Sunday, October 31, 2010

Myth #2 in the Running World

by Eric Cressey

Myth : Super-slow training is valuable.

About a year ago, I had a phone conversation with a noted triathlete coach who had previously worked with one of my clients, Jon (who completed his first Ironman this past July). When I took over Jon’s training, he was a mediocre endurance athlete with a VO2max of 50.6 ml/kg/min., with anaerobic threshold occurring at 60% of VO2max (laboratory test). After six months of training with me, Jon’s VO2max had improved to 73.1 ml/kg/min, and his anaerobic threshold didn’t occur until an impressive 80% (anaerobic threshold is now generally believed to be the best predictor of endurance performance; the higher the percentage, the better). It’s also important to note that during this time, Jon’s max heart rate remained constant; normally, it decreases when an endurance athlete does a lot of longer duration steady-state training. When this coach got wind of the results, he just had to know how the heck we had gotten such staggering results. My response was essentially:

“We got him to go faster instead of longer, incorporating more threshold runs and sprint work. And, probably more importantly, I told him he had to stop lifting like a sissy. He got a lot stronger and more explosive on compound free-weight movements, and it clearly made a big difference.”

His response: “Wait, you mean you don’t use super-slow training? Free weights are dangerous! Endurance athletes aren’t conditioned to handle high-speeds and heavy lifting!”

I had to cover the mouthpiece on the phone because I was laughing out loud. For the next ten minutes, I explained to this coach that the last time I checked, the most successful endurance athletes I’ve known are the ones who go the fastest for a set distance – not the ones who can run the longest. Anybody can go forever; just look at the people who jog at a snail’s pace for years and years and never look or perform any differently. Jon got out of his comfort zone by moving faster, desensitizing himself to zones above his normal race pace, and – perhaps most importantly – by taking his training serious with heavy and explosive resistance training. Super-slow training has no place in this picture.

In layman’s terms, if you train an athlete slowly, that athlete will be slow in competition; specificity of training is more important than we think. If you want to run a marathon, you don’t do all your training on a cycle, do you? Of course not! It wouldn’t be specific for you!

In scientific jargon, super-slow training doesn’t work due to a phenomenon called “asynchronous recruitment.” We all have slow twitch and fast twitch muscle fibers, and it’s to our advantage to activate as many of them as possible when we resistance train in order to truly reap the benefits that our nervous system and muscles can offer. As you may already know, slow twitch fibers are always recruited first; your body won’t also call upon the fast twitch fibers in your muscles unless it really needs help with a challenging task – like the last few reps on a set of five squats. Once we’re a bit experienced with resistance training, in order to recruit fast twitch fibers (which can actually be converted to slow twitch fibers to enhance endurance performance), we need to train with at least 70% of our maximal strength on a particular exercise in order to build strength with classic “repetition work.” The more experienced one gets, the higher this percentage goes; really experienced lifters won’t get stronger below 85-90%, in fact.

With super-slow, we’re stuck with a protocol that forces us to use less weights because we have to do a lot of reps – and at a very slow tempo. This load falls short of the crucial 70% mark – and definitely far short of the 85-90% mark. And, believe it or not, we don’t even getting all our slow twitch fibers contributing! Instead, through asynchronous recruitment, certain fibers simply “turn on” and “turn off” during the set; the weight is so light that they can actually take breaks while their “helpers” pick up the slack in the meantime. I’m not making this stuff up!

Don’t forget that super-slow is traditionally performed on machines, too, and we already know that machines are about as useful to an athlete as a Derek Jeter Fan Club membership would be for a Red Sox fan.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

High Fructose Corn Syrup Even Worse than We've Been Told

Posted By Dr. Mercola

One of principal arguments food corporations have used to defend high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is that it is chemically similar to table sugar. Manufacturers have stated repeatedly that HFCS contains at most 55 percent fructose, little different from white sugar's 50 percent fructose makeup.

But as it turns out, the specific amount of fructose in HFCS for any particular food product has never been officially tested. And when researchers tested brand-name sodas, they found that the fructose content is actually 65 percent.

According to Grist:

“Why is this important? It's because research has shown fructose to be particularly harmful to human health. Unlike excess glucose, which passes through our digestive tract and is excreted, 100 percent of fructose that's consumed is taken up by the liver. Once there, fructose causes increased fat deposition in the abdominal cavity and increased blood levels of triglycerides -- both of which are risk factors for heart disease and diabetes.”

...On a side note check articles on 10-19-2009 and 8-23-2010 about fructose .....

Friday, October 29, 2010

Training Myths in the Running World

by Eric Cressey

To some, resistance training is the Rodney Dangerfield of the running community; it gets no respect. To others, it’s like Tom Cruise; runners think it might be useful, but it just doesn’t make any sense to them. And then, there are those to whom resistance training is like Abraham Lincoln; it’s freed them from being slaves to ineffective programming.

As a performance enhancement specialist who has a lot of “Abe” endurance athletes under my tutelage, I’d like to take this opportunity to bring the Rodney and Tom runners in the crowd up to speed. With that in mind, let’s look at the five most prominent myths present in the running community with respect to resistance training.

Now, I know what you’re thinking: this Cressey guy is just another meathead who doesn’t run telling me what to do. We’ve had lots of pigheaded guys like this over the years, and none of them understood us. They were all like this guy.

Myth #1: Runners don’t need to resistance train.

I figured I’d start with the most obvious of the bunch. I had been under the impression that – now that we’ve done a ton of resistance training research over the past 20 years – that this wasn’t still a myth at all. Then, just last month, one of my marathoner clients brought in a copy of a popular running magazine; it included a “debate” that featured two experts arguing over whether or not runners needed to lift weights.


This is what some people within the running community have taken from over two decades of dedicated resistance training research from some of the most brilliant scientists in the world? I thought back to the hundreds of hours I’d spent working in the human performance laboratory at the University of Connecticut as I worked for my master’s degree; time and time again, our research had proven unequivocally that resistance training was important for making and keeping people healthy, strong, fast, and lean. Had all our efforts been in vain? At that moment, if someone had told me that the Easter Bunny isn’t real, I might have lost it altogether.

Just to recap: we know resistance training is good for general health, as it:

1. Enhances endocrine and immune function (which are compromised by endurance training)
2. Maintains muscle mass (also negatively affected by endurance training)
3. Improves functional capacity in spite of aging by maintaining maximal strength and power (both of which decrease with prolonged endurance training)
4. Builds bone density (something many runners lack due to poor dietary practices, but desperately need in light of the high risk of stress fractures)
5. Enables us to more rapidly correct muscle imbalances, as evidenced by the fact that resistance training is the cornerstone of any good physical therapy program (and I’ve never met a runner without imbalances)

So, I think that the answer is somewhat clear. It’s quite obvious that runners are a superhuman race that is not subject to the normal laws of physiology like the rest of us.

In case you’re not picking up on my sarcasm, please go splash some cold water on your face and knock back a bit of Gatorade to get some glucose to your brain. Then, reread those five points from above (which are just the tip of the iceberg, for the record). Ask yourself:

1. Do I have an endocrine system?
2. Do I have an immune system?
3. Will I get old? Do I do things that require strength and power?
4. Do I have bones?
5. Do I have muscle imbalances?

If you answered “no” to any of these questions, I would seriously recommend that you consult a psychologist instead of a running coach, as you’re obviously dealing with a serious case of denial.

Runners are just like the rest of us. You may wear shorter shorts, but you still put them on one leg at a time. You need resistance training.

And, if the general health benefits aren’t enough, consider these research findings:

-A University of Alabama meta-analysis of the endurance training scientific literature revealed that 10 weeks of resistance training in trained distance runners improves running economy by 8-10% (1). For the mathematicians in the crowd, that’s about 20-24 minutes off a four-hour marathon – and likely more if you’re not a well-trained endurance athlete in the first place.

-French researchers found that the addition of two weight-training sessions per week for 14 weeks significantly increased maximal strength and running economy while maintaining peak power in triathletes. Meanwhile, the control group – which only did endurance training – gained no maximal strength or running economy, and their peak power actually decreased (who do you think would win that all-out sprint at the finish line?). And, interestingly, the combined endurance with resistance training group saw greater increases in VO2max over the course of the intervention (2).

