Introduction: In this podcast episode: racewalking, heart rate predicting calorie burn, fiber and gas, bee pollen, running intervals, athlete’s foot, nutrition and body odor, road bike shopping, heel spurs, how stretching works, platelet rich plasma injections, meal timing, running surface and good travel/hiking foods.
Ben: Hello folks, this is Ben Greenfield. You may have noticed that last week I didn’t give out any T-shirts and there’s a reason for that. I ran out of T-shirts. But we’ve got a bunch more in stock so I will be giving a T-shirt to the best question asked this week and if you are interested in getting your hands on a bengreenfieldfitness.com T-shirt, I actually send them to anybody who donates to the show. You just need to go to bengreenfieldfitness.com, click on the Shownotes and you’ll be able to donate to any of the show episodes and I will get your address and send you a free bengreenfieldfitness.com “My Personal Trainer Told Me To Eat More Fat” T-shirt.
We have an interview today with racewalker Dave McGovern. I know that some of you may wonder what in the heck type of interest you might ever have in something like racewalking but I actually thought this was a very interesting interview. As a matter of fact, it wasn’t going to be released for three weeks. I decided to push it forward and release it today because I thought it was so interesting and I actually got a lot out of it. The other things we’re going to today is of course go through Listener Q and A. I have a few very cool special announcements and we’re going to start right now as soon as I quit babbling.
Alright folks, first special announcement: Sunday, September 5th is going to be a live video Q and A with me completely free but I have done these live video Q and As in the past. They’ve been well attended. I’ve gotten too busy to actually keep going with them and it looks like I may be able to do these now pretty consistenly on the first or last Sunday of each month. So this is coming up at 6 p.m. PST. That’s Pacific time, U.S., and it will consist of me being totally available to you for an hour and a half to answer all your questions via video. It can be fitness questions, nutrition questions but of course there is an advantage to having that live interactive component because we can converse and you can ask follow up questions as we go. I’m going to put a link to that in the Shownotes. So it’s Sunday, September 5th. 6 to 7:30 p.m. Pacific time live video Q and A. Again the link will be in the Shownotes and speaking of the link in the Shownotes – second special announcement today is that I am going to once again send you something if you are subscribing in iTunes or if you use what’s called a feed to actually go and listen to this podcast. I’m going to send you the Shownotes in that field. So if you are subscribed in iTunes, you’ll notice that two things come across to you via iTunes. One is the audio and the other is the Shownotes. So I’m actually going to automatically deliver to you the Shownotes for each episode as we go. How cool is that? Now a couple of other things. I got an email from the triathlon organizers for that race over in Thailand and they told me that they were going to extend until August 31st the ability of anybody who wanted to go on that double triathlon trip to Thailand with me, for them to be able to have until August 31st to email me and tell me that you want in. So basically it’s a commitment of about November 24th or so though December 7 and we’re going to go over there, we’re going to do triathlons. We’re going to eat, we’re going to get massages, we’re going to party. It’s going to be a fantastic time and if you want in on that, shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you don’t like going to Asia to party and have a good time, I’m also teaching a triathlon camp for half Ironman and Ironman triathletes in Austin, Texas. Now don’t let these be one of those deals where you realize at the last minute that you waited too long to register for camp and now you don’t have that week free. It’s January 31st through December 7. A Monday through a Monday, and if you want to register for that I’ll put a link in the Shownotes. It was a blast last year. All inclusive triathlon training camp, lots of training, lots of fun, lots of food, movies, parties and other good times. So if you’re interested in either of those events, be sure to email me email@example.com.
Then finally you may know that we’ve been talking about some potential changes to the podcast – ways to make it more digestible for you, no pun intended. But there are some people who don’t like a two hour chunk of audio. I have a very special announcement coming next week. You could be in for a pretty huge surprise when you tune in to the podcast next week as a matter of fact. But tune in to the podcast next week for that very special announcement. You’re listening to podcast number 107 today. So, we’re going to have a quick message and move on to this week’s Listener Q and A.
Okay, now remember if you have a question you can email firstname.lastname@example.org. You can Skype, especially if you’re international and you like to choose that free Skype software at skype.com. My user name is Pacific Fit, like fitness. Or you can call toll free and leave a voice message to 877-2099439. I had a few messages come over via Twitter this week as well but I will be considering all questions this week as the best question to be eligible for that free T-shirt. And the first question is from listener Bracken.
Bracken asks: Is your calorie burn approximately the equivalent level per hour if your heart rate is at the same level, regardless if you’re biking, running or swimming? In other words if my heart rate is at 160 beats per minute for a full hour of running or a full hour of biking, will the calorie burn be equivalent because the heart rate is a good estimation for calories burned per hour.
Ben answers: That is a great question. It may seem intuitive when you first think about it. Yeah, of course if your heart rate is the same, the calorie burn is going to be the same, but that is not the case. So those of you who use heart rate monitors, basically heart rate monitors will have you input certain things like your maximum heart rate, your weight, some of them do your body fat percentage. Some of them do – or all of them do your gender and your age, and based off of all of these demographic inputs that you put into the heart rate monitor, it spits out the number of calories that you’re burning per hour based on your metabolic expenditure. Well we’ve talked about this in a previus podcast, but those numbers can be erroneous. You can get up to 10 to 15% error – typically an overestimation of the calories burned – and the reason for that is because it’s always an extrapolation. It’s taking a bunch of variables, punching them into a calculation and then on the other end telling you how many calories the heart rate monitor thinks that you’re burning. In reality, muscular efficiency is going to be a big player here meaning that if you are better at running than you are at bicycling, you are going to burn fewer calories running at 160 beats per minute than you are going to be biking at 160 beats per minute. Now that’s not typically the case. Most people are better bicyclists than they are runners because bicycles are much more efficient than running. If you are on a bicycle and you are burning 600 calories an hour at 160 beats per minute, that does not mean that when you are running you are going to burn that same number of calories at 160 beats per minute. You may find that you burn 700 or 800 calories per hour at that same heart rate. So there’s always going to be a little bit of variability in that heart rate monitor. With my example right now, I said 600 on the bike, 700 on the run – that’s probably an overestimation of the actual variability that you’ll find in the heart rate/calorie measurements. But if you really wanted the gold standard and you wanted to find out exactly how many calories you’re burning with each type of activity, you go to a laboratory, and this will be easy to do for cycling and running. You go to your university’s local exercise physiology laboratory or you go to a metabolic laboratory or you Google for your hometown VO2 Max test or an exercise metabolic test and you actually have them measure you while you’re cycling and measure you while you’re running. Pretty difficult to measure you while you’re swimming but you can at least get measured while you’re cycling and while you’re running and find out how many calories that you’re actually burning in each of those respective activities. So, the answer to your question ultimately is that yeah, you’re going to be somewhat close with those heart rate monitor calorie burning measurements, but if you’re trying to shed weight and you’re overestimating the number of calories that you burn by something like $700 calories a week, then that could throw you off just a little bit if you’re getting pretty nitpicky with your calorie burn.
