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Spilling The Beans on Caffeine

in BLOGS/LIFESTYLE/RECOVERY by

Hydrate, caffeinate, repeat. It’s a way of life for those with an active lifestyle. So what is it about caffeine? Can it really be that good for performance?

Who can benefit from caffeine?

Caffeine can have positive performance improvements across a range of different sports and in both males and females.

Performance improvements of ~3% have been found in the lab, however, it’s difficult to predict precisely the improvements we can expect from caffeine in ‘real life’ training and racing, as other factors such as tactics or weather conditions can influence results. It’s also important to know that individual responses to caffeine are highly varied. Some athletes may find that caffeine can have negative effects on performance while others find that caffeine offers them no benefit at all.

Why use caffeine?

It was once thought that caffeine increased the use of fat as a fuel thereby ‘sparing’ muscle glycogen. However, we now know that the most significant benefits of caffeine come from its effects on the brain. More specifically, caffeine is able to act as an adenosine receptor antagonist. By blocking the action of adenosine, caffeine influences the central nervous system. This can improve your perception of fatigue, resulting in a longer period of sustained work.

In simple terms – you can improve your ability to ‘go harder for longer’ before the effects of fatigue set in, improving your performance.

What caffeine product works best?

Coffee, cola drinks, caffeinated gels, caffeinated gum…the array of caffeine containing products available is huge. But is any one source better than another?

In general, no.

Studies have found that the beneficial effects of caffeine are seen across a variety of different products. Where it becomes tricky is that different products (and even different brands of the same product) have different amounts of caffeine. Knowing how much caffeine you are consuming is important as there can be a fine line between the amount which improves performance and the level at which negative side effects can occur.

It’s important to consider the diuretic effects of caffeine, always remember to stay hydrated with SOS Hydration 

The list below provides some examples of how much caffeine is found in a range of products – be aware though, formulations frequently change so it’s best to double check the packing to be sure.

Product Serve Caffeine per serve (mg)
Instant coffee 250ml cup 60 (range: 12-169)
Espresso Standard shot 107 (range: 25-214)
Iced coffee (commercial) 500ml bottle 30-200
Tea 250ml cup 27 (range: 9-51)
Hot chocolate 250ml cup 5-10
Coca-Cola 600ml bottle 58
Diet Coke 600ml bottle 77
Red Bull 250ml can 80

When to take caffeine?

Unlike some supplements, you often feel the benefits of caffeine soon after consumption (regardless of when levels peak in the blood). Performance improvements have been found regardless of whether the caffeine is taken one hour before an event, split in to doses over an event or taken only in the latter stages of an event when feelings of fatigue are most likely to really kick in.

The duration of the event will obviously have an impact on timing of caffeine intake. In shorter events (e.g. cycling criterium, sprint triathlon) where there is little opportunity to eat or drink during the event, having caffeine before the event is the most useful approach. On the other hand, during events lasting several hours (e.g. ironmanmarathon) having caffeine before the event and/or topping up during the event, or saving the caffeine for the final stages, is more likely to be beneficial. Individuals should practise a variety of different strategies to determine the approach that works best for them.

Regular coffee drinkers can relax – there is no need to stop having caffeine in the days leading up to an event if you want to use caffeine during an event. Withdrawing from caffeine offers no additional benefit and will more likely lead to negative effects associated with caffeine withdrawal (e.g. headaches, irritability).

SOS can be compared to an IV drip. It works just as rapidly but is safer and cheaper at combating mild to moderate dehydration. Try it here

How can I use caffeine during my training?

Here’s a quick summary of how you can use caffeine to help you go harder for longer:

  • More isn’t better. Usually ~1-3mg caffeine / kg body weight (e.g. 70-210mg caffeine for a 70kg person) improves performance. Higher intakes won’t offer an extra benefit and will more likely have negative side effects (e.g. shakiness or increased heart-rate)
  • You are unique! Individual responses to caffeine are highly varied – start small
  • Do the sums. Make sure you have a (rough) idea of how much you are consuming
  • Be flexible. Trial different amounts, types and timing of caffeine
  • Don’t sacrifice sleep. Will caffeine negatively impact your recovery?
  • Practise! Always trial during training to work out the best strategy for you

TRY SOS HYDRATION TODAY

Running Clean in a Sometimes Dirty Sport: Joseph Gray – World Mountain Running Champion

in ATHLETES/BLOGS/RUNNING/SOS PRO'S/USA by

As a youngster, long before I had dreams of being a fast runner, my first sport was basketball. Growing up, my competitive side was sparked by the influence of watching my father, and I quickly learned winning was not something that came easy.

I mimicked everything I saw him do when he practiced on our backyard hoop: his shot technique, dribbling, all the way down to the shoes he wore. I learned that Pops was dedicated and intense, and you could see in his eyes (especially during competition, even friendly one-on-one pickup games) that he intended to win, exerting every ounce of energy he had ‘til the end.

That defined competition for me.

I followed his lead, bringing my own dedication and intensity when I would challenge my friends and go toe to toe in a game of one-on-one. When we were kids, we used what we were born with. Sometimes you had a natural advantage over another—whether it was height, weight, quickness, agility or just pure desire to succeed. Thanks to my father’s influence, hard work was usually the deciding factor for me, as most young kids were not extremely dedicated or even motivated to push themselves to the limit in the name of improving the craft of their favorite sport.

As I got older and found myself competing in a new sport, much was the same. Once I became a distance runner, I found that being devoted and working diligently could lead to amazing outcomes. Still, accomplishing goals became difficult and, at times, failure was more frequent than success. I thought this was something that happened to us all, even the crème de la crème. Again, referring back to my father’s example, I believed the only way to continue forward was to work harder.

Early in my high school career, though, I began to hear stories of athletes using “medicine” to gain advantage over their competitors. Initially I paid it no mind, thinking: “How could medicine help you, unless you are sick?” Little did I know, this medicine was not being used to treat the sick, but rather to unnaturally boost red blood cells in healthy athletes. The medicine I had heard of was EPO, and it had been around for years.

