How Alcohol Might Impact Your Recovery. @WomensRunning






Women’s Running

@WomensRunning

·


There’s a good chance that post-run beer is affecting your ability to recover from even an average run.

How Alcohol Might Impact Your Recovery

July 22, 2021 David Roche

While the literature on alcohol and athletic performance is somewhat mixed, it’s worth tracking how you respond to even small amounts due to the risk of impaired recovery.

A few months ago on our podcast, my co-host (what other cultures call a “wife”), Megan, mentioned how she started using a WHOOP heart-rate-tracking strap because of the Journal feature. The Journal lets users log life events, tracking how the body responds over time. Megan was interested in tracking one category of activities in particular. But I’ll let you listen to the podcast to find out because this article is rated PG (may contain graphic podcast promotion).

WHOOP heard the episode and eventually signed on as a formal sponsor (promo code “SWAP” for 15% off! Selling out never felt so life-affirming!). Many of our athletes got WHOOP straps, letting us track recovery patterns over time. Some training logs became unofficial Journals, with athletes reporting added data each day. And something jumped out pretty quickly. Those unexplained drops in recovery that would occasionally pop up?

Often, it was the day after an athlete drank alcohol.

We weren’t just seeing spurious patterns. An article by WHOOP states: “of all the behaviors available to record in the WHOOP Journal, drinking alcohol is the one with the single greatest negative impact on next-day recovery.” They even recorded a podcast on elite performers sharing stories of alcohol’s impact on their bodies.

Back in 2019, I wrote an article on the uncertain, individual-specific science of alcohol and athletic performance. One of the big uncertainties was related to how alcohol consumption may affect longer-term athletic trajectories based on changes to recovery and adaptation. That article reviewed some possible impacts to sleep, the immune system, endocrine system, and metabolic processes, with no satisfying conclusion. These heart-rate-tracking apps could theoretically integrate many of the uncertain variables into a global recovery analysis. What might that heart-rate analysis add to the discussion?  Let’s dig into some of the science.

RELATED: A Nutritionist Shares What a Month of No Alcohol Did to His Body

Heart Rate Variability (HRV)

WHOOP, Oura Ring, and other tracking tools often look at similar metrics. While wrist-based straps are less accurate than chest straps at measuring heart rate during intense running, they are reliable at rest. Resting heart rate provides insight into recovery status because it increases in periods of higher stress. That’s the horse-and-buggy, old-school data. HRV is the new hotness.

HRV measures the gap between heartbeats. As stated by a 2017 article in the Frontiers in Public Health journal, “a healthy heart is not a metronome.” The autonomic nervous system controls involuntary behaviors, like heartbeats or our unquenchable attraction to Timothée Chalamet. The parasympathetic branch of the autonomic nervous system responds to information from internal organs (“rest and digest”). The sympathetic branch responds to stress (“fight or flight”). When the nervous system is overloaded, HRV goes down as the heart essentially goes on autopilot, less receptive to nervous system signals.

2018 review article in the journal Psychiatry Investigations found that HRV correlates with stress, validating its use as one data point to inform stress management practices. There are tons of cool studies of how it can be used in practice (though the jury is still out on its universal effectiveness for athletes). For example, a 2018 study in the European Journal of Applied Physiology monitored the HRV of 24 elite skiers in a high-altitude training camp. In the experimental group, if HRV dropped too much (30%+) or too long (multiple days) relative to an individual baseline, athletes reduced training; if it increased or stayed the same, they would increase training. Training using shifts in HRV as a general guideline led to fitness increases, along with improved HRV.

While HRV is just one data point to inform training, recovery, and adaptation, it provides helpful clues into what stress we are handling, and what stress we aren’t. Hard training days can reduce HRV for some athletes. For example, I have a moderately low baseline of 70 (I don’t think I’ve remembered to breathe while writing the last 2 paragraphs, so it makes sense). The first time I did a long bike with Megan this season, it dropped to 51, around the 30% threshold in the 2018 study. Normal life stress also reduces HRV. My lowest reading yet was 41, the day after a short recovery jog, but when I heard tough news for a loved one. Care Bears wish they could care as hard as I do. Care swag.