-Scientists at the Research Institute for Olympic Sports at the University of Jyvaskyla in Finland found that replacing 32% of regular endurance training volume with explosive resistance training for nine weeks improved 5km times, running economy, VO2max, maximal 20m speed, and performance on a 5-jump test. With the exception of VO2max, none of these measures improved in the control group that just did endurance training (3). How do you think they felt knowing that a good 1/3 of their entire training volume was largely unnecessary, and would have been better spent on other initiatives?

-University of Illinois researchers found that addition of three resistance training sessions for ten weeks improved short-term endurance performance by 11% and 13% during cycling and running, respectively. Additionally, the researchers noted that “long-term cycling to exhaustion at 80% VO2max increased from 71 to 85 min after the addition of strength training” (4)

The take-home message is that running is more than just VO2max, anaerobic threshold, and a good pair of sneakers; it’s also about localized muscular endurance and nervous system efficiency. And, you can’t have strength endurance unless you’ve got strength. Build a solid foundation and you’ll be a complete runner.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Kashi Cereal vs The Incredible, Edible Egg: REALLY?!

Diane Sanfilippo BS, Certified Nutrition Educator

I nearly fell over when I saw the latest Kashi commercial touting it's cereal as having as much protein as an egg. Oh man, they've sunk to a new low if they think that their cereal can hold a candle to a whole food from nature. I have to re-paint this nutritional picture for you in an appropriate manner before this nasty rumor about cereal being anywhere near as good for you as an egg perpetuates further.

Take a few moments to just THINK about this:

Exactly what kind of "mission" do
you think these whole grains are on?
1. Cereal is a processed food. An egg is a whole food.

In case you haven't been reading this blog for very long, we ALWAYS eat whole foods over processed foods. Period. I really was laughing at this commercial and talking back to the television asking, "then why don't people just eat eggs?!" (Barring allergies, of course!) Oh, that's right, we've been SCARED away from this delicious, whole, nutrient-dense food by our government's nutritionists and dietitians who bought into the notion that fat was going to kill us. Well, guess what everyone, it turns out that it's not the naturally occurring fats (see my post on fats here) in things like eggs that's sending us to an early grave. Quite the contrary, if we ate more eggs, we'd not only be healthier from the nutrition they provide, but we'd likely eat far less of the sugar laden-crap called cereal. That's right, cereal is crap. Crap that lines grocery store shelves in beautiful, brightly colored, healthy-looking packages. Shoot, eggs come in boring, beige cardboard cartons. I have earned the right to rant like this because I not only ate my way through the cereal aisle hundreds of times in my day, but I've now studied nutrition long enough to know better.

2. Cereal, and especially this "healthy" Kashi cereal, is loaded with sugar. An egg has no sugar.

We all remember the dish on sugar, don't we? Check out that ingredients list on the Kashi cereal. There are THREE different sweetners in there:

"Evaporated Cane Juice Crystals" = SUGAR
"Brown Rice Syrup" = SUGAR
"Honey" = SUGAR

In case anyone was wondering how cereal companies get their grains to taste like something better than the cardboard box, it's by adding SUGAR! Have you ever seen a box of "All Bran Cereal?" Yeah, there's high fructose corn syrup in that one. One serving of Kashi Go Lean Crunch cereal contains more than 3 Teaspoons of pure sugar. And, that 37g of total Carbs will do a great number on your blood sugar, especially when paired with skim milk.

Let's not forget!
This is to say NOTHING of the canola oil or the "whole grains are healthy" claim that's just about permeated every single American household to the tune of Poptarts "made with whole grains." I kid you not. Come on, people, are we really that naive?

For more on the deception that's happening out there in the world of American nutrition, check out this article that was published recently in the Huffington Post by Justin Stoneman, "America: A Big, Fat, Stupid Nation" and my post on the USDA Food Guide Pyramid entitled "We've Been Fed a Pyramid Built of Processed Food Bricks."

I'll get around to my own post on this sooner or later, but for more information on why grains aren't all they're cracked up to be (whole, half, or otherwise) check out one or both of Robb Wolf's articles:
"Damn Dirty Grains: This Time It's Personal," or
"How to Keep Feces Our of Your Bloodstream (or lose 10 pounds in 14 days)."

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

One Night Of Sleep Not Enough To Make Up Deficit

By Randall Parker

10 hours of sleep isn't enough to recharge your brain after 5 days of sleep deficit.

A study in the Aug. 1 issue of the journal Sleep suggests that a dose of extra sleep on the weekend may be good medicine for adults who repeatedly stay up too late or wake up too early during the workweek. However, even a night of 10 hours in bed may not be enough to cure the negative effects of chronic sleep restriction.

Results show that neurobehavioral impairments such as increased lapses of attention and delayed reaction times accumulated across a period of five days when sleep was restricted to less than four hours per night. Behavioral, subjective and physiological measures of alertness improved significantly after a night of recovery sleep, with larger doses of sleep producing greater gains. Yet some neurobehavioral deficits continued to linger after the maximum recovery dose of 10 hours in bed, during which participants slept for an average of about nine hours. The study suggests that complete recovery from sustained sleep restriction may require even more sleep during one night or multiple nights of extended sleep.

As the researchers point out, the body's circadian rhythm will probably prevent a lot of people from even getting 10 hours. So if you are counting on a single night's sleep to do a full recharge after a long hard week think again.

Brain performance decayed each day over 5 days of insufficient sleep.

Mean total sleep time dropped from 8.47 hours at baseline to 3.72 hours on the first night of sleep restriction. Relative to the control group, sleep restriction degraded all neurobehavioral functions across the five days of sleep loss. One night of recovery sleep then improved all neurobehavioral outcomes as sleep doses increased. However, lapses of attention, subjective sleepiness, reaction times and fatigue scores all remained elevated above baseline levels in the 27 participants who spent 10 hours in bed on the recovery night.

"The additional hour or two of sleep in the morning after a period of chronic partial sleep loss has genuine benefits for continued recovery of behavioral alertness," said Dinges. "The bottom line is that adequate recovery sleep duration is important for coping with the effects of chronic sleep restriction on the brain."

If you are pushing yourself to get a lot done at work and with home responsibilities your productivity could be falling enough to cancel out the additional hours worked.

If you sleep less than 6 hours per night for 2 weeks your performance will be like you didn't sleep for 2 days.

Previous research led by Dinges found that even relatively moderate sleep restriction can seriously impair waking neurobehavioral functions in healthy adults. The study published in the journal Sleep in 2003 found that chronic restriction of sleep to six hours or less per night for 14 consecutive days produced cognitive performance deficits equivalent to up to two nights of total sleep deprivation.

These researchers advise you to cut back on TV to get enough sleep. Hey, I've already done this: A couple of months ago I canceled my cable TV subscription and unplugged the TV. After a few weeks I didn't miss the TV at all. I sleep more too.

In a 2009 study in the journal Sleep, Dinges and Mathias Basner, MD, reported that people who worked eight hours or more woke up earlier in the morning than people who worked less than eight hours, but they did not go to bed earlier at night. The study also found that watching TV was the primary activity people engaged in before going to bed. The authors suggested that giving up some TV viewing in the evening is one strategy to reduce chronic sleep restriction.

Consider the long term health effects of sleep deprivation too. Sleep 5 or fewer hours per day and double your risk of cardiovascular disease.

Results show that eight percent of the study population reported sleeping five hours per day or less including naps, and multivariable logistic regression analysis revealed that their risk of any cardiovascular disease was more than two times higher than that of people who reported a daily sleep duration of seven hours (adjusted odds ratio = 2.20). Nine percent of participants reported sleeping nine hours or more per day, and they also had an elevated risk of cardiovascular disease (adjusted OR = 1.57). Results were adjusted for potential confounders such as age, sex, race, smoking, alcohol consumption, body mass index, physical activity, diabetes, hypertension and depression.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Want to stay out on your bike longer?

Want to stay out on your bike longer? There's a nice new study that has entered the energy drink fray, returning to the question of what's a ratio of protein to carbs that's optimal? In this case one measure of optimal is Time to Exhaustion or TTE. Also checked is optimal for what level of effort (below or near ventilatory threshold or VT). Turns out that half the calories (of the right blend of carb types with protein) can give greater, go longer, harder results.

