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The risks of Ozempic for endurance athletes

SEP 22, 2023

Minute 1: Beware of new weight loss drugs hitting the market

Lance Armstrong used to call it his “Tour Face.” That was when his body weight dropped every year prior to the Tour de France and his cheeks took on the look of a toddler making a fish face. The modern Hollywood equivalent is the Ozempic Face, in which stars receive injections of the drug to prep for upcoming auditions and roles. While Ozempic seems like a safer drug than what Lance was juicing with, it is powerful stuff that should not be abused. That’s why some athletic performance experts are raising concerns, according to Training Peaks: “Endurance Athletes and Ozempic: What You Need to Know.” Weight loss drugs like Ozempic and Rybelsus were originally developed as a way to treat diabetes, but a growing number of endurance athletes have begun using Ozempic as a way to better their power-to-weight ratio. Part of the way these drugs work is by suppressing appetite. For a high level athlete, that can lead to underfueling, which can impede your body’s ability to recover, disrupt your metabolism, and increase stress hormones. At the moment, Ozempic is an injection that’s expensive and hard to come by, but it may get a boost in availability when the oral pill form hits the market. That could be soon, according to the NYT: “An Ozempic Pill Is On the Horizon: What to Know.” It's worth noting that regardless of what form it’s consumed, the drug can cause a number of negative side effects, such as vomiting, nausea, gastrointestinal distress, or even tingling skin. If you’re considering taking it, you should speak with a medical professional to decide if it's the right fit for your lifestyle and goals.

Minute 2: Blueberries can help with high blood pressure

We’re living through stressful times, and there may be no clearer proof of that than the fact that nearly half of all adults in America have high blood pressure, according to this CDC report: “Facts About Hypertension.” High blood pressure can contribute to heart disease and stroke and – even worse to many of our readers – it can diminish athletic performance. Research shows that blueberries are: “The #1 Fruit for Lowering Blood Pressure, According to a Dietitian.” Consuming 1.6 servings of blueberries a day reduces your risk of heart attack or stroke by a whopping 10%, thanks to their one-two punch of fiber and anthocyanins. Fiber is a key ingredient for supporting a healthy gut microbiome, which has been linked to the production of short-chain fatty acids that can lower blood pressure. Furthermore, anthocyanins are a kind of antioxidant responsible for a blueberry’s color, and it supports the production of nitrous oxide, which helps keep your blood vessels relaxed and flexible. We should note that lately, blueberries have seen an uptick in the presence of pesticide residue that persists on the fruit: “Blueberries added to ‘Dirty Dozen’ list of foods with most pesticides.” Some dieticians think the risk is outweighed by the rewards of eating blueberries, and you can see why in: “Just Eat the Non-Organic Blueberries – Here’s Why You Should Disregard the ‘Dirty Dozen’.” Last but not least, look in the frozen section of your grocery store for wild blueberries, which have an even greater concentration of fiber and antioxidants, according to: “What Makes Wild Blueberries…Wild?

Minute 3: Are orthotics effective for runners?

The wonderful thing about humans is that we are all different. While that bodes well for interesting dinner party conversations, it’s bad news for running shoe companies trying to create a model that works for all of us. As a result, shoe inserts and orthotics have become an increasingly popular way to custom fit an off-the-shelf running shoe. They offer support and a way to compensate for gait abnormalities, but are they really effective for serious runners? Marathon Handbook does a good job of answering this question: “Running In Orthotics: What Does The Science Actually Say?” A randomized control trial found that using the right orthotic for your foot can result in a statistically significant increase in comfort levels. However, when it comes to improvements in biomechanics, performance, and injury risk, the data isn’t as consistent. Research shows that in cases of extreme overpronation, inserts can have a powerful effect. If you’ve already got a normal gait and footstrike, however, it’s unclear if orthotics will make a difference in terms of running economy and injury rate. If you’ve got substantial orthopedic issues, it may be worth getting a custom fit orthotic, like the ones mentioned in: “Advice on Custom Orthotics from Nonsurgical Foot Specialists.” Custom orthotics are often used following knee, hip, or lower back surgery. They’re also recommended for those with a flat foot or extreme arch. If you’ve frequently experienced conditions like plantar fasciitis or arch pain, they could be exactly what you need to correct your running form and reach your full potential. We would also recommend a 3D foot scan at Fleet Feet to see if there’s a reason why your dogs are barking. The scans are free to all visitors.

Minute 4: Shoe Review: Brooks Hyperion ($140)

According to our shoe reviewer, Brian Metzler, Brooks has been the No. 1 running shoe brand in the U.S. for several years, and for good reason. They have produced some really soft, cushy and comfortable training shoes in the widest array of colors of any brand. Personally, we have had a pair of their Glycerins in our shoe rotation since the Glycerin 8. (They are now selling the Glycerin 20.) The new Brooks Hyperion is a stripped down model compared to the popular Glycerin, but it could fill an important role in your quiver according to Brian. The highlights of his Brooks Hyperion analysis are below, while the full review is here.