And alcohol works similarly for my body. For me, it’s approximately a hard workout, even in relatively small quantities. Megan responded similarly. So did some athletes on the team. Is it signal, or is it noise? Confounding variables that make alcohol a passenger on the stress train (i.e. maybe people drink in more stressful situations), or is alcohol a stress conductor?

Running for better health..@mayoclinicsport






Mayo Clinic Sports Medicine

@mayoclinicsport

·


Q: Is running a marathon good for my health? A: First-time marathon runners significantly improve their cardiovascular health during training. The key is to aim for at least 30 min of moderate-intensity activity 5 days a week. https://mayocl.in/37hrf1Y #MayoClinicQandA #tcmarathon

DEAR MAYO CLINIC: A few neighbors formed a running group to train for a marathon in 2021. I’m thinking about joining them as I know that running can be good exercise, but I’ve never run before. Is running a marathon actually good for my health? Should I do certain things to avoid injuries?

ANSWER: Being active and engaging in regular aerobic exercise is important for overall heart health and wellness. Typically, 30 minutes of moderate intensity activity five days a week is recommended for most healthy adults. Running is a simple, low-cost exercise, and you should be commended for starting a new exercise regimen.

As a first-time runner, I’d recommend that you talk with your health care provider about any concerns, especially if you have any health conditions, such as high blood pressure, heart issues or a history of prior musculoskeletal injuries. Ask your health care provider about any symptoms that you might want to watch for when you run.

Before starting out, I would suggest you invest in a good pair of running shoes and make sure that you warm up and stretch prior to any run. Focus on cross training with exercises that strengthen your hips and core.

If your neighbors are seasoned runners, you may want to consider joining a training program to help you build stamina and increase your mileage over time.

As a novice runner, a marathon may sound overwhelming, but recent research shows that it really could be the key to better health. A study out of the United Kingdom showed first-time marathon runners significantly improved their cardiovascular health during training for a 26.2-mile race.

Specifically, this study showed participants had improvements in overall cardiovascular health but particularly related to the stiffness of the aortic vessel. This is important because as people age, the body’s vessels become stiffer. This can be detrimental to your health since with stiff vessels your body has to work harder to pump blood.

In addition to runners having a substantial decrease in the stiffness of the aortic vessel, which moves blood throughout our body, the study found marathon training improved blood pressure.

The study looked at marathon runners six months prior to training and three week after they completed the London Marathon. On average, the subjects ran about 6 to 13 miles in training per week.

If running a marathon seems too daunting, consider a half marathon or a 5K. The cardiovascular benefits of running remain, no matter the distance. One of the most interesting findings of the UK study was that the slowest runners had the greatest improvements in cardiovascular health.

If running is not enjoyable or you have other issues — let’s say your knees or back make it challenging to run — you can still benefit from lacing up your sneakers. Walking regularly at a brisk pace can result in improvements in overall cardiovascular health and vessel stiffness.

Whatever activity you chose, the key is that you want to aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate intensity activity five days a week. Walking or running with the neighbors is a great way to combine exercise and socialization. And if you’re wondering about the definition of moderate intensity, you should be able to carry on a conversation, but you should not be able to carry a tune. —Dr. Sara Filmalter, Family and Sports Medicine, Mayo Clinic, Jacksonville, Florida

Runner-Friendly Face Coverings.@WomensRunning

As much as we’d prefer otherwise, wearing facial coverings while running outdoors, at least in well-trafficked spaces, is a reality this fall. The following runner-friendly masks and neck gaiters offer a variety of unique features so you can choose what is best for your particular preferences. 

Masks are only effective when the fit is snug enough that there are no gaps. Face coverings must be secured to prevent the slipping down that often results from the jostling of running. 

As a bonus to doing your part in fighting a pandemic by wearing a reusable, washable face covering, in many cases the manufacturers donate PPE, money, or love as part of the purchase package. That said, please note that these masks are not intended for medical use, but rather for exercise.