The authors of this study manipulate a couple of variables in interesting ways. First, they decide they want to reduce the total amount of calories in the beverage - so lower the carbs in particular. But then, they want to look at a carb blend rather than just one carb type. So their target is a maltodextrin-dextrose-fructose blend. And then they want to add in some protein, since many studies have shown previously that throwing in some protein seems to have a better endurance effect than carb alone (a few recent examples cited below)

The authors say they were motivated by the desires of cyclists who actually want a lower cal beverage for restoration while on a ride. That makes the question simple: can a better blend of the basics achieve the same or better effect than a higher cal beverage for endurance?

That these authors are asking this question at two distinct ventelatory threshold percentages is also pretty unique.

Ingesting carbohydrate plus protein during prolonged variable intensity exercise has demonstrated improved aerobic endurance performance beyond that of a carbohydrate supplement alone. The purpose of the present study was to determine if a supplement containing a mixture of different carbohydrates (glucose, maltodextrin, and fructose) and a moderate amount of protein given during endurance exercise would increase time to exhaustion (TTE), despite containing 50% less total carbohydrate than a carbohydrate-only supplement. We also sought post priori to determine if there was a difference in effect based on percentage of ventilatory threshold (VT) at which the subjects cycled to exhaustion. Fifteen trained male and female cyclists exercised on 2 separate occasions at intensities alternating between 45 and 70% VO2max for 3 hours, after which the workload increased to ∼74-85% VO2max until exhaustion. Supplements (275 mL) were provided every 20 minutes during exercise, and these consisted of a 3% carbohydrate/1.2% protein supplement (MCP) and a 6% carbohydrate supplement (CHO). For the combined group (n = 15), TTE in MCP did not differ from CHO (31.06 ± 5.76 vs. 26.03 ± 4.27 minutes, respectively, p = 0.064). However, for subjects cycling at or below VT (n = 8), TTE in MCP was significantly greater than for CHO (45.64 ± 7.38 vs. 35.47 ± 5.94 minutes, respectively, p = 0.006). There were no significant differences in TTE for the above VT group (n = 7). Our results suggest that, compared to a traditional 6% CHO supplement, a mixture of carbohydrates plus a moderate amount of protein can improve aerobic endurance at exercise intensities near the VT, despite containing lower total carbohydrate and caloric content.

So, great, a lower cal (50% lower) blend of carbs and protein (about 2:1) of their mixed carb +pro beverage does just as well as a higher cal protein drink when moseying along, BUT it kicks statistically significant butt when going near or at VT.

What's rather interesting to me is not only the lower calories but the carb/protein ratio. Previously, it was asserted that a 4 to 1 ratio of carbs to protein was best for endurance types doing post exercise recovery. Now, these folks aren't really assessing recovery; they're looking at being able to go longer and greater intensity on the bike. And for that a 2:1 ratio of their mixed carb blend is doing the job.

There was speculation back in a 2009 chocolate milk study (thomas09) that checking similar markers, the reason that choclate milk and just plain carb (gatorade) beverage did better than a 4:1 custom drink (endurox) is that chocolate milk has a diverse mix of carbs. Indeed, the authors site another relatively recent study by Currell and Jeukendrup (currell08) that looked at the role of blending carb types and saw an 8% boost in using blended rather than single source carbs for cycling time trials. Similarly a carb/protein blend seems to mean better muscle protection (saunders07).

So, that's good evidence to say let's just go with a blend rather than re-validating that carb blends are better.

One might ask why there were only two treatment conditions in the study: a CHO only drink at 6%, a mixed carb plus protein drink at half the calories. What about the mixed carb drink at half the calories, since we see from related research that mixed is better than straight carbs? The researchers had already done the related studies. They state:

Martinez-Lagunas et al. recently compared the effects of a 4.5% CHO plus 1.15% PRO, and a 3% CHO plus 0.75% PRO beverage, to a traditional 6% CHO beverage and found that there was no difference in the times to exhaustion between the treatments. This suggests that the efficacy of the supplements was maintained despite the reduction in total CHO and total energy content with the substitution of a small amount of protein (ml). Based on these findings, we sought to determine if a lower CHO, lower calorie beverage containing a moderate amount of protein could be optimized using a mixture of CHO sources (glucose [dextrose], maltodextrin, and fructose) rather than a single CHO (dextrose).

Another nice thing about the study is that the researchers used trained athletes, which means that we're not having to account for level of fitness as a variable. Even food logs for the three days leading up to the trial were assessed. The finding - 50% fewer calories - for extended time to exhaustion when working hard is compelling. As the authors note:

The present investigation demonstrates that consuming a beverage containing a mixture of different carbohydrates, a moderate amount of protein and fewer calories than a traditional, higher single-carbohydrate supplement during endurance exercise can extend exercise TTE, especially when exercising at or below the VT.

Sometimes less really is more.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Is Your Doctor Getting Cash Payouts from Big Pharma?

From Mark's Daily Aplle

News from the National Center for Health Statistics, which released a report measuring trends in prescription drug use and cost in the last decade. Between 1999 and 2008, prescription drug use rose in all age categories, as did the number of people taking multiple prescriptions. Approximately 88% of people over the age of 60 take one or more prescription medications on a regular basis. A whopping 66% use five or more prescriptions. Not surprisingly, cholesterol-lowering medications topped the list for this age group. In those 20-59, the most popular prescription was antidepressants. In children, 22% take a prescription drug, most commonly asthma medication. In the teenage category, the number jumps to 30%, with ADD/ADHD related meds first on the list. Not surprisingly, what we shelled out for Pharma products soared as well. Already taking inflation into account, Americans in 2008 spent more than twice ($234 billion) what they did in 1999 ($106.4 billion). Against this backdrop, we also learned that two popular prescription drugs were shown to actually cause the very problems they prescribed to prevent. Telling stories and statistics, I’d say. What’s more sobering, however, are a number of recent publications that illuminate the cultural and financial underbelly of the pharmaceutical industry as a whole. I think you’ll find it thought-provoking.

For those of you who have joined us recently, let me mention a few things first. I’m not against medication. In fact, I wholeheartedly support it when it genuinely and distinctively serves the critical health of an individual. I love living Primally, but I’m firmly planted in the modern age and appreciate its myriad of benefits. A number of us (and our loved ones), I know, wouldn’t be here without the help of medication at some point. When I refer to Big Pharma, I’m not referring to that worthy aim. I’m addressing instead the machinery that’s been built up around what should be a straightforward, transparent medical enterprise – a machinery that too often exploits and subverts the essential therapeutic purpose essential medication should serve. I’ve written before about underreported issues like manipulated statistics, off-label marketing, questionable research standards, and the FDA’s minimal reach. It’s not about mass conspiracy. These are simply the facts. I, for one, believe knowledge is power. You as a reader can choose what to do with it.

That’s why I appreciated a recent article in The Chronicle of Higher Education that a friend in the academe sent me a few weeks ago. Author Carl Elliott takes on “The Secret Lives of Big Pharma’s ‘Thought Leaders’” by revealing the staffing strategies pharmaceutical companies employ. The article focuses especially on the “key opinion leaders” (KOL’s), who Elliott describes as “a combination of celebrity spokesperson, neighborhood gossip and the popular kid in high school.” Within their academic circles, Elliott says, these big name researchers and practitioners have the professional clout to create inroads for the Pharma companies with their medical colleagues. Although the Pharma companies paint the KOLs role as “education,” their more strategic job is infiltration.

Reeling in these types of figureheads promises a unique and efficient means for reaching their medical field colleagues. All in all, pharmaceutical companies spend approximately one-third of their marketing budgets on this KOL program. The industry, Elliott explains, lures big name physicians with big money (sometimes much more than they earn from their medical practice or research) and with the enhanced sense of status that Pharma offers (complete with badges – no, seriously). The KOLs conduct industry sponsored studies, but their primary purpose is to create buzz within the medical field through their personal contacts and their mostly industry-written presentations. (Stray from the slides, dear doctor, and you’ll likely end up de-badged at the close of the conference.) KOLs also play a unique role in Pharma’s skirting of off-label marketing laws. Pharmaceutical companies manipulate the employment status of KOL physicians to allow KOL representatives the legal loophole of promoting off-label uses of the company’s drugs.