So, a question from Paul Keifer asks via Twitter. “
Paul asks: Why is it the more healthy I get, the more gastrodistressed I get?
Ben answers: Well, if you want to ask a question via Twitter, go to twitter.com/bengreenfield or do a search for Ben Greenfield on Twitter, press the follow button and then ask me a question.
The answer to Paul’s question is this. Typically the more healthy the diet, the more fiber is included in the diet. That’s usually the reason and anytime that you’re consuming fiber, you’re going to increase the amount of gas that you produce as the little enzymes and bacteria responsible for breaking down fiber do so and produce their metabolic byproduct of that breakdown which is gas. So anytime you start to eat more healthy, fiber intake is almost always going to go up and if you make a big jump in fiber intake – and typically what I find for most people and especially for myself is if I increase fiber intake by about 10 to 20 grams more than what I’m used to, I tend to get gas and bloating. Ten to 20 grams would be like a bowl of oatmeal plus an apple. So if you’re used to eating a bowl of cereal, two salads and a banana in a day; and then the next day you add a bowl of oatmeal and an apple to that, you’re probably going to get gas. So try and increase fiber in much smaller increments like five to 10 gram increments which will be closer to a piece of fruit or a little more than that. A few of the other things you can do is make sure that you slow down when you eat. The more slowly you eat, the less air you’re going to swallow so do a lot more chewing and swallowing, slow down between bites and also watch the amount of water you drink when you eat because that can also result in air intake. Of course you want to watch those sulfuric gas producing food, so be careful with the beans, the cabbage, the onions, the brussel sprouts, wheat and wheat bran tend to be a big issue as well. So be careful with those. I actually started taking digestive enzymes as one of the staples of my nutrition plan and I’m completely not joking around here. I can eat ice cream now. I started taking the Millenium Sports product called Enzyme and I am not saying that ice cream is healthy, but if I would have eaten ice cream a couple of months ago, I would have been writhing on the floor with stomach pain. Now, I can pop a couple of these, eat ice cream and feel just fine because they’ve got the lactase in them. They also have a bunch of other protein, digestive enzymes and carbohydrate digestive enzymes and fat digestive enzymes as well. So lipase and proteasis and amylases and everything you need to help you digest food. You just pop a couple about five minutes before you eat or right when you eat. You can also find digestive enzymes that are specific to the food you have a problem with. Say, you’re eating beans, well take Beano just a couple of minutes before you eat the beans. If you’re drinking milk, take lactase or lactaid a couple of minutes before you drink that milk.
We talked last week in a podcast or a couple of weeks in a podcast about making sure that you soak and sprout if possible nuts and that you soak beans as well. You can actually soak beans in Kombu which you can find in a lot of grocery stores now. It’s this sea vegetable and it comes in these long sheets and you can cook beans and soak beans in that and that neutralizes some of the gas producing effect of the beans. It’s called Kombu. Watch the consumption of any foods that are very high in fat even if it’s good fat like avocados and olive oil, maybe a little bit of goat cheese and something like that. Don’t take in too much of that in one sitting because that can lead to a lot of excess gas as well. So hopefully, all those things help and more often than not with a healthy diet, it’s really the fiber that tends to be more of the issue. You’re eating all these fruits and vegetables all of a second.
Roddy asks: “I’ve been going running a few times recently. My main goal is to lose fat. I try and run at 75% intensity for about a minute and then walk until I can breathe and then repeat. I try and do this for 20 minutes. Is this a good fat burning exercise? Also does running follow the same rest strategies as weight training or could I do this workout more often?
Ben answers: Great question. You take non-weight bearing activities like cycling or swimming or elliptical training and you can typically do back to back training days on those. You can ride your bike five days a week and not get injured. Running, you need to be more careful with, especially if you don’t have a long history with it. Running and weight lifting follow the same rules. If you’re working the same muscle groups, you’re generally going to benefit more from resting about 48 hours after a run or after a weight training session. However, you doing intervals where you’re running at a hard pace and stopping and running until you recover and then running at a hard pace again has been proven by research to be better for fat burning than if you just went out there and ran at an average pace for those full 20 minutes. So you are doing fine with doing those run, walk intervals and once you get more fit, you can do closer to sprint/jog intervals.
Stridaman asks: I only run three times a week. Which order is best? Long slow distance, then speed, then hills or long slow distance, then hills, then speed?
Ben answers: That is a good question and it’s kind of a tricky question because when you think about doing three running sessions a week, you need to bear in mind that the last running session that you do of the week is of course going to affect the first running session of the next week. So if you finish for example with your hardest workout of the week, or the workout of the week that tends to tear up the muscles the most; it’s going to affect the next workout for sure. So, what you need to bear in mind is that when you’re talking about long, slow distance versus speed versus hills – of those three, the most damaging is speed – because the nice part about hills is you can run fast uphill and as long as you’re controlling your descent, you don’t do as much damage than if you ran up that same speed on flats. So the best case scenario for you would be for example to do your long slow distance workout on a Monday, your speed workout on a Wednesday and your hill workout on a Friday or a Saturday, and that’s giving you a good five or six days of recovery after that speed workout before you do your long slow distance run. Now, why would you want your long slow distance run to be the run that you do most recovered? Because if you are sore and stiff when you do that run, you’re more likely to engage in biomechanical movement patterns that are going to leave you at risk for injury. So, in your case, to answer your question. Do your long slow distance workout and then your speed workout and then your hills workout in that order if you’re going to work out three times a week. And by the way, those are three good workouts, good choices to do if you’re going to work out three times a week. So good job.
