13 realisations from 2 weeks of NOT running

Swimming as cross-training for an injured runner

(Because obviously, after a fortnight of injury, I am an expert on the subject…) For the first time in 10 years of running, I think I have an overtraining injury. Alternatively, it might just be something small and acute that I’m overreacting to (fingers crossed), but either way, my hip hurts when I run, and even when I walk for more than about half an hour, so I’m not taking any chances until I get more professional advice (and ideally, a diagnosis). On a weekend when I was supposed to be helping to pace a friend (and client) round his […]

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Keto diets in endurance exercise (part II)

Ketogenic diet for runners

I introduced the definitions and basic theory underpinning endurance athletes’ ketogenic diets (EAKD) in the first blog, but what happens when the theory is subjected to scientific research? A recently published systematic review (which by definition should incorporate all relevant, good quality studies) will help us answer this question. I will warn you that this is quite a detailed synopsis, so feel free to skip to my ‘take home thoughts’ at the end if what comes before is a bit too heavy. The review claims to be the first of its kind looking at EAKD and key outcomes for endurance […]

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Ketogenic diets in endurance exercise (part I)

keto diet for runners

Ketogenic diets have been used as an established treatment for epilepsy (particularly among children) for many years, but more recently there’s been a much broader interest in going ‘keto’, especially in certain dubious corners of social media. Most of the attention is based on its potential as a weight-loss tool, but there has also been a growing buzz about its capacity for performance-enhancement in endurance exercise. I’m not going to comment on the former here (especially as it has always seemed to me an unnecessarily restrictive approach to weight management…although each to their own), but I have been meaning to blog on the latter for […]

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Running in 2020 / virtual races

are virtual races worth it

So virtual races are now a thing, and they’ve certainly stirred up some strong opinions out there in the running community. Here are mine! (Apologies for the London bias of this piece) Overall, I think it’s a positive move. It’s all well and good using running for routine, relaxation and to stay sane (and I can say with some certainty that I would have struggled to achieve any of those 3 in 2020 without it), but competition is important. For some people, keeping fit, pushing themselves in training or following a strict schedule are sufficient running goals in themselves, but […]

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Dietary nitrates and endurance exercise – blog 3 and summary

Can nitrates help running performance?

Well done and thank you for getting this far – I know it’s been stodgy and technical at times, but this third and final nitrates blog should tie it all together nicely. I’ve already covered the impact of exercise assessment type, athlete fitness level, dosage and timing on nitrate’s benefit to endurance performance. The final elements to consider are sport type, intensity and duration, after which I will summarise where we are with some practical tips. In blog 1 I mentioned that nitrate seems to be more effective in sub-maximal ‘time to exhaustion’ assessments than maximum effort time trials. Somewhat […]

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Dietary nitrates and endurance exercise – blog 2

Dietary nitrates in sport

In the intro blog, I explained why nitrates had attracted plenty of interest in endurance performance research, and introduced the idea that they may be more effective in improving the efficiency of sub-maximal efforts. Another emerging theory is that the ergogenic (performance-enhancing) impact of nitrates is felt more strongly among recreational athletes. This trend was spotted in one of the early meta-analyses, where there was a large discrepancy in the percentage of trials showing positive results between those involving ‘untrained’ and ‘trained’ participants. An individual study was then designed to look more closely at this, and it found that beetroot […]

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Dietary nitrates and endurance exercise – intro blog

Can beetroot help running performance?

As a curious runner but sceptical scientist, I’m easily drawn to news pieces about enhancing running performance, particularly those that relate to nutrition. I try to view the articles through two pairs of eyes – my own (to critique the evidence and how it’s presented), and perhaps more importantly, those of a running friend or potential client. It’s vital to consider how they would interpret the article, and what questions might soon come my way. Beetroot  juice is a fine example of running nutrition grabbing the headlines in recent years. I had already been following the media stories with interest, […]

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Five lessons from London Marathon 2019 (including how not to run it)

It’s now been a week or so since I staggered over the finish line on The Mall, and I’ve been enjoying not breaking out of walking pace since then (I couldn’t have if I’d tried for the first three days). But while I’m just starting to think about lacing up the trainers again and getting going on the next challenge (nailing my 5K PB this summer), I think it’s a good opportunity to reflect on the big day and what I learned from it. Setting off too fast Training had gone well, tapering had been sensible, and the weather was […]

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Nuggets of running wisdom (part three)

Following on from blogs one and two, I’ll now bring this mini series of blogs to a close with four final nuggets of wisdom that have helped to inform and improve my running performance. Given my role as a dietitian, I’ve decided to finish up with some ideas on nutrition. I’m not claiming to be an expert on sports nutrition (yet!), but I’m starting to move in that direction at least, so I hope you enjoy my thoughts below. 7. Running on ‘empty’ can be a good thing When we train for a marathon, one of the key things we […]

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Nuggets of running wisdom (part two)

Following up on part one, here are the next set of nuggets of wisdom which have helped to transform the way I look at running. These three are all focused on specific elements of a training regimen. 4. Park runs = helpful I always used to think running training had to be really specific. In other words, if you’re training for a marathon, all training sessions have to be focused on going long, or at least long-ish. Only if you’re training for short or middle distances would you bother with high intensity, short duration training, right? Wrong. Very wrong. In order […]

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