There has been public push back, however. As Elliott’s article notes, last year’s health care reform legislation included the “Physician Payments Sunshine Act,” a provision that legally compels pharmaceutical and medical device companies to regularly divulge to the Dept. of Health and Human Services all of their financial dealings with physicians and hospitals. It’s a start, but a more efficient means of controlling industry’s reach would be for universities and teaching hospitals to crack down on these Pharma ties. That move, Elliott explains, is unlikely given the number of academic physicians and administrators embroiled in corporate associations. Enlightening examples? As Elliott explains, University of Michigan’s president sits on the board of Johnson & Johnson. The president of Brown was a board member of Pfizer. So much for academic neutrality.

Other reports out this week, however, add another more disturbing layer to this picture. A public interest group, ProPublica, in partnership with Consumer Reports and National Public Radio have compiled and released a series of reports assessing the pharmaceutical companies’ payouts to doctors and the public’s discomfort with their physicians’ industry ties.

Although the industry’s financial dealings are still private material, lawsuits aimed at Pharma’s marketing have required many of the larger companies to disclose much of their payout information. Although the details are scattered in public websites and documents, ProPublica compiled the information from these various resources. The result? A list of 17,000 doctors and $257 million dollars in payout. Additionally, the organization found that hundreds of physicians on the Pharma payroll lacked board certifications in their claimed fields or had been sanctioned by state medical boards for unprofessional (and in some cases heinous) behavior.

ProPublica’s site allows you to view top Pharma payouts and even check whether your doctor is on the payroll of one of the listed drug companies. The researchers acknowledge that their report represents only a partial tabulation. When the Sunshine Act goes into effect, we’ll get to see the full financial picture. In the words of a Coen brothers thought leader, “New s— has come to light.” Indeed.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

US national swimmer dies in open water 10k race

By RON TODT Associated Press Writer
Fran Crippen swims in the Men's 400m Freestyle B-Final at the ConocoPhillips USA Swimming National Championships at the Indiana State University Natatorium.
Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images

PHILADELPHIA (AP)—Fran Crippen, a medal-winning open-water swimmer on the U.S. national team, told his coach he wasn’t feeling well late in a race before he died in the United Arab Emirates on Saturday.

The 26-year-old from a family of prominent swimmers in suburban Philadelphia was competing in the FINA Open Water 10-kilometer World Cup in Fujairah, south of Dubai, but failed to finish and was found in the water two hours later, according to Swimming World.

The magazine said the water temperature was in the mid- to high-80s, and several swimmers were treated for heat exhaustion after the race.

Swimmers were the first to respond when Crippen failed to arrive at the finish. Several returned to the water to search for him and were soon followed by a dive team. Crippen’s body was found just before the last buoy on the 2-kilometer triangular course, race organizers said.

He was rushed to shore and transported to Fujairah Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

FINA President Julio Maglione of Uruguay said he was told that after eight kilometers Crippen told his coach that he wasn’t feeling well.

“He continued and he was found in the deep of the water,” Maglione said from Acapulco, Mexico, where he was attending Olympic meetings.

Crippen’s family is well-known in the swimming world. Maddy Crippen swam for Villanova and competed in the 2000 Sydney Olympics, Claire Crippen was an NCAA All-American at Virginia, and Teresa Crippen currently swims for the University of Florida and is a member of the U.S. national team

“He was our hero,” said Maddy Crippen, reached at her parents’ home in Conshohocken. “We loved him very much, and we’ll all miss him.”

Maglione said it was the first death in any FINA event.

“It’s like (what) happens sometimes in soccer, in basketball, in other sports. In one moment, one athlete dies,” he said.

Maglione said FINA has opened an investigation.

“All was under strict rules that exist in our competition. All was absolutely correct,” he said. “It was an accident, a terrible accident.”

In addition to Crippen, Maglione said three other swimmers - two U.S. women and one Brazilian - were taken to a hospital.

“They are not in any kind of problem,” he said.

Eva Fabian of Keene, N.H., Christine Jennings of Longmont, Colo., and Alex Meyer of Ithaca, N.Y., also competed in the meet.

Competitors all described the conditions as unusually hot, but would not comment about Crippen’s death.

“These are very hot conditions for swimming,” said Thomas Lurz of Germany, who won the men’s race.

Evgeny Drattsev of Russia, who came in second, admitted he had never competed in such warm conditions before.

“The water was really hot and it was a kind of new experience for me here,” he said.

Crippen’s death has raised the possibility that a 15-kilometer open-water grand prix that is supposed to be held at the same venue Wednesday could be canceled.

Ahmed al-Falasi, president of the UAE Swimming Federation, said the organizing committee will meet Sunday to decide how to proceed.

USA Swimming said coaches, athletes, members and employees were “deeply saddened” by Crippen’s death

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Just the other day

From Jonathan Safran Foer’s

“Just the other day, one of the local pediatricians was telling me he’s seeing all kinds of illnesses that he never used to see. Not only juvenile diabetes, but inflammatory and autoimmune diseases that a lot of the docs don’t even know what to call. And girls are going through puberty much earlier, and kids are allergic to just about everything, and asthma is out of control. Everyone knows it’s our food. We’re messing with the genes of these animals and then feeding them growth hormones and all kinds of drugs that we really don’t know enough about.

And then we’re eating them.

Kids today are the first generation to grow up on this stuff, and we’re making a science experiment out of them. Isn’t it strange how upset people get about a few dozen baseball players taking growth hormones, when we’re doing what we’re doing to our food animals and feeding them to our children?”

Friday, October 22, 2010

The top 3 dietary causes of obesity & diabetes

In this article, we’ll discuss the three major dietary toxins that trigger diabesity:

* Cereal grains (especially refined flour)
* Omega-6 industrial seed oils (corn, cottonseed, safflower, soybean, etc.)
* Fructose (especially high-fructose corn syrup)

At the simplest level, a toxin is something capable of causing disease or damaging tissue when it enters the body. When most people hear the word “toxin”, they think of chemicals like pesticides, heavy metals or other industrial pollutants. But even beneficial nutrients like water, which are necessary to sustain life, are toxic at high doses.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Probiotics Help Ward Off Common Cold

Posted By Dr. Mercola

A recent study investigated whether the probiotic bacteria Lactobacillus plantarum and Lactobacillus paracasei could help fight the common cold. Researchers looked at whether consumption of the probiotic mixture could reduce the risk of common cold episodes, the number of days with common cold symptoms, the frequency and severity of symptoms, and the cellular immune response in common cold infections.

For the study, more than 270 people were given supplements of the probiotics over a twelve week period. The results showed that the mixture reduced the risk of common cold infections.

According to the European Journal of Nutrition:

“The incidence of acquiring one or more common cold episode was reduced from 67 percent in the control group to 55 percent in the probiotic group ... Also, the number of days with common cold symptoms were significantly ... reduced from 8.6 days in the control group to 6.2 days in the probiotic group”.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010


All we need is (a) Nudge Dan John talks about just needing to "nudge" our workouts to get exceptional returns in strength . I'd suggest that we see value in applying that approach across the board for well being. Why? It turns out that the way we're wired, nudging our progress may be more effective and beneficial for the long haul that anything else - body comp changes included. So let's look a little bit at this exercise myth of working out "hard" vs working out "well"

UnFit Myth #1 for Body Comp Change: Non Stop Intensity

1) Have to work out "really hard" - to the point of collapse from fatigue to get results (but i hate how i feel the next day).

Let's assume results mean burning fat, dropping fat mass. What does all this frenetic activity mean? If we're just getting into working out, fatigue comes from a lot of places. First of all, our bodies haven't adapted to the demands of working out. We get "gassed" or "winded" No kidding. We just don't have the capacity in our bodies - yet - to work out either long or hard. We run out of available energy. Literally.