Asics Runners’ Face Cover, $40

Woman wearing an Asics face covering
Photo: Asics

The most breathable of the lot, the design by the ASICS Institute of Sports Science concentrates on preventing droplet spread by covering air passages without restricting airflow. The fit provides ample clearance so it doesn’t rub and, thanks to strategic air holes, exhalation is uninhibited, while still restricting moisture droplets in the air. The moisture-wicking inner material is soft on the skin and exterior is water-repellent. The mask is easy to adjust and wear around the neck when not deployed. 

Bedgear Performance Mask, $15

Grey Bedgear facemask
Photo: Bedgear

It makes sense that a bedding and pillow company would produce the softest mask of the bunch. It is also quick drying, features an inner layer with antimicrobial treatment, and is moisture wicking. But due to its triple-layer construction, it falls on the thick side of the scale and, as such, made it relatively hard to breathe through while running.

Black Diamond, $13

Black diamond facemask
Photo: Black Diamond

The simplicity of this mask is what makes it work so well: double-layer cotton with one size that truly does fit most. The lack of adjustability and other snazzy features is surpassed by the mask’s comfort, breathability, and value. 

BlackStrap Civil Facemask $16

Blackstrap civil face mask
Photo: BlackStrap

With a dual-layer barrier, these simple, form-fitting masks are lightweight, breathable, and moisture wicking. The inner layer is an antimicrobial plush mesh and the woven outer shell is protective. The tapered design helped the “one size fits most” be true to the mask’s promotion. The fabrics are domestic and repurposed/upcycled.

Buff Filter Mask, $29

Buff filter mask
Photo: Buff

If being aerodynamic is the objective, this sleek, form-fitting mask tops the list. The mask is both breathable and adjustable to ride securely on the run. It represents the company’s response to so many using the original Buff as a facial covering, and the fact that the brand is headquartered in hard-hit Spain, which is why the Filter Mask incorporates COVID-safe elements, such as the 3-layer filter that meets surgical mask standards. It is built with 4-way stretch cooling fabric that features an antimicrobial interior mesh treatment, is moisture wicking, and comes with five replacement filters that can be used for approximately 24 hours each (if you reserve the mask for the hour of running you do each day, that can last you about four months, or you can order a pack of 30 replacement filters for $22).

Buff Original Neck Gaiter, $20

Black Buff neck gaiter
Photo: Buff

When you are running in a quiet area where crossing paths with humankind is rare, wearing a neck gaiter makes a lot of sense: You can easily pull it up during the passing period and then down when distancing can be maintained. That up-and-down convenience and thin, breathable fabrics are why neck gaiters are often graded down in mask testing for aerosols, when measured indoors. But if you don’t run inside, a seamless Buff, especially if doubled up, with a plush feel, four-way stretch, and moisture-wicking ease, is a worthwhile go-to face covering for runners.

Cotopaxi Teca Cotton Face Mask, $13

Woman wearing blue Cotopaxi facemask
Photo: Cotopaxi

This soft, lightweight, and breathable mask comes with adjustable ear loops and a nose bridge wire so they feel custom-fit. The multi-colored, reversible designs are bright and made from two layers of unused, repurposed surplus 100% cotton fabric. Besides saving unwanted fabrics from becoming waste, for every mask purchased another is given to someone in need. They were a favorite among testers.

Halo Black Mesh Mask with Nanofiber Filter, $35

Black Mesh Mask
Photo: HALO

This mask got major thumbs up from testers. It comes in four different sizes and, with an under-the-chin wrap, nose clip, and adjustable ear loops, it is sure to provide a secure, conforming, and unrestrictive fit. Highly breathable, thanks to the honeycomb outer material, the mask has an inner pocket to slip in a nanotech filter to protect against airborne nastiness. Each replaceable filter is good for 200 hours of use. The soft bamboo lining and antibacterial and hypoallergenic materials help to make this one of the best on the market.

Icebreaker Flexi Chute, $30

Black neck gaiter
Photo: Backcountry

One might think that a 100% merino wool neck gaiter would be hot but, thanks to the thermodynamic qualities of wool, this tube maintained a nice temperature and wicked sweat. Nor did it get stinky. And in cooler temps, the wool provided welcome warmth.