Jeff asks: I have 500 bucks for a road bike. I’m not competitive. Just wanting to stay on the road and get fit. What do you recommend? Craigslist? Ebay? Local bike store? Is there a brand you like for entry level rides?
Ben answers: Well I’ve been actually in the process of building a new bike and if you go to synergysport.com, you’ll see the Grey brand of bicycle components that I’m actually using a lot of those as I work on this new bike. So i just wanted to throw that out there, but you’re probably not going to build your bike Jeff. What I would recommend is you look into craigslist. I also like do eBay searches, but do eBay local searches so I can contact the seller and arrange to actually see the bike. So you can search within the area of your local zip code because it’s very easy in eBay pictures to hide flaws and cracks and things that you can discover when you go look at a bike face to face or you’re there in person. Your best buys are of course going to be found in those classifieds Web sites like craigslist and eBay. Although you can use more bike specific classifieds Web sites like roadbikereviews.com, slowtwitch.com in the classified section of their forum. But you’re going to do better looking in the classified section, of course you’re going to be finding used bikes and it’s better to go with one that you’re going to get a chance to take a look at in your local area before purchasing. When you take a look at it, look at things like the cassette and the chain. How much grime and oil and crap is hanging around those. Has the bike been taken care of? Has it been cleaned properly. Inspect the parts of the frame along the bottom – what are called the stays, the rear stays and the chain stays which are the thinner parts of the frame, which can have cracks in them and a lot of times, the owner may not even know that there’s a crack there and you may find it. And then also look at things like whether or not the tires are very, very worn down. Someone who takes care of their bike wouldn’t let that happen. Inspect it for nicks and scratches and dents that indicate it may have been crashed a few times because that of course could affect that it handles. The best time to begin looking for a bike is of course the time when everybody is going to be selling your old bikes and looking at buying new bikes, which is going to be the end of fall and the beginning of winter when bicycling becomes a little bit nasty, and then the end of winter and the beginning of spring when people realize that they wanted to buy a new bike but they didn’t sell their old one yet. So those are two good times to look at buying bikes. I’m not necessarily brand loyal to any specific entry level ride. However, I wold look into the specialized brand. They do have a very good dependable bike most of the time. Then if you’re going to build your own bike or piece some parts together, go check out synergysport.com.
Cindy asks: I’ve been suffering with a heel spur for the last six months. My podiatrist tells me that I’m just going to have to live with it, but I can’t believe that I won’t be running again. I have a high tolerance for pain but right now I cannot seem to overcome the constant piercing pain. I have stopped the calcium supplements. I would like a regime that would encourage reabsorption of the bone spur. Any advice?
Ben answers: Well first of all, as far as a bone spur and what that actually is – I want to explain that to people so they can see what you’re dealing with. But basically, a bone spur is going to form when the body tries to repair itself. When it tries to repair itself by building extra bone. It’s pretty common to get them in your heels, your spine, your shoulders, your hands, your knees. Feet are another area where you can get bone spurs and it’s kind of a normal part of the aging process. Because you have this tissue called cartilage at the end of your bones. When your cartilage starts to wear away, which happens even more quickly when you have something like arthritis, a lot of times you get pain, you get swelling and you get those bone spurs or those areas of new bone laid down along the edges of the joint where the cartilage is disappearing. And it can also happen in people not because of age, but because of something like running which is what I’m guessing is the case in Cindy’s case where you run and you have tight ligaments, what happens is those ligaments tend to pull on certain areas and as the bone tries to repair itself, it tends to form spurs. It’s kind of interesting the way the body works. When I used to dissect cadavers in anatomy class, we could tell the areas where that person had a lot of pulling and tight ligaments, and tell if they were runners and jumpers because a lot of times you get these areas of thickened – not bone spurs necessarily – but tuberosities or bumps in the bone where tendons would attach and get pulled on and the bone starts to pull new bone, where that happens. A lot of time tight calves, tight achilles, tight ligaments in the foot like the planter fascia tend to be an issue with creating bone spurs in runners. It sounds like that may be the case here. A lot of times if you go to get your bone spur treated, one of the first things that you’ll be advised to do is rest and stretch the affected area, so you’d stretch your foot and your lower calf and your achilles – what’s called your heel core – with something like a heel spur. Allopathic medicine a lot of times will give you an anti-inflammatory drug, if there is an inflammatory condition at play. Sometimes a cortisteroid injection if there’s a lot of pain and inflammation. Occasionally if it’s a real big boen spur, surgical removal of the actual spur itself. But there are some natural things that you can do for bone spurs as well. There are some homeopathic remedies. The homeopathic remedies that are traditionally used on bone spurs would include something called Blackmoors which is supposed to reduce some of the inflammatory pathways when you use that. As well as the use of calcium and interestingly magnesium supplements. So a lot of people think that calcium and magnesium, because they’re crucial components of bone, are going to contribute to bone spurs, but as long as they’re administered in the correct ratios, that’s not the case. Now, a lot of people get a lot of calcium already from their diet. So in your case Cindy, what I would recommend – I’ll put a link to this in the Shownotes – is that you try something like the topical magnesium on your heel as part of a stretching and resting protocol. That’s just something you can rub into your heel a few times a day. It’s topical magnesium therapy. It’s not technically an oil, but it feels like an oil when you put it on. I would also if I were you toy around a little bit with your othodics, with your shoes to make sure that those aren’t contrubuting to keeping your planter fascia tight as you run. If you’re not a fan of doing a topical magnesium, try something like Natural Calm which is an oral magnesium that’s mixed with calcium that can help you out a little bit. But definitely no reason to actually quit taking your calcium supplement if your calcium magnesium ratios are in order. What I would do is work in the magnesium first and that is not to be construed as medical advice, but that is what I would try if I got a heel spur, one of the things I would do is jump in and start using magnesium.
We got a question from a reader whose name I can’t pronounce but he hasks via Twitter.
Anonymous asks: A local radio station promotes the supplement Nature Bee with something called potentiated pollen. What are your thoughts?
