The Inside Run – February 2017

The Inside Run – February

 

Front Runner Sports are pleased to commence a practical, monthly summary of recent research relevant to distance runners. Our expert team will pick their highlights from the previous month to give YOU The Inside Run on how new and practical research can assist you to beat YOUR best. Please see our February summary below!

 

  1. Marathon Pace Calculator

I’m sure many of you have typed your current race times over 5 or 10km into race calculators and have been pleasantly surprised with the predicted Marathon time that has been spat out! This is typically due to the calculator extrapolating out your cardiovascular fitness, but not taking into account the significant increase in muscular load required for the Marathon (think of the feeling in your legs after a Marathon vs. a 10km!). A research paper from Vickers & colleagues in 2016 (read the paper HERE) has taken this into account and come up with a more thorough analysis of recreational runners performances over varying distances to more accurately predict Marathon performance. The most significant of which is the importance placed on weekly training volume (read about the importance of volume to Marathon performance in the recreational runner HERE). A BIG shout-out and thank you to Front Runner Miki Makuch who has put this research into action and made a website that puts the calculator in your hands! The calculator simply requires your current best performance over two race distances (e.g. a 5km & Half Marathon) as well as your current (or planned) weekly mileage. Click through HERE and see what your times are!

 

  1. Are Warm Up’s Worth It?

We all do it and almost all coaches/health practitioners universally recommend a submaximal aerobic warm up prior to a session of higher intensity aerobic exercise. BUT, is it worth it? Anecdotally, most would agree that it’s hard to get the best out of yourself without a thorough warm up, but does the research agree? A team of researchers from Victoria University put this theory to the test, assessing the effect of a submaximal aerobic running on threshold running performance (30min run test). The results indicate that a small, but significant performance benefit was elicited due to the sub maximal warm up protocol. Please note that the study did not quantify the benefit of additional warm up procedures such as dynamic stretching or drills & strides, but isolated the benefit of a submaximal run. You can read the full research paper HERE

 

  1. The Effect of Compression Socks

Compression garments have been popular with recreational and elite runners for the past decade and often receive varying reviews: some swear by them and others struggle to notice a difference in either their performance or recovery. Like with any specific variable, without a thorough research investigation, it’s hard to quantify the specific benefits (if they exist). Research headed up by The New South Wales Institute of Sport (NSWIS) investigated the physical and mental effects of compression socks (one of the most popular compression garments) when worn between maximal running bouts. They found that wearing compression socks between repeated running bouts (5km TT’s) aided recovery and subsequent performance. Interesting, subsequent exercise performance may be even further enhanced when the runners believed in the efficacy of compression socks to assist in recovery between exercise bouts (placebo effect). Read the full research paper HERE

 

  1. Springs in Running Shoes?

With both Adidas & Nike pumping millions into research and marketing towards a Sub 2h Marathon, the role of footwear continues to the spoken about as one of the tools to help elites get closer to the elusive barrier. Two key factors that underlie how a shoe can help the elites is for their footwear to be individually “tuned” to their foot and for the shoe to have some form of “spring”. The tuning is all to do with maximizing the functional relationship between the foot and the shoes (tuning) to ensure maximal comfort and therefore performance. Think about how the different pre-existing models of shoes you try on at your local running shoe store have different levels of perceived comfort. We know that the more comfortable the shoe is, the better it will perform. Well imagine then having a shoe custom made for YOU and how comfortable that would be! You can read a great summary blog from Biomechanics expert Craig Payne HERE.

The “spring” aspect is quite logical. If there is sufficient elastic material within the shoe, it could effectively store and release energy to help propel the runner forward for less mechanical energy (saving your muscles from doing additional work) in a similar way to what our Achilles and arch already do. A team from the University of Salzburg, Austria recently investigated a leaf spring structure midsole (LEAF) vs. traditional running shoe foam for it’s effect on running performance. The findings of the study indicated that a LEAF midsole positively influenced the energy balance in running by reducing lower limb muscle forces compared to FOAM (i.e. less muscular work). It is therefore proposed that a LEAF midsole could potentially contribute to an overall increased running performance in heel-toe running by preserving the muscular system, to increase economy early in the Marathon and therefore increasing performance in the 2nd half of the Marathon. Read the full research paper HERE along with another paper titled “How Biomechanical Improvements in Running Economy Could Break the 2-hour Marathon Barrier” HERE

 

  1. Is changing footstrike pattern beneficial to runners?

This topic has been done to death in recent years, so we won’t spend too long on this, other than to quote Jo Hamill (one of the world’s leading running biomechanics experts): “research conducted on the efficacy of changing one’s footstrike from a rearfoot to a mid/forefoot strike suggests that there is no obvious benefit to such a change for the majority of runners”. The researchers concluded that based on examining the research literature, changing to a mid/forefoot strike does not improve running economy, does not eliminate an impact at the foot-ground contact, and does not reduce the risk of running-related injuries. As we always say, there is no one-way to run! Certain footstrike postures will work for different runners in different contexts. To read the full text, please see HERE

 

Running Regards,

Team Front Runner