Your next race: train hot, train consistently, take a calculator

News from the lab coat world that could aid your performance:

Hot workouts, cool results: You know this blazing hot, record-setting summer we just endured? The one when every workout seemed like it was taking place in an equatorial rain forest under a sunlamp? If you gutted out your summer workouts, you should be an animal in fall’s cooler weather.

According to a University of Oregon study published in the October issue of the Journal of Applied Physiology, athletes who train in hot weather benefit from the ergogenic benefits of their hot workouts and perform better. Researchers tested 12 top cyclists — 10 guys, two gals — before and after a 10-day heat acclimation program. They also tested eight athletes who trained under cool conditions. After their respective training sessions, the hot athletes performed 7 percent better.

“In terms of competitive cycling, 7 percent is a really big increase and could mean that cyclists could use this approach to improve their performance in cooler weather conditions.” Specifically, hot workouts improve the body’s ability to control its temperature, improve sweating, and increase blood flow.

Read more here.

Train your heart, for the long run: Thinking of blowing off that marathon training run this afternoon because of the rain? Think again, if you know what’s good for your heart.

Researchers with the Heart and Stroke Foundation used magnetic resonance imaging — MRIs — to determine that the hearts of runners who trained less for marathons took a bigger hit than the hearts of runners who didn’t let a little rain get in their way. Running a marathon is hard on the heart and occasionally one of its 17 segments get damaged. But because the heart is a team player, the other 16 segments pitch in to take up the slack. As a result, performance isn’t greatly affected and the runner may have no idea there’s a problem. Thus, an undertrained, over-stressed heart may appear healthy even when it’s not.

How to determine if your heart is up to the task? MRIs for all aren’t practical, in part because they’re dang expensive. Instead, the HSF folks suggest taking a VO2 max test, which, according to Science Daily, “is the best test to provide an accurate measure of a safe maximum heart rate … for runners.”

Read more here.

Make your next marathon a calculated run:
Finally, because this last item involves extensive math, we’ll keep it short. Basically, an MD/PhD student/runner in the Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences (those credentials alone should give you get a sense of the math involved) has come up with a mathematical model to help marathoners figure out exactly how much fuel they’ll need to go 26.2 miles and at what exact pace they should run.

You and your calculator can read more about it here.

Photo: If you didn’t clown around with your training runs over the hot summer, you should perform well this fall.

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