that there is no strong link between exercise-induced muscle cramps and magnesium supplementation.

While oral magnesium does not appear to have any beneficial effects in athletes with adequate magnesium, supplementation may improve performance in individuals with a diagnosed deficiency. Those undertaking a high volume chronic training load (e.g. long distance runners) or those with a restricted energy intake may be at risk of magnesium deficiency, although this is not common and you should always get this checked out with your GP before supplementation. It is worthwhile noting that the intestinal absorption of magnesium varies depending on how much magnesium the body needs. If there is too much magnesium, the body will only absorb as much as it needs. So how much do I need? I hear you ask. The recommendations suggest that adults consume a range between 350 and 400 mg/day as the upper limit. Most individuals who are eating a healthy well balanced diet will be acquiring the required amount of magnesium through wholefoods. Good food sources of magnesium include vegetables, legumes, fish, nuts and whole grains. For example, 30g of brazil nuts provides ~100mg, and ½ cup cooked quinoa provides ~50mg of magnesium.

1 litre of SOS Rehydrate provides 20% of the recommended daily intake of Magnesium

Ok, so what does cause cramps and what can I do to avoid them?

What we do know about cramps is that the main risk factors include; family history of cramping, previous occurrence of cramps during or after exercise, increased exercise intensity and duration, and inadequate conditioning for the activity. This explains the classic example of cramping on race day. During a race you’re typically working at a higher intensity than normal, and often over a longer duration than during training.

From a nutrition perspective, glycogen depletion (insufficient carbohydrate) or low energy availability can also contribute to fatigue and therefore cramping. This highlights the importance of getting your nutrition and fuelling plans for long sessions and races spot on.

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Food v Supplements

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We all know a fast-food competitor, the person who, despite using a drive-through burger after training as their version of quick recovery nutrition, continues to run well.

This same person is likely to take vitamins and other supplements because they know their nutrition is below average. Those who prioritise optimising their nutrition as part of their training regimen simply shake their heads at this attitude, while others might copy the practice thinking it will deliver them the same results!

What needs to be understood is that talent plays the greatest role in an athlete’s performance. Talented athletes certainly appear to get away with poor nutrition, particularly when there is little depth of talent in a field. However, the difference between winning gold or finishing a season undefeated, can come down to millimetres or milliseconds – and that kind of difference can be achieved with optimal nutrition. Professor Ron Maughan of Loughbrough University, UK says it best:

“A good diet will not make a mediocre athlete into a champion, but poor food choices can turn a champion into a mediocre athlete”.

Sports Nutrition Pyramid

The role of nutrition in exercise

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) position stand is that the use of supplements does not compensate for poor food choices and an inadequate diet”. Reinforcing this importance of food, researchers have found that athletes eating a diet rich in nitrates from vegetables (not supplements) for just 10 days were able to enhance their exercise performance, compared to when they were eating their usual diet.

It is clear that active people would benefit most from consistently eating a nourishing whole foods diet, rich in a variety of whole foods. However, there may be situations where supplements may be beneficial to complement (not replace) a good quality diet and provide a suitable option for the very active – for example players who have very high energy needs and struggle to eat enough to meet their sports nutrition needs or travelling athletes who do not have access to their usual food preferences.

For busy athletes, eating something—particularly in the recovery phase—is better than having nothing. While it is important to be careful not to double up your recovery nutrition needs and don’t dismiss whole foods in favour of sports supplements, the use of convenient prepackaged sports supplements may be helpful in achieving performance and sports nutrition goals.

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How To Boost Your Post-Ride or Run Recovery in the Café

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Cycling and running have become synonymous with a café culture that, for some, is the motivation for getting out the door in the first place.

No matter what type of rider or runner, nutrition is a hot topic of conversation rife with some of the most entertaining myths, choices, and habits. No matter who you talk to, social to elite athletes all seem to dive towards food choices they consider to be high in protein, second to their coffee order, as post-training habits.

What many don’t seem to have a grasp on is the portion size required to reach their protein needs, and the best ‘bang for buck’ items on café menus to achieve those needs.

