Cold water plunges, caffeine in the heat, and testosterone - Corrine distills the latest science into training tips.
Hi! You may know I’m a self-proclaimed ultranerd, so when I visit the Aid Station, I’ll be veering heavily towards scientific topics and breaking down recent research into useful trail tips. Plus, maybe a few PB & J roll-ups. – Corrine
Cold water plunges: good or bad?
Ice advocates are passionate, so how does one separate science from hype? For this one, I’m looking to Steve Magness – coach, scientist, and author of The Science of Running – and his recent 37-part tweet for the cold curious. Chalked with in-thread journal references, Steve dives in on the impacts of cold water immersion for both sports performance and general health. Main points:
Final word: Are ice baths a cure-all? Magness says “nope.”
Caution with caffeine in the heat.
Most research is done in thermo-neutral controlled labs, so results don’t always work out as expected in the hot environs of a trail race. A recent paper, translated via this YLMSportScience infographic, suggests that “sports enhancing” supplements may have little efficacy or even negative impacts on performance as things heat up. When it comes to ultras this can be amplified. Main points:
Final word: I’ll be a bit more cautious with the timing of caffeine ingestion during hot races moving forward, but maybe chug a Red Bull?
Testosterone is more than meets the eye.
Can we start a science book club? I just finished Testosterone: An Unauthorized Biography by anthropologist Katrina Karkazis and sociomedical scientist Rebecca Jordan-Young and, while it definitely reads a bit academic, it’s really good. In the ongoing political-athletic arguments for intersexed and trans athletes, this book provides an excellent foundation of how testosterone is being used in that debate. Main points:
Final Word: This book challenges our understanding of this often misunderstood hormone, particularly because in athletics it’s easy to place preconceived notions onto testosterone. I’d encourage you to add it to your reading list, or at least onto the pile of books on your bedside table.