I came across stories of the great German cyclist Jan Ullrich, whom I was a huge fan of at the time. The fact that a human could hold such a high level of power over such a long period of time in a cycling race was astounding. Being that I was making my shift into endurance athletics, seeing such a performance was inspiring. Watching Ullrich gave me the idea that maybe one day I could accomplish endurance feats just as insane. I had no idea he was cheating by using banned substances. The very day I stumbled upon various articles concerning Ullrich testing positive for doping, my impression of amazing performances blurred. Many performances of my favorite athletes at that time led me to start questioning whether they were using the gifts they were born with—or giving the genetics they were born with a boost to achieve success, win races and earn money.

A post shared by Joseph Gray (@joegeezi) on

This was a devastating moment for me.

It was probably comparable to the moment when a child finds out Santa Claus isn’t real. I started to think certain feats in distance running that I wanted to achieve were also unattainable. My personal goals seemed unreal now. Confidence fled the scene like a criminal.

At the time, many thoughts crashed my mind, even thoughts of the benefits and how remarkable of an athlete I could be if I too chose to cheat. Would it be worth it? What would my family think if I headed down that path? What would I think of myself? How could I sleep at night knowing I would be cheating? What would my health look like 10 to 20 years in the future?

But none of it felt right, and I never went down that road in my high school career, college career or now in my professional career. Turns out Pops’ example was spot-on for me. Stay true, keep working hard and you will find success.

I actually think most athletes are competing clean, but that’s what helps expose the ones that are doping.

As a professional athlete, you hear stories, rumors of athletes cheating or those that cheated in the past. You notice patterns in training in relation to performance for athletes who test positive for banned substances. I had even met athletes in my past who had doped in their careers. Hearing their stories of glory, only to be pained later in life with the notion that they didn’t compete fairly was more than enough reason for me to avoid that path. Many of these athletes I have come across have had health issues of somewhat unknown origins. I’m talking about cancers, diseases and other ailments—with some linked to drug abuse with products such as EPO, steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs. If that wasn’t enough to deter, reading the stories from the few who were caught about how their lives changed drastically following the skeleton in their closet being exposed also served as a strong reminder of the negativity that follows a cheater’s lifestyle: Losing close friends, not being able to compete in the sport you love, seeing the look loved ones gave you following a positive doping test. All these things were a reality and a possibility.

As a professional athlete you can weigh the good and bad and, in my eyes, the bad far outweighs the good when it comes to doping. I’m not oblivious to the fact that many people have different value systems and beliefs. It would be ignorant to believe that principles that I value, which deter me from doping, are also valued by every other athlete. There are many athletes who do not care about the dangers of doping, or the negative aspects that will tag along in their lives long after they’re done competing.

I came across one such an athlete early in my professional career. My first experience losing to an athlete who later failed a doping control test was one of the most frustrating moments in my life. I had raced this athlete in the past and had never lost to him or seen him post stellar results. We toed the line in a half marathon on a crisp morning in California. He was aggressive from the start, but none of the guys in the lead group seemed concerned as we all expected him to drop back. But this day he was different. He was not coming back easy; in fact, he was continuing to distance himself from us halfway through the race. At first thought, I figured maybe he was injured or just out of shape when I had raced him in the past.

After talking with him and others who lived near him, I found out that was not true.

This runner had been healthy and been training consistently for years with good but not great results. And here’s something you need to understand: Unlike the world of recreational running, injuries or lack of fitness are not usually factors in the elite ranks. Why? Professional athletes do not improve so drastically due to the nature of their lifestyle, family or work scenarios, which might play a role in their ability to train. Most pro athletes typically have the opportunity to prepare and train hard for extended periods of time, especially for races with a good amount of funding/prestige. They toe the line when they are ready, hoping to achieve optimal results. But top-tier contenders rarely show up out of shape for a high-level race.

That’s why the phrase “the athletes always know” rings true even before coaches, administrators or the media start asking questions or pointing fingers.

Typically athletes within the same tier know who the most likely dopers in their sport are. We know how our competitors are training, so when we see something fishy from someone whom has been on the racing scene awhile, we naturally become suspicious. When you see a monumental improvement from an athlete you’ve known for some time who wasn’t injured or was not merely out of shape most of their career, you immediately scratch your head and wonder.

Following the race I described above, many of us who had been beaten that day were left in shock without much to say about what we had just witnessed. During my cool-down run with a few other runners, the chatter started to heat up. A few athletes were questioning how this guy improved so greatly over such a short period of time. Where there is smoke—especially that much smoke—there is usually fire. Sure enough, time went by and one of his training partners was busted for EPO use. A little more time passed and the athlete who lit us up in that half marathon was busted for the same. It was a huge disappointment and also gave me a twinge of discouragement.

I knew I would wind up eventually receiving more prize money from that race, given the disqualifications. I also began to contemplate the use of PEDs myself. The moment of glory coming across the finish a position higher was stolen from me. Money couldn’t give me that moment back. This guy was not someone who should have been capable of even placing in the top 3 in this race, yet he destroyed the field. This left me briefly contemplating the benefits of PEDs. I was tired of having money taken from my pockets without the certainty that every athlete ahead of me was clean.

Before even investigating how to purchase performance-enhancing drugs, I sat there and asked myself a series of simple questions. Why am I in this sport? What do I want from this sport in the long term?

I loved running not solely for the competition or winning, but also because of the exploration and camaraderie behind it. When I’m older I want to be able to look at my career and say, “I won this race or ran this time with the gifts God blessed me with.” There is nothing more satisfying in my opinion than knowing that you’ve worked hard to earn every goal, gift, victory and personal achievement you collected with natural ability and work ethic. Anyone can cheat, but not anyone can work hard and handle intermittent failures only to rise again.

I always admired the athlete who could consistently compete with the best rather than the athlete who rarely competed with the best but once in a blue moon dominated the field. Not anyone can be consistent. Dopers usually aren’t consistent. The ability to be consistent requires a never-ending commitment to being your best and requires a strong mental state.