What is recovery?

It’s true that post-training protein is important for muscle recovery after exercise. But so is carbohydrate, water, vitamins and minerals, and of course the most underestimated factor, portion size.

The rule of thumb is to aim for 20-25g protein within the first hour of finishing training with the more serious athletes able to quote it off by heart. Ask them about carbohydrate, however, and you will find a mixed response from those who avoid to those who consume it without consciously knowing it.

To help restore glycogen stores in the muscles a few ratio theories (carb:protein) exist to promote optimum recovery in the post-training hour window. They range from 2:1 up to 4:1. This means a range of carbohydrate from 40g – 80g.

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Eating to match energy needs

Depending on the intensity and duration of training, energy needs could be low to high and should be assessed for each individual.

Advice that won’t change is to select nutritious foods, lower in fat and in particular saturated fat, that are high in both carbohydrate and protein. In the first hour post-training, quickly absorbed carbohydrates (or high GI) have been associated with good recovery strategies.

Choosing from the café menu

With so much to think about when translating this into real food from café menus, here are some common options for you to see which ones fare best for optimal recovery:

Menu item Energy (kJ) Carbohydrate (g) Protein (g) Total fat (g) Saturated fat (g) Fibre (g)
Banana bread
(ave slice 85g)
1980 35 6.8 28.1 13.8 2
Raspberry/blueberry friand
(ave serve 85g, with fruit)
1370 28.6 7.1 20.1 8.8 1
Egg & bacon roll
(1 egg, bacon & BBQ sauce, Turkish bread)
2886 45.8 50.1 28 15 1.5
Berry smoothie
(no cream, reduced fat milk & natural yoghurt, 450ml cup)
1355 70 5 3 1.5 2.5
Egg on toast
(2 poached eggs on Turkish bread)
1540 27 20 15 5.7 2
Yoghurt cup with granola
(325ml cup)
1028 32 16.7 4.2 1 1.5
Regular latte coffee
(reduced fat milk)
504 12 10 2.4 0.6 0

 
And the winners are….

Poached eggs on toast with a regular latte coffee
Yoghurt cup with granola* and a regular latte coffee
Poached eggs on toast with a berry smoothie (high energy needs)

* Granola recipes vary as much as opinions on carbohydrates in cycling circles. Ask if the granola used is low fat as many can add a significant amount more energy that you may not need.

FINAL TIPS

Most cafes serve eggs on Turkish or white toast but if the option exists, wholegrain/multigrain or a seeded bread is always the more nutritious option.

The last thing to remember is spread on bread – ask to have it on the side and, where possible, go without or replace with avocado.

If there are no options that will suit for recovery, simply have a regular coffee and have breakfast as soon as you get home.

 

What Our Perspiration Reveals About Us

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We all know that we sweat when we are hot, anxious or embarrassed – it’s less well known that sweat actually carries emotional messages

In 1934, a British physician named BA McSwiney stood before his colleagues at the Royal Society of Medicine and lamented that most folks didn’t concern themselves with the chemical composition of human perspiration. Instead, they focused solely on the mechanisms by which the evaporation of sweat from the skin’s surface allowed the body to cool itself.

But McSwiney knew that there was more to sweating than just evaporative cooling. Under certain conditions “the loss of constituents of blood-plasma by continued sweating may be considerable”. In other words, other stuff leaves the body in our sweat. But what kind of stuff, and is its loss a good thing or bad?

Some substances in our sweat we probably wouldn’t want to lose. Take chlorides. These compounds – chlorine atoms, often attached to sodium ones to form salt – are important for maintaining the body’s internal pH balance, regulating the movement of fluids in and out of cells, and transmitting impulses across nerve fibres. It’s normal for some chlorides to leak out of the body as we sweat, but there are some instances in which a person might lose too many. Imagine working for several hours in a hot place, for example. Most of us would know to drink water to stay hydrated. But sweat too much and drink too much and you might start to show symptoms of water poisoning. In those circumstances the body just can’t replace the chloride lost in sweat fast enough.