A Nudge is All that's Required
SO what's the point of exercise? It's to engage and extend a process of change; it's all the words ending in "-er." Like go fast-er, lift strong-er, run long-er, jump high-er. Exercise is literally *changing* us as our bodies adapt to the new loads. Let's consider a few of the changes that occur

Breathing For instance, when we're out for a light run and our hearts are at about 60% of whatever their 100% capacity to beat in a minute is, but we still feel initially like that's pretty taxing - we can only do it for a few minutes at a time - here's part of what our bodies are doing: they're creating MORE of a particular part of our cell - the mitochondria - that chews fat and turns it into energy. More mitochondria means that we can take more fat in and convert it into energy so we can keep going. That's great.

Muscle Likewise when we lift weights - also really great for body comp - if the load is even a bit of a challenge for us - we do even a few reps, regularly, our very muscles change. The theory (sliding filament) goes that they have components that almost like a tug of war that grab onto each other and pull to contract or the muscle. This growth is part of why, over time, we get stronger; the once heavy weight feels lighter.

Learning/Nervous system One more really critical change is in our wiring. When we do anything physically, we are learning how to do it; our muscles are likewise learning how to perform a particular technique. When we feel ourselves shaking when we hold a new posture that's usually our nervous system rapidly trying to figure out in this new move what muscles need to fire when to support this movement. Repetitions are really important for that.

Enter the Nudge
What Do We Need For Adaptation?
Some of us think we exercise to lose weight. Fair enough. That's almost another myth though. Exercise isn't really about weight loss. It's actually a secondary component to diet - how much that component contributes to fat burning really depends on how much we do, and somewhat on what kind of work we do when we're doing it.

The primary effect of exercise is to help us become more robust, and, as i've pointed to before, become smarter (another "-er) as well. Seriously. This bullet proofing occurs by pushing our system to adapt, to make those changes described above, to support what we're doing while being less taxing.

That's an important point for us to get: we need to do something in such a way that our bodies need to change to support that demand physiologically and neurologically.

Just Enough.
So our bodies can only change so much physiologically at once. Figuring out that amount is part of an ongoing debate, but one of the toughest things for many people to get is that usually what we actually need to do to promote an adaptation is a lot less than we think. A. Lot. Less.

But what does less mean? Less can happen over

* time: how long an action is carried out - like the length of a workout
* volume how much work is done within that time - volume of something
* intensity how much effort the work takes, or how heavy a load is relative to how much one can lift once

So we can vary any of these components. Some programs have folks working for long workouts (over an hour), for medium to high effort (intensity) for many sets (volume).

Some workouts focus on taking a long time to lift heavy loads (intensity) 2 or 3 times (volume), taking a long time (5 minutes or more) between doing maybe five sets (volume) .

Each of these approaches does different things to the body and each has particular costs. From the long, intense, multi-set workout, people feel fatigued and also often sore. Intriguingly the heavy workouts with few reps, few sets and long rest breaks can have very similar effects without inducing fatigue.

What's going on? Muscle Fibers and Oxidative capacity
Without going into a lot of detai, there's two things at least at play in getting body comp change without killing oneself
- aerobic adaptation - more mitochondria
- muscle fiber type - hitting the sweet spot for muscle response

Aerobic Adaptation By doing ANYTHING that will elevate our hearts above 60% of max - the classic working hard but can still carry on a conversation - we are causing a performance related adapatation to take place in our bodies - we are causing more mitochondria to get built so that more fat can be utilized to produce more energy to keep us going longer and harder without putting us in the ground.

Muscular Adaptation The main thing about adaptation is that we need to keep nudging our current state. That may mean one day if out for a run, going a few seconds longer or a wee bit harder for a little bit, a few times throughout the run. That means in lifting we might use waves of loads so that in a week we have a lighter, medium and heavy day with what we're doing - doing the same lifts each day. As long as there's a *bit* of a challenge, and adaptation occurs. There are many ways to do this kind of waving of loads, but the main thing is that by waving the loads we challenge our muscle fibers to have to respond to get stronger so that we can do more - and doing more also requires more energy, which means more fuel gets burned.

Recovery - the Sweet Spot of Adaptation. If we are fatigued and can't rest, our efforts can go for not because our recovery sucks. So, one way to ensure great adapatation is to go just to the place of getting that adaptation demand - the nudge on our current level - and getting good rest since it's in the recovery that the adaptation occurs - while our bodies figure out what they need to do to support loads like we've given them

Food - optimizing fuel intake
Another aspect of suppoprting exercise is fuel. Just because we have fat to burn for fuel, doesn't mean that we don't need to eat. There's stuff we need every day in our bodies to be efficient. In fact it's sometimes harder to burn fuel without the presence of food. But again what we need is usually less than we think - but less of the right stuff. Precision Nutrition makes figuring out what when very easy with its habits based approaches. Here's a free overview.

Take Away: Less of the Right Work = More of the Right results
So the point of exercise is to create an adaptation in the body: to help it become progressively more robust, and a better burner of fuel (fat in particular) to become that lean mean machine.

The main thing is - and this is what's really hard to get - is that adaptation can be, to use Dan John's phrasing "nudged" - in fact it's better for us to nudge the adaptation than to try to crush ourselves. Why? our nervous system can get really stressed if every workout is super intense. Ironically, working out like that can make us sick.

This doesn't mean we can't work out hard. It means we don't have to workout THAT hard ALL the time. That means deliberately backing off in order to gain more strength, gain more adapatation.

We'll come back another time to examples of such approaches, but the point is that gains will happen consistently effectively and too easily for anyone to believe in terms of strength and aerobic capacity.

DIET: Combine this nudging approach with good nutrition practices, like Precision Nutrition, and you're away.

The people who are most happy with their body comp it seems, seem to be doing something that is causing an adaptation for at least 5 hours a week. This 5 hour approache includes anything that is getting the heart rate up for five hours a week.

On the cardio/endurance side, i like a mix of steady state, play, and intervals. There's nice research on how to optimize fat burning outside intervals and within intervals.But again, these can all be achieved in a huge variety of ways that enhance well being, sense of joy and more robust us-ness.

Summing Up
Adaptation. That's what exercise is about. So we really do need to be kind to ourselves. We adapt readily; it's how we're wired. We adapt to change best and for the long haul it seems by Nudging. So do something that gets the heart up more of the time; super intensity being valuable, but less of the time. This way we can always urge the nudge on. Last month the nudge meant i lifted X; this month it's X+y. THat y might be more sets; more load; more time.

Killing ourselves to feel better? Not on. In fact, it's counter productive. Sure we can do it for three months but the cost on day 91 isn't often pretty. And then what on day 92?

Monday, October 18, 2010

Know Your Numbers....


The more bodyfat we have the harder life is. We already know this. Too much causes a malady of functions to long to describe in one post, or one book for that matter.

Generally BF is a symptom of something bigger, but we will fail to notice the ill effects if we keep it with standards we perform well at, and can maintain.

Males seem to function best between 8-14%. Usually under 9% for a lot of folks makes our performance waiver. Choose your poison here. Look leaner, or perform better. Its all up to you.

Females, in my opinion do well at the close to the same, maybe a bit higher. Some people may argue this...I don't care. If you think your too lean, get fatter. If your not lean enough, put down the fork. If you perform really well at 12%, eat pizza everyday for two weeks, and perform horrible at 18%, then stop eating pizza.

Blood Pressure:

Measure of force against the walls of the arteries. This has two numbers as Im sure you know.

The top number, Systolic is the measure of pressure when the muscle contracts

The bottom number Diastolic is the measure of pressure when the heart is relaxed.

Generally an optimal BR under 120/80mmHg is a sign of a winner.

Total Cholesterol:

This measure simply measures the proteins that help shuttle fats around (HDL, LDL, VLDL).

A total cholesterol count of 130 mg/dl would most likely be great. A tad over may pose no issue but remember, sometimes these numbers are deceiving...we will hit that shortly.


HDL brings fats hanging out all over the body, back to the liver for recycling. The reason its associated with "good cholesterol" is because it seems like a cop after all the bad things hanging out causing trouble.

Concerning HDL, generally the higher the better, so shoot for 60mg/dl and above.


Performing the opposite it's buddy HDL. Low-density lipids transport fat away from the liver to help create, repair, energize everything.