When you cheat you are basically succumbing to the idea that you have a weak mentality. Weak-minded athletes look for an easy way out, shortcuts or even excuses to underachieve. I’m confident that a study covering the relationship between mental toughness and doped athletes vs. clean athletes would conclude that dopers have mental instability to go along with a weak mentality. The answers and revelations to those simple questions reaffirmed who I was and were more than enough to leave me satisfied with my natural abilities and never taking the steps of crossing that road to cheat.

Sport is a gift that we are able to share with our community. Through sport we can show respect and admiration for others who also share the same passion. Doping is highly anti-sport, anti-community. If you truly love a sport and what it brings you, why slap your peers in the face and piss on your sport by cheating? I mean, after all that, who are you supposed to enjoy the sport with?

I compare my love of the sport to my passionate endeavors in gardening. I can’t truly call myself a gardener if I simply plant fully grown pepper plants from a store and skip the nurturing process from seed to plant. When you love your sport—in my case, running—you even love the struggle of being out of shape, the struggle to accomplish goals, even the days where you might have a bad workout as you become motivated to work harder. Taking short cuts only leads to an artificial feeling of happiness. A cheater cannot truly be happy with their feats because, deep down, they know they are dirty. In the end, as an athlete we have to live with ourselves, and our internal thoughts impact our lives far more than external appreciation from other athletes, media, rivals and supporters.

So, to truly be happy with what you accomplish and plan to achieve in sport, you must respect sport and the community surrounding it. Being genuine is simply being natural and pushing yourself to reach your potential. When you have to cheat to go beyond what is natural, then you have lost touch with the moral, ethical and existential fabric that holds sport together.

Keep it clean my friends, and run strong!

A post shared by Joseph Gray (@joegeezi) on

via MotivRunning.com

How to Recover Like a Pro

in LIFESTYLE/RECOVERY/RUNNING/SOS MAGAZINE by

How listening less to college coaches and more to Lance Armstrong will help you run faster… legally.

There is a timeless saying, “you don’t get fit when you’re running; you get fit when you’re recovering”. If training was only about running then you’d barely stop, and Dean Karnazes would win every event from the 5,000m to the marathon at the Olympics. Thankfully, that isn’t the case.

EAT

The current obsession about weight in running is incredibly disconcerting. When female athletes become fixated on becoming as thin as possible it is rightly seen as a health concern, yet amongst males it is becoming an expression of masochism and bravado.

The head cross-country coach at Colorado State Art Siemers has become one of many coaches in the NCAA known for fixating on the weight and appearance of his athletes.

Heidi See

“Thin to win” is his catch phrase, and it’s a terrifying precedent to set on young, highly impressionable athletes.

Weight is just one variable in the training equation of stress, recovery, and adaptation. This is a delicate equilibrium that if thrown off balance can have devastating effects. Weight should not be used as a catalyst to precipitate training adaptations; rather it should be a carefully managed bi-product.

If we accept that fitness gains are made during recovery, then carrying less weight through diet restriction to complete a workout faster will only result in an inability to recover properly.

Eat good food; you need it.

 

HYDRATE

There are plenty of ways to skin a cat. Some are more effective than others, but the point stands – hydration has to be taken care of before all else.

Products used for recovery like chocolate milk are crucial for repairing muscle damage through protein synthesis, yet for this process to be as efficient as possible the muscles must be well hydrated. Without hydrating, protein synthesis will be less effective and increase the time needed for recovery.

Balance is also crucial, as our bodies endocrine system is affected by electrolyte losses. If one electrolyte is consumed in high volumes without the correct balance of the hormonal processes will be disrupted.

 

SLEEP

In a 2015 interview with Joe Rogan, Lance Armstrong stated, “naps are performance enhancing”. He’s not wrong. Sleep is when the magic happens, where the money is made, and most of us aren’t getting enough of it.

When we sleep, our body repairs damaged tissue. During the deeper stages of sleep, human growth hormone (HGH) is released into the bloodstream where it helps rebuild muscles and convert fat to fuel.SOS Hydration

The point is simple; when we don’t get enough quality sleep it becomes harder for our body to recover. The modern world isn’t making it easier; it is now commonplace to be looking at your phone in bed, with the emitted light telling your brain to remain awake and vigilant.

Try to avoid your phone, tablet, laptop or anything emitting that kind of light for an hour before you want to be asleep. A good rule of thumb would be 9hrs before you need to wake up. This can have an exponential effect on your ability to have quality sleep and recover.

Train hard.

Eat a lot of good food.

Hydrate.

Go to sleep.

Easier said than done, apparently.

Team New Balance Manchester Blog

in ATHLETES/BLOGS/RUNNING/SOS MAGAZINE/SOS PRO'S/UK by

Courtesy of Team New Balance Manchester, Blog #17

This weeks blog will focus on hydration, mainly because it is often a neglected element of training amongst athletes, but it can have a huge effect on both performance and recovery.

Hydration may not be the first thing that springs to mind when you think of training in the UK, especially in Manchester. However, keeping hydrated in a cold and wet Manchester is just as important is it is would be anywhere else in the world! Our requirements here in Manchester probably aren’t quite as high as they would be in a hot, dry desert, but nevertheless, it is still important!

It’s hard to estimate our exact fluid requirements as it varies from individual to individual depending on sweat rate, body size, training load and the environment (temperature, humidity level, altitude). In a normal day, the average person loses 2L of water just through breathing, sweating, urine and bowel movements. Add exercise to your day and this figure can be significantly higher. It’s possible to loose up to 2L per hour through exercise which is quite staggering! A 2% loss in body weight due to dehydration can result in a 20% drop in performance mainly due to the fact that dehydration leads to increased heart rate, increased use of muscle glycogen stores and increased lactate production. None of which are particularly conducive for optimum performance! Along with water, we also loose two main electrolytes in our sweat; Sodium and Chloride. Sodium is the main electrolyte in our bodies, and serves many functions from regulating fluid balance to enabling muscle contraction and controlling blood pressure. Re-hydrating is therefore not only about replacing water.