Ben answers: So Nature Bee potentiated pollen. I’m not really familiar with the Nature Bee – the company per se. I do know that bee pollen is something that has been around a little bit and it’s reported in literature to help with metabolism, with workout performance and with energy. The idea being that the bee pollen is something that the bees use for a nutrition source and has a bunch of amino acids in it, it’s got some vitamins and minerals in it and so if consumed at high quantities, it could potentially help athletes with performance. If you look at some of the research studies done on bee pollen, there was one done by the National Athletic Trainers Association on swim team members that looked at – it was actually a two year – I’m sorry that study wasn’t a two year… that study found no beneficial effect on bee pollen. But another one, a bigger one, a two year double blind study, which means that the researchers and also the people taking the bee pollen – neither of them knew who was taking the bee pollen and who was taking the placebo – found that it was absolutely not a significant aid in metabolism, workout training or performance of athletes. Two year, double blind study is pretty powerful. That was a study conducted in track athletes. However what they have found is that bee pollen may help with recovery and it may have an anti-inflammatory effect that can assist with bouncing back from a workout just a little bit quicker. The study that did find that though was done in a pretty small group of subjects. As far as clinical trials done, there’s not a lot of amount there. This comes down to one of these cases where with something like bee pollen, what I would do is try it out and see if it works for you. If it were me, I would be more thinking about using bee pollen in the same way that you may want to use a raw local honey to help gradual get yourself – not healed of – but a little less sensitive to pollen-based allergies. The idea being that if you give yourself a little bit at a time, sometimes your allegies can gradually go away. It’s kind of like using a little bit of peanut powder everyday for a peanut allergy. As far as sports performance, it’s something that you’d probably have to try out to see if it works for you and if it does, then good on you and keep using it. If it does not, then you’ve got your answer. But there’s not a ton of research behind it.
So, we also have a question from Hunky Bearcub. People who ask questions via Twitter always have interesting Twitter handles.
Hunky Bearcub asks: What are some remedies for athletes foot? Do natural remedies such as coconut oil and apple cider vinegar actually work?”
Ben answers: Well athlete’s foot – we talked about this with Dr. Roby Mitchell a few weeks ago and go back and listen to podcast – well there were a few episodes but number 103 was the most recent with Dr. Roby Mitchell, who of course outlined the fact that when you are susceptible to fungal infections and you are getting things like athletes foot, a lot of times that’s indicative of an underlying nutritional deficiency or problem that goes deeper than just stepping and getting infected in the shower at your local locker room. So, some of the things he mentioned was low testosterone, low iodine, hypothyroid issues, nutritional deficiencies such as vitamin D which is very important for your immune system and also for proper hormone and steroid formation and so some of the things that I would first look into would be – see if you can identify some deficiencies. This week over at bengreenfieldfitness.com, I will be putting up a few videos because I am re-testing my hormones and my amino acid, my fatty acid, my vitamin D, my mineral levels and a lot of these interior performance factors through Bioletics at bioletics.com. You’ll see how that process goes of actually doing it at your home and testing for some of these things at your home. But the issue is that you’ve got it and now you want to know what to do with it. Yeah, the coconut oil and the apple cider vinegar are both antifungals. I definitely don’t think that they’re as potent as the oil of oregano. If you haven’t heard the interview I did with a farmer down in Palouse about oil of oregano, then you’ll want to go back and listen to that. That interview will blow your mind about the use of oil of oregano as a potent antifungal and as one of the things that should definitely be in your cupboards. I am never without oil of oregano. If I had athletes foot, I can tell you beyond a shadow of a doubt, that is the first thing that I would do, is I would take about a five to one up to a ten to one mix of oregano oil with an almond oil or olive oil and I would be administering that to my foot a few times a day. Go listen to that interview. It’s at https://bengreenfieldfitness.com/oregano. Or click on the link in your Shownotes which again for you iTunes listeners should have showed up on your iTunes box.
Laurie asks: I’ve been running consistently for over 20 years. My body is very tight. About two months ago I started stretching. I could barely bend over and touch my knees. Now after a few minutes of gentle stretching, I can touch the tops of my feet. Yet, a few minutes later I tighten back up. Is there anything I can do about this other than the post workout stretches that I’m already doing?
Ben answers: Well, let’s think about what happens when you stretch. Basically your muscle is made up of a bunch of little muscle fibers and as you stretch those muscle fibers become lengthened and they eventually reach their point of maximum elasticity but along with those fibers that are being stretched, you get something else being stretched. It’s called your muscle spindle. Your muscle spindle records the change in length of those fibers and how fast that change in length occurs and it sends signals to your spine and to your brain that triggers what’s called a stretch reflex which means that once you get to a certain length, or the length at which your muscle feels that it might tear, that stretch muscle starts to contract. That’s just basically a protective mechanism. It’s a contraction reflex. It’ll keep you from tearing your muscles as you stretch. But there’s a camp that says the stretching of the fibers goes further than just fibers and that the muscles are basically really responsive to the fascia that surrounds them. This dense connective tissue that surrounds them and if your fascia has adhesions or it’s basically laid out in a pattern that is not symmetrical whether due to injury or due to tightness or just due to working out over and over again without actually ever taking care of your fascia, making sure it’s aligned properly, then what can happen is that no matter how flexible your muscles are, that fascia is always going to be very sensitive and unable to stretch. And leave you tight and leave you retightening in the way that you describe. So, while you are attacking your muscle fibers and you’re training your stretch receptors to become a little less sensitive – and that’s why you’re getting more flexible – it doesn’t sound like you’re doing much fascial or connective tissue work on those areas that I just described. The way that you could do that is you could do massage therapy. You could use a foam roller. You could use something like a stick. But if you begin to workout adhesions in your tissue and in your fascia along with stretching and flexibility work, you will likely find that the tightness doesn’t jump back after you’ve stretched because basically you’re giving yourself a temporary fix when you do that stretch when what you need to be doing is actually realigning more of the tissues in your body so that you stay stretched and you stay flexible. Yeah, you’re still going to have to stretch. I personally stretch for about 10 minutes every morning, but I feel nice and limber and free the entire day and that’s the way that you should feel after you stretch. So make sure that you’re not just doing static stretch holds. Make sure that you’re doing a little bit of connective tissue and fascia work as well.
Spoon Sister asks: Can or should your sweat change or smell on certain supplements, not medications?
Ben answers: Sorry folks, sometimes these Twitter tweets that people send me can be tough to read because you’re limited to 140 characters and sometimes the way that people achive 140 characters is interesting.