However, its not the number we are most concerned with, rather the size. One type is puffy, and larger, and much less harmful than its smaller more secretive counter part Type "B" who seems to be the main causative factor in CVD.

What is even more telling is that the stimulation from these not to happy characters comes straight form the over ingestion of carbohydrates, not fat. So the low-fat whole grain BS food pyramid we are sold finds another hitch.....death.

Aiming for an LDL range of 80mg/dl is great, but remember "size matters".


Basically dietary fat. Three fatty acids (tri) on glycerol. Although triglycerides are a measure of fat present in the blood they are an indicator in insulin resistance and a high carbohydrates diet.

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Glycohemoglobin (Hb1Ac):

Most likely one of the most important and simplest to change. A1c measures the sugar attached to hemoglobin. Since red blood cells replace themselves every three months, this particular metric gives us a measure over time, not just a pin prick this very second.

Red blood cells carry oxygen away from the lungs. Excess sugar attaches itself to these RBC, and cause glycation. A1c measure the percentage of glucose that attached itself to your precious oxygen carriers.

The American Diabetes's Association explains that if your A1c panel comes back with over 6% glycation, then your a diabetic. Those of us wanting to prevent this need show up under 5% glycation to ensure optimal health and well being. It may be as simple as not eating sugar for 1/3 of the population, but we will never know until we try.

C-Reactive Protein:

If you will recall, the be all end all to our amazing existence relies heavily on the amount of inflammation we encounter. Some is helpful, and Im sure by now you know what too much does. CRP simply measure overall inflammation.

While its very true multiple items like infections, and diseases elevate CRP. It is also true that poisonous food (grains, legumes, dairy, sugar) lack of sleep, and stress also cause inflammation. After ruling out weather you are infected or not...turn to your lifestyle.

A returning CRP value of 1.0mg/l is a good place to find yourself.

Vit D:

Its not what it does, so much as what it doesn't. From cancer prevention, reducing inflammation, nutrient absorption, and a list of other benefits, it is no gamble to get this little gem tested. A simple over the counter supplement, or even sun exposure regularly may be all one needs to return to optimal levels if the test should come back wanting.

A tissue level of 50ng/ml or over seems to ensure we can reap the benefits this little wonder hormone has to offer.

And there's the short list. We could add more, but generally this is plenty, and very doable the next time you see your Doctor.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

The Cooldown

Written by: Matt Fitzgerald

A post time-trial cooldown is optional. (Contrary to popular belief, cooling down after hard running serves no purpose in terms of attenuating physiological stress or facilitating recovery. It just feels good and adds a little more volume to the workout

Friday, October 15, 2010

Vitamin D Found to Influence Over 200 Genes, Highlighting Links to Disease


The results are published in the journal Genome Research.

It is estimated that one billion people worldwide do not have sufficient vitamin D. This deficiency is thought to be largely due to insufficient exposure to the sun and in some cases to poor diet. As well as being a well-known risk factor for rickets, there is a growing body of evidence that vitamin D deficiency also increases an individual's susceptibility to autoimmune conditions such as multiple sclerosis (MS), rheumatoid arthritis and type 1 diabetes, as well as certain cancers and even dementia.

Now, in a study whose funders include the Medical Research Council (MRC), the MS Society, the Wellcome Trust and the MS Society of Canada, researchers at the University of Oxford have shown the extent to which vitamin D interacts with our DNA. They used new DNA sequencing technology to create a map of vitamin D receptor binding across the genome. The vitamin D receptor is a protein activated by vitamin D, which attaches itself to DNA and thus influences what proteins are made from our genetic code.

The researchers found 2,776 binding sites for the vitamin D receptor along the length of the genome. These were unusually concentrated near a number of genes associated with susceptibility to autoimmune conditions such as MS, Crohn's disease, systemic lupus erythematosus (or 'lupus') and rheumatoid arthritis, and to cancers such as chronic lymphocytic leukaemia and colorectal cancer.

They also showed that vitamin D had a significant effect on the activity of 229 genes including IRF8, previously associated with MS, and PTPN2, associated with Crohn's disease and type 1 diabetes.

"Our study shows quite dramatically the wide-ranging influence that vitamin D exerts over our health," says Dr Andreas Heger from the MRC Functional Genomics Unit at Oxford, one of the lead authors of the study.

The first author of the paper, Dr Sreeram Ramagopalan from the Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics, adds: "There is now evidence supporting a role for vitamin D in susceptibility to a host of diseases. Vitamin D supplements during pregnancy and the early years could have a beneficial effect on a child's health in later life. Some countries such as France have instituted this as a routine public health measure."

The main source of vitamin D in the body comes from exposing the skin to sunlight, although a diet of oily fish can provide some of the vitamin. Research has previously suggested that lighter skin colour and hair colour evolved in populations moving to parts of the globe with less sun to optimise production of vitamin D in the body. A lack of vitamin D can affect bone development, leading to rickets; in pregnant mothers, poor bone health can be fatal to both mother and child at birth, hence there are selective pressures in favour of people who are able to produce adequate vitamin D.

This new study supports this hypothesis, having found a significant number of vitamin D receptor binding sites in regions of the genome with genetic changes more commonly found in people of European and Asian descent. It is probable that skin lightening as we migrated out of Africa resulted from the necessity to be able to make more vitamin D and prevent rickets: vitamin D deficiency led to pelvic contraction resulting in increased risk of fatality of both mother and unborn child, effectively ending maternal lineages unable to find ways of increasing availability of the vitamin.

"Vitamin D status is potentially one of the most powerful selective pressures on the genome in relatively recent times," says Professor George Ebers, Action Medical Research Professor of Clinical Neurology and one of the senior authors of the paper. "Our study appears to support this interpretation and it may be we have not had enough time to make all the adaptations we have needed to cope with our northern circumstances."

Thursday, October 14, 2010



These are low calorie sugar alcohols found in sugar free mints, gum and 'low carb energy bars', as well as (unfortunately) some sports nutrition products. Sorbitol acts as a binder and filler as well as a sweetener.

So, what's the problem with that?

Well, they are also both indicated for use as a laxative and cause cramping, bloating and diarrhea in many people who consume them.

I, for one, avoid that junk like the plague!

Incidentally, I have a personal friend who is an elite runner, who is sponsored by a nutrition company that uses sorbitol in their products. Despite my friend's ability to run like the amazing runner he is, he often DNFs out of races due to- wait for it- stomach distress. Yet he won't consider taking this product out of his race MO... Argh!!

If you've been having unexplained GI issues, have a look at everything you're eating and see if you don't discover these two sneaky ingredients somewhere in your diet...

Wednesday, October 13, 2010


With the growing awareness of food safety and health and the shrinking bank accounts from this somewhat stagnant economy, it's important for the consumer to shop wisely. As a health conscious eater and shopper, I would love to purchase everything organic produce, however my wallet doesn't quite support those desires. Now that I have finally accepted the importance of organic foods I question whether all food need to be organic. I was sharing my dilemma with a fellow nutritionist and learned that although it is better to eat organic, everything does not HAVE to be organic; there are some wise choices that can save a ton and still be nourishing. Because some fruits and vegetables have thicker skins or are peeled, they are less susceptible to residual pesticide and are relatively safe even when conventionally grown. Research done by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) revealed 15 foods that have the lowest pesticide load.

These are:

* Onions
* Avocados
* Sweet Corn
* Pineapples
* Mangoes
* Sweet Peas
* Asparagus
* Kiwi
* Cabbage
* Eggplant
* Cantaloupe (Domestic)
* Watermelon
* Grapefruit
* Sweet Potatoes
* Honeydew Melon

On the contrary there are some foods that you should absolutely consider buying organic due to the high pesticide load. These are:

* Celery
* Peaches
* Strawberries
* Apples
* Blueberries (Domestic)
* Nectarines
* Sweet Bell Peppers
* Spinach
* Collard Greens/Kale
* Cherries
* Potatoes
* Grapes (Imported)

Tuesday, October 12, 2010


From Fuel as RX
Cancer, it's a word no one wants to hear, yet according to the National Cancer Institute it's a diagnosis that 1 in every 2 of us will face. In 2009 it was estimated that 1,479,350 people were diagnosed with cancer and 562,340 died from the disease. These statistics make the search for a cure and mechanisms for prevention hot topics.

