Regeneration: do we really need recovery shakes?

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Different sports may require different qualities, be it strength, speed or endurance. However, one thing is the same for all of them: the need to refuel the body with the right nutrients at the right time after exercise in order to provide it with the preconditions for an optimal regeneration process.

In this article, sports and nutrition scientist Joëlle Flück explains which measures can be taken in order to recover from trainings or competitions as fast as possible.

Proteins

Proteins are the most important nutrients for our muscles. Consequently, sufficient supply of protein is crucial in the muscle building phase. However, also for regeneration after high intensity training or competitions, as well as for the healing of injuries, adequate supply of proteins is a necessity in order for our body to heal the damage that has been done to our muscles and to prepare itself for future stress. According to sports science literature, the estimates for the total daily need of protein are 1.2 to 2.0 g per kg of body weight per day. The protein sources taken in during the day should be of hight quality. Some of these protein sources are contained in dairy products, meat, soy products or eggs. Less explored up to this point are plant-based sources of protein. In order to support muscle protein synthesis optimally, to accelerate the regeneration of the muscles and to make our body adapt to the new stress, amounts of 15 to 25 g of protein within the first two hours after an intense training (e.g. strength training, intervals, etc.) or a competition are ideal. The current tendency is that dairy products should be preferred over other protein sources.

Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates, as well as fatty acids, can be considered to be the fuel for our performances. If our storage (especially the carbohydrate storage) is not sufficiently filled before training or competitions, wer are not able to perform at our very best. Maximal and sub-maximal endurance performances are especially dependent on our carbohydrate storage (glycogen storage). After very long-lasting or very intense sessions, this storage is usually empty. Therefore, for optimal regeneration, carbohydrates are necessary to refill the storage and to prepare the body for the following challenges. However, the amount of carbohydrates needed for refilling the storages depends on the nature, the duration and the intensity of a session.

Liquid and salt

Depending on the kind of training and on the surroundings in which it takes place, our body loses more or less liquid and salt. In case it is not possible to take in enough liquid during a session or a competition, the result is a fluid deficiency, which needs to be solved afterwards, in order to keep your body balanced. You can calculate the extent of this deficiency here. In order to accelerate the regeneration process, it is important to solve this deficiency as soon as possible and to drink enough water after the session.

Point of time

Regeneration measures kan be taken immediately after training or competitions. Most of the times it is easier to take in the required nutrients via fluid rather than solid food. Especially during intense or long-lasting sessions, your gastrointestinal tract is impaired and it is recommendable to wait a moment before you eat solid food. Nevertheless, it is advisable to take in both nutrients and fluid within the first one to two hours after excercise. This applies especially if high muscle protein synthesis or fast regeneration (after competitions or high-intensity sessions) are of primary concern. However, if you only train 3-4 times a week, the time between the individual sessions is usually long enough for your carbohydrate storage to be refilled appropriately.

Food

You may ask yourself now what kind of food is adequate for a fast and smooth regeneration process. Possibilities are manifold, depending on individual needs and preferences. A simple chocolate milk works just as well as an industrually produced recovery drink. Both provide you with the proteins, carbohydrates and fluid needed in orderd to accelerate the regeneration process. However, if you don’t have any problems with your gastrointestinal tract after sessions and if your appetite is big enough, you can also start with solid food right away and complement that with sufficient amounts of fluid. A sandwich with cheese or dried meat, for example, is an excellent regeneration measure.

In conclusion, it can be mentioned that, depending on nature and goal of a training, some people might feel that a recovery drink is necessary, but that this does not apply equally for everybody. In case you prefer to go for a recovery drink, individual limitations (e.g. problems with the gastrointestinal tract, lacking appetite, allergies and intolerancies) or preferences (e.g. taste, fluid or thick) should be taken into account.