Well absolutely. As any of you would probably suspect, the way that you smell is a lot of times reflective of the sorts of foods that you’re eating. What happens to be putrefying in your digestive tract, if you happen to be eating a lot of things that are releasing toxins in your bloodstream specifically through your large intestine, if you’re using things that have a lot of preservatives and chemicals, processed meats, junk food, fast food, packaged food – a lot of times you’ll notice that your sweat begins to smell a lot worse. You’ll also notice this when you smoke cigarettes, when you drink a lot of alchol, you will always have a bit more BO and a bit more unpleasant BO than if you eat healthy. So making sure to eat healthy is of course useful, but what you ask is if there are certain supplements that can cause that.
If you’re eating supplements that tend to be high in sulfur based compounds like if you’re taking garlic pills, that could potentially cause you to smell a little bit, have a little bit more of a sulfur smell. If you’re taking any of these green supplements that happen to be very high in any of those foods like broccoli, like ground up broccoli, that can be an issue as well. Typically foods that are high in what’s called chlorophyll which is actually an odor eliminator like parsley and spinach and kale, a lot of other dark leafy greens tend to actually fight odor. So I’d imagine if you’re taking a green supplement it typically has more of those type of compounds in it than it has broccoli. Kolin is another thing that can cause BO and kolin is found in fish. So if you’re taking fish oil, that might be an issue. It’s also found in eggs. It’s found in liver, if you’re eating liver products. I doubt that you’re doing much of that and also beans. And really the only one of those that I would imagine you maybe taking in from a supplement would be the kolin. Caffeine can make you produce more sweat so if you’re taking high caffeine supplements, your sweat may not smell worse, but you may produce more of it. And anybody knows that no matter what, when you pit out, you’re going to smell even if you’re eatin g healthy. The more you sweat, the more you risk a little bit of BO. Of course, the paradox is you don’t want to use a lot of these aluminum heavy metal based deodorants. You can use a natural lemon or lime. As a matter of fact, if you just rub a little bit of lemon or lime on your underarms, that can kill a lot of those body odor causing bacteria. Baking soda or paste or baking soda paste which you can make by mixing baking soda with a little bit of water and smearing on your underarms, letting it sit for a little while and then rinsing it out can also help quite a bit with BO. But I would say take a look at some of your supplements. What you might want to do is write into the show and let me know which supplements you’re taking. That might help a little bit. Last thing that I didn’t mention was the apple cider vinegar which we mentioned earlier can kill body odor as well and the oil of oregano which is actually from the mint family can help out quite a bit too. So those are some of my recommendations and hopefully that helps you out a little bit.
Jeff asks: “It’s interesting how pro triathletes look lean, toned, muscular and fit while elite marathoners largely look undernourished, thin and gaunt. This seems odd especially since an elite Ironman triathlete event is eight hours while marathoners race for two hours. What explains the difference?
Ben answers: Well, you got to remember that marathoners are going a lot faster than Ironman triathletes. If you really truly want to be a good runner, you have to cannabalize and shed a lot of upper body mass. Even the bigger runners, if you take a close look at them, their eyes are very thin. Their shoulders are very thin and most of their bigness comes from big bones, not from big muscles which take a lot more to cool and take a lot more enegy to carry in a sport like running that carries a great deal of efficiency. You’re looking at the running champions for marathon, running closer to that two hour range and the run champions for Ironman running closer to that 2:40, 2:45 range – huge difference there in the amount of mass that’s being carried. So the underlying issue behind your question is that really pro triathletes are not anywhere as near as fast at running as elite marathoners and if they wanted to become as fast as running as elite marathoners are, they could probably shed some upper body muscle and if they did that, they’d probably still be okay, halfway decent at cycling but it’d really hurt their swim and it’s mostly the swim that tends to maintain some upper body mass and basically make triathletes a little bit faster in the water – the extra muscle, the extra fat can help quite a bit with swimming. It doesn’t help you out quite so much with cycling. And then finally there’s one camp that preaches and I haven’t seen a lot of research behind this that you actually need that muscle to absorb a lot of the joint impact that occurs over the entire day of an Ironman and that by having more muscle, you’re able to store more glycogen, you’re able to basically cause the littlest impact to the joints. I’m not convinced that that’s true. I do know that you could carry a little bit more carbohydrate on board but I’m not convinced that it’s going to be significant enough to make the difference between a two hour event or an eight or a nine or ten hour event. So ultimately what it comes down to is that it’s really the running. If Ironman triathletes wanted to become very fast runners, the sport probably would become faster if we had a bunch of Ironman athletes running 2:05s or 2:15s off the bike. I don’t even know if something like that is possible. But then of course the flip side is they lose a few minutes on the swim. So I think the other thing is that triathletes tend to be more vain in general about their bodies. I think triathlon kind of draws a population that does take a little pride in maybe having some biceps and having nice chest muscles or having a big back and having a nice, toned, firm butt. Those types of things that a lot of times marathoners don’t place quite as high a value upon. So my thoughts on that question. Good question. Good thought provoking question Jeff.
George asks: I recently was advised that I should consider having PRP injections to a tear in my hamstring. The problem has persisted for two years. Though I have remained active in those two years, I was advised I need three injections. What in general is the healing time after starting this?
