Ironman Info of Interest to Ultrarunners
Experience From -
Having just returned from the Ironman Triathalon in Kona Hawaii, I should strike while the "iron" is hot (so to speak) and relate some interesting medical news as it pertains to we ultrarunners. The info is derived from lectures at the annual "Ironman Sportsmedicine Program", which lasted for 5 days preceding the event. A synopsis of some of the pertinent info:
That's it, except for a short commentaryu on the Ironman event, an event that worked as a medical support person. At the various transition/aid stations thruout this event, never did I see any any salt-containing food/rock salt. Imagine performing for 8 to 17 hrs in 50-70% humidity at 78-90 degrees without any sodium replenishment. Imagine the amount of IV's required at the end of the race. I saw 100 cots full at all times with athletes receiving IV's when I observed the finish-line medical tent. I followed Sally Edward's 12 1/2 hr performance--she was one of the few (maybe the only) who used rock salt thruout the race. I counseled many of the "fallen" on the benefits of salt intake during this type of ultra event. The typical aid station had MET-RX to drink, and I'm not sure there was much in the way of plain water. The transition areas (bike-to-run for example) had tables full of oranges, apples, bananas, and M&M's. Succeed could find a good market in triatheletes me thinks.
- Ergogenic (performance enhancing) Aids:
- These aids have been used over the centuries to enhance performance. Greek olympians would eat a certain type of mushroom to enhance their abilities. Tom Hicks, the winner of the 1904 olympic marathon, ingested strychnine and brandy during the last third of the race.
- b. CAFFEINE: A 1995 study of distance runners was done in which they had no caffeine prior to the start of their run, but drank it with gatorade during the run. The drug DID NOT cause increased diuresis (urination), as in cases when it is ingested prior to exercise, but it did enhance endurance as measued by duration of 70% max Oxygen uptake effort.
- GINSENG: No effect on performance.
- CHROMIUM PICOLINATE: No effect.
- GLYCEROL: questionable value--conflicting studies.
- HUMAN GROWTH HORMONE: Increases lean body mass, but no increase in strength, endurance, or mental function.
- Overuse Injuries: Newest clinical work by Warren Scott, M.D., recommends the following treatment for inflammed soft tissues:
- 2 layers of plastic wrap placed on skin
- ice pack for 20 min to affected area (frozen peas/corn will do).
- ice OFF for 10 minutes.
- repeat cycle 3 times.
- may do this more than once per day.
He also recommends nighttime bracing of the affected area. For example, in plantar fasciitis or achilles tendonitis, the foot should be wrapped with an ace wrap so the foot is supported in a "flexed-up" (dorsiflexed) position. This should be worn all night to prevent shortening of the tissues and the resultant pain and stiffness when first arising from bed. Treatment takes 4-6 weeks usually, and traing can resume using the REST formula: R esume Exercise below Soreness Threshold . In other words, cause no pain.
- Altitude Training (7,000-10,000 ft):
- Many studies done on this. The best performance was attained by distance runners who LIVED AT ALTITUDE, but TRAINED AT SEA LEVEL. This training was done, at considerable traveling expense I would presume, for 6 weeks. The group who lived at altitude and trained at altitude did not perform as well, supposedly because they OVERTRAINED at altitude. This is apparently common in those athletes who do not monitor their heart rate during exercise, as treaining rates are attained at relatively slow speeds, especially during first several weeks of exposure to altitude. Obviously living and training at the same altitude is most convenient, but requires diligence to avoid overtraining.
- The positive effects of altitude training appear to last about 3 weeks upon return to sea level.
- Acclimation to Altitude results in the following changes:
- Hemodynamic: heart rate and cardiac output increase within hours of exposure.
- Metabolic: kidney excretion of bicarbonate increases to neutralize lactic acid and ammonia in the blood. This takes from several hours to some days.
- Ventilatory: increase in depth of respiration/volume of air moved in & out of the lungs. This takes approx. 2 weeks.
- Hematologic: increase in red blood cells, hemaglobin, hematocrit, and EPO (erythropoitin--a hormone which increases max oxygen uptake). This begins to occur after several days, but takes YEARS to maximize.
- Circadian Rhythms: recent studies show that both anaerobic and aerobic capacity/performance peaks in late afternoon/early evening. Also, training should duplicate, as much as possible, the same time of day as the event you are running.
- Athlete's Blood:
- "False" anemia is prevalent upon exam of the blood, but is due to the increased volume of plasma which "dilutes" the red blood cells. We appear anemic, but we are not.
- Fibrinogen, a blood clotting factor, is reduced in those who endurance train regularly. It is well known that most heart attacks occur in the am hours, when fibrinogen is at it's highest concentration in the blood. It is substantially lower in a person who has been endurance trained.
- Women tend to be frequently iron deficient, while men are rarely iron deficient. The researcher recommended that men generally avoid iron supplements.
- Athlete's platelets (immature red blood cells) tend to be less "sticky" than a sedentary person's, so there is less tendency to clot a narrowed blood vessel frpm these guys adhering to the vessel walls.
- Strength Training:
- No objective studies show that high weight-low repetition lifting is any better at building muscle mass than low weight-high reps lifting. IDEA: be safer with the lower weight.
- Most strengthening occurs when the weight is lowered to the rest position versus lifting it up.
The opinions are mine, the symposium report is a synopsis edited by me.
What is essential is invisible to the eye.....