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Run Long, Run Healthy Newsletter: 7th December 2023

Running Beats Walking VS Belly Fat, Heart Attacks; Pre Race Sex? No Worries; Running Book Wins Major Prize

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Run Long, Run Healthy Newsletter: 7th December 2023 1

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 more specific running advice. – Amby

Running Is 15x Better Than Walking vs. Stomach Fat, Heart Attacks

All aerobic exercise is good exercise, including modest walking–the world’s favorite fitness activity. But it’s also true that vigorous exercise is distinct from moderate exercise, and appears to have strong independent benefits.

For example, this prospective cohort study looked at more than 70,000 individuals in the British Biobank database to distinguish low/moderate exercisers from those who did more vigorous exercise. The primary outcome was any change in the well-established relationship between stomach fat and heart attacks (fatal and non-fatal).

And the differences were dramatic. Basically, every minute of vigorous exercise was equivalent to 15 minutes of moderate exercise. It took only 30 to 35 minutes/week of vigorous exercise “to offset the association between abdominal obesity and incident cardiovascular disease.” Whereas you’d have to walk about 500 minutes to achieve the same results.

Important note: Almost any running, even quite slow, reaches the scientific definition of vigorous exercise, usually pegged at 6+ METS/hour. Some other equivalents: shoveling, soccer, jumping rope, and carrying heavy loads.

Casual walking racks up about 4 METS/hour, and is thus moderate exercise. More at British J of Sports Medicine with free, full text.


Pre-Race Sex? No Problem–It Won’t Hurt Your Performance

Research (and speculation) about the effect of sexual relations on subsequent athletic performance has been going on for a long time, and isn’t likely to stop soon. The subject is too juicy for authors and publications to resist, so it returns with some regularity.

The study reported here is a year old, but seems to have been in the news a bit lately. It represents a meta-analysis and systematic review of how intercourse or masturbation affect performance.

The first thing to know is that no one has ever studied actual race or time-trial performance–the measures most interesting to runners. Rather researchers have used “various physical fitness tests” after sex. These included aerobic capacity, pushups, jump height, and the like.

Also, 99% of subjects were male. It’s glaringly obvious that we’re missing half the world here.

Anyway, “Performance in several physical fitness measures was unaltered in young men after sexual activity that occurred in the previous 30 min to 24 h.” In other words, the researchers uncovered neither a positive or negative result. Relax, suit yourself. More at Nature with free full text.


Lauren Fleshman Running Book Wins Big Award (and Big Cash)

A running book, Lauren Fleshman’s Good For A Girl, has become the first book about running to win the prestigious William Hill Sports Book of the Year Award in Great Britain. It’s also the first book written by a woman about women in sports to win the 35-year-old prize, including its payment of $38,000. (Laura Hildendbrand won for Seabiscuit, but Biscuit was a stallion.)

Fleshman, a former track star at Stanford and beyond, wrote the book herself without a co-author (ghost writer). It mixes candid memoir with fiery criticism of the sport. It’s also her first book.

In it, Fleshman recalls the mixed messages she received from family and peers, and the male domination of coaching and athletic governance. She rails particularly against male coaches fixated on pressuring women runners to change their body composition for supposed faster performances.

The William Hill judges lauded Fleshman’s books for its “heartfelt narrative” and “compelling writing.” On instagram, she wrote: “My greatest hope is that by the time Zadie [her daughter] reads this book, the topics have become so irrelevant that she asks herself, ‘How the hell did this book win Sports Book of the Year?’ ”

I concur with this selection. I found Good For A Girl the best and most important running book of the year. More at Athletics Weekly.

Apologies and a correction: There seem to be lots of University of Florida graduates among RLRH readers. They were quick to point out my mistake in writing that NCAA cross country champ Parker Valby competed for Florida State University (FSU), rather than the Gators of UF. UF is also the site of the Jack Bacheler/Frank Shorter running glory days, the novel, “Once A Runner,” and the invention of Gatorade. 


SHORT STUFF You Don’t Want To Miss

>>> Beef up on beef: Adults over 65 showed more muscle protein synthesis after a beef-based meal than an equal-calorie vegan meal.


HERE’S WHAT ELSE you would have received this week if you were a subscriber to the complete, full-text “Run Long, Run Healthy.” (Subscription Link Here.)

# Science of running shoes: Should you buy shoes with more cushioning?

# When you don’t need speedwork in your marathon training program

# 3 core exercises you should do EVERY day

# Sure, Olympians run killer interval workouts. But should you?

# How to increase your hemoglobin, and run stronger

# Sodium bicarbonate “boost” might be a placebo effect–not real.

# An inspiring quote from first sub-4-min miler, Roger Bannister

And remember: “I spend HOURS searching the Internet for the best, most authoritative new running articles, so you can review them in MINUTES.”

That’s all for this week. 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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