Ben answers: So PRP injections, that stands for platelet rich plasma injections. Because a lot of times your tendons and your ligaments have a poor supply and they don’t heal very quickly especially when you look at something like the belly of a hamstring where it sounds like George is having the issue, the platelet rich plasma which I’ll call PRP from this point out, can help. It basically helps. It helps becasue it concentrates what are called platelets. So imagine if you could take the little parts of your body that are responsible for repairing damaged tissue and you could take them out of your body, concentrate them and then reinject them into an area that is wounded and that’s in great need of accelerated tissue repair and regeneration and that is basically what the PRP does. I actually own a PRP unit in a clinic in downtown Spokane and when somebody comes in, the physician will draw their blood. The blood will go into what’s called a centrifuge. The centrifuge will spin and what you’ll be leftover with is some of the red blood cells, some of the fat that was in the blood and then a layer of this PRP or platelet rich plasma and it looks like a white powder. You draw that up into a syringe and then you inject it into the wound site and there are specific types of injection protocols that you follow based off on whether it’s tennis elbow or planter fasciaitis or in your case a hamstring issue, etc. It’s different than a cortisone injection because it isn’t a corticosteroid and it doesn’t have a lot of the same side effects and it has been shown in some research studies to speed up healing by about 30 to 40%. Usually you don’t get just one injection. You’ll usually need anywhere from three to six sets or series of injections and each of those series is spaced by about two to four weeks and generally you’ll start to feel good results within about a week. But by the time you get to the end of the protocol, you’re still looking at several weeks and the interesting thing is that a lot of times, the protocol – it’s highly encouraged that to help deal with some of the pain that you get after PRP, you ice and you rest the area and my question is if you’re going to ice and rest an area for six or eight weeks during the course of a PRP treatment, if you did that anyways, would it heal? In terms of the hamstring injury I’m assuming that you have tried some other things that might be a little less invasive. Maybe you listened in to the interview with Dr. David Minkoff where he talked about cold laser and some of the other therapies like vibration that he encourages with his patients. I am hoping that you tried some topical anti-inflammatories, some Arnica, some topical magnesium, and I’m assuming that you’ve worked with either an active release therapy specialist or you’ve worked with deep tissue massage to help mobilize any scar tissue or areas of hypoxia or low oxygen, low blood flow that might be in the hamstring. But PRP is one of those deals where I would definitely go to a physician who’s doing a lot of it so he knows the proper injection sites and then be very frank with him and ask him if he’s actually ever done PRP with a hamstring. So that’s really important is that you make sure that there’s some specificity involved there. You don’t just want to go to a surgeon. You want to go to a knee surgeon or a brain surgeon and the person who specializes in the area that you need. So those are my thoughts on PRP. If I had to choose between getting a steroid injection or getting PRP, I would personally get PRP. Fewer side effects.
Hanson asks: Most of my veggies in a big salad are spread out over a course ofthe day – or should I have most of my veggies in a big salad versus spread out over the course of a day?
Ben answers: That is a good question and the answer is spread out over the course of the day because fiber forms basically this big bolus in your stomach and it can help to reduce the absorption of fats, help food to move through your stomach and basically envelop food and keep you fuller for a longer period of time. However, the way that it works best is when you put it into your body like an IV drip. You have a little bit of fiber with every meal so you get those benefits with every meal rather than just with one meal. The other thing – we mentioned gas earlier is that over dosing on fiber in one meal is a great way to give yourself gas. So make sure you have a little bit of fruit with breakfast. Maybe some nuts in the midday, a little salad for lunch and maybe you’re having some type of whole grain or Quinoa or an oatmeal or an energy bar before a workout and then some roasted vegetables with dinner, and that would be an example of spreading your veggies out throughout the course of the day.
Julian asks: I have a workout routine which I have been doing for almost half a year which involves running, stretching and some weights alternating muscle groups. Is it normal to be hungry all the time? I work out quite early so I consider my after workout meal to be breakfast and I am constantly snacking throughout the day about every two hours. I snack on fresh foods and vegetables rather than chips and crackers. My breakfast involves granola or yogurt, a protein shake and a banana. Because of my early morning workouts, I’m very hungry at 4 p.m. I end up eating two dinners. One at 4 p.m., one at 6 p.m.
Ben answers: Active people and especially people who start off the day with a workout – for example, I’ve been very hungry today because I started my day off with a run. I’m always more hungry during the day than when I end a day with a run. That’s normal. It’s normal for your metabolic rate to go up a little bit and it is normal because your metabolism is higher and it is okay to eat more when your metabolism is higher because your body is burning more calories. However, if your fiber intake or your protein intake is low, your appetite is going to be higher and so I would have a hunch, and this is usually the case with endurance athletes who work out early in the morning, that you’re not eating enough protein. We had an interview again with Bioletics’ Richard Cohen. He talked about the protein types versus the carb types. I found out I was a protein type. I started increasing my amino acid intake, increasing my protein intake. I became more satiated after the meals that I ate, always focusing on including a whole protein source with each meal, and it’s helped out quite a bit with appetite cravings. If you are a protein type eating things like granola and yogurt and bananas is not going to help too much. Even the fresh fruit and vegetables aren’t going to help too much. So you may want to look into either getting yourself metabolically typed or just starting to up your protein and healthy fat intake from things like seeds and nuts and avocadoes. And see how your appetite does with that versus some of the carbohydrates that you’re taking in.
Bracken asks: I hurt my knee seven years ago and started triathlons after that. Thank god for the knee injury or I’d still be a runner only and probably have a much shorter knee life. I’ve since tried to run a lot on grass trails and pavement. Is all grass or trails better than mixing with pavement?
Well, there have been studies done on running surfaces. And basically, one of the bigger clinical studies found that improper running surfaces were one of the five leading causes of running injuries. What that means is that they weren’t running on what’s called an ideal running surface. Concrete is absolutely not an ideal running surface. A couple of podiatrists that were quoted in that research study said the ideal running surface is smooth and moderately soft and the worst is rock hard like concrete or irregular shoulder of a road, like a gravel on a shoulder of a banked or crowned road. Any time the surface is harder, you’re going to increase the amount of breaking effect that comes up upon your body from the ground. So ground reaction forces are going to go up. There’s another article in the Physician and Sports Medicine that talked about how running on rigid surfaces can impose a stress on the body and result in injuries and again, they said that not only was concrete not a good idea, they also said that too soft a surface like sand was also not a good idea and came out recommending asphalt as one of the ideal running surfaces. Another article in Physician Sports Medicine called “A Hard Look at Running Surfaces” said that by cutting down to softer surfaces, specifically for IT band risk, injury risk could be cut by 50% and basically they ranked running surfaces in that article in the Physician and Sports Medicine. Concrete – the low numbers would be the worst surfaces to run on. Concrete had a 1. Snow had a 2.5. Sand had a 4. A treadmill had a 6.5 and asphalt was also a 6. So we’re still not up to the really good surfaces to run on. A track had a rating of 7. Dirt had a rating of 8. Grass had a rating of 9.5 along with woodchips, which I’m sure most of us don’t really have a chance to run on, had a rating of 9. So grass was the clear winner in that study in terms of the best running surface. Now, as far as ratio, there haven’t really been any studies done that I’m aware of that I’ve been able to find that looked at a runner who ran 60% grass, 40% asphalt versus a runner who ran 70% grass, 30% asphalt. But the idea is that the softer running surfaces are always going to be a better idea and you’re really doing yourself a favor by running on grass. If you can run all gas and trails, it’s always going to be better than mixing it with pavement.