(Credit: Getty Images)
Your sweat contain tiny trace amounts of metals such as zinc and magnesium (Credit: Getty Images)

Also mixed in with sweat is urea, the substance for which urine is also named. By at least one estimate, between 0.24 and 1.12 milligrams of the stuff is dissolved in every cubic centimetre of sweat. That might not sound like much, but given that a person sweats some 600 to 700 cubic centimetres worth of liquid each day, sweat is responsible for up to 7% of someone’s daily elimination of urea. (For comparison, that much sweat would just about fill up a can made for pineapple chunks.)

Then there’s ammonia, proteins, sugars, potassium and bicarbonate. Not to mention trace metals like zinc, copper, iron, nickel, cadmium, lead, and even a tiny bit of manganese. For some of those metals, sweat is an important mechanism for excreting them from inside of the body.

Not all of the things that leak out in our sweat are chemical in nature

Sweat exits the body through one of two types of glands. Apocrine glands are found in the armpits and nostrils and on the nipples, ears and parts of the genitalia. Much more common, however, are eccrine glands, millions of which are distributed over most of the rest of the human body – everywhere except the lips and the genitals. When the body and skin get too warm, thermoreceptors send a message indicating as much to the brain. There, the hypothalamus – a small cluster of cells that controls our hunger, thirst, sleep, and body temperature – sends a message to the apocrine and eccrine glands, which begin pumping out sweat.

There is also a third type of sweat gland, first discovered in 1987. It’s only been found in the same places that apocrine glands show up, but because researchers couldn’t classify them as apocrine or eccrine, they became known as apoeccrine glands. Some think that they are eccrine glands that become somehow modified during puberty.

Tool for communication

Not all of the things that leak out in our sweat are chemical in nature. Everybody has, at some point or other, started to sweat because they ate something spicy, and most people are familiar with emotional sweating due to fear, shame, anxiety, or pain. It’s no wonder that it’s the palms, forehead, and foot soles that are so commonly associated with emotional sweating: eccrine sweat glands there are clustered far more densely, up to 700 per square centimetre, than they are on, say, your back, where there are just 64 per square centimetre.

It turns out that emotion-induced sweating is an important tool for communication. In fact, the scents that we detect in sweat can tell us a lot about how others are feeling.

(Credit: Getty Images)
The scent of people in certain emotional states can also influence the feelings of those that smell them (Credit: Getty Images)

In one experiment, a quintet of Utrecht University psychologists collected sweat samples from 10 men as they watched videos designed to evoke feelings of fear (excerpts from The Shining) or disgust (excerpts from MTV’s Jackass). In order to avoid odour contamination, the volunteers agreed to forego smelly foods, alcohol, smoking, and “excessive exercise” for two days prior to their sweat donation session.

Then, 36 women were asked to see whether they could detect any emotional cues hidden in the sweat samples. The researchers found that when women were exposed to fear-derived sweat samples, their own facial expressions suggested fear as well. And when they were exposed to disgust-based sweat samples, their faces mirrored that emotion too. (Sweat collection pads that remained unused served as controls; these didn’t cause the participants to show any predictable sort of facial expression.)

People who sniffed the sweat of scared skydivers became aroused in response to angry faces

That suggested to the researchers that sweat appears to be an effective means of transmitting an emotional state from one person to another. Importantly, the facial expressions the women made while sniffing the sweat were completely independent of their subjective perceptions of the odours’ pleasantness or intensity. So they might show a look of disgust even if they reported a particular sweat sample as smelling pleasant.

Similar patterns have also been seen in other experiments. In 2006, Rice University psychologists discovered that women exposed to sweat samples collected from fearful donors (this time the sweat came from both men and women) performed better on a word association task than women exposed to sweat produced by people watching neutral videos, or by sweat pads that contained no sweat at all. The fear-related cues gave them a heightened awareness of their environment.

