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Capacity training vs. utilization training

MAY 17, 2023

Minute 1: What does your body need in the morning?

Before we go for a run, walk the dog or rush off to work, our first move every morning is to grab a Starbucks double espresso. Apparently we’re not alone, as about 63% of Americans start their day with java, according to these “11 Coffee Drinking Statistics.” That’s probably not an ideal way to start the day, says the author of this new piece: “8 Things to Do Every Morning to Keep Inflammation in Check.” The story has helpful advice even if you are not that concerned with inflammation. Apparently, the Beatles had it right when they sang “Good Day Sunshine,” because early exposure to sunlight helps regulate your melatonin and circadian rhythms. That will cause your body to naturally wake up and fall asleep when you want it to. Higher quality sleep is one way to lower inflammation, and so is moderate caffeine consumption. Your morning cup of coffee can work wonders for you, but it probably shouldn’t be the very first thing you put in your body. To learn why, read about “The 7 Benefits of Drinking Water Before Coffee.” One of the most important reasons to hydrate before coffee consumption is to eliminate the crash. As compounds like caffeine and theobromine are processed by your body, their stimulating effects are followed by a downturn in energy, but water can smooth out these ups and downs. While we’re on the subject of hydration, we should mention this good post from Training Peaks: “How to Properly Hydrate Before Race Day.” A lot of runners assume that when it comes to race day hydration, more is better. That’s not necessarily the case, as failing to find the balance in your consumption can actually make cramping and electrolyte imbalance more likely. According to the article, a good rule of thumb is to try to drink just one or two extra cups of water on a race day.

Minute 2: How dangerous is frequent sitting, really?

We were pleased to learn recently that the “US adult cigarette smoking rate hits new all-time low.” Sure, some people are replacing smoking with vaping, but of more relevance to our health-conscious readers is the truism that “sitting is the new smoking.” While that may be a motivator to keep moving, it is probably a bit overblown, according to a study from the National Library of Medicine. If you want an honest look at the risks of a sedentary lifestyle, check out: “Should I worry about how long I spend sitting down?” The first issue is related to cardio-metabolic factors. Sitting can restrict blood flow to parts of your body, as well as signal to your heart and muscles to enter a sort of “stand-by” mode. That means you’re burning fewer calories and limiting your ability to adapt to changes in blood sugar levels. If you want to add a bit of movement to your workday, these “6 Desk Exercises That Help You Get Stronger While Working” can make a big difference. Apart from getting your heart rate up throughout the day, improving your posture can limit the negative effects of sitting. Learn how to have “Proper Sitting Posture At A Desk – 10 Tips.” The first step is assuming a neutral alignment of your pelvis, neck, and back. To do so, keep a straight back and try to keep your neck and head perpendicular to the floor. It can help to adjust your desk, chair, and monitor height so they naturally encourage neutral posture. It’s important to remember, “good” posture can become harmful if held for too long. It’s okay to relax from time to time, and when you feel stiff or fatigued from sitting in a certain way, switch it up.

Minute 3: To live longer, try the “Centenarian Decathlon”

Winning the Olympic Decathlon will earn you the title of the “World’s Greatest Athlete,” but for those who can complete the “Centenarian Decathlon,” the prize could be even greater. That’s because it’s one of the most effective ways to boost longevity, according to author and aging expert Peter Attia. For details on the challenge, check out: “Pick 10 Physical Tasks You Want to Be Able to Do Until You Die.” Attia has a list of recommended activities every aspiring centenarian should be able to do, including things like hiking 1.5 miles, carrying groceries for several blocks, and opening tight jars. The particulars aren’t as important, though, and you can feel free to substitute your own activities. The point is, it can be useful to set a standard and hold yourself to it to increase your discipline and motivation. If you want some ideas for other exercises to adopt in your list, try some of these “11 Exercises Top Trainers Do Every Time They Work Out.” Side lunges are a strong choice for athletes of any age, since they’re a low impact way to build strength and balance at the same time. That’s important for fighting the deterioration of muscle mass that comes with age, and a stronger sense of balance can limit your risk for falls and other injuries too.

Minute 4: Add these terms to your running vocabulary

The deeper you dive into health and fitness research, the more it feels like you need Wikipedia open at all times to make sense of it. Two newer terms we’ve been examining are “Capacity Training” and “Set Point Theory.” To start, let’s take a look at this new piece from Outside magazine: “‘Capacity Training’ Is the Key to Long-Term Running Endurance.” Capacity training is performed by doing workouts and runs that are designed to cause adaptations that support higher workloads. By doing long runs, easy runs, and aerobic workouts, you can facilitate the growth and improvement of several aerobic systems. Things like increasing the number of mitochondria in your cells, the amount of capillaries for your muscles, and the overall size and strength of your heart. The article does a good job explaining the difference between capacity training and utilization training, which is improving the utilization of the fitness you already have rather than increasing your base fitness. Moving on to our next term, get to know the “Set Point Theory Of Body Weight Explained In Detail.” Set Point Theory is the idea that our bodies have a narrow range of weight it will try to reestablish, despite our efforts to gain or lose weight. Is there any scientific validity to this claim? Well, researchers aren’t yet certain, but there is evidence to suggest it's plausible and something we should keep in mind when setting realistic weight management goals. We have always thought this to be the case when we ponder the question of: What if we’d never consumed a single beer or a single dessert? Would we weigh 50 pounds less? Probably not. There are a lot more terms every runner should know, and if you want some further reading on the topic, you can take a look at this “Glossary of Running Terms.”

Minute 5: Quick Intervals

  • We’ve spoken highly of the Mediterranean diet in the past, and it’s no secret that many nutritionists consider it to be the healthiest diet in the world. Just how good is it, exactly? Well, that’s a hard thing to quantify, but one group of researchers have done their best with: “Adopting a Mediterranean diet has the same benefit as 4,000 extra steps per day.”

  • These days, running shoes have so much tech built into them, it can get downright confusing. Whether it’s carbon fiber plates, custom engineered foam, or smart soles with GPS tracking, it can be easy to overlook some important details. The extra eyelet near your ankles is a perfect example, and a lot of runners probably aren’t aware of its intended purpose. FYI, they can be used in an alternative lacing method to provide greater ankle support and a tighter fit, according to this new story from Gear Junkie: “Ever Wonder What That Extra Lace Hole on Your Running Shoes Is For? We Found Out.”

  • For all the benefits that cycling can bring, there are a few downsides. It’s a fairly low impact workout, which is great if you’re trying to protect your joints. However, endurance exercise that doesn’t apply a load on your skeletal system can actually have unintended negative consequences. To see what we mean, take a look at: “Why Does Cycling Reduce Bone Density?.”

Minute 6: Daily Inspiration

If you participated in the most recent Cincinnati Flying Pig Marathon, you may have been better off dressing for SCUBA diving rather than road racing. That’s because certain parts of the course were nearly a foot underwater after a storm arrived a mere 30 minutes before the race started. Despite the awful conditions, runners pressed on to complete their goals. We’re happy to report that there were no major safety incidents and we want to give props to all the amazing participants and volunteers who helped the event continue. If you want to see what true determination looks like, check out the clip from @wcpo9_news.


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