Brooks has been a bit of an enigma when it comes to modern marathon racing supershoes, even though its top-tier DNA Flash supercritical midsole foam has always seemed to be very responsive. I am excited to wear-test the forthcoming Hyperion Elite 4 soon, which is its new-and-improved racing shoe that features an updated carbon-fiber plate embedded in a thick slab of the new formulation of that foam in the midsole. In the meantime, I’ve been wear-testing a pair of Hyperion training shoes, which is oddly similar to the circa-2020 Hyperion Tempo – because it is that shoe. While there have been a few minor updates (including no longer including “Tempo” in its name), it’s still a performance trainer with a more traditional geometry that’s designed for faster-paced workouts. Although it’s very different from any shoe I’ve been running in lately, I’ve found it to be a nice diversion from the vast array of maximally-cushioned shoes that have flooded my quiver of shoes the past several years. It’s definitely a unique outlier, so I’d recommend trying it on before buying it.

Why It’s Great: The Brooks Hyperion is a great shoe because of how simple and light it is. Let me be straight up: it’s a shoe with a pretty basic construction – a one-piece upper, a one-piece midsole, a thin tongue, thin, effective segments of outsole rubber and flat laces to stay tied. There’s really not much to it, but the components and the materials are legit and that’s why it’s such a good – and unique – shoe.

Why You’ll Love It: If you’re like me, you know wearing maximally cushioned shoes feels great until it doesn’t. I tend to vary my shoe choices on a daily basis, but in doing so I try to make sure I’m wearing a pair that’s slightly lower to the ground without a chunky midsole at least once or twice a week. Why? I want to feel the ground, so I can feel my legs and feet in action. For that reason, I really enjoyed wearing the Hyperions because they’re like a modern version of a pair of early 2000s racing flats – they’re lightweight, low to the ground, super agile and completely uninhibited. I loved the sensation of feeling the ground in such a new (or old) way. Because they have a moderately responsive midsole foam, there’s a little bit of an energetic spark in each stride and not the energy-sapping flat feeling of an old-school EVA midsole or the excessively bouncy feeling of a max-cushioned marathon supershoe.

For Brian’s full review of the Brooks Hyperion, check it out here.

Minute 5: Quick Intervals

  • Our friend Rebecca Trachsel, publisher of the popular blog, Running With Music, greatly appreciates the warm response to her first couple of song recommendations here. She fuels her roles as a fast marathoner and HS XC coach with excellent music choices that complement a long run with AirPods or a track session with a big party speaker. Here’s her latest recommendation: Today's song is “Tide” by JDM Global. Released in 2021, the song is not new but both the song and the artist are new to me and I am digging all of it. I can't stop listening to this gem, in particular, that has a colorful, psychedelic edge to it. Makes me want to get my surfboard out and hit the water. And I don't surf. So running will have to do. Close enough. You can check it out here. #turnitup

  • In the last Quick Interval of this issue, we mentioned the benefits of infrared saunas and their ability to develop heat shock proteins, or HSPs for short. That’s all well and good, but most of us don’t have easy access to infrared saunas, which can be expensive and hard to fit in your home. If you’re still looking to reap the benefits, infrared sauna blankets could be the convenient solution to the problem of accessibility. To learn about this tech, take a look at: “The 11 Best Infrared Sauna Blankets for Relaxing Post-Workout Recovery at Home.”

  • Lets face it, outside of Paleo diet disciples, red meat doesn’t get a ton of good press these days. Excessive consumption has been linked to an increase in cancer risk. It’s a calorically dense food that contains a lot of fat, which makes it suboptimal for a diet if your goal is weight loss. We think there’s a way to have your steak and eat it too, so to speak, and that’s by learning about: “The Best & Worst Cuts of Steak—Ranked by Nutrition!.” The short answer is, eat less ribeye and more London Broils if you want more protein and less fat on your meat.

  • This year, the Boston Marathon is shaping up to have one of the most competitive fields ever. It’s hit an all time high for qualifier applications, and that means your time will need to be well under the posted cut-off time to secure a spot. To see the details, read “New Record Set for Qualifier Applications to 2024 Boston Marathon in First Year of Partnership with Bank of America.” There are other ways to enter the race, however, like running with a charity bib, and to learn how to make that happen, head on over to the “Bank Of America Boston Marathon Official Charity Program.”

Minute 6: Daily Inspiration

Lower back pain is enough to stop a runner in their tracks. The good news is, @dr.matt_tcom may have the solution. If you’ve got a resistance band, tie it off to a post and give his banded step over stretch a try. The move is designed to open up your hips and lower back, improve your balance, and correct muscle imbalances all at once. The key to this move is slow, controlled movement, so it should fit right into your warmup or cooldown routine without causing too much muscular fatigue. Follow along with the clip below to improve the performance in this important zone of your body. Click here to watch.


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