Stephanie asks: “Is it okay that my training environment is very different from my race environment preparing for my first marathon? For example, I’m doing mostly trail running work whereas my marathon will be a roadrace.
Ben answers: Okay, so here’s where the paradox lies. Yeah, the trail and the grass is going to be better for your knee or for your feet, but when you get to mile 20 of the marathon and you get to mile 10 of the half marathon or mile five of a 10k, are your hips and your joints and your feet going to be quitting on you because you’re suddenly asking them to do something that they haven’t had to do at all in training? From personal experience I can tell you that the answer is yes. I myself in training for marathons as well as for the athletes I have worked with, we’ve tried out soft surfaces to reduce injury risk – what happens is your body starts to shut down at competition because it hasn’t been given a chance to prep on those long surfaces. So my recommendation is for the final six to eight weeks leading up to your race, make sure that you begin to run on a surface that your race is going to be on, and do at least one long training session a week on that surface. Then the rest of the year, do your grass running and your trail running and your woodchip running, but at least for six to eight weeks leading up to a race in which you’re going to be on a hard surface, you need to be preparing your body to run on that hard surface. Preparing your bones, your joints, your ligaments, your tendons and also your overall body for the joint impact that occurs on the harder running surfaces because it really is your entire body that takes a hit.
Gail asks: Should I save my focus on weight loss for the off season or is it possible to lose weight softly while training for triathlons?
Ben answers: Gail, in all my recommendations for folks who are training for triathlons and trying to lose weight, I recommend that you split or periodize your year into training periods and if it’s at all possible, you try to have a period where you focus on weight loss, but that period not come close to the point where you’re leading up to a race. Because even though studies have shown in cyclists that you can fast or engage in very low caloric intake for 14 days prior to – in this case – an hour long cycling event, and still do ok, it gets very stressful when you’re hopping on the scale and trying to shed one and two pounds a week as you’re leading up to your big race. So best case scenario is that you put on just a little bit of weight over the holidays, over the winter, so you can enjoy yourself a little bit. As early winter rolls around, January, February, right around in there, you begin to focus on weight loss and then once March and April roll around you really finish up that weight loss so May, June, July – triathlon season – you can actually focus on high quality training sessions in which you’re well fed and able to achieve a high intensity. Now, what I always do for the last week or so leading up to my race as I begin to taper and reduce my physical activity is I always get my sessions in the morning before breakfast so I’m jumpstarting fat burning and that’s just a little fat loss technique that always makes sure that I don’t balloon up or add fat during something like the taper leading up to a race. So, as far as the risk, there’s not a lot of risk to losing weight safely while training for triathlons but it can be stressful and it can detract from the quality of the training sessions when you’re training in a carbohydrate depleted state or you’re training in a hungry state. Typically the benefits that you get starved will be outweighed by the detrimental effect, especially mentally, from training without food.
Jen asks: I am in the middle of your book Shape 21 and I’m seeing great results so far. I’ll leave your review in the first 21 days I complete. My question is do you have suggestions for nutritional backpacking food? More specifically, the food must be lightweight, not require refrigeration and be nutritional enough to refuel the body for a week or longer of strenuous hiking.
Ben answers: Well, of course the big problem with a lot of backpacking and hiking food is that they’re canned or full of preservatives, full of carbohydrates or full of lactose or gluten or full a lot of things that I know listeners to this show are trying to limit a litlte bit. So I’ve got three recommendations for you, Jen, for things that you can carry. One is – and I’m going to put a link to this in the Shownotes 100% protein based snack. It’s a grass fed beef jerky with a little bit of honey, little bit of dried cherries mixed in. One bar has 380 calories and about 20 grams of protein with 0 preservatives. They’re basically these meat sticks from a company called U.S. Wellness Meats. You’re looking at them not being super cheap. Basically you’re going to pay a little over $3 for one of these, with one of them being a full meal. Obviously they’re cheaper than McDonalds but if you’re going to travel with 30 of them, that starts to add up. I will put a link to those in the Shownotes. I reviewed them over at bengreenfieldfitness.com. The next thing that I’d look at that’s more of a fat, fiber-based snack, that’s a vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free type of thing – it’s very satiating and that I eat – is the cocoa chia bar by the same company that puts out the living fuel super greens powder, and that’s the stuff that can literally just keep you going all day in powder form. It’s like mixing real food. The cocoa chia bar by Living Fuel Super Greens which I’ll put a link to and the Living Fuel Super Greens powder itself are both highly recommended. Then I’m finally going to recommend one that a few of my clients use that I haven’t had a chance to use yet, but it’s called a paleokit and it’s a mix of berries and dried meat jerky and nuts, and essentially it’s the same thing that ancient paleolithic hunters or gatherers would have eaten as they were rooting around and weren’t eating bread or making cereals or drinking beer. It’s called a paleokit. I will put a link to the paleokit in the Shownotes as well. So hopefully that’s helpful for you and we are going to have a quick message and then move on to the interview with Dave. Be sure you listen in to next week’s podcast for a very special announcement and yeah, let’s go ahead and move on.
Ben: Hey folks, this is Ben Greenfield and Dave McGovern is here with me today and Dave is a 25 year veteran of the U.S. National Race Walk team. He coaches a lot of elite racewalkers. He’s written several books on racewalking that I will direct you to today and he also has a Web site, racewalking.org. He’s a national level competitor in racewalking. So today we’re going to learn more about racewalking, what it is, how it can benefit you, which muscles you’re going to work, how many calories you’re going to burn and all that good stuff. So Dave, thanks for coming on the call today.
Dave McGovern: Sure, glad to be here Ben.
Ben: Well the first question that I have for you is what is racewalking?
