Don’t sit all day, don’t stand all day…

This article was originally posted by Ryan at the original HillRunner.com Blogs.

Just one topic this month because it’s a topic that is a personal peeve of mine.

We all know by now that sitting all day is bad for our health, right? That’s why we have standing desks. But what if standing all day is worse than sitting all day?

Here’s a thought: all things in moderation. Some standing, some sitting, some walking, some running.

I get so frustrated at times when people insist in an all or nothing solution to a problem. We see this a lot in dietary discussions. Fat is bad. No, carbs are bad. No…all things in moderation are fine. The key isn’t avoiding some bogeyman. It’s finding moderation.

Running, your heart, and your bones

This article was originally posted by Ryan at the original HillRunner.com Blogs.

We all know by now that running is good for us, right? Well, how good is it for us? Some of us may have heard that runners have higher levels of coronary artery plaques. Is this a concern? It would seem to be. As for the bones, we know running strengthens them. How much running does it take, though?

Running and your heart

Is it true that runners have more coronary artery plaques than non-runners? In short, yes. Is this a concern? The obvious answer would be yes. However, things seem to be a little more complicated. The kinds of plaques runners have are more stable and less likely to break loose and clog an artery.

In the end:

But for now, he says, the available data, including these new studies, suggest that prolonged, intense endurance exercise may alter your arteries, but does not seem likely to harm them.

Running and your bones

Running is good for your bones. We all know that. However, how much running does it really take to strengthen your bones? Well, the answer may be surprisingly little. As little as one minute a day. Really.

Obviously, we don’t want to run just one minute a day for other reasons. However, it’s good to know that, for our bone health, we don’t need to do anything special. A small amount of training, far less than I’m sure anyone reading this does, is all it takes.

Fitness and your health, who needs to be gluten free?

This article was originally posted by Ryan at the original HillRunner.com Blogs.

Fitness and your health

You know that your running is good for your health, right? But how good? Is it better to be naturally fit or to train hard? I think a lot of us have believed or maybe hoped that how hard you worked at it would be more important.

Unfortunately:

What this tells us is that exercise is good for you because it increases your cardiovascular fitness. High fitness, meanwhile, is good for you no matter how you acquire it—which is a lucky break for those who happen to have high levels of baseline fitness thanks to their genetics.

This makes sense in many ways. Just like ability to race fast on limited training varies greatly between individuals, so do health outcomes on limited training.

It’s important to note that exercise is indeed good for us. Just because you don’t have a high level of baseline fitness, don’t give up. Just realize that, just like your race times, we don’t all start at the same place.

Who needs to be gluten free?

If you have celiac disease or are gluten sensitive and you’ve tried a gluten free diet, you’ve likely noticed that, for some people, going gluten free can make a big difference in your life.

However, at the same time, gluten free is the new dietary fad. Like most dietary fads, something with a grain of truth takes off to be blown out of proportion. Many people who have no need to avoid gluten do so just because they hear gluten is bad.

So how do you determine whether or not you really need to be gluten free? Here are some good thoughts.

In short, if you’re concerned that you may have celiac disease, there is a blood test for that but you must be eating gluten in order for the test to work. Go gluten free before the test and it will come back negative even if you do have celiac disease.

More important, whether you have celiac disease, you have some other gluten sensitivity, or you simply benefit from the placebo effect, if going gluten free makes you feel better then do it.

Pre-race stress and yogurt better than milk?

This article was originally posted by Ryan at the original HillRunner.com Blogs.

We all know that pre-race stress is not good for our race performances. But why? Well, there are a lot of reasons. We now have another.

We all also know that calcium is important for our bones and dairy is a good source of milk. But what if one type of dairy is better than others?

Pre-race stress

You already know to avoid pre-race stress because it’s not good for your race performance, right? You might even know some of the reasons it isn’t good, right?

Well, here’s another way:

During acute psychological stress—in this case, seeing and being told they were failing at a pressure-packed task—the triathletes’ pain thresholds decreased significantly.

In short, your pain threshold is reduced after dealing with psychological stress. As a result, you can’t push as hard through the pain that is inevitably a part of racing.

Is yogurt better than milk?

We all know that calcium is important for maintaining bone health and dairy is a good source of calcium. But is it possible that one kind of dairy could be better than others?

It appears this may be the case:

He noted that other dairy products did not produce a similar effect and cautioned that some yogurts are high in sugar, “so we have to be careful about that.”

