Autor: Franziska Zehnder, Head of Performance Diagnostics Sports and Movement Scientist MAS Nutrition and Health at Medbase Zürich Löwenstrasse, Sports Medical Center
An injury during the preparation or competition phase can severely disrupt the course of the season and lead to a significant reduction in physical performance. The longer the rest phase lasts, the more time must be invested in reconstruction. However, once the physical and psychological setback has been overcome, many positive aspects of the development can be gained.
Optimum performance can only be achieved when a runner recovers sufficiently after training. Carbohydrates, protein and fluid play an important role in this.
What the petrol tank is to the car, the carbohydrates are to the muscles, which are stored in the muscles and liver in the form of glycogen. Intensive and/or long training drains these energy reserves in the muscles and liver. Anyone who trains loosely for up to five hours a week therefore does not need to worry too much about nutrition after training, as long as they eat a balanced diet.
Carbohydrates are important for the immune system
The situation is different for runners who train more than five hours a week and some of which are high intensity. In order to regain performance, it is important to replenish the carbohydrate stores after training, preferably with starch supplements such as rice, pasta, potatoes or muesli. Exercise causes a slight stress and inflammatory reaction in the body. Carbohydrates counteract this. They are also important for the immune system.
Protein for the muscles
The first meal after training should contain not only carbohydrates but also protein. If the protein intake in the diet is insufficient, both the repair processes and the muscle building suffer. This can last up to 24 hours after training.
It is therefore not enough to supply the body with protein only immediately after training. Rather, it is important that each meal contains 20 to 25 grams of protein – whereby not all proteins are the same. This is because animal proteins (in fish, eggs, meat or dairy products) are generally more digestible by the body and therefore of higher quality than vegetable proteins.
Good vegetarian combinations
If you want to cover your protein requirements purely from plants, you must consume 30 to 40 grams of protein per meal to achieve the same value of 20 to 25 grams of animal protein. It is best to combine different vegetable foods with each other to increase their value, for example soy with rice and lentils or potatoes with beans and nuts. Such combinations offer a greater variety of “essential amino acids”, i.e. the protein building blocks that the body cannot produce itself, but which are essential for the muscle.
Triple good – the milk shake
If you don’t have a proper meal immediately after running, you can take protein and carbohydrates with a banana milkshake or chocolate milk, for example. Such drinks also help to compensate for the loss of fluid through sweating.
Fluid replacement is the third important point that runners should consider after training. An additional requirement of five to eight deciliter per hour of training is expected. Exactly how much fluid is needed varies greatly from individual to individual. The easiest thing to do is to pay attention to your urine: if the fluid intake is correct, it is about the color of white wine.
With sweat, the body loses not only fluid but also salt. A salty snack or a salty meal makes up for this.
Tips when overweight or underweight
Anyone who trains to lose weight must be careful not to treat himself to more than necessary after training as a reward. A simple rule of thumb is to fill 1/4 of your plate with carbohydrates, 1/4 with the protein component and the remaining half with vegetables and/or salad. In order not to consume additional calories, it makes sense to complete the workout shortly before the daily main meal and to avoid a regeneration snack.
Runners who tend to be underweight are best advised to increase the proportion of carbohydrates and reduce that of vegetables. Some olive or rapeseed oil and a few nuts can provide additional calories.
Snacks immediately after training: fruit smoothie with yoghurt/curd cheese, chocolate milk, muesli, sandwich with dried meat or cheese, cereal bar, bread with nutmeg.
Runners who follow a vegan diet should seek nutritional advice to prevent long-term deficiencies of certain food components.
Magnesium rarely helps against muscle cramps. It is more important to compensate for the loss of fluids and salt during training and not to overload the muscle too much.
Food supplements are usually unnecessary if the basic diet is correct. Pay attention to a balanced diet.
Sports drinks are not necessary for low training volumes and during weight reduction.
Alcohol can directly and indirectly reduce performance. It has a draining effect, influences the quality of sleep and thus hinders regeneration.
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No matter what level of sport and no matter how much time you have, a targeted
The goal of running.COACH is to optimize your training and adapt it to your specific requirements. Not only your current performance is taken into account, but also the training days available to you (number and time) and your individual running goals. The following blog post can serve as a guide on how to get running.COACH to optimally prepare you for your running goals.
Running training and training in general is complex. Different types of training have to be optimally coordinated with each other, so that on the one hand the training stimulus is right, but on the other hand the regeneration needed to improve performance is sufficiently available. The fact that the body changes as it ages makes it even more difficult. This blog post should shed some light on the complex topic of “Run training while aging”.
Mountain running, hill running and generally training with a lot of altitude gain are efficient training methods to optimally train and strengthen both the muscles and the cardiovascular system. Mountain running training helps you to develop your strength, endurance and resistance and thus to be able to run on the flat with a powerful stride.