When it comes to hydrating, here at Team NBMCR we like to use the best, and are very fortunate to have the support of SOS Rehydrate. It is a company founded by international athletes and Doctors. They produce a great tasting oral rehydration formula which is in line with the standards set by UNICEF and the World Health Organisation, and is also trusted by Informed Sport. The combination of electrolytes in SOS Rehydrate can be as effective as an IV drip for mild to moderate dehydration. It’s easy to fall into the trap of buying sports drinks which are branded to be rehydrating, but the reality is, they often often aren’t particularly effective in combating dehydration as they don’t contain quite the right balance of electrolytes and glucose. What this means, without going into too much scientific detail, is that despite taking in lots of fluid in the form of sports drinks, the body doesn’t actually absorb all the fluid and a lot will be lost from the body. The SOS formula on the other hand has the perfect mix of electrolytes and glucose for optimal absorption and hydration. Our bodies can absorb 3 x more water with SOS compared to just drinking water alone!

sos
This image, taken from the SOS Rehydrate website, gives a description of its key ingredients

SOS comes in convenient sachets, which you just pour into water, give it a little shake or stir, and then all you have to do is drink up, which is pretty easy as they taste great too! They come in four flavours: berry, citrus, mango and coconut. Fortunately we all have different favourite flavours on the team so there aren’t too many squabbles about who gets what flavour! On an average day in Manchester, we probably get through around one sachet a day each, but slightly more when we’re away at altitude or warmer climes.

sos-mango-sachets_prod

More information can be found here on the SOS website http://sosrehydrate.com/. We at team NBMCR are big fans of SOS and would definitely recommend it for all your hydration needs!

sos

Just as a side note, here are ten random facts about water and hydration for anyone who’s interested!

  1. Koalas and Kangaroo Rats are two creatures that do not need to drink water to live. They are able to get all their water requirements from other sources such as eucalyptus leaves

  2. Camels can drink 94 litres of water in less than 3 minutes- don’t try this at home!

  3. Breathing in and out uses more than half a litre of water every day

  4. The average human brain is 78% water

  5. You begin to feel thirsty when your body looses 1% of water

  6. A person can live without food for more than a month, but only a week with no water

  7. Hot water freezes faster than cold water

  8. An air traveller can loose approximately 1.5 litres of water during a 3 hour flight

  9. Sound travels almost 5 times faster underwater than in air

  10. The food with the highest water content is cucumber at 96.7% followed by iceberg lettuce and celery

Away from hydrating, we have also been busy training and racing. This weekend Lauren and Jonny are heading to Cheshire for the Alsager 5 mile road race, while Andy is is continuing his indoor season racing a 3,000m in Mondeville, Northern France. Good luck guys!

RUNNING AROUND THE HOLIDAYS

in LIFESTYLE/RUNNING/SOS MAGAZINE/TRAINING/USA by

It’s that time of year… Christmas, New Years… all that good stuff. Holiday’s are great, except they create some unique challenges when it comes to training.
Runners are creatures of habit; we create routines for ourselves to manage stress and   stay on top of all the variables associated with training. Basically, runners build their own micro ecosystem.

If there is one thing that can disrupt that ecosystem, its travel – which is why you will regularly see runners’ hotel rooms looking like a workout room. The bare necessities for normal humans are a suitcase and a bathing suit. For the runner it’s a foam roller, stretching rope, lacrosse ball, theraband… the list goes on.

Chances are this holiday season you will be travelling, and that your family will still never be able to comprehend why you are “going for a run”, or why you can’t just “fit it in” some other time. Then there is trying to explain why you are so tired all the time, and telling Nana as politely as possible that you already eat a lot and don’t need “fattening up”. Add to that the fact that you’re likely going to be either sharing a room with three other relatives or sleeping on the sofa. Last but not least you’re probably going to be in a place that you don’t do a lot of training in. There is no 4 mile loop that you can shut your mind off on and just lap a couple of times, or your trusty favourite workout spot.ssrun5

Just like exam time during University, the above is all added yet underrated stress on the body. Runners are constantly dancing around and across a very thin red line of peak fitness or injury and illness, and it often only takes a few new variables for the scales to quickly tip. With this in mind, we have put together some simple yet effective tips to help you manage training during the holiday season.

For those lucky enough to be runners in America, annual leave virtually does not exist, so chances are you will be back home in about two or three days.

 

PLAN AHEAD

Sounds simple, yet it is one of the easiest things to forget about. It often feels like Christmas is the day after Thanksgiving, and you go from your Turkey Trot to having lunch next to that weird Uncle who still wants to teach you how to wrestle.

Finding good training spots in new areas is now more accessible than it has ever been, particularly with the rise in popularity of applications like Strava. Look for some popular loops, parks or paths and plan your training accordingly. The data will give you a good sense of where you can run fast, and where you can run without dealing with traffic or a lot of people. University campuses are usually a pretty good starting point, as even if you are in the middle of the town where they made ‘The Hills Have Eyes’ you will probably find a track or some bike paths to run on.

 

GET GOOD AT RUNNING LAPS

There is no point taking any risks while you are running in a new area. By that I mean if you find a decent little park or grassed field somewhere, run it to death. There is nothing worse than trying to do a recovery run and also figure out where the hell you are: stopping and starting, looking down at your phone and trying to navigate out of iTunes and into Google maps. If Bowerman TC can do a 15 mile run on Ronaldo field at Nike WHQ (which is 3 laps to the mile) then you can run around a shitty high school football field for an hour.

 

GET A TRIAL GYM MEMBERSHIP

24hr gyms are everywhere, and they all offer free-trials for a couple of visits. Set one up in advance and head there before and/or after runs. That way you can get into your tights and lay around on the floor with your various shaped balls and stretching ropes without your family thinking that you’re some kind of burlesque performer.