(Credit: iStock)
The sweat of first-time skydivers contained powerful chemical clues of their fear (Credit: iStock)

And in 2012, psychologists and psychiatrists from the State University of New York extracted sweat from the t-shirts of 64 donors. Half of the donors jumped out of an aeroplane for the first time, while the other half exercised really hard. People who sniffed the sweat of scared skydivers became aroused in response to angry faces, but also to neutral and ambiguous ones. Psychologists refer to it as vigilance; the freefall-invoked sweat induced participants to pay attention to whatever possible subtle social cues that they might otherwise have overlooked. Those who sniffed the sweat of exhausted exercisers only became more alert when viewing angry faces, as would be expected under any circumstance.

Yet another experiment conducted by German psychologists and neuroscientists found that sweat from anxious men (who participated in a high ropes course) caused women to make riskier decisions – after spending more time deliberating on their choices – in a computer game designed to assess risk-taking behaviours.

Our ancestors took advantage of the olfactory data constantly flowing into their noses

None of these studies indicate whether people are aware that other people’s sweat has altered their own cognition or behaviour, but they do suggest that sweat might, in some cases at least, communicate important information about our internal mental states. They also suggest that we use the information contained in other people’s sweat to better understand our surroundings.

Perhaps that’s not surprising. Our species may be adapted to verbal and linguistic communication, but language is a fairly new item in our social toolkit. It seems reasonable to imagine that our ancestors took advantage of the olfactory data constantly flowing into their noses – and that they passed the skill down to us.

(Credit: Getty Images)
Even the sight of sweat can reinforce the feelings of perceived emotions (Credit: Getty Images)

Indeed, people seem better able to identify emotions in virtual humans on a computer screen when the animated characters visibly perspire. And not only that, but the addition of sweat seems to allow people to perceive the intensity of a displayed emotion. Sweat, in other words, isn’t just a smelly signal, but a visual one too.

Sweat, in the end, is more than just the body’s air conditioning system. It just might be an emotional weather vane as well, a tool used for broadcasting our innermost feelings to our friends and family.

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How To Successfully Manage Achilles Pain

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Lachlan Chisholm (Physiotherapist) for Runner’s Tribe and The Source

The Achilles tendon is a very common injury area in running and sport in general. Injury to the Achilles has a multitude of potential causes. The most common site of injury is an Achilles tendinopathy to the mid portion of the tendon, the other common site is the insertion to the heel. There are also other pain causing structures around the Achilles including the retrocalcaneal bursa and subcutaneous calcaneal bursa.

The way we treat tendons has changed over the last few years and will continue to evolve as our understanding of tendon injuries continues to improve.  From my experience, each tendon injury responds slightly differently so it is hard to give specifics in this kind of forum. So I will focus mostly on general injury prevention advice and general advice in regards to the current methods of Achilles rehabilitation.

The Achilles connects the calf muscles (gastrocnemius and soleus and plantaris) to the Calcaneus (heel bone) and allows you to plantarflex, or point your foot/ankle. The Achilles is the thickest and strongest tendon in the body, and the tendon can receive a load stress 7.7 times body weight when running, in my case of a 75kg middle distance runner that is up to 577 kg per step! However, if that force is not applied in a longitudinal manner, say a lateral force is applied, it becomes weak and very susceptible to injury. So, as you can imagine the Achilles takes a lot of the load which also makes it susceptible to injury if it is overloaded or loaded in the wrong way.

Prevention

The best way to treat an Achilles injury is to prevent it in the first place, so my main tips for prevention of Achilles injuries are;