Here's a little FYI on cancer cells - they require glucose (sugar) to grow. In fact, they consume 4 to 5 times more glucose than normal cells! So, logic would say, restrict sugar (carbohydrate) to starve and kill cancer. This has proven to be effective as demonstrated by this study and numerous others. Following a restricted calorie, ketogenic diet literally 'starves' cancer cells. But instead of instructing cancer patients to follow a diet like this the American Cancer Society recommends a 'plant-based' (primarily vegetarian), whole grain rich, low fat diet instead. Scroll down this list of 20 examples of 'healthy' snacks for cancer patients... Hmm...

Now, this is not to say that the knowledge of how the 'starve' cancer isn't out there. In fact, according to some recent research (read here for the non-geek version), scientists have developed an anti-cancer agent (drug) that acts as an 'energy restriction mimetic'. The researchers state that "Energy restriction may be a powerful 'new' strategy for treating cancer because it targets a survival mechanism used by many types of cancer cells." The research shows that it's possible to develop drugs that act to simulate glucose and energy restriction.

Monday, October 11, 2010


from the science of

What I largely saw is that the majority of the runners landed flatfoot and overall have pretty good biomechanics. I'll save further analysis for later, but I was really impressed with how recent American Record setter in the 5k, Molly Huddle, looked. On the opposite side of things, I'm amazed at Hannah England. She's a very impressive runner, but her running form leaves a lot to be desired. She has the classic heel strike/overstride/ leaning back, form going on. Making slow subtle changes would surely benefit her.

It's important to note that how the foot strike occurs is also important, and if you watch this video you can clearly see that a couple runners have some unique ways of striking the ground.

This is just a quick post and analysis, and I'll be sure to return to this great video again. As it is easy to get caught up with foot strike, but it is just one part of the stride.

I could get a clear shot of 15 out of 18 runners. Out of those 15:
11 "Flat foot", 4 Heel strikers

In order of finish:
1 31 Shannon Rowbury Nike 4:24.12 -Flatfoot (Forefoot)
2 40 Sara Hall Asics 4:24.34 -Flatfoot
3 34 Erin Donohue Nike 4:24.40 - Flatfoot (forefoot)
4 42 Hannah England Nike 4:25.29 - Heel
5 39 Molly Huddle Saucony 4:25.92 -Flatfoot (Forefoot)
6 33 Morgan Uceny Reebok 4:26.27 – flatfoot
7 43 Amy Mortimer Reebok 4:27.07 -Heel
8 35 Carmen Douma-Hussar New Balance 4:27.53 -Flatfoot
9 36 Elisa Cusma Piccione Nike 4:28.50 -???
10 41 Treniere Moser USA Nike 4:28.84- ???
11 37 Nicole Edwards Saucony 4:29.14 - Heel strike
12 50 Gabriele Anderson Brooks 4:30.95 –Flatfoot
13 47 Heather Dorniden Team USA Minnesota 4:31.05 - extended/ but comes back flatfoot
14 48 Hilary Stellingwerff Canada New Balance 4:32.06 - Flatfoot (forefoot)
15 44 Megan Wright New Balance 4:35.28 -????
16 45 Liz Maloy New York Athletic Club 4:37.06 –Flatfoot (forefoot)
17 49 Aziza Aliyu West Side Runners 4:37.84 - Heel
18 46 Brenda Martinez New Balance 4:46.36 -Forefoot/Flatfoot

Sunday, October 10, 2010

No dairy? No problem! 4 Non-Dairy Ways To Keep Your Bones Strong

By Connie Moreno
One of the most common concerns I hear for not giving up dairy is that by doing so, you will put the health of your bones at risk, primarily due to insufficient dietary calcium. With that in mind, I thought I'd offer up a few suggestions for keeping those bones healthy sans dairy. Take note, though: I'm not saying dairy is bad or that it can't be used as part of a healthy diet (although individual results may vary), I'm simply laying out a case against the argument that you can't get adequate calcium unless you're eating dairy.

1. Eat your greens!
A large part of our bones are composed of calcium, making it an essential mineral for maintaining healthy bones. But there's much more to bone health than just calcium. According to Michael Murray, ND, there are over 24 bone-building vitamins and minerals that work together to protect us from osteoporosis. For example, vitamin K is needed for osteocalcin (a protein found in the bone matrix) to mineralized bone. Magnesium increases calcium uptake and vitamin D helps it to get deposited into our bones. So, while milk is high in calcium it is incredibly low in magnesium and the other co-factors that allow us to utilize the calcium we consume. Green leafy vegetables on the other hand, are full of these vital nutrients ensuring that we get the calcium from our food. In fact, one study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (Heaney RP, Weaver CM.1990; 51:656-657) compared the absorption of calcium from kale with the absorption from milk and found that calcium absorption from kale was 40.9%, compared to only 32.1% from milk. What's more, just 1 cup of cooked collard greens provides you with more calcium than a cup of cow or goat milk!

The following foods are essential for maintaining strong bones:

Sesame seeds
Soft shell crab
Sardines and anchovies (small fish with edible bones)
Bok choy
Brussels sprouts

2. Get Your Daily Dose of Sunshine
Vitamin D is essential for keeping your bones strong. It works to absorb calcium from your digestive tract and escorts it right where it needs to go: your bones. According to health integrationist Layna Burman, if you're fair-skinned, you need 15-minutes of sun exposure (sans suncreen) between 12pm-2pm every day in order to get your daily requirements. If you're darker-skinned, you'll need closer to 30-minutes of sunlight daily. Most of us don't get enough sun exposure especially during the winter, leaving us with weak vitamin D levels. Concerned about skin damage? Supplement with 2,000-4,000 units of D3. You could also get your vitamin D levels tested with a 25-hydroxy vitamin D test.

3. Exercise
Bone is living tissue that responds really well to exercise. Just like your muscles become stronger and bigger with regular use, your bones will also become stronger and more dense with exercise. According to the Osteoporosis Foundation, the most effective type of exercise for building and maintaining good bone density is weight-bearing exercises and resistance training. Muscle and bone go hand-in-hand; the more muscle you have on your body, the stronger your bones are!

4. De-Stress
When you're experiencing stress, whether it is good or bad, your adrenals secrete cortisol, your primary stress hormone, to help remedy the situation. While cortisol is a powerful anti-inflammatory agent it can also be catabolic, meaning it breaks down muscle and bone, when it's elevated around the clock. For example, exercise is a good form of stress that elicits the release of cortisol but when you're over-trained and don't give your body time to recover, you wind up doing more harm than good. Chronically high cortisol can also make your blood more acidic, forcing your bones to release calcium, an alkalizing mineral, to buffer the acidity. While I'm on the topic of acid/alkaline balance, I should also mention that certain foods also contribute to an acidic environment. Sodas and carbonated drinks have phosphoric acid which binds to calcium in your digestive tract and stops it from being absorbed. Excess amounts of coffee, alcohol, and sugar can also be acid-forming causing your body to leach out calcium from your bones. High cortisol levels coupled with a highly acidic diet can set you up for some serious bone loss. Be kind to your body by giving it plenty of downtime and feeding it alkalizing foods like fruits and vegetables.

Calcium supplements are best absorbed when they are chelated (bound) to amino acids. It is also necessary to have adequate stomach acid to digest and absorb calcium. If the stomach produces too little stomach acid (hydrochloric acid), calcium remains insoluble and cannot be metabolized. That being said, the recommended daily dose of calcium is highly individual and depends on factors like age, gender, activity level, etc.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Do you really eat protein?


Macronutrients are often defined as the 3 major classes of chemical compounds that humans consume in large quantities; carbohydrates, protein, and fat. Unfortunately, we have been led to believe that some foods provide a much greater level of macronutrient than is realistic, especially when it comes to protein. For example, when you eat yogurt, the carbohydrates from added sugar and fruit grossly outweighs the protein content. Even milk, which does a body good, is predominantly lactose, which is just a fancy chemical name for sugar. Peanut butter, or the healthier alternative, almond butter, generally has almost twice the amount of fat as protein, making it a good source of fat rather than a true provider of protein.