Treadmill running is ideal for interval training and to improve your technique. But for it to be effective, it needs a trick. And there are special treadmills for rehabilitation – on which the runners regularly shine with joy.
Training on the treadmill has several advantages:
Firstly, the performance is very well trackable. Heart rate, distance, pace – the display always provides all important information.
Second, the treadmill is ideal for interval training, running technique training and performance diagnostics.
Thirdly, it saves you the trouble of training outdoors in rough weather.
And fourthly, it can be a great help in cases of overload damage, rehabilitation or overweight – as long as you get on the right treadmill.
Training on a treadmill is basically similar to running outdoors, but it requires less energy. In “normal” running, the body is actively moved forward over the supporting leg. On the treadmill, on the other hand, the supporting leg under the body is “pulled away”. In addition, there is less air resistance and warmer temperatures inside. All this means that treadmill training is less of an effort at a comparable speed – although this is all the more important at a higher speed: at a speed of 8 km/h, for example, runners on the treadmill use around five percent less energy compared to running outdoors, while at 15 km/h 10 percent less energy is required.
This can be compensated by adjusting the treadmill to one percent incline, from a speed of 15 km/h to two percent incline. In this way, you use about the same amount of energy on the treadmill as outside.
In addition, on the treadmill, you should make sure that the cadence is somewhat higher. It can be easily controlled and corrected if necessary. The rolling phase, core position, running pattern – all of these can be observed more precisely here than in outdoors. That’s why the treadmill is so well suited for analysing your running style and for technical training – with one limitation: on the treadmill, the muscles are put under slightly different conditions than outside.
A disadvantage of the treadmill is that it permanently demands high concentration from the runner. Beginners often make the mistake of setting the pace too high, forgetting that it takes a certain amount of time to adjust to it. If you feel insecure in the beginning, it is best to be guided and supervised.
Because the band keeps going, you have to be more focused than on well known, undemanding tracks outside (and remember not to hold on to the handles). Also in terms of coordination and “multi-tasking”, the band initially challenges the runner more than the usual off-road running. If you should stumble, the emergency stop immediately turns the device off (if you have activated it).
Developed by the NASA
A special feature are anti-gravity treadmills such as the “Alter G” treadmill. The technology behind them was originally developed by the US space agency NASA. These special treadmills are – simply because of their price – so far only established in medical training, sports medicine and sports physiotherapy.
The Alter-G treadmill is a treadmill in which the runner first climbs into “neoprene shorts” that tightly surround him. The entire lower body is then in an air chamber and can be lifted from below by means of air pressure, which relieves the legs. The feet still remain on the ground. When inflated, this anti-gravity chamber reduces up to 80 percent of your weight. Because the pressure can be changed in one-percent steps, it is very finely adjustable.
These treadmills are mainly used for rehabilitation or after injuries as well as operations of the lower extremities or the lumbar spine. The anti-gravity treadmill enables adapted training in the event of stress injuries such as “runner’s knee” and problems with the Achilles tendon or patellar tendon. Patients with neurological diseases can also benefit from this or people who are overweight and want to walk without putting too much strain on their joints.
The main aim of the anti-gravity treadmill is to rehearse the running pattern in early rehabilitation and to activate learning processes. In addition, the movement stimulates the blood circulation.
Thanks to anti-gravity treadmill training, the usual phase of hobbling, for example after an operation on the leg, is often “skipped” because the patient is already “trained” by the moment he or she is allowed to fully exercise again.
During this medical training, which must be prescribed by a doctor, the physiotherapist can follow the weight distribution and running pattern closely. New models of the anti-gravity treadmill also analyse stride length and weight distribution on both sides.
Tips before buying a treadmill:
If you are thinking about buying a treadmill, you are faced with an abundance of offers: Treadmills and curved treadmills that simulate running on soft forest paths, treadmills that put athletes in virtual worlds and are intended to make training more entertaining are just a few examples.
It is best to test different models and see which one suits you best.
It is important that the treadmill achieves a speed of at least 20 km/h and delivers sufficient power.
Another important aspect is maintenance: how often is it necessary, what does it cost, can you do it yourself?
To keep track of the number of kilometres you have run and the number of workouts you have done with a particular pair of running shoes, and thus know when to replace them, you can assign a specific pair of shoes to each workout. You can also define a mileage limit at which running.COACH should display a warning message.
Click on any workout to add / track a running shoe and go to the details page (“Edit + Info”). On the detail page you can click on the pen under “Additional information” -> “Gear”.
An overview of former and active running shoes appears with the possibility of archiving former shoes (so that they are no longer displayed in the overview – they can be made visible again at any time) or adding new shoes. Click on “Add new gear” to add a shoe to the selection.