By heading to a gym you can dedicate all the time you need to pre-hab and re-hab and not need to worry about any running-related activities while back at the house. Not only is this easier logistically, its also a lot less stressful as there isn’t any chance you can be made to feel bad for doing your bum exercises while Nana is fisting the turkey with stuffing and everyone else is pottering about the kitchen.

 

REGULATE NOISE & LIGHT

It is perfectly acceptable for people aged 50 or over to fall asleep absolutely anywhere, yet runners often have the energy and motivation levels of the elderly. The advantage Grandad has is that he can turn his hearing aid off and instantly be in nap-heaven.

If you are not lucky enough to require the use of a hearing aid yet, buy some earplugs from the supermarket. If you are a seasoned traveller you will likely have some noise cancelling headphones. Add to this a sleep mask and you have a ripping day-time sleep set up that signals your intentions for a nap and will make people feel bad about trying to wake you. If you can add to this a feet-up situation that involves a blanket and/or a pillow you will have successfully mastered the task.

Target your most important daytime sleeps for after meals when there is a higher likelihood of your family doing the same after they have eaten themselves halfway towards diabetes.

 

MINUTES NOT MILES

Once again, sounds simple, but it can be a huge help. Don’t worry about pace or distance. If you normally cover about 10 miles for a 70 minute run at home but are now somewhere where you are still not quite settled, just do 70 minutes rather than trying to hit an exact pace or distance.

GPS watches are a great tool but can often be more harmful than helpful. Don’t try and force the pace and distance of a run you know inside out back home in an area where you aren’t as comfortable.

 

TAKE A DAY OFF

Getting fit is about a balance between stress and rest. Chances are you will probably be going to sleep later and up earlier than you normally would be. Being surrounded by people every minute of the day can often leave you feeling a bit drained from being ‘on’ so much.

Play it safe and schedule a day off during the week so you can enjoy a lunchtime beer and kick back like a normal person for 12 hours. This will help to restore your reputation as something more than the fanatical ‘exerciser’ in the family.

Toeing the party line like this for a day may cause temporary insanity, given it will be a consistent recycling pattern of sitting, eating and the same stories over and over and over. Still, it will be good for the body and is also a great chance to bank some emotional capital that you will need for leaving early during the opening of presents for your tempo.

 

Enjoy the Holiday’s, and don’t forget to hydrate!

 

 

Better Beer Miles with Josh Harris

in ATHLETES/AUSTRALIA/INTERVIEWS/LIFESTYLE/RUNNING/SOS MAGAZINE by

 

Tomorrow Josh Harris (@_JoshHarris) will take on the world’s best at the Flotrack Beer Mile World Championships. Having recently run a solo 4:56 personal best as part of a time-trial, Harris enters the competition with a ranking of 8th.
Along with defending World Champ Corey Gallagher (@CoreyGallagher4) and superstar Lewis Kent (@lewiskentmiler), Harris is part of a Trio of SOS athletes who will toe the line in Austin with expectations of the podium.
We caught up with Josh before he headed out from his short stint in Colorado Springs to Texas for the Big Dance.

Walk us through the race this weekend… 

This has been my goal race since I resumed training after the Berlin Marathon (Ran a 10km PB, 29:42 the day before I flew out). I’m spending a few days with some friends at altitude in Colorado Springs before heading into Austin two days before the race. Once the race is finished I’m headed to New York for the first time with Canadian Beer Miler Lewis Kent.15536847_10210897104165065_771214771_o

What are the goals that you’re setting for yourself? 

I think I’m 6th fastest of the guys running the race on Saturday, as i’ve now slipped down to about #8 all time over the past year. I have a list of 5 goals that I would like to achieve in the race, and I would like to tick off as many of these as I can.

  1. Top 3 finish
  2. Sub 4:50
  3. Top 5 finish
  4. PB/AR: 4:56.25 Don’t spew

The Beer Mile is becoming a pretty popular event, what are some tips that the everyday beer miler can incorporate into their training to knock off some time? 

There are a few key strategies some of us use to be successful in the Beer Mile. Apart from some obvious race day tips that are around on the internet I’ll give 3 specific training methods that I have been using to try and maximise my performance:

  1. I have been incorporating beer strides to get some training in after the occasional run. (3 x 60m, beer, 60m, walk back)
  2. Try and build your capacity! I’m smaller than most of the other elite guys, so I do this by drinking some beers, while eating as much as I can. I occasionally fill a beer bottle with water and chug as many of those as I can in a row.15555377_10210906012747774_33107980_o
  3. Do a race simulation before race day. There’s nothing more specific than actually going out and doing one. It doesn’t have to be a full Beer Mile but try and do at least 3 beers, with race pace running. My weakness is not being able to run anywhere near mile pace on lap 2 & 3, which is why I need several practice workouts to get up to speed.

With all the beers available, what do you use on race-day?

To be official the beers need to be at least 355ml (12 oz) and 5% alcohol content, which limits the choices considerably. The easiest beer i’ve had that fits both criteria it the Budweiser Light Platinum. The beer is 6%, but it’s the volume that is the issue in the race, rather than the alcohol content.

You can’t always mix business and pleasure, what is your go-to beer on the off days? 

When I’m drinking casually I love to drink Van Dieman products. They are a local beer from back home in Tasmania and have been a really great supporter. They are a brand doing good things in the Tasmanian community. I really enjoy their Pale Ale, and I would say that it would definitely be my current beer of choice. 

Given that not all Beer Miles are on the track, what footwear will you go for? 

It depends what surface the race is being held on. The Beer Mile is still a somewhat underground event, so they can be held on the track, grass or road. I would wear the same shoe I would race a standard mile in. If the race is on the track I would use the Brooks Wire 4, but if it is road like the Flotrack World Championships I will use the Brooks Hyperion for a fast, lightweight feel.

 

Afternoon tea with Neely

in ATHLETES/INTERVIEWS/RUNNING/SOS MAGAZINE/USA by

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Currently based in Boulder, Colorado, Neely Spence-Gracey was 1st American in her debut marathon at Boston earlier this year. She has since capped off 2016 with a PR (2:34:55) and an 8th place finish at the New York City Marathon where she was also 2nd American.

