Archive for April, 2010

Cherry juice and recovery

April 18, 2010

After dosing up on beetroot juice before a race to improve endurance, it now seems that distance runners benefit from drinking cherry juice to aid recovery.

One study by the University of Vermont  claims:

There was a significant difference in the degree of muscle strength loss between those drinking the cherry juice blend and those taking the placebo juice. This fell by 22 percentage points in those drinking the placebo juice, but only by four percentage points in those drinking cherry juice. Muscle strength had slightly improved after 96 hours in those drinking cherry juice. The degree of soreness differed little between the two groups, but the average pain score was significantly less in those drinking cherry juice. Average pain scores came in at 3.2 for those drinking the placebo juice and 2.4 for those drinking cherry juice. Pain also peaked at 24 hours for those drinking cherry juice, but continued to increase for those on the placebo juice for the subsequent 48 hours.

University of Vermont. “Cherry Juice May Prevent Muscle Damage Pain.” (ScienceDaily23 June 2006. 18 April 2010 <http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/06/060623101220.htm&gt;).

Another more recent experiment conducted by the School of Psychology and Sports Sciences at the Northumbria University confirms the beneficial effects of cherry juice:

In the investigation, 20 marathon runners drank either a tart cherry blend juice or a placebo drink twice a day for five days before taking part in the London Marathon and for two days afterwards.

The findings indicated that the group who drank the cherry juice recovered their strength more rapidly than the control group over the 48-hour period following the marathon. Inflammation was also reduced in the cherry juice group, as was oxidative stress, a potentially damaging response that can be caused by strenuous physical activity, particularly long distance endurance exercise.

Northumbria University. “Marathon Runners Should Pick Cherries for Speedy Recovery.”ScienceDaily 3 April 2010. 18 April 2010 <http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/04/100401131106.htm&gt;.

The scientifically minded can find the abstract to the original article here.

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Rotterdam, a week later

April 17, 2010

Thinking of a group of pals who wanted to run in Vienna tomorrow but cannot because of another Icelandic calamity, it is time to report on the Rotterdam marathon which I ran last week.

First the Expo. That was a bit of a disappointment. it was not very big for a start and the official merchandise stand had run out of stock quite fast. I had intended to buy a shirt but couldn’t.

Next the weather. Race day was a little chillier and certainly windier than forecast. The temperature was in fact perfectly fine once the race started but we would not have missed the gusts of wind earlier in the race. In the end, it did not matter because overall the conditions were pretty good.

Then the race. I had very high expectations of the organisation and frankly I was a rather disappointed. Don’t get me wrong, there were no serious failings. It is just that the start was a bit chaotic and some of the streets in which we ran were too narrow for the mass of runners. Add in the fact that ¬†some of the local runners loved to barge and push, you can easily imagine the somewhat tense atmosphere for the first 10 kms.

If I have one more substantial complaint it is about the distribution of the water stations. The organisers were simply too parsimonious with the water in my opinion. In the second half of the race, water and electrolyte drinks were distributed at the same station, roughly every five kms. A far better system was the one used in Athens – where such matters were generally much better managed anyway – with alternate water and energy drinks every 2.5 kms. There were times when I felt really thirsty in Rotterdam and saw the approach of the water stations with considerable relief.

On the whole, though, it is a good marathon which attracts supportive crowds and many bands and musicians line the way. The course is generally flat but once or twice I was surprised by an incline!

If you really want to know, yes, I achieved another personal best and got round in 3:30:54. Thats about three minutes less than my time in Barcelona. With hindsight, I wonder whether I had allowed myself to recover well enough from Barcelona and had instead been too keen to train during the two races. It is difficult to tell as I felt pretty good during the whole of the race in Rotterdam. Next time, I’ll err on the side of more recovery.

Posted by Xavier.

Rotterdam, the night before

April 10, 2010

It seems it was only yesterday that I was running in Barcelona…. Now I’m in Rotterdam. I had chosen the Rotterdam marathon because it is a fast, flat course and thus ideal for my quest for a Boston qualifying time. As I got that in Barcelona, there’s no pressure to run particularly fast tomorrow. I’ll just take it as it comes and run at the pace I feel is a good one.

The Science of Sport blog, meanwhile, has an excellent article on the Rotterdam marathon, on how it is indeed a fast course, fast enough to rival the very big races like Berlin, Chicago or London.

The race starts quite late, at 11 am, so it will be good to lie in a bit.

Full race report to follow!

Posted by Xavier