  • Adequate strength and flexibility– As a general rule I expect all of my running patients to be able to do 30 (slowly 1sec up 1sec down with good control and alignment) single leg heel raises. I also aim for a minimum of 12cm knee to wall (have your toe 12cm from a wall and keeping your heel on the ground lunge your knee forward to touch the wall).
  • No compressive loads– This means you cannot have anything pressing into your Achilles. Sometimes the back of a shoe, for example, can press into your Achilles and this changes the line of force through the Achilles causing an inappropriate load, leading to Achilles tendonitis.
  • No sudden changes in load– By this, I mean no rapid increases in training volume, type or surfaces, and type of shoes. When it comes time to move through phases of training this must be done gradually over a period of weeks to allow the body to adapt to the new load whether it be increased volume or increased intensity of training. The same applies for training surfaces and your change from normal training shoes to flats and spikes. (The lower heel in your spikes means your ankle range of motion (ROM) increases when you run which increases the time and ROM your Achilles is under load. This also includes getting adequate rest/recovery between sessions.
  • Appropriate footwear- This one can be a tricky subject with the minimalist/maximalist debate. Basically, you need a shoe that fits your foot type and fits comfortably and that is not worn out. I generally find I get between 500-700km out of a pair of shoes before they feel “dead” and are showing significant crush signs on the cushioning.

Injury Rehabilitation

If you are unlucky enough to develop Achilles pain you really should see a physiotherapist or other appropriate health care professional as soon as you can. But in terms of general advice, this is what I give my patients.

Often the first signs of an Achilles tendinopathy is your first step or two out of bed in the morning, the back of your heel feels stiff and sore but after a few steps/minutes the pain goes away and you think no more of it. This is the best time to get onto it and get proactive about treating it. Basically a bit of ice, gentle stretching, self-massage/foam rolling, and a little bit of relative rest (reduced load). You can also make a start on controlled loading i.e. heel raises/strength.

But once you have passed that point you will notice it when you start to run but again it “warms up” so you continue to train as normal. At this stage, I am not against continuing to train through an Achilles injury as long as it is carefully monitored and managed and is improving with the right treatment and management. However, it tends to improve faster in my experience with modified training or cross training.

You should monitor your morning pain and use this as a guide as to how your Achilles is progressing. Monitor how bad out of 10 the pain is with your first few steps in the morning and how long it takes to go away? If it is getting worse you are doing too much and need to reduce the load.

As above, you want to ice and self-massage and some gentle stretching (if part of your problem is reduced range of motion). Then you need to start loading your tendon in a safe and controlled manner. Tendon healing responds to load, if it is loaded correctly, you can end up with a strong pain-free tendon at the end of your rehabilitation. If not you often end up with a stiff sore tendon and long term problems.

At this point you start out with a period of isometric loading in a neutral ankle position (i.e. not up on your tippy toes and not hanging your heel off a step.  Your heel should be held just off the ground or a step – but held at the step height) for 45sec x 3 x 2 daily. Do this on one leg at a time and repeat on the other leg. I use 4/10 as a guide on pain if you are getting over 4/10 pain start by doing both legs at the same time. You will often find that after doing this you have a short pain-free or reduced pain period. It also seems to improve muscle activation. After a week or so you modify this by adding a set of heel raises in between each isometric hold. The number depends on your strength but I often start with 8-10 and progress to 15. As you improve you then reduce the isometric loading to be used as a pain management/ warm up tool and then progressively increase the number of heel raises until reaching 30 single leg heel raises.

You should continue to perform these exercises for up to 12 months once pain-free, as tendon repair and remodelling continue long after your pain has ceased.

About Lachlan Chisholm 

Lachlan is a physiotherapist and was one of Australia’s leading 1500m runners for many years. His 1500m PB is 3:37 and he is a two-time Australian 1500m champion.

The Best Dogs For Distance Runners

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Written for Runner’s Tribe & The Source by Sam Burke – Veterinarian, BVMS.

Lonely on those long runs? Want a training partner who doesn’t speak? Sounds awesome right?! A well-trained dog might be just what you are after. But buyers beware, not many dogs can handle long runs over hilly terrain, on a consistent basis.

I’ve read a lot of articles which list the best dogs for endurance running (not sprinting). As a veterinarian, I tend to disagree with many of the dogs listed in these articles. Vets are the ones who see the dogs when they pull up lame and require new hips or stifle (knee) surgery for cruciate ligament ruptures.

Labrador Retrievers, German Shepherds, Boxers, Beagles, and Golden Retrievers are commonly listed as ideal endurance running partners. I am sure there may be some exceptions here, but as a whole these breeds can’t handle 90-minute runs at a brisk pace over rough terrain. And if they can, their longevity will be limited. Their hips, stifles, or carpal (wrist) joints will soon give way.