It’s not everything but it appears yogurt may be a super food (besides the high sugar content in some flavored varieties) in yet another way.

Beet juice for well trained athletes? How much does running extend your life?

This article was originally posted by Ryan at the original HillRunner.com Blogs.

A couple interesting posts on topics we’ve discussed before. One on a new study that found a surprising result and another to quantify what we’ve known.

Beet juice

We’ve already covered beet juice and its apparent ability to help untrained athletes. Unfortunately, it didn’t seem to help trained athletes (or, in the case of the second link, only untrained athletes were studied).

It looked like beet juice truly didn’t help trained athletes and there was an explanation for why that might be the case.

But what if it does? Well, maybe it does:

The performance test was a standard intermittent running test called the Yo-Yo IR1—basically a beep test involving a series of 20-meter sprints at progressively faster paces. The average distance covered in the test was 3.4 percent greater with beet juice than with placebo. Despite covering more distance, the subjects’ average heart rate was also lower (172 vs. 175 beats per minute) when they’d had the beet shots.

These were not elite athletes but amateur competitive soccer players, suggesting similar fitness levels to amateur competitive runners (most of us). Considering this, I’d consider this result promising.

That said, I’d urge at least a little caution. This is just one study. It’s a hopeful sign but hardly definitive evidence that you and I should go out and buy gallons of beet juice. Try it if you’d like, this offers at least some reason to do so, but don’t count on it working yet.

How much does running extend your life?

We all know running is good for us, right? We all know it extends our lives, right? I hope so.

But one of the arguments I’ve heard from people who don’t run is that, if you spend time doing something you don’t like to extend your life, is that really a good thing? Say you spend a year’s worth of time running over the course of your life. If that only extends your life by 1 year (or less) and you didn’t like running, was that time really worth it?

Well, what if that one year spent running extended your life by 7 years? Would that change your decision?

Of course, if you’re reading this, you probably run for reasons that go far beyond longevity and you’re probably not counting the seconds you run, worrying that they are being wasted. That said, it’s nice to know you’re getting more out than you’re putting in, likely in many more ways than one.

Sleep matters and building muscle

This article was originally posted by Ryan at the original HillRunner.com Blogs.

Sleep matters

How important is sleep? Really important.

In this study, cyclists were either allowed normal sleep (about 7.5 hours) or kept sleep deprived (about 4 hours) after a workout.

The result? Sleep deprived cyclists were sleepier (shocker!) and less motivated to train. In addition, their blood pressure had not recovered as much as those who were allowed normal sleep, suggesting less complete recovery from the workout.

These results shouldn’t be shocking but they are a good reminder.

Building muscle

I’ve been going back into the archives a bit recently and this one popped out at me. What does it take to build muscle?

In short, all those things we have usually thought of from weight to number of reps doesn’t matter as much as one thing: lifting to failure or near failure.

There are no non-responders, how to cool in hot weather races

This article was originally posted by Ryan at the original HillRunner.com Blogs.

There are no non-responders

We’ve all seen those people. Maybe some of us are those people. It seems like they work so hard and they just don’t respond to the training. They just don’t get more fit. It’s so frustrating to see that person who works hard and doesn’t get results. What do you tell that person?

Well, maybe it’s not the answer we want but it looks like the answer may be step up your training.

In the interesting study Alex Hutchinson writes about, there were non-responders in those who performed 1, 2, or 3 training sessions a week of 60 minutes each. In the 4 and 5 workouts a week group, not a single non-responder.

Even more interesting, when the non-responders returned to increase their training by 2 sessions a week, every one of them increased their fitness enough to fall out of the “non-responder” range.

In other words, they were all responders. They just needed more training time.

How to cool in hot weather races

It may seem strange to be thinking about hot weather racing in February but maybe less so with the weather we’ve had this past week.

Anyway, warm weather racing isn’t that far away. So what’s the best/most beneficial way to cool?

According to this study, performance improvements came from in event cooling via facial water spray and menthol mouth rinse. Pre-cooling via cold water immersion and ice slurry ingestion didn’t help.

Other studies have suggested the pre-race cooling might help but this seems to cast some doubt on that. The good news is mid-race cooling did seem to help. While we may not have menthol mouth rinse available at our races this summer, we can do other things to help cool us down and hold out some hope that those other interventions, performed while we’re running, will help.