The previous recommended food pyramid (see SpartaPoint 10/7/09) emphasized breads and grains as the major source of food, leaving less room in our daily intake for the vital macronutrient, protein. Your body uses protein to build and repair tissues, making it an important building block for bones, muscles, cartilage, skin, and blood. But unlike fat and carbohydrates, the body does not store protein, and therefore has no reservoir to draw on when it needs a new supply, unless you are eager to break down your muscle.

Some major examples of foods that are predominantly protein are eggs, fish, poultry, and meats. The difficulty in consuming protein in large quantities often occurs due to the major myth about how much protein can be digested and or absorbed in one sitting. The most important aspect to remember is that these digestion and absorption characteristics depend most on the individual and on the quality of protein you are ingesting, focusing on high quality sources such as wild salmon (see Sparta Point 4/29/09) and grass fed beef.

Anaerobic athletes have higher requirements of protein, once you ensure that your food is from quality protein sources, the major goal of every meal should be to maximize the amount consumed. Focusing on eating around 1 gram of protein per pound of bodyweight will ensure you have a positive nitrogen balance, an anabolic environment that maximizes muscle gain and fat loss. Around 90% of this protein will be digested and utilized as building blocks, but also for a variety of other processes, even being converted to sugar for fuel in ensuing exercise.

You can imagine that our ancestral hunters did not just eat small portion sizes after their kill, so keep your dietary focus on high quality protein, and lots of it.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Strength Facts

by Harry Paschall (1951)

Several important factors in training for strength have been so firmly proved by trial that they may now be accepted as axiomatic. There is no necessity for the current seeker of strength to make the mistakes others have had to make in the past.

The first axiom is:
If you desire strength you must be prepared to sweat and struggle with HEAVY weights. You cannot get strong with light weights.

You must cut down the repetitions when exercising for strength. Three to five reps are sufficient in almost any movement. Any time you go over five repetitions you are using too light a weight to force the muscles to their limit.

You must not over-exercise. Rest is very important between training sessions. You will also find that longer rest pauses between exercises are necessary and more productive.

There are three points toward which our efforts will be directed:
The back.
The legs.
The shoulders.
The ideal way to develop great strength in each of these regions is to work at least two of these sections together, and better still, to work all of them in unison.

We list the back first in importance because the lower back, particularly, is the weak spot in the human framework. It is also the key to the arch, and unless a man has a strong lower back he may as well give up all notion of being a strong man. Fortunately the back works in conjunction with the legs, and if simple exercises are adopted for the thighs, the back cannot help but grow stronger as hips and thighs develop. The upper back and shoulders also work together, so that it is hard to develop one without the other, providing that really heavy weights are employed.

Athletic trainers for many years have had a saying, “A man is only as good as his legs.” Actually, I feel that you are only as good as your lower back. The two work together so closely that sometimes you mistake the functions of one for the other. But if you doubt the superior importance of the back, all you need do is contract a slight strain in this region and then see how little your leg strength will serve you.

All the power that is generated by a runner, a jumper, a boxer or a football player is generated by his lower back and loins; the legs merely deliver it. And unfortunately too many ordinary athletes fail to develop the back to its limit, and find they are prove to injury in this region and that their very well-muscled legs fail to serve them. I cannot stress too strongly the importance of directing a great deal of your exercise toward the lower back. Perhaps we will have new records in jumping and sprinting when coaches recognize the importance of this region of the body.

In the aging process the first sign of human weakness shows up in this region, although many an older person will tell you that his legs seem to be getting weaker. It is true that they grow unsteady in the limbs, but the trouble starts in the lower back. As Shakespeare pointed out in his Ages of Man, the infant crawls (because of lack of back strength) and in old age, the human being goes back to a similar condition, becoming more and more bent, and more and more feeble. You are not as “young as your legs”, but as young as your back!

We need no reminder of the importance of leg strength, for our bodies are supported on legs, and without powerful legs we have no foundation from which to exert our strength. A word or two might be said about the importance of full development of the shoulders, however, since many embryo strong-men have the idea that arms do all the overhead lifting, and that an 18 inch arm automatically insures terrific strength.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Starting Line Anxiety

by Joe Friel

The morning of the race your anxiety will undoubtedly be at a peak. You may not have slept very well. That’s to be expected and isn’t a problem, since you’ve been resting up throughout the week (you have, haven't you?). Start your race morning with as normal a routine as you can given where you are staying. Anything you normally do when you are at home is perfect: having a cup of coffee, stretching, reading the paper, checking email, eating breakfast, and so on. If you have a common race-morning routine that has helped before, follow it. And in all the excitement, don’t forget the toilet break.

Thoughts about the race will continually creep into your head. Take this as a good thing; it means your mind is preparing for the race. All race thoughts this morning should be positive. Do not allow your mind to wander into the negatives. What I mean by “positive” is partly this: Always think about what you are going to do in the race, not what you are not going to do. If you focus on what you are not going to do, you may end up doing it.

This is a good time to review your goal and your race plan one last time. Both should be fully committed to memory by now, so this should go quickly. It may also be a good time to remind yourself why you race. I expect the answer is personal satisfaction. You’re not doing this for anyone but you. You’re accountable only to yourself. Reminding yourself of this may decrease the pressure you may be feeling.

The day before the race I like to remind the athletes I coach that they don’t have to do anything superhuman on race day. If you’ve trained well, you are ready to go. You’ve done all of this before. When the race starts, all you have to do is “flip the autopilot switch” and do exactly what you’ve rehearsed many times.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Race Report IA Race

I always like running the IA race. Its always good to have so many Shamrocks in the same race..I wanted to land some where in the 32.30 range hoping more on the lower side than the high side. I told myself to relax the first mile run about 6.20 due the downhill and I should be good to go. As usually the the boys up front take off at a blistering pace. I was a little fast at the 400 quick adjustment good to go at the 800 3.11. I'm approaching the 1 mile marker and I hear the timer yell 5.59. I'm like OMG what just happen. I'm in big trouble later on. A cruise down Lake St(by the tennis courts) right on Woodside hit the 2 mile mark 6.30. Ok 2 down and 3 to go. Up the big hill, down pass the Nstar building into the Pond. Mile 3 6.44 off a touch but not bad. Around the pond hit a little wind at the causeway nothing to bad.Mile 4 6.46 ,getting a little worried I'm coming up to the most hated street in Woburn (Woburn Parkway) Its really nothing of a hill . I don't know why I hate it so much but the good news is once your done with it the end is near. Arlington Rd long with a nice decline. Hudson St is a monster but its short. I'm chugging up it in a zombie like state. I hear Linda yell there someone right on your tail. As soon as she said that somehow I was able to pick up the pace and hold the runner off for the last 200.... I finished up with 32.33

Saturday, October 2, 2010


Walnuts combat insomnia. Snacking on a few walnuts before bed can help you get a good night's sleep. They've been shown to significantly raise blood levels of melatonin -- the hormone responsible for inducing calm and sleepiness at night.

Friday, October 1, 2010

More Evidence That Chocolate Protects Against Heart Disease

A new study out of Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School provides some of the most compelling evidence yet that eating chocolate provides protection against heart disease. Researchers analyzed the diets of nearly 5,000 women and correlated frequency of chocolate consumption against the presence of heart disease. They found that the more chocolate an individual ate, the less likely it was that he or she had heart disease. Those consuming chocolate one to three times per month had the highest risk of heart disease, while those eating chocolate five or more times per week had the lowest risk. Interesting, those who ate non-chocolate candy had an almost 50 percent greater risk for heart disease than the heaviest chocolate eaters. It is believed that the flavanoid antioxidants in chocolate are responsible for its beneficial effect on heart health.

On a side note this doesn't mean eating Snickers and M-M's. You have to get the good stuff like Ghirardelhi, Green and Black's, Lindt. Your looking to go with the highest percentage of cocoa or cacao (ca-cow). Start off with lower percent and start working your way up. My favorite 85% Green and Black's. You can find these in the supermaket I know Market Basket carries all 3 brands in the candy isle. Once you get the taste for dark chocolate you won't go back to anything else....