Running tends to unravel our biomechanical weaknesses and amplify them; dogs are no different and when you take a dog with underlying hip dysplasia or stifle biomechanical abnormalities, you are asking for trouble.  Orthopaedic surgery or long term use of anti-arthritis medications will more than likely be the result.

But there are many breeds that are incredibly hardy, that can handle 120km weeks or more, and rarely seem to break down with injury. Obviously there are, once again, exceptions. There are countless medical problems any breed can suffer from which will limit their running abilities. But as a general rule, the below breeds will serve you well during your tough, hilly, rocky, endurance runs.

Note: I have listed purebred dogs below for obvious reasons. Generally speaking, crosses of any of these breeds would also most likely result in awesome endurance running pooches. From a genetic perspective, 99.999% of veterinarians would advise a cross-bred dog over a purebred.

  • Weimaraner

Weimaraner’s were made to run. Whether it’s short, quick bursts or long distances. With a short coat they are not as susceptible to overheating as many other breeds. They are tough on rough terrain and trails, and tend to be fearless. Their only weakness is that some can be a little anxious, but with proper training this shouldn’t be an issue.

  • Border Collie

Border Collies belong on farms. But if you, like many, are determined to have a Border Collie, I sure as hell hope you are a good runner, as these guys will run many of our country’s best runners off their feet.  Some Border Collies are born with genetic carpal (wrist) abnormalities which can predispose to arthritis, but if you can avoid that, then good luck trying to keep up.

  • Hungarian Vizsla

Vizsla’s are amazing athletes. Probably my favourite running dog. They are amazing runners (speed and endurance), they can jump, navigate, and they are incredibly easy to train. Their short coat is ideal for temperature control and they are as loyal as can be. If there is a perfect breed, this is it.

  • German Shorthaired Pointer

Bred for hunting, German shorthaired pointers (GSP’s) are true endurance athletes and require a lot of exercise. They are the sort of breed that seems to get stronger the longer the run goes. Some GSP’s can be a little anxious, but this tends to not be a problem when they are both well exercised and well trained.  Their short coat is perfect for temperature control.

  • Kelpie

I have a mate who ran 2:23 at the Boston marathon a few years back. For the 6 months leading into the race his trusty Australian Kelpie did every training run with him.  Another farm dog, they are as tough as nails, easy to train and so loyal they make you feel guilty when you look at another dog.

  • Rhodesian Ridgeback

Rhodesian Ridgebacks were bred many years ago to hunt lions in Africa, so naturally they are pretty decent runners. I’ve seen a lot of snappy, aggressive Ridgebacks, but this is more often than not the result of idiot owners, so let’s not hold that against them. When in a good home, these dogs are just beaut.

  • Australian Shepherd

Another dog that belongs on a farm. These dogs were actually bred in the United States, but hey, they obviously prefer to be called Aussies, damn smart dogs I say.  These dogs can run all day. Their only downside is their longer coat can lead to overheating on those really hot days.

  • Dalmatian

Dalmatians are awesome runners if well looked after. They tend to land heavier than many of the other dogs listed and are therefore more suited to trails than the road. Their short coat is ideal for temperature control.

  • Siberian Husky

As a general rule having Siberian Huskies in hot climates is pretty stupid and at times cruel. As the name suggests, these dogs were bred in Siberia, yes…Siberia. Their thick coats were thus designed to keep them warm, in SIBERIA. Still, these dogs are popular, and the fact that they can run all day is indisputable. I think a perfect solution is to keep their coat short by getting them groomed on a regular basis. Don’t believe anyone who tells you it’s cruel to groom them, I mean just think about it for a second, a groom is just a haircut, and I tend to think that dogs aren’t overly vain.

  • Australian Cattle Dog

I’ve seen a lot of Australian Cattle dogs with hip and stifle problems, so a cross-bred Cattle dog is preferable. But if you are lucky enough to get one with fortunate genetics, then these dogs are awesome for long, steady runs. A little shorter and compact than many of the breeds listed above, but don’t let this fool you, they are machines.