Having trained at both sea level and altitude, do you have a preference? 

I have personally responded really well to training at altitude. I certainly like racing at sea level though! I honestly could train at either place, but for me, the environment is what is most important. Living in Boulder, I am surrounded by people who value an active lifestyle. The culture is what makes such a difference and increases the joy I have while training.

What are some of the key differences you have found between training at altitude as opposed to sea level?

As an elite athlete, I have the ability to adjust my training so I am on a 9-day schedule instead of trying to cram 2 workouts and a long run in every week, I instead of 2 easy days between every hard effort. This allows me to recover between hard sessions, keep my volume higher, and not get over trained. I also have learned to adjust for effort vs having to hit exact paces for every workout. I trust that I know how hard I should push and it has carried over very well to sea level races where I run consistently 15-20sec faster per mile than what I do training at altitude.

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We are what we eat… what are your pre and post run favourites?

I certainly go through phases – before a workout or race, I always have coffee! I only have decaf, or a sports drink on non-workout and race days, so I really look forward to the caffeine to give me a little extra pep in my step! As for post run, my go-to is an egg sandwich.

Your switch from Hanson’s to Steve Magness has seen you run two pretty amazing marathons. What are 3 things that have changed in your training that you believe have made a positive difference?

While running for the Hanson’s, I had no intention of doing a marathon for several years. I had never even run a 10k until I started training under them. So the focus was more on the 5k-10k range, and XC where I was 13th in the world in 2013. I had a lot of success, but after I had knee surgery and my lyme disease flare up, I was really frustrated not to be hitting PRs in these shorter races. I decided I needed a mental rest from chasing times and wanted to pursue something new that I couldn’t compare myself to in the past. At the same time, my husband got a job offer in Colorado that was too good to pass up, so we made the move and I signed up for the Gasparilla Half Marathon. I raced, and finished second to Jen Rhines. I felt amazing running the distance, and qualified for the Olympic Trials with a 1:12.

 

  1. It was just the thing I needed to regain my love of the sport and I started to believe in myself again. After that moment, I started to consider the marathon. I actually continued to train with the 9 day schedule the Hanson’s use, as I felt that I really benefitted from those 2 easy days between hard sessions. It also allows the long run to be more of a workout that is ideal in prepping for longer races. The change is that my workouts are more varied. I am a historian by nature; I have every workout I have done since 8th grade written down in a training log. So repeating workouts can be a huge positive if I have made progress, or very negative if I am comparing too closely. The variety really helps me focus on the present and the task at hand.

 

  1. I am in control of my training. My husband and Steve Magness work together to develop my training plan, but Steve lives in Houston and Dillon is at work during the week, so I am in control of my workouts and of executing them according to plan. They trust me to adjust as needed for conditions, footing, how I am feeling, etc. Sometimes I run a little faster than prescribed, and other times I go off the effort I need to hit despite not meeting the time goals initially laid out.

 

  1. As I mentioned earlier, the culture of Boulder inspires me daily. I grew up spending summers in Boulder when my dad was training as an elite marathoner, so it feels like home to me and living in a place that you’re happy is such an important part of being successful.

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You mentioned on social media after NYC that many lessons were learned. What will be doing different heading into /during your next marathon?

Unfortunately, I experienced the “wall” in the final miles of the NYC marathon. I felt great until mile 21, and then the wheels started coming off. I realized, too late, that I didn’t get in the fuel I needed at mile 18. I plan to work on this for the future and develop a stronger stomach to handle the gels needed for the distance. I am proud of the race I ran, and I know that I have some details to iron out that will allow me to really improve for the future.

It’s starting to get cold, and snow should soon be on the ground in Colorado. How does your training change during the winter? Are you flexible with days and workouts or will you get out the door and get it done no matter what?

Having lived in Michigan for a few years, I am not at all perplexed with the Colorado winters. The sun comes out, and even a few hours of sunshine will make a huge difference with the road conditions. If it is a light snow, I will just wait until 9 or 10am to go run. If it’s a heavier snow, I will utilize the treadmill. I actually prefer workouts on the treadmill to just an easy run because I am more focused and the task of a workout allows the time to pass more quickly.

It is always important to be flexible and adjust as needed for weather conditions. Last spring, while training for Boston, we got hit with a 2-foot snowstorm the weekend of my longest scheduled long run. It also happened to be Easter, and since my husband has an extra day off work, we did a spontaneous trip to Flagstaff in Arizona to get in my long run outside. By the time we got back the roads were clear and I was good to go for the final 2 weeks of training.

 

Watch out for Neely in 2017 and she continues her progress as one of America’s leading female distance runners. You can follow her on Twitter & Instagram @neelysgracey and on her website neelyruns.com

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Fancy running a mile?

in SOS MAGAZINE/Uncategorized by

OK fancy running a mile? Yep that’s 1609 meters or four laps of the track with 9 meters added on to make it the classic running distance known the world over.

Former world class miler and SOS aficionado Matt Yates gives you his lowdown of how to piece together the jigsaw that is a mile.

Matt Yates

WHAT IS THE MILE?

Here we go, and first things first, the mile is a historic distance loved all over the world and the magical barrier of Sub 4 minutes is still revered on the planet. So don’t take it lightly, you are doing a distance that is as recognized as the marathon as feat of human endurance and speed.

So I am not going into the history but it was ???? who ran the first sub 4 mile. Right that’s your first task go Google that and then you will get a feel for the historic importance of the distance and the mile’s place in our hearts. And why we love the distance in the UK and the USA, not to mention everywhere else on the planet.  While you are at it have read of the Wiki on the famous distance and its variations – HERE

History lesson over, so let’s get back to the game plan for the SOAR Mile and you to PB at Battersea Park on Wednesday 20th July.

TIMING AND PACING:

“STOP” before you take your first stride on the quest to a PB.

Ask your self what time do you want to run for the classic distance of a mile? Be real and think about it and what you can achieve.