Keen Together Mask, $14 (2 Pack)

White face mask splayed out, against white background.
Photo: REI

Wash and wear; as in wash one while wearing the other. These double-layer cotton canvas masks are slightly boardy and the rigidity has the bonus of providing some breathing room so the mask won’t stick to your face. The ear loops are adjustable and the design contours nicely with the face.

La Sportiva Stratos Mask, $35

Black mask by La Sportiva
Photo: La Sportiva

This is the mack-daddy of masks for its novel construction, versatility, adjustability, and breathability. It boasts Polygiene antimicrobial treatment and an internal Lycra gaiter for added comfort to the nose and chin. The elastic straps are adjustable and do a fine job securing the flexible support frame with an ergonomic, enveloping shape that fits snugly on a variety of face shapes and sizes. The mask comes with 30 replacement filters but, unfortunately, installing and replacing the filters is somewhat wonky, enough so that most users will likely use the mesh outer mask without them, greatly reducing its effectiveness against droplet release.

Mammut Neck Gaiter, $25

Man wearing black neck gaiter
Photo: Mammut

Seamless and stretchy, this quick-drying neck gaiter is well suited for colder-weather runs, when warmth and overall coverage is a plus. It is not a top choice for warmer climes.

Merrow Athletic Mask, $45 (3 Pack)

Striped mask on a woman
Photo: Merrow

These soft, double-layer masks feel cotton-like but are made of moisture-wicking, quick-to-dry fabric. The adjustable strap wraps around the neck so you can let the mask dangle when not in use. Testers, however, found the masks thick enough to compromise breathability, making it difficult to run very hard.

Outdoor Research Essential Face Mask Kit, $20

Woman wearing white face mask, securing it behind her ear
Photo: Outdoor Research

Also a crowd pleaser, Outdoor Research put a lot of thought into these customizable masks with adjustable ear loops, wire nose bridge, and side pockets for securing replaceable paper filters that block more than 95% of virus bacteria and particles. The kit comes with one mask and a three-pack of filters that slide in easily. The durable, comfortable polyester mask fabric is coated with a germ-resistant treatment that is full strength for 30 washes. 

Voormi Everyday Neck Gaiter, $35

Man wearing Voormi facemask
Photo: Voormi

As a hybrid mask and neck gaiter, this washable dual-surface merino wool blended fabric face covering is versatile and comfortable. Unlike other tube-like neck gaiters, Voormi cut down on bulk by integrating ear loops and using a contoured fit that is shorter in the back and longer in the front. The fabric breaths well, is plush, and has natural odor management qualities. 

How Alcohol Might Impact Your Recovery. @WomensRunning






Women’s Running

@WomensRunning

·


There’s a good chance that post-run beer is affecting your ability to recover from even an average run.

How Alcohol Might Impact Your Recovery

July 22, 2021 David Roche

While the literature on alcohol and athletic performance is somewhat mixed, it’s worth tracking how you respond to even small amounts due to the risk of impaired recovery.

A few months ago on our podcast, my co-host (what other cultures call a “wife”), Megan, mentioned how she started using a WHOOP heart-rate-tracking strap because of the Journal feature. The Journal lets users log life events, tracking how the body responds over time. Megan was interested in tracking one category of activities in particular. But I’ll let you listen to the podcast to find out because this article is rated PG (may contain graphic podcast promotion).

WHOOP heard the episode and eventually signed on as a formal sponsor (promo code “SWAP” for 15% off! Selling out never felt so life-affirming!). Many of our athletes got WHOOP straps, letting us track recovery patterns over time. Some training logs became unofficial Journals, with athletes reporting added data each day. And something jumped out pretty quickly. Those unexplained drops in recovery that would occasionally pop up?

Often, it was the day after an athlete drank alcohol.

We weren’t just seeing spurious patterns. An article by WHOOP states: “of all the behaviors available to record in the WHOOP Journal, drinking alcohol is the one with the single greatest negative impact on next-day recovery.” They even recorded a podcast on elite performers sharing stories of alcohol’s impact on their bodies.

