How To Ramp Up From Fit To Even Faster

+ Fuel your performance with this new carb-loading formula

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Here’s the free but abridged version of the Run Long, Run Healthy newsletter. See the links below to subscribe to the full-text edition with more articles and deeper, more specific running advice. – Amby

You’re Already Fit, Here’s How To Get Even Faster

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How can you keep improving, even after already being in very good shape? It’s not easy. After all, the “law of diminishing returns” sets in at some point.

Some believe you need to apply a little “shock therapy” at this juncture. A dash of sprint training could be just what you need.

That proved to be an excellent decision in this experiment with 19 college runners. As varsity athletes, they were already in top shape.

Researchers divided the participants into a “sprint training” group, which performed sprint sessions twice a week for six weeks. The control group continued its normal training.

Result: The control-group runners didn’t improve during the 6-week period, but the sprint-trained runners got faster at distances from 100 meters to 3000 meters.

Conclusion: “A 6-week sprint training improved both sprint and long-distance running performance.” How? “The enhancement of long-distance running performance could be attributable to improved anaerobic capacity.” More at International J of Sports Physiology & Performance.

RELATED ARTICLE: The 6 Best Sprint Workouts For Beginners

Fuel Your Performance: A New Carbo-Loading Formula

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Meghann Featherstone’s marathon reports, especially the precise steps she follows to sufficiently carbo load, are always detailed, informative, and just a little bit funny. It’s a good combination.

In April, she flew to London to complete her 6-star journey of the Abbott World Marathon Majors. London worried her. How was she going to carbo load for three days (her preferred time frame) in a city not known for its bagels?

The long flight from her West Coast home to England didn’t help. She snacked on pretzels, granola bars, and peanut butter M&Ms.

The next morning, she tried to run a couple of miles but felt so awful that she turned around after a mile and walked back. She began eating more granola bars, crumpets with jam, and sourdough pizza. Featherstone always keeps graham crackers close at hand pre-marathon and snacked on these.

On marathon morning, she “set an alarm for 6 am, ordered coffee, and started eating my graham crackers in bed.” I love this twist from the typical vision of “breakfast in bed.”

It turns out she’s got a simple formula for carbs on marathon morning, at least if the marathon starts mid-morning or later, as London does. She advises consuming enough grams of carbs to equal one-half your body weight (in pounds). If you weigh 150 lbs, you should aim for 75 grams of carbs (300 calories).

During the 2024 London Marathon, Featherstone consumed “70 gm carbs/hour + 325 mg sodium/hour + 10 oz fluid/hour.” She also took a caffeine gel 10 minutes before the start and after 50 minutes of running.

She finished in a strong 2:53:43, her fourth-fastest marathon time. That time was 65 minutes faster than her first marathon in 2009. She must be eating something right. More at Featherstone Nutrition.

RELATED ARTICLE: Carbs For Runners: The Best Carb Sources To Fuel Your Runs

There’s Magic In Those Bright Red (And Blue) Juice Drinks

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You’ve probably noticed a few articles about beet juice and other red-colored fruit juices like cranberry and tart cherry. They all seem to have the potential to improve performance and enhance recovery, as noted in this article at Run Outside. 

A recent and much deeper systematic review focused specifically on endurance effects, distinguishing it from previous reports covering all sports. It concluded that “Polyphenol supplementation boosts aerobic endurance.”

It looked into a few juices, particularly black currant juice, but also investigated dark chocolate, green tea extract, and Haskap berries (blue honeysuckle that produces a blueberry-type fruit but with an oblong shape).

Result: A systematic review of 11 studies using polyphenol drinks and supplements demonstrated “discernible enhancements” of several endurance measures. These included time to complete a given test and time to fatigue from exercise.

Conclusion: This review suggests that six weeks of “supplementation with polyphenols or polyphenol complexes may improve aerobic endurance performance and promote fat oxidation in the human body.” The effect seems to extend to both professional athletes and recreational enthusiasts. More at Frontiers in Physiology with free full text.

RELATED ARTICLE: The 6 Health Benefits Of Beet Juice To Boost Your Athletic Performance

SHORT STUFF You Don’t Want To Miss

Here’s what else you would have received this week if you were a subscriber to the complete, full-text edition of “Run Long, Run Healthy.” Why not give it a try? SUBSCRIBE HERE. 

  • Run your best … without trying so hard
  • How old is too old to keep running?​
  • The best marathon training plan (from 92 possibilities!)​
  • Why the U.S. Air Force loves Topo running shoes​How to deal with those painful nighttime leg cramps​
  • How sub-4-minute milers outrun the Grim Reaper
  • Return from calf injury: Dry needling beats immobilization
  • A powerful “mental training” quote from 9-time U.S. cross-country champ Lynn Jennings

Don’t forget: I spend hours searching the internet for the best, most authoritative new running articles so that you can review them in minutes.

That’s all for now. Thanks for reading. See you again next week. Amby

Photo of author
Amby Burfoot stands as a titan in the running world. Crowned the Boston Marathon champion in 1968, he became the first collegian to win this prestigious event and the first American to claim the title since John Kelley in 1957. As well as a stellar racing career, Amby channeled his passion for running into journalism. He joined Runner’s World magazine in 1978, rising to the position of Editor-in-Chief and then serving as its Editor-at-Large. As well as being the author of several books on running, he regularly contributes articles to the major publications, and curates his weekly Run Long, Run Healthy Newsletter.

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