When you know the TARGET time write it down on a bit of paper and stick it on the wall, so you are reminded of that ambition and goal on a daily basis.

Next, what pace do you need to run at to achieve your best time or target performance?

I always use this site HERE to calculate all times for sessions for the athletes I coach. For all the sessions below you will need to work out the split times that you need to run to achieve success. So you need to do a bit of pre-session admin and planning. When you have the times write them on your hand at the start of the session and go out and do them.

So, the distance you enter on the form is 1609 meters (yep that’s a mile) and then you fill out the time you want and then you add the rep distance (lap split) to get the time you will need to perform in each rep in training. For example want to run a 5 min mile and the session is 15 x 200 its 37.3 per 200 meters rep. OK the office work admin is done.

WARM UP:

Right, I am stickler for doing it right or don’t bother to do it and that means warming up correctly. What really gets to me? Athletes that turn up in the wrong kit, it pisses me off. (note from the editor: you definitely don’t want Matt Yates pissed off with you before the session has even started) Yes that’s right if you want to warm up for a session you need to get a bit hot and sweaty.

So a decent session warm up:

12/14 minute jog at just faster than walking pace to start with picking up slightly at the end.

Then stretch for 15+ minutes. Check out this for exercises – HERE

Get your race flats on and its time 4 x 80 meter strides at 70% 80% 90% 95% effort and walk slowly back as the recovery. Nice article on racing flats – HERE

10 KEY WORKOUTS:

I am listing 10 key sessions here to get that Mile personal best. What you do between the sessions is simple, its easy running of 25 mins to 45 mins max at your comfort recovery pace and not blitzing it like a Kenyan running the London marathon. Its up to you how many runs you do between the sessions and that’s your call. But remember its about getting the sessions done at decent quality level and using the easy runs to refill the body tank.

1 – Monday 27th June
Find a decent park or sports fields for this session.

Warm up as above and then 8 x 70 secs with 60 secs recovery between reps.

You wont know how far you are running but just run free, fast and in control and concentrate as those reps will get hard about number 5 if you are doing it right.

Warm down jog for 10 mins

2 – Thursday 30th June
Track time (if your in London see what tracks are about near you and check opening times – HERE. This is one of my favorite sessions for the miler.

15 x 200m off the rep time before as recovery, so if you run 37.3 secs you get that as the recovery time and you go again. If you think running slow means more recovery that means you cheat yourself out of the target time.

Remember use the site to the working out what times you need to set out to run on the reps (not reminding you again).

3 – Saturday 2nd July
Track work – yes you guessed it WARM UP correctly.

Then its Bends & Straights.

That’s 100m fast 100m jog for 12 laps.

How fast should you run? Well I say as fast as you can cope with but not like your Usain Bolt. More like that 80% stride you in the warm up. Don’t time it, just run it free and enjoy it the sensation of speed.
Your call if you run the bends fast or maybe you want to run the straights fast?

4 – Tuesday 5th July
Track work – nice session this, and time to feel like a real miler.

Session at target mile pace for the 600m & 400m and then getting faster as reps decrease in distance like you are trying to outkick Seb Coe in a “Phoenix from the flames” moment.

A. 600m (2 mins rest), 400m (2 mins rest), 200m (60 secs rest), 100m

Take 5 mins rest/walk/jog and have an SOS then back at it and see if you can beat the first sets times as target.

B. 600m (2 mins rest), 400m (2 mins rest), 200m (60 secs rest), 100m

5 – Thursday 7th July
Park time session same place as you done the session on the 27th June.

Warm up – then its 12 x 50 secs off 70 secs rest – keep those recovery times spot on and keep on the workload output in the reps. Its going to be tough but your know your going places by the end of the workout.

Warm down.

6 – Saturday 9th July
Track workout

Warm up

Reps at race pace (yep do some admin on that site)

A. 4 x 400m off 90 secs recovery

10 mins rec between sets

B. 4 x 400m off 90 secs recovery

Warm down

7 – Tuesday 12th July
Track Workout

Warm up and get in the competitive zone “FOCUS on the task in hand”.

Time trial day – yep your going on the track and you will do 3 laps at race target pace. That’s 1200m on the track and see if you can get someone to time you and shout your times every 200m to keep you target.

Take a rest for 15 minutes jog/walk hydrate.

Then do 5 x 150 at stride pace you do in the warm up and take a 250 walk between the reps.

Warm down

8 – Thursday 14th July
Track Workout – nice quality feel fast session at slightly faster than race pace. Maybe drop your target time down on the sheet by 15% for the target rep times but that’s your call (see disclaimer at end of article). This session will be over before you know it so give it some.

Warm up

1. 300m (90 sec recovery), 150m, (60 secs recovery), 100m

5 mins recovery walk/jog

2. 300m (90 sec recovery), 150m, (60 secs recovery), 100m

5 mins recovery walk/jog

3. 300m (90 sec recovery), 150m, (60 secs recovery), 100m

Saturday 16th July
Track workout – “The need for speed”, Run these free and as fast as you want and try make each one faster than the last but work into it and enjoy running fast like it’s the last 200 of the race.

Warm up

5 x 200m with your target time as the recovery period. So if you aim to run 5 mins for the mile you get 5 mins recovery time between reps but stay warm and stretched.

Warm down

9 – Monday 18th July
Almost at race day now – so nothing hard, its chill time and get into the SOS partner music listings Evermix 

Track Workout

Warm up

And its easy 4 x 120m stride outs with walk back recovery at a comfortable fast pace.

Warm down

10 – Wednesday 20th July
if in UK enter the SOAR MILE & run new personal best for the MILE.  If not then get your friends to cheer you on to a PB at your local track.  Even get a few of them to pace you.

These are hard sessions, so make sure you are fit enough to take them on, and stop straight away if anything stars to hurt. 

 

Matt Yates ran his first sub 4 mile at 20 years old and has a mile PB of 3.52. Matt was the winner of the New York, Madrid, Sydney, Edingburgh and a whole host of mile races round the world and was one of the worlds top 1500m athletes in the 1990s.