In the upper part of the form you will enter general information about your running shoes. Many shoe models are already stored in the database. If you enter the shoe brand, suggestions will be made in the dropdown menu. Click on the suggestion so that you can also get suggestions in the “Model” field afterwards. The Suffix allows you to enter the colour of the shoe or another distinguishing feature (especially good if you have several shoes of the same model). If you plan to do most of the training with the same shoe, define it as “standard”. This will preselect the shoe automatically.
You can get more information by moving the mouse over the “?” symbols.
After you have clicked on “Add”, your shoe will appear in the overview. All registered and not archived shoes can now be selected in the dropdown menu under Equipment. The standard shoe will now be automatically assigned to every running workout without any action from you.
Stimulated blood formation, but decreasing muscular performance – training at altitude can be quite the balancing act. Find the most important tips below.
Author: PD Dr. med. Christoph Dehnert, Specialist in General Internal Medicine and Cardiology FMH, Sports Medicine DGSP, Medbase Sports Medical Center Zurich
What goal do I want to achieve? This question stands at the beginning of any altitude training. Because altitude training has various faces: Is it about preparing for a competition in the mountains, for example an alpine marathon? Or should altitude training provide training incentives to increase performance in the lowlands? Depending on the goal, different aspects are important.
If your goal is to achieve the optimum performance in an alpine race, you have to acclimatize as much as possible to the corresponding altitude. To do this, you should have trained at altitude before the race, according to the motto “Train high – live high”, i.e. “Train at altitude and live at altitude”. This type of altitude training is – in the truest sense of the word – a tightrope walk: the danger of overtraining is much greater than in the lowlands. In order not to get exhausted, you have to reduce the usual training intensity and train more slowly than usual. The catch: the muscular performance adapts quickly – and consequently decreases in height. One way out of this dilemma could be to spread the acclimatization over several short episodes of three or four days each. So, for a few days you have to train regularly at altitude, but in between you need to train in the lowlands repeatedly.
Because the air is “thinner” at altitude, the red blood cells take up less oxygen than usual. In order to improve the oxygen supply to the organs, the body first eliminates blood plasma and “thickens” the blood. In addition, the heart pumps faster and thus increases the volume of blood pumped per minute. However, there is no rule of thumb how much faster the pulse beats in the mountains. Therefore, the training levels from a performance diagnosis carried out in the lowlands cannot simply be transferred up in altitude. Also, the subjective assessment of the training intensity is often far off, especially when experience with training at altitude is missing. The best way to transfer this assessment to altitude is by looking at the respiration. As in the lowlands, during basic endurance training, one should be able to talk in short sentences while running. If you want to have a clearer picture of your performance, however, you cannot avoid performance diagnostics at altitude. Still, this is usually difficult to achieve.
While studies clearly prove that altitude training before a competition at altitude improves the performance there, the data situation is not too clear as far as altitude training for the purpose of increasing performance in the lowlands is concerned. The mechanisms of altitude training to improve performance in lowlands are not yet completely clear. Nonetheless, it is considered certain that the blood formation stimulated by the lack of oxygen at altitude has a performance-enhancing effect. However, this process only begins after two to three weeks of continuously staying over 2000 to 2500 meters. During this time, however, the muscular performance decreases due to the lower training intensities at altitude.
In competitive sports, therefore, two forms of altitude training have become established in recent years: firstly, the concept of “sleep high – train low”, i.e. sleeping at altitude to take advantage of the positive effects of oxygen deficiency on hematopoiesis, but training as usual in the lowlands so as not to have to reduce training intensities. And secondly, to shift the high-intensity training up to a considerable altitude in order to exert an additional stimulus. However, these two logical concepts do not always lead to an increase in performance. There are substantial individual differences here.
If at all, altitude training to improve performance in the lowlands is therefore only useful for top athletes who have exhausted their training in the lowlands to the maximum. But even with them it is controversial whether it really brings the hoped-for benefit. Amateur athletes have rarely optimized everything in terms of training. For the best possible result at the peak of the season (assuming the competition takes place in the lowlands), they probably benefit more from training optimization than from altitude training.
Those who nevertheless decide in favor of an altitude training camp should bear in mind that experience has shown that the maximum performance can only be expected about two weeks later. But here, too, everyone has to make their own experiences.
Staying at height acts as a stress factor for the body. For example, it takes about ten to fourteen days for the body to acclimatize to an altitude of 2000 to 2500 metres.
If you want to prepare seriously for an alpine competition, it is best to keep a training diary and train regularly at altitude.
When it comes to systematic preparation, the ultimate for a competition at altitude is an experienced trainer and/or performance diagnostics at altitude. However, this is expensive and there are very few providers.
If the time before an alpine run is not enough for a good high-altitude training, you should train at least a few times at altitude to gain experience.
If you don’t have the possibility to do so, it is best to arrive immediately before the competition. The performance at altitude is best in the first hours (maximum on the first day) after arrival. After that it decreases.
Training at simulated altitude only makes sense if specific training is possible.