 

 

This blog entry was written by sports and nutrition scientist Dr. sc. nat. Joëlle Flück. She works at the sports medical centre in Nottwil and supports athletes of all levels in sports and nutrition. In addition, she also conducts herself studies in sports nutrition  and she is the vice president of the Swiss Sports Nutrition Society. Being a fromer middle distance runner, she has won inumerous medals in Swiss championships. Today, Joëlle focuses on longer distances. 

 

www.sport-medizin.ch

www.ssns.ch

Kilian Jornet: an exceptional athlete

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“Hi, my name is Kilian Jornet, I’m thirty years old and I’ve been training for thirty years”. These are the words with which Spanish Kilian Jornet (30) describes himself in a sponsoring video. Kilian is one of the best (if not THE best) ultra athletes in the world. Learn more about the life, the training and the convictions of this exceptional athlete.

Kilian Jornet has a seemingly superhuman performance capacity, which has already led to many records on his part. His maximum oxygen uptake capacity (VO2max), for example, is 85-90ml/kg/min – an outstanding value. With ski mountaineering and trail running he dominates two sports at the same time. While others may be faster over specific distances, his main qualities are his extreme endurance and versatility. One could describe him as an athlete, as a sportsman, as a runner, as a ski mountaineer, as a nomad or as an adventurer – Kilian himself prefers the simple title of a “lover of the mountains”. But how did he become the outstanding ultra athlete he is today? What do his training routines look like and what does he do apart from sports?

Picture: runners.es

Some facts:

Personal: Birthday: 27.10.1987, Place of residence: near Åndalsnes (NOR)

Anatomy: Height: 171 cm, Weight: 58-59 kg, Fat share: 8.72 %, Muscle share: 46.1 %, Bone share: 21.0 %

Performance diagnostics: Maximum heart rate: 205, Resting heart rate: 35, Lung capacity: 5.3 l

Background

Kilian Jornet grew up in the Ski resort Refugio de montaña de Cap del Rec in the Catalan Pyrenees. As a consequence, him and his sister spent a lot of time on sports already as children, since opportunities for other kinds of activities were limited. In summer, as soon as they came home from school, the two siblings would run around in the forests and the mountains surrounding the resort and they would do the same thing on skis during winter. Kilian’s parents, both of which are enthusiastic mountaineers, would take their kids on tours to the mountains on a regular basis. That way, he says, he startet internalising the love for sports and the mountains at a very young age, without being aware of it.

When Kilian was 13 years old, he discovered that his school had a training centre for ski mountaineering. He decided to apply for it and he was accepted directly. This is where he started to get to know and to love sports from the side of competition. He started with regular, goal-driven training and he soon participated in his first Spanish championships and European championships, followed by first successes. Since ski mountaineers often take part in trail running competitions during summer, in order to stay in shape, Kilian soon took up trail running as well. Today, he competes in ski mountaineering during winter and in trail running during summer.

However, it is not always easy to be a representative of a fringe sport. Kilian is aware of this fact and he stresses how important it is to have the necessary support in ones own environment. During his school time, it was his mother who woke him and his sister before school to go on a tour together. Also for competitions he depended on his parents, who would accompany him.

Despite the large amount of time spent on sports already at a young age, Kilian went to a regular school and he also studied at university. When in 2005/2006 he received his Bachelor’s degree, he decided to definitely go for a sports career. However, in order to have a plan B ready, he continued his studies, namely at the French University of Font Romeu. He studied STAPS (Sciences and Techniques of Sports and Physical Activities), where he could integrate some of his training into classes. Furthermore, he profited from a special programme for elite athletes, which allowed him to invest the necessary time in his career. Today, he is a full professional, supported by sponsors and instititions. Apart from him, however, almost no mountain sports people have the possibility to make a living with sports.

