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.
[…] HANG OUT AT THE AID STATION […]
I doubt that ice baths, or anything really, were intended to function as cure alls. Suggesting they don’t work as such, however, diminishes the positive aspects these practices offer, as most will now write them off as ineffectual.
I would ????join a running science book club!
One of the stressors of wanting to perform at your best is prioritizing performance enhancing add-ons: supplements, ice baths, training techniques. It can be completely overwhelming! There is always more! I appreciate that ice baths are helpful to some. I use them when my body tells me it needs one. Presenting this evidence doesn’t deter me because I can feel the benefits. There are plenty of articles out there hyping ice baths. A little balance feels like a good thing!
The Aid Station is an actual running store in Auburn, CA. An actual place you can “hang out”.
Valle – Small world! The amazing artist who helped us with these graphics actually works part time at the Aid Station in Auburn. I’ve heard it’s an amazing store! Cheers, Jenn
You can always prove or disprove anything, but I do see sense in not overdoing the ice baths in training phases. Recently on a multiday ultra I found bathing in the very cold river directly after a race 100% reduced inflammation and soreness and allowed me to back up and run again much better than if I just sat around and didn’t dunk them in the lake for a while.
Must be Krista.. Looks like her work 🙂