Recovery aids and racing shoes
by on Thursday, September 29, 2016  (0 comments)

Once again, some of the best things I've read this month have come from Alex Hutchinson's excellent Sweat Science blog. The two I'll share this month are one on Curcumin as a recovery aid and how the weight of your shoes affects your performance.

The Curcumin Cure for Muscle Soreness?

I used to take antioxidants nearly daily to aid in recovery. My belief, supported by the best knowledge at the time, was that enhanced recovery would allow me to train harder. That would allow me to get more training benefit. Then a number of studies came out showing that antioxidants actually affect the training benefit. So you recover faster to train harder but there is less benefit you're getting from the training.

Every time we hear about a new recovery aid, it seems like the same dilemma comes up. The issue as we see it now is that the damage caused by workouts is actually what triggers our bodies to build back stronger, which is the whole point of working out to be more fit. If you take a recovery aid, you're lessening that damage and, as a result, lessening the training benefit.

Well, here's another recovery aid that leads to the same dilemma. Curcumin, an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory found in turmeric, is the latest.

In this case, scientists tested runners doing a demanding downhill run to inflict muscle damage. Typically, after one workout like this, our muscles adapt and a second one is much less painful. This is why it's a good idea to include some downhill training before running a downhill race like the Boston Marathon. However, those who took curcumin after the first run were actually more sore after the second run a week later.

Once again, when looking to maximize the benefit of training, it seems like it's best to stay away from the recovery aids. Save them for when you have a race coming in the near term future and your goal is to be as recovered as possible when you are stepping up to the start line.

How Much Do Heavy Shoes Slow You Down?

As many of us are in or soon will be heading into our fall racing seasons, this is a topic that may be on our minds. What should I wear on race day? How much of a difference does shoe weight really make?

Well, the answer is even a few ounces can make a difference. This has been theorized for some time. I recall in the 1990s talk of around 1% reduction in performance for a 3.5 ounce increase in shoe weight. However, this hasn't been well tested until now.

It appears that the real world results are pretty close, coming in at roughly 0.8% per 3.5 ounces at 5:30 per mile and possibly higher amounts at slower paces.

There is one important catch, though. Cushioning increases efficiency. If you decrease your shoe weight too significantly, it's very possible that you actually negatively affect your performances.

So where does that leave us? Largely, trial and error. Don't be afraid to try lighter shoes but don't jump right into the lightest you can find because that might not be as good as it may seem.

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