Three Good Ones

The October issue of Trail Runner magazine had three articles that caught my eye. Although the magazine focuses on ultra-trail running racing (distances 50K plus), often the articles are germane to all endurance sports.

Ibuprofen (aka Nurofen, Advil, Motrin)
The first is called "Pill Popping" by Elinor Fish. It tells the cautionary tale of a 27 year old man who won the 100K National Trail Championship in Eugene, Oregon, then almost died of kidney failure a few days. Doctors suspect the cause was ibuprofen, a class of over the counter drugs called NSAID, an acronym for non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory drug. Ibuprofen is frequently used for symptomatic relief of fevers and minor muscle aches due to colds and flu.

It is so commonly used in the running community that it's called Vitamin I, and taken both before and during races to relieve the muscle pain that occur in tiring muscles during races. The idea is that if you can put off the pain, you can run faster. However, some recent research has shown that actually ibuprofen does nothing at all to relieve the inflammation which occurs during exercise.  In the case of this ultra-runner, it actually clogged the kidneys.

The moral of the story? Don't use it to reduce the normal pain that happens during exercise.

Barefoot Running
There's a good article on the advantages of barefoot running by Michael Sandler, a guy who used it to recover from a serious accident after which he was told he'd never run again. He's definitely got the religion, i.e., wrote a book about it and runs a company to teach it. He says it's easier on the hips and knees than running shoes (he cites research to prove it) and will also help you run faster on trails -- your stride length shortens but your stride is faster.

I haven't bought a pair, so I can't speak much about this. As I've said in earlier blogs, I can't imagine them providing adequate protection on the rocks where I run. My hunch is they are a fad fueled by the popularity of Born to Run. But I could easily be wrong. I thought Crocs would flop. Now I own two pair.

Pre-Race Eating
The last page of the issue is a light-hearted piece by Bernie Boettcher, a very accomplished 49 year old ultra-distance runner. He faithfully follows a healthy food regimen of stuff like oatmeal, raisins, walnuts, chicken, spinach, black berries - you get the picture - the day before a race to optimize his performance, Recently he came in fourth to a guy he saw stuffing his face with pizza the day before the race.

He's a smart guy and obviously knows that what you eat the day before any kind of physical challenge will not have a big impact on your performance. However, it does have a big influence on your ability to train hard day-in-day out and stay healthy. Hard exercise has an inflammatory effect on your body. A good diet provides plenty of phytonutrients and anti-oxidants to help the body heal quickly and support your immune system.

The more likely reason Boettcher lost to the pizza eater was that the winner was younger. A TOJ understands why he might blame his loss on food. It's a lot easier to find a Domino's Pizza than the Fountain of Youth.

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