He recently started coaching at the age of 46 and in no time has built up a group of highly succesful young British middle distance athletes. Read more about his training group here in Left Spike magazine – HERE

 

SOS tops independent research trial for effective hydration

in SOS MAGAZINE/Uncategorized by

SOS subjects’ hydration status significantly improved in an independent research trial.

 

A combined independent study, led by Coventry University and Newman University, in the United Kingdom, analyzed the effectiveness of rehydration beverages following an interval training session in highly trained middle-distance runners.

 

SOS was compared against an electrolyte sports drink tablet (Nuun) and a placebo of flavoured water.

 

The results were resoundingly in SOS’s favour.

 

Within 12 hours of drinking SOS, the subjects had recovered their plasma volume and body mass completely.

 

When taking the electrolyte tablet, or flavoured water, neither plasma volume or the body mass of the subjects had recovered to pre work out levels, therefore increasing their risk of dehydration.

 

This study identifies that the subjects who used SOS hydrated faster and more effectively than those subjects who used other drinks.

 

See Fig 1. and 2.

 

What does this mean?

Simply put, taking SOS facilitates hydration and recovery better and faster than water or Nuun tablets.

 

In sports, hydration is critical. According to Gleeson et al., a loss of 2% body weight can lead to a 5% loss in performance over 10km and a 3% loss in performance over 800m / Mile. That could be the difference between a sub-4 minute mile or a 4:06 mile, a loss of 1 minute 45 seconds over 10km for a 35min target 10km, or the difference between winning and finishing out of the medals.

Fig1 Body Mass

Figure 1: Mean (±95% CI) percentage change in body mass. Placebo (PLA):6% chance of an unlikely benefit; SOS: 84% chance of a likely benefit and ESD (Nuun): 6% chance of an unlikely benefit (Hopkins, 2000).

 

Starting the day in a negative dehydration state will diminish recovery and quality of subsequent workouts. Dehydration can lead to headaches, tiredness, fatigue and potentially more serious complications.

 

 

 

Figure 2 Plasma Volume

Figure 2: Mean (± 95% CI) change in plasma volume. SOS: 81% chance of a likely benefit Vs. ESD; SOS: 96% chance of a very likely benefit Vs. Placebo and ESD (Nuun) 63% chance of a possible benefit Vs. PLA (Hopkins, 2000).

 

 

 

With proven scientific results, SOS should be in every runner’s bottle, whether to hydrate between rounds in competition, to use before, during and after a workout, or to help you stay hydrated for what everyday life throws at you.

 

SOS can be purchased from www.ineedsos.com

 

The Story Behind SOS Hydration

in SOS MAGAZINE/Uncategorized by

The Story Behind SOS Hydration

 

Who are they?

 

Brothers James (British Champ) & Tom Mayo (sub 4 miler), who are two ex International Middle Distance Athletes & Blanca Mayo (James wife) a Medical Doctor.

SOS Founders 

 

The Background:

 

Back in the 2004 Tom was in the shape of his life and was racing in Spain where he got severely dehydrated due to the unusually hot temperatures. On his return to UK, Tom was consoled by older brother James, who himself was a former international athlete, they discussed the ‘Why’s, What’s & If’s’ after Toms experience and missing out on a huge opportunity to PB and Olympic selection because of his poor preparation and the lack of a decent retail sports hydration product on the market.

 

It was here that the brothers James and Tom vowed to embark on a quest for a suitable alternative to the mass market surgery sports drinks and maybe they just could create the “best in class” product for sports hydration? They began by comparing notes, researching and mixing different products together, from the classic flat coke and salt mix used by athletes in the past, to mixing one part orange juice to four parts water, however no one seemed to offer a solution that could help the active sports person or solve high level performance hydration requirements.

 

Some years later in 2011, by pure chance a seminal moment happened in Tom’s living room, whilst Tom, James and Blanca were chatting about the quest to find a better hydration solution for athletes, James turned on the news, which was reporting the drought in East Africa and the serious critical issue of dehydration in children. It was this ‘Eureka’ moment that Blanca turned there attention to medical products that treat extreme dehydration used in disaster zones and ER departments – the first drop of SOS was born.

 

 

The Problem:

 

  • Dehydration can lead to a 25% loss in performance, which is BIG.

 

  • Sports drinks don’t replace the correct amount of electrolytes in the body

 

  • We (and most runners) used to make our own concoctions because the sports sugar based drinks just don’t work.

 

  • The so-called sports drink companies have formulas that are almost 40 years old.

 

  • The sports drink companies sponsor ‘Teams’ and ‘self fulfilling research’ at universities they pay, which endorse the ‘sugar is needed’ myth to please the general population’s artificial sweet taste buds – in the meantime contributing to kids obesity and poor dental health and also ignoring the fact that their sponsored elite athletes don’t use their products (We know. You should see our SOS delivery address book).

 

We can honestly say we never met ANY athlete on the world circuit in our day that said ‘WOW’ that sports drink helped me perform today. Because they DON’T till NOW!

 

The Solution:

 

So with real medical credentials of treating dehydration and first hand world-class athletic experience, SOS have a team who could test and medically trial the best formulas to solve dehydration once and for all.

 

(Doctor) Blanca set to work creating a hydration formula specifically designed for active lifestyles based off the best medical science and the best sporting research into sweat loss using Tom, James and friends as the product testers.

 

The Result:

 

  • A hydration drink mix as effective as an IV drip.
  • A hydration drink that replaces the correct amount of electrolytes and not a token gesture.
  • A hydration drink that is Low in calories / Low in sugar product.
  • A hydration drink that’s focus is purely and only electrolyte replacement for the athlete.
  • Oh, and it’s also good for active lifestyles and the odd celebratory next day hangover too (yes, we know, we tested it, it works).
Those were the days ...
Those were the days …

 

The Wish:

 

If dehydration can lead to a 25% loss in performance what could we have achieved had we had SOS back then?

 

Check out the rest of the story of SOS here:

www.ineedsos.com

 

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