Training

“Don’t professional sports people have way too much time?”, one might aske oneself. When looking at how much Kilian trains, you soon realise that this is not the case for him. He train up to 35 hours during some periods. Normally, he does a longer session in the morning (3-4 hours) and a shorter one in the afternoon (1-2 hours). During competition season, the amount can “drop” down to 15 hours. In total per year, Kilian trains up to 1000 hours, including 550’000 metres of climb, half of which taken on skis and half of which by foot. Rest days are nothing for Kilian. He trains 7 days a week 365 days a year. In the course of a year, Kilian collects an astonishing amount of kilometres: 7’000km of running, 6’000 on skis, 1’000 on the bike, 50’000km by car and inumerous (“way too much”, he says) by aeroplane. Earlier, he had a coach, but since a couple of years ago, he has been his own coach. He states that he hasn’t found any coach who supports his training methods, but that, since his methods seem to work, he doesn’t feel the need to hire any either.

Competitions

Competitions in winter, in tendency, are shorter than the ones during summer. However, Kilian doesn’t prefer any of the two sports over the other and he values the fact that they combine very nicely. The shorter competitions in winter (all from 1km short, extremely steep distances to competitions over 90min help him to get some speed for competitions in summer, while the ones in summer lay perfect foundations for the winter season. Also, he can avoid putting too one-sided stress on his body. Especially the competitions in winter can be very tough. The many metres of climb (most of which taken at a high altitude), which have to be overcome, really require all accessible energy of the athlets. Kilian had to realise that himself rather painfully, when in a competition over 100km in 2010, he had to manage the last 30km completely dehydrated and tortured by cramps. Despite the troubles, he made it to the finish, on 3rd place. According to him, the overwhealming emotions you get from arriving at the finish make you forget about all the suffering.

Picture: Ariño Visuals

If you hear about the incredible stress which Kilian’s body has to tolerate on a regular basis, one may assume that injuries are a daily business, too. However, a fracture of the patella in 2006 and a recent operation of the shoulder were the only two serious injuries Kilian had to suffer from. He says himself that he has been very lucky with his body and with having been injured only a very few times.

How does Kilian manage to motivate himself during such intense performances? When he is really close to hitting the wall, what does he think about? During long competitions, running turns into some kind of automatism, just like breathing, he says. One distracts oneself with the joy of competing, with enjoying the scenery or even with music sometimes. Kilian often thinks about what he would be having to do at this moment if he was at home or if he was working. And when it gets really tough, he sets himself some intermediate goals. “Only this one little hill now”, he tells himself, for example. That way, he is able to always celebrate some small victories on the way, which motivate him to give all he has got all the way into the finish. When he is really exhausted, however, it can happen that he is incapable of even thinking anything and that he only keeps moving forward in some kind of trance-like state.

Picture: Philipp Reiter, Salomon Running

Ultra competitions are thus to a large extent a psychological challenge. Kilian does not work with a professional psychologist, but he uses visulisation techniques and tries to go through the whole race in his mind beforehand (handling of other competitiors, refreshments, etc). During a competition, he says, it is utterly important to think rational and positive in order to handle potential unforeseen happenings, because they almost always do happen! The important thing, according to Kilian, is to have the appropriate reaction ready for such situations, which he can prepare by visualisation.

Kilian personally

If Kilian isn’t training for a change, you can find him reading a book in a quiet place by a mountain lake or relaxing at home. He can also relax when listen to music or drawing, he says. Being a lover of activity and movement, of course, he also has hobbies requiring movement, such as, for example, slack-lining or climbing.

Picture: Kilian Jornet official Facebook page

Kilian Jornet for sure is very disciplined and he knows what he wants to achieve. However, his biggest strength seems to be his unlimited love for what he does. He keeps stressing the importance of having fun and of enjoying what one does. That it is not primarily about success, but about personal fulfillment. This is also revealed in his attitude towards doping. Doping is a problem, he says, but it is not caused by money only, but mainly by wrong goals on part of the sports people. A lot of them see only the goal and they do not care a lot about the way there, Kilian claims. In his opinion, under these circumstances, doping seems like a suitable solution in order to arrive at these goals as fast as possible.