Other Notable Breeds

There are many other breeds that can cover a marathon no problem. Some Belgian Shepherds and various other Shepherd breeds, English Setters, Staffordshire Terriers, some Whippets and Italian Greyhounds, some Malamutes, some Spaniels, some Jack Russell’s for example, and various other breeds. But the above list is a good place to start.

 

The Biological Demands On The Body Of A Rider In The Tour de France

in ATHLETES/BLOGS/RECOVERY/TRIATHLON by

Exercise scientists have declared that the Tour de France is the hardest endurance event in the world, but what does that actually mean? To help understand, longtime pro-cyclist trainer and researcher Iñigo San Millán, PhD, explains what is going on inside the riders as they make their way across 3,500 km (2,200 mi) over 3 weeks in July.

Stress Hormones Skyrocket

Production of stress hormones like cortisol rises pretty much out of the gate, says longtime pro-cyclist trainer and researcher Iñigo San Millán, PhD, director of the Exercise Physiology and Human Performance Laboratory in Boulder, Colorado.

“The first week is extremely nervous. It’s intense and stressful and riders aren’t sleeping very well,” he says. All of this sends their cortisol levels through the roof. Unless they are able to relax and recover during that first week, the elevated stress hormones will make them prematurely catabolic (i.e., their muscle tissue breaks down), which is bad news because they’ll need every ounce of muscle they have to make it through the Tour de France’s three grueling weeks of riding.

Muscles Break Down 

Exercise-induced muscle damage is sometimes all Tour riders face, says San Millán.

“Though many make it through the first week pretty well if they stay on top of their fueling and recovery, eventually many become catabolic as they head into the mountains,” he says. While in the first week riders may burn just 3 to 5 percent of protein stores (i.e., their muscles) to fuel their efforts, he says, by the final week they’re likely to burn up to 15 to 20 percent as their muscles become increasingly damaged, catabolic, and less able to store and supply glycogen.

Glycogen Storage Capacity Diminishes

About that glycogen: Despite eating diets composed roughly 75- to 80-percent of carbohydrates, San Millán says—with a whopping 25 percent of calories (or 2,000 calories out of the 6,000 to 9,000 they’re eating each day) being simple sugars—Tour riders have a hard time keeping up with their fueling needs by midway through the Tour.

“They’ve sustained so much muscle damage, their muscles no longer have the same capacity to store it,” he says.

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Hemoglobin Levels Drop

You rip through 200 billion red blood cells every day when you’re not desperately dangling off the peloton on the 17th hairpin turn up Alpe d’Huez. When you’re not under such duress, you also can create more red blood cells and soldier on.

Not so much during the Tour, when athletes’ blood simply can’t keep up with the mass destruction.

“[Riders’] oxygen-carrying capacity as measured by their hemoglobin concentration decreases from a healthy 15 or 14 grams per deciliter at the start [of the Tour] to 12 to 13 grams per deciliter by the time they cross the finish line in Paris,” says San Millán. Not only does that make them pseudo-anemic, but it also impairs their immune systems, so they’re more vulnerable to getting ill as the Tour wears on.

​Free Radicals Increase

Today’s athletes generally aren’t advised to take antioxidant supplements, now that we know popping these pills actually interferes with important training adaptations—like your body’s ability to generate its own natural antioxidants—and can lead to performance detriment rather than enhancement. The Tour is a different beast, however, says San Millán.

“Between the second and third week the body starts losing its ability to produce enough antioxidants to keep up with the daily six-hour free-radical onslaught,” he says, which also impedes immunity. In this case, some antioxidant supplements may be in order.

Heart Rate Declines

During the first week of the Tour, riders can hit their max heart rate no problem. Especially during those first three to five days, they’ll look down and see 190bpm or so and feel stoked.

By the last week, though, they may be excited to see numbers in the 160s to 170s, says San Millán. A lower max heart rate means your heart cannot beat fast enough to keep up with the work you’re doing, and results from being overtrained.

