Cramps and Gatorade, Grit, taking in carbs during training

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

Because I didn’t post on Monday last week due to a weekend trip with the family, I have two weeks worth of reading to catch up on. Hopefully, that means what I’m picking will be the best of the best. Twice as good? We can hope.

Cramps and Gatorade

I never thought I’d be linking to Deadspin but here you go (warning: some use of "adult" language included).

Here’s the thing: We actually don’t know for sure what causes a muscle cramp, despite what you may have heard from your high school football coach, or your half-marathoning buddy, or your gym-rat friend, or a sports-drink commercial. And the reason we don’t know has a lot to do with Gatorade and the "science" of hydration.

This summarizes what we know about cramping pretty well. I often thought, if cramping were all about hydration or electrolyte levels, why do runners get hamstring cramps, not biceps cramps? Well, this explains why not, given the current knowledge.

It also takes an interesting side trip into the Gatorade Sports Science Institute (GSSI) and points out some shortcomings. Most notably, ask yourself if GSSI is about expanding our knowledge of sports science so Gatorade can make a better product, why as Gatorade remained essentially unchanged for decades? Is their job to improve the product or improve the marketing?

Grit

The title says it all: How Much Grit Have You Got?

…individuals who believe that frustration and confusion are signs that they should quit what they are doing may be taught that these emotions are common during the learning process. Likewise, individuals who believe that mistakes are to be avoided at all costs may be taught that the most effective form of practice …entails tackling challenges beyond one’s current skill level.

I just love that quote. Obviously, grit is very important for success at anything. I would say this is especially true in running. You need to sustain that long term interest mentioned in this article and you need to have those long term goals and not give up on them. I strongly believe we can train our grit. We can become grittier individuals. It takes a lot of hard work but it can be done.

Taking in carbs during training

Finally, a topic I’ve been interested in for some time. I am a strong believer in the idea that you have to train while fueled sometimes and while not fueled sometimes. For runners, this means taking in calories on some long runs and not on others, maybe even not taking in calories before or during some long runs. Those fueled long runs will help your body become more efficient at processing the calories you’re ingesting and using them. The unfueled long runs will help your body become more efficient at burning fat and teach your body to use more fat early on, even when glycogen is still ready available. In addition, they will stimulate changes that will help the body store more glycogen.

Well, here’s a review that backs up that idea.

Finally, athletes should practise ‘train-low’ workouts in conjunction with sessions undertaken with normal or high CHO availability so that their capacity to oxidise CHO is not blunted on race day.

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