What Kilian likes especially about his life, though, is the connection with nature, which is unique in the mountains. His advice to people who want to take up ski mounainteering or trail running is thus to see the sport as an experience, as an adventure, and to take step by step, enjoying the way. It is not necessery and neither is it possible to go from 0 straight to 100, he warns. Kilian’ss main message is thus: “enjoy what you are doing and listen to your body!”.

It is easy to believe him. It is hard to imagine that someone who is ready to take such suffering and pain on a regular basis would do this for other reasons than pure love for the sport.

 

This entry was written by: Marion Aebi

 

Running on snowy ground: a tricky business

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Running has long become a sport for  all seasons, including winter. Many people even find running in the snow especially appealing. But caution! Training on snow poses some challenges to our locomotor system, which need to be handled right. Here the best tips.

You can see your own breath in front of your eyes, your cheeks prickle from humidity and coldness, the foamy powder snow scrunches below your feet at each step. The branches of the trees lean to the side threateningly at the weight of the snow. Even though you might have taken a lot of convition to get out for run, the feeling of pleasant exhaustion and happiness you get in a hot shower after a run out in the snow is definitely worth it.

Also in terms of health, nothing stands in the way for a run in the snow – on the contrary. Today, there are suitable shoes for any running activity, including winter. Good soles with grip, good stability, a robust mantle, maybe even with a waterproof membrane – and cold and wet feet belong to the past. No wonder more and more people run through nature even during winter.

As positive as the trend of running towards being a sport for the whole year may be, it is still important to remember that you cannot compare running on snow to running on steady and smooth surfaces like asphalt, or with a snow-free forest road. Put simply, there are three possbile types of snowy grounds to run on.

Fresh powder snow

A run in fresh powder snow is the most adventurous and the most popular form. However, it is not always possible. Depending on the snowfall, the situation can change considerably within a short time and this also affects our running style. The ideal amount is a layer of about 5-10 cm of very fresh poder snow. That way, the snow works as a cushioning mechanism for us runners, rendering each of your steps light and easy, just like on a woodchip trail. You literally fly through the snow. It gets a little trickier with a thicker layer of powder snow. Due to the height of the layer, you must lift the forward section of your feet upwards in order not to get stuck in the snow, just like you took a hurdle. For each landing you have to try and find steady ground to put your feet on, so that you can put all your weight down properly. The running technique for this kind of condition can be described rather as some sort of skipping than as smooth, bouncy running.

Prepared winter hiking trail/road

Switzerland (as well as, probably, the country in which you live) offers a wide range of winter hiking trails, all of which are regularly prepared by machines, similarly to ski slopes. The conditions on those trails are thus relatively consistent, the snow always being compact and firm. In some cases, however, the machine has left a loose top layer. As a result, your feet sink into the loose snow a little bit with every step and each time you push away for the next step the snow does not give you enough support. A solution to this problem is to take more and smaller steps.

Hard-packed forest trail/road

If the snow settles and no additional snowfall occurs the days after, many field and forest roads either turn sludgy or hard and uneven – depending on the temperature. Running on this kind of ground can be compared to running on a single trail in the forest interveined by roots, posing a real challenge to your feet, your legs and your core. Your feet do not meet even ground, whereby they don’t have a steady position, but must be actively stabilised with each step. As a consequnce, the risk of slipping or twisting your ankle increases.

What you need to consider when running on snowy ground: The most important points