Back in 2019, I wrote an article on the uncertain, individual-specific science of alcohol and athletic performance. One of the big uncertainties was related to how alcohol consumption may affect longer-term athletic trajectories based on changes to recovery and adaptation. That article reviewed some possible impacts to sleep, the immune system, endocrine system, and metabolic processes, with no satisfying conclusion. These heart-rate-tracking apps could theoretically integrate many of the uncertain variables into a global recovery analysis. What might that heart-rate analysis add to the discussion?  Let’s dig into some of the science.

RELATED: A Nutritionist Shares What a Month of No Alcohol Did to His Body

Heart Rate Variability (HRV)

WHOOP, Oura Ring, and other tracking tools often look at similar metrics. While wrist-based straps are less accurate than chest straps at measuring heart rate during intense running, they are reliable at rest. Resting heart rate provides insight into recovery status because it increases in periods of higher stress. That’s the horse-and-buggy, old-school data. HRV is the new hotness.

HRV measures the gap between heartbeats. As stated by a 2017 article in the Frontiers in Public Health journal, “a healthy heart is not a metronome.” The autonomic nervous system controls involuntary behaviors, like heartbeats or our unquenchable attraction to Timothée Chalamet. The parasympathetic branch of the autonomic nervous system responds to information from internal organs (“rest and digest”). The sympathetic branch responds to stress (“fight or flight”). When the nervous system is overloaded, HRV goes down as the heart essentially goes on autopilot, less receptive to nervous system signals.

2018 review article in the journal Psychiatry Investigations found that HRV correlates with stress, validating its use as one data point to inform stress management practices. There are tons of cool studies of how it can be used in practice (though the jury is still out on its universal effectiveness for athletes). For example, a 2018 study in the European Journal of Applied Physiology monitored the HRV of 24 elite skiers in a high-altitude training camp. In the experimental group, if HRV dropped too much (30%+) or too long (multiple days) relative to an individual baseline, athletes reduced training; if it increased or stayed the same, they would increase training. Training using shifts in HRV as a general guideline led to fitness increases, along with improved HRV.

While HRV is just one data point to inform training, recovery, and adaptation, it provides helpful clues into what stress we are handling, and what stress we aren’t. Hard training days can reduce HRV for some athletes. For example, I have a moderately low baseline of 70 (I don’t think I’ve remembered to breathe while writing the last 2 paragraphs, so it makes sense). The first time I did a long bike with Megan this season, it dropped to 51, around the 30% threshold in the 2018 study. Normal life stress also reduces HRV. My lowest reading yet was 41, the day after a short recovery jog, but when I heard tough news for a loved one. Care Bears wish they could care as hard as I do. Care swag.

And alcohol works similarly for my body. For me, it’s approximately a hard workout, even in relatively small quantities. Megan responded similarly. So did some athletes on the team. Is it signal, or is it noise? Confounding variables that make alcohol a passenger on the stress train (i.e. maybe people drink in more stressful situations), or is alcohol a stress conductor?

The Asics runners face cover.

emmajanelbates's profile picture
Verified

COVID hasn’t slowed my marathon training down, so a mask shouldn’t either.
I honestly don’t think ASICS could have made a more comfortable, breathable way to help protect myself and others during this Pandemic. Thank you @asics 🙏

#wearingiscaring #asics #asicsrunnersfacecover

——————————————————————
The ASICS RUNNERS FACE COVER has been designed by the ASICS Institute of Sport Science (ISS) specifically for runners with performance, comfort, and protection in mind.

Some key features include:
• SUSTAINABLE DESIGN: Produced with approximately 31% recycled materials.
• INTERIOR SPACE: The unique curved structure creates more room inside the face cover to allow for easier breathing when running.
• STRATEGICALLY PLACED AIR VENTS: Air vents innovatively placed on the face cover provide unobstructed airflow while minimizing the spread of droplets.
•QUICK-DRYING, WASHABLE FABRIC: Cutting-edge material cools the air flowing into the nose and mouth, improving breathability and comfort. The water repellent, washable fabric makes cleaning easier.
•COMFORT FIT: Specifically designed to accommodate a wide range of faces with an adjustable cord to ensure fit– helping prevent fog build-up when wearing glasses.

Available for purchase in mid-September and will retail for $40.