Regardless, the riders will probably be most excited to see the finish line on the Champs-Élysées, so they can finally give their heart and the rest of their tattered bodies a well-earned rest!

Original Source

Why Does Lactic Acid Build Up in Muscles? And Why Does It Cause Soreness?

in ATHLETES/BLOGS/RECOVERY/RUNNING/SOS PRO'S/TRIATHLON by

Stephen M. Roth, a professor in the department of kinesiology at the University of Maryland, explains

As our bodies perform strenuous exercise, we begin to breathe faster as we attempt to shuttle more oxygen to our working muscles. The body prefers to generate most of its energy using aerobic methods, meaning with oxygen. Some circumstances, however—such as evading the historical saber tooth tiger or lifting heavy weights—require energy production faster than our bodies can adequately deliver oxygen. In those cases, the working muscles generate energy anaerobically. This energy comes from glucose through a process called glycolysis, in which glucose is broken down or metabolized into a substance called pyruvate through a series of steps. When the body has plenty of oxygen, pyruvate is shuttled to an aerobic pathway to be further broken down for more energy. But when oxygen is limited, the body temporarily converts pyruvate into a substance called lactate, which allows glucose breakdown—and thus energy production—to continue. The working muscle cells can continue this type of anaerobic energy production at high rates for one to three minutes, during which time lactate can accumulate to high levels.

A side effect of high lactate levels is an increase in the acidity of the muscle cells, along with disruptions of other metabolites. The same metabolic pathways that permit the breakdown of glucose to energy perform poorly in this acidic environment. On the surface, it seems counterproductive that a working muscle would produce something that would slow its capacity for more work. In reality, this is a natural defense mechanism for the body; it prevents permanent damage during extreme exertion by slowing the key systems needed to maintain muscle contraction. Once the body slows down, oxygen becomes available and lactate reverts back to pyruvate, allowing continued aerobic metabolism and energy for the body’s recovery from the strenuous event.

Contrary to popular opinion, lactate or, as it is often called, lactic acid buildup is not responsible for the muscle soreness felt in the days following strenuous exercise. Rather, the production of lactate and other metabolites during extreme exertion results in the burning sensation often felt in active muscles, though which exact metabolites are involved remains unclear. This often painful sensation also gets us to stop overworking the body, thus forcing a recovery period in which the body clears the lactate and other metabolites.

Researchers who have examined lactate levels right after exercise found little correlation with the level of muscle soreness felt a few days later. This delayed-onset muscle soreness, or DOMS as it is called by exercise physiologists, is characterized by sometimes severe muscle tenderness as well as loss of strength and range of motion, usually reaching a peak 24 to 72 hours after the extreme exercise event.

Though the precise cause of DOMS is still unknown, most research points to actual muscle cell damage and an elevated release of various metabolites into the tissue surrounding the muscle cells. These responses to extreme exercise result in an inflammatory-repair response, leading to swelling and soreness that peaks a day or two after the event and resolves a few days later, depending on the severity of the damage. In fact, the type of muscle contraction appears to be a key factor in the development of DOMS. When a muscle lengthens against a load—imagine your flexed arms attempting to catch a thousand pound weight—the muscle contraction is said to be eccentric. In other words, the muscle is actively contracting, attempting to shorten its length, but it is failing. These eccentric contractions have been shown to result in more muscle cell damage than is seen with typical concentric contractions, in which a muscle successfully shortens during contraction against a load. Thus, exercises that involve many eccentric contractions, such as downhill running, will result in the most severe DOMS, even without any noticeable burning sensations in the muscles during the event.

Given that delayed-onset muscle soreness in response to extreme exercise is so common, exercise physiologists are actively researching the potential role for anti-inflammatory drugs and other supplements in the prevention and treatment of such muscle soreness, but no conclusive recommendations are currently available. Although anti-inflammatory drugs do appear to reduce the muscle soreness—a good thing—they may slow the ability of the muscle to repair the damage, which may have negative consequences for muscle function in the weeks following the strenuous event.

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