  1. Get used to it: One needs to get used to running on snowy ground. Thus, you should take it slowly and you should only do shorter sessions to start with. Don’t begin with a marathon distance on hard-packed snow, otherwise sore muscles are guaranteed (especielly in your ankles).
  2. Adapt your running technique: Running on soft snow requires work form your muscles which is very different from the one on asfalt. Since your feet sink into the snow, you need to work for getting a steady position and not slipping. Your contact with the ground is thus much longer than on steady ground. You are forced to lower your pace and to spread your arms a little to stabilise. This constant stabilising and working for a steady position means a greater effort for your muscles. Other consequences of an unsteady position: lower pace and smaller steps. Tipp: Nordic running, that is, running with poles, is a good option during winter. The poles can be a great help in balancing your body and, at the same time, you can train your arms.
  3. Experience first: A run in the snow should, above all, be considered an adventure, a variation and an exercise for your coordination. You should not be too fixed on specific distances, paces or intervals if you run on snow. If you are preparing for a marathon it is better to conduct your specific preparations for that on roads free from snow. If you are a runner with high ambitions, we recommend you to do around 70% of your training on steady ground.
  4. Avoid overloads: If the conditions of snowy ground persist for a long time, try not to run too often and not only on snow, since, otherwise, overloads and other injuries may soon be the result (adductors, hamstrings, plantar fascia, calves, Achilles tendon). A lot of ambitious runners get injuries from running on snowy and icy ground during winter. Be aware of the risks of slipping or of twisting your ankle. Thus, try to plan your important sessions on flat and snow-free ground, or indoors.
  5. Snow “makes you slow”: In order to train the muscles used for running, they need the percussions. Otherwise, they cannot build the so-called contractive elements needed for fast running with short soil contact or for very long runs. In other words: if you train on soft ground too often, you are not training right with respect to pure running capacity. Of course, you train your overall stamina. But in terms of running in specific, you will probably rather get slower than faster.
  6. Right choice of shoes: If you run a lot on snow, you should think about the choice of your shoes. Of course, the type of snow plays a role. Running on a prepared winter hiking trail/road requires different shoes than running in powder snow does. An important precondition for a steady postion of your steps on snow is a very direct shoe with a flat, thin sole (the heels not being supported a lot more than your toes) with a good profile and maybe even with spikes. Furthermore, the shoe should offer a good grip for your heel and it should have a robust mantle. Normally, trailrunning shoes are a good choice.

 

This blog entry by Andreas Gonseth was provided by Fit for Life. Fit for Life is a Swiss magazine for fitness, running and endurance sports. Are you interested in reading such articles regularly? Click here. (This magazine is available only in German)

Running with a backache

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This annoying backache. It is very inconvenient and it often limits you in your training as well as in your every-day life. Read here what the doctor says. 

Running in old age: portrait about Fredi Häner (64)

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Running is a Sport for everybody. This is something we hear a lot. But what about running in old age? Is there a point at which one gets too old for it? What changes does aging bring with it? We have interviewed running enthusiast Fredi Häner (64) from Wahlen (Canton of Baselland) about his own motivation and his tips for other older runners. We would like to share the results of this interview with you here.

Training structure and personal relationship with running

Fredi Häner took up running because of his wife, in order to be able to do something sporty on Sundays together with her. Otherwise, he prefers to run on his own, even though he regularly runs in a group. He is a coach for the running group “Laufbewegung” (www.laufbewegung.ch) near Basel, where he passes on his passion for running to others. Fredi coaches runners who meet up in order to go for a run together. Intervals are not on the programme in this group. “People want to go for easy runs”, he says. They may add some sprints in the end of the training sometimes, but this is not too usual. However, in his private training Fredi sometimes conducts an interval session. Those sessions are not high priority sessions though. They take part rather randomly according to his gut feeling. Normally, Fredi’s intervals consist of 5-10 units. He does not check his heart rate. In general, Fredi trains about 3x a week and approximately 4-5 hours altogether. If his training includes longer sessions, the total amount may exceed the 6 hours for a change, too. He refers to distances of 6-8km as shorter and 10-16km as longer distances. However, not long ago, these distances would have not been usual at all! In younger years, Fredi says, he literally hated running for more than 1km. “I have only been running distances longer than 1km for 13-14 years!”, he states.

