ATC 231: How To Know If You Should Add 10 Beats To Your MAF, LT-Boosting Workouts, Why Downhills Cause HR To Spike, and More

March 17, 2017


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On this episode of Ask the Coaches:

  • Coffee talk – cold brew, mycotoxins and more. Read Tawnee’s “full report” on coffee over at LPC (new members use code “lpc4me” to get your first month free).
  • When downhill running causes heart rate to spike and can’t even hold MAF – what gives!? What to do: slow down to keep it low, or just let go up on the downhills?
  • Study mention: Changes in Run Economy Following Downhill Running.
    • “Downhill running induced reductions in maximal isometric strength of the knee extensors, a three- to six-fold increases in plasma creatine kinase activity (inflammation) and myoglobin concentration (muscle damage), and muscle soreness for 4 days after the downhill run. Oxygen consumption increased immediately to 3 days after downhill running. There were also increases in heart rate, minute ventilation, RER, RPE, blood lactate concentration, and stride frequency, as well as reductions in stride length and range of motion of the ankle and knee. The results suggest that changes in running form and compromised muscle function due to muscle damage contribute to the reduction in running economy for 3 days after downhill running.”
  • Hydration/fuel strategy issues for a male ultrarunner–or something else going on?
    • “Over the past few months I have begun to get dehydrated on my runs and seem to run out of energy earlier than i have in the past. I have started supplementing with more solid foods and upping my water intake while I run but it is difficult to digest more solid foods with the sloshing of the stomach in running versus cycling. The solid foods seem to help me run strong or with more energy for a bit, but tend to ultimately lead to stomach cramping unless I drastically slow the pace.”
    • Also eats a very clean plant-based diet, has been keto and low carb.
    • What to do to find the optimal fueling and hydration strategy?
    • Could gut issues be at play hindering ability to process any nutrition?
    • Mention of low-FODMAP diets for athletes with GI issues during training and racing.
    • Listen to our podcast with Dan Lis PhD on research with low-FODMAP diets in athletes.
  • Issues with MAF HR and LT being “too close” and lacking a solid lactate threshold. For a running wanting to compete in 10ks to marathon distances, what workouts to do to improve lactate threshold?
  • Is there any benefit to holding a pace slightly faster than threshold or are those workouts just a total waste of time? Such as running about 20 seconds per mile below threshold pace for 5 miles?
  • Since running translates nicely to the bike, If I have a run heavy training schedule, can I get away with a little less time on the bike?
  • If training for shorter distance running events (5k- HM), would it be more advantageous to run most of your non-quality runs at MAF or at MAF+10 pace?
  • How to know if you should add 10 bpm to your MAF–it may work, it may not. Depends!

Comments (2)

  • I_am_Steve says:

    As usual, great to hear from the experts. A few years ago I went really low carb and ran into hydration issues as well (bought a ketone monitor, drank MCT oil, the whole 9 yards). It helped me knock a chunk of time off my Ironman 70.3 time, but ended up severely dehydrated. My hypothesis is that it was due to a lack of minerals which help with the absorption of water. Insulin is a storage and growth hormone, and the body just doesn't hang onto sodium and other electrolytes if a low carb diet limits the amount of insulin your body makes. I'd be adding, quite literally, tablespoons of salt to some meals to keep up my salt intake.

    Low carb seemed to keep me from hitting the wall, but at the cost of severe dehydration to the point where I ended up in the med tent at the end of a few races. The solution? Wish I had one. All I could do was pack away massive amounts of salt and always have some electrolytes in everything I was drinking.

    Just wanted to share my experience. Looking forward to the next ATC!

  • LightningRacer says:

    I love downhills, so this was clickbait for me.

    I wonder if the listener's heartrate was really increasing on the downhills if it's spiking like described. Without more detail, I'm inclined to think it's more likely that it's a glitch with the heartrate equipment losing good contact with the skin with the increased movement, bouncing, change in tempo, or arm waving on the downhill. With periodic loss of good contact with bounces, etc. at same frequency as the stride frequency, the heartrate could be reading stride frequency, which might be around 160-190. Count your strides on the downhill (count one leg for a minute and double) and if it matches the heartrate reading, that's probably it. Or try to verify heartrate with a different HR monitor.

    I would have had fun if I had been in that study because I must have really good downhill economy. 15% grade is close to the optimal grade for me for long fast downhills when I'm going for downhill strava CRs. I'm not a young dude at 47, but I can average 4:45 per mile at that grade for a half hour and not be sore in the slightest afterwards.

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