Competitions

Today, Fredi Häner runs regularly and with pleasure, both in private and in competitions. His motivation behind taking part in competitions, he explains as follows: “Firstly, because I want to stay fit, secondly, because, as a coach, I am not so keen on suddenly having to run after everyone, and thirdly, running just gives me so much joy. For me, a competition is pure motivation!”. As a preparation for such a competition, Fredi normally uses a training schedule from the internet which suits him. He likes the Lucerne Marathon especially. “This competition always marks the end of competition season for me and a great satisfaction, since it means that the training schedule has worked and that I have managed to do it once again”, he says. Furthermore, he likes this competition for its unique atmosphere: “The organisers put all their heart into this event. It’s always an awesome atmosphere. I have also run the half marathon in Basel several times. The atmosphere was dead boring.”

Strength training and regeneration measures

“Do you mind your diet? If yes, what do you consider?”, we wanted to know. In this respect, Fredi has a rather liberal mindset and he says that he only tries to avoid Birchermüesli with cream, peperoni and the like before competitions, so that nothing belches. Other than that, he does not follow any rules. How about regeneration measures such as stretching then? “My strength training consists of gardening and excercises for my core such as, for example, push-ups”, Fredi says. He admits that he should be doing more of this, however. When it comes to stretching, Fredi is very consistent. “Stretching is essential for me after each session, since I’ve already had to go see the doctor because of an inflamed glutaeus”, the 64-year-old explains. Since he took up regular stretching, he has been free from these troubles.

About the effects of aging

As from a certain age, some changes may be felt. Physically, for Fredi these manifest themselves mainly in slowly decreasing endurance and longer time needed for recovery after influenzas and infections. Up to now, he has never spent a thought on giving up running, since he has been running painlessly until today. He is conscious of the fact that this is not self-evident though. Fredi Häner knows several reasons which might force him to quit running someday: “Degeneration of joints might occur, I might have an accident which turns running into something impossible, or my heart or something else might put an end to it.”

Motives and motivation

However, as long as none of the above-mentioned factors holds true, Fredi is determined to continue running. Mentally, nothing has really changed for him since the beginnings. His motivation is still high, also for competitions: “I know that it went well last time, so I believe in being able to do it another time. And I still want it to work out as much as I did last time.” The motives for Fredi go far beyond competitions though! “I think running really serves the fitness”, he states. But, as he claims, running not only trains your balance and your posture, which is especially important in old age, but there are also psychological aspects to be mentioned as advantages you get from running. “Running is good for your psyche”, Fredi says. For example, when you feel low or in case you have private or work problems, running helps to fight those negative feelings, he goes on. For Fredi personally, running is “like medicine, I just need it.” Especially during the dark winter months, which easily cause a bad mood, running can work miracles: “After a run your state is great again!”. The thing with competitions for Fredi is that they are his motivation to achieve goals. He claims that those who have goals are less prone to lethargy even in every-day life.

Beyond the physical and the pyschological aspects, Fredi Häner above all appreciates the social value of running. “At competitions you can get to know new people very spontaneously”, he states. Even though he likes some privacy from time to time and prefers to go for his runs alone sometimes, he recommends running groups for older people, since they encourage social exchange: “In a running group you get in contact with like-minded people, you can get tips, you can laugh together, and you can motivate and challenge each other.”

As we have seen in the example of Fredi Häner, running has a lot of advantages, all of which mean a huge enrichment for your health and your general well-being. All of these factors seem to be even more important after retiring. After retirement, there is often a lack of automatic involvement in society. Also, movement is not necessarily included in every-day life too much anymore. As long as one doesn’t suffer from troubles causing you pain when running, or which even make running impossible, running surely is a great opportunity to stay fit and healthy even in old age.

We find these insights into the experiences and routines of Fredi Häner very inspiring and we hope you feel the same. Keep on running! 😊

 

 

This blog entry was written by: Marion Aebi

Six winter boosters for runners

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They are everywhere, the viruses. Especially during the cold time of the year. Unfortunately, this is the time when us humans are the most prone to illnesses. All the colds and the flus can mess up our running plans. The strategy to go for is: prevention. Natural health boosters, which can easily be integrated in our daily nutrition, are valuable helpers. We are going to present to you six boosters, complemented by simple ideas for recipes.