Dave McGovern: Well, it’s pretty much as it sounds. It’s trying to walk as quickly as possible from point A to point B and it actually started out as an Olympic sport in 1904 as part of the decathalon, and then in 1906 they made it a stand-alone event. The rules are – when they started out they didn’t really have any rules so they had some problems early on trying to get people to do the same thing. As I was saying before the show it’s like being at the start of a marathon and saying, “Alright guys, get from point A to point B any way you can.” Somebody’s going to think well, I’m going to ride my bike and until they really codified the rules they really had some problems but things have been sorted out. The rules now are that you have to have one foot on the ground at all times, and most people who come from a walking background don’t have a problem with that. But runners tend to come off the ground with every stride. So a judge will be looking to see that you’ve got one foot on the ground at all times and it’s judged by the judge’s eye, not the video camera. And then the rule that sounds a little odd is that your knee has to be straightened right when your heel hits the ground until your body passes over it. It’s actually pretty protective of the knee. When you’re running or even when you’re walking fast without using racewalking, your knee is not really locked in place. There’s a lot of twisting going on. So there’s a lot fewer races in racewalking because you’re not coming off the ground and also because that knee is protected.
Ben: That’s interesting. I think it’s something that a lot of people, especially runners think would be counterintuitive because all runners hear that you shouldn’t strike with your heels, that your knee should be slightly bent but I belive that it might be, if I remember back to anatomy correctly, that what’s called a screw home mechanism, which means that when your leg is completely extended, it actually forms this protective cap around your knee. Is that where you’re going out with the heel striking?
Dave McGovern: You know, your biomechanics. Yeah, it sounds like you know your biomechanics. That’s a good thing. If you look at a good runner, they’re going to run very close to the body and like you said they’ll land generally on the forefoot and then maybe drop down to the heel before pushoff. But walkers with normal walking technique tend to take longer and longer strides out in front of the body. The longer that stride is in front of the body, the more of a bracing force you get. You hit the ground, the foot flattens out and you wind up really having a hard landing. Racewalkers are a little bit more like runners where they take a very short stride in front of the body and with a shorter stride there’s a lot less impact plus with that knee locked in place, it does tend to protect the knee from injury.
Ben: So when someone’s out walking for say fitness, and they’re trying to walk fast, if they wanted to use some of the biomechanics and some of the form involved with the racewalking style, in addition to striking with their heel striking the ground and the knee locked out, are there some other things they should bear in mind in terms of the movement of the upper body? Are there biomechanics that they can utilize if they wanted to walk with a racewalking style?
Dave McGovern: Sure, absolutely. And without even worrying so much about the rules of Olympic racewalking, some things that racewalkers do – your speed – walking, running or doing anything is going to be a product of your stride length and sometimes your stride frequency. There really is a limit to how long your stride can be without getting in your own way. That leg in front of the body too far really slows you down. So you want to think about quicker steps than really long strides. Bending the elbows about 90 degrees will shorten that pendulum that your arm actually has, and if you can shorten the stroke of the arms, you’re going to shorten the stroke of your leg. So quicker shorter steps and the bent elbows will take you there. Driving the arm more behind the body than at the front – a lot of people tend to throw their arms out to the front. If you throw the arms out to the front, the legs will follow and they will tend to wind up too far in front of the body. Another thing really is using the feet, most people when they walk normally pick the foot up behind the body, put it in front of the body and plop it down without actively using the feet, changing the angle in the foot and the lower leg. So behind the body, if you can actually think of rolling from the heel all the way to the tip of the toe, it helps to propel your body forward and quickens the cadence as well.
Ben: Interesting, so you know walking – regular walking – and this is something that I tell my clients, it doesn’t burn a lot of calories because most people do it from a very young age. The body becomes very efficient at it and it’s not the quickest way to lose weight. In terms of comparing something like a regular stroll with something like regular racewalking, is there a significant increase in calorie burn when someone begins racewalking?
Dave McGovern: Number one, stop telling them that. They’re going to burn about the same number of calories walking as they do running per mile. Now the thing is if you’re going at a slow pace and a 20 minute mile, you’re only going to burn about 330 calories per hour. But the faster you go, the more calories you’re going to burn. But if you’re measuring it per mile, it’s about the same as running. But if you’re running say a 10 minute mile, that’s going to be 660 calories or 330 per hour and most people are more concerned with the unit of time because time is the most limiting thing. In terms of racewalking versus running, you actually do burn a few more calories per mile or per minute racewalking, because it does use the upper body a little bit more than running does. It actually does use more muscle mass than running.
Ben: From what I understand, you reach a certain speed at which walking becomes unefficient – at which the human body would like to lean forward and start jogging. At racewalking, you’re in excess of that speed, so racewalking would technically be I guess an inefficient activity that would burn more calories. Would that be correct?
Dave McGovern: I would say that about regualr walking. There’s a classic graph in exercise physiology where the two graphs meet at 12 minutes a mile, where if you run any slower than a 12 minute mile, you probably should be walking because it’s actually more efficient to walk at a slower pace. Otherwise, you’re just jumping in the air and coming down again, there’s really not a lot of forward motion. So, the two graphs meet at about a 12 minute mile. After a 12 minute mile, it becomes very difficult to increase your speed walking, and as you say it’s very inefficient, it burns a lot of calories without getting you anywhere. The thing about racewalking is that it breaks through the barrier. So after a 12 minute mile, if you switch into racewalking, it allows you to go much faster. I was okay as an athlete, but not the greatest, but my best mile is six flat and I did a 20k race, a 12 and a half mile race under seven minutes a mile – 6:48 a mile or so – was my best in 20k. The top guys in the world for 20k are going about 6:15 per mile.
Dave McGovern: And burning a lot of calories.
Ben: Wow, so you’re talking a little over 12 miles at – what pace per mile did you say?
Dave McGovern: About 6:15 for the top guys.
Ben: That’s pretty fast for walking. That’s very fast. So that brings me to another question. Obviously there’s going to be some injury risks in this sport specifically. My exercise physiology professor when I was going to school – he was into racewalking, he took us out on the track one day and had us do a 5k and I noticed that my shins hurt tremendously. Are shin splints an injury risk? If so, are there other injury risks, and how do you deal with them?
Dave McGovern: I don’t really consider shin pain an injury. It’s like going to the weight room and lifting a three pound weight. You lift it ten times, it’s not going to hurt. But if you lift it 400 times you’re going to have a shore bicep. It’s the same thing. You’ve never really used your shins for anything. They’re almost… there are muscles in the shin that you don’t really use very much. But there’s an (eccentric) muscle contraction – when your heel hits the ground, there’s leverage flattening the foot out and your shin is trying to keep that foot from flattening out so it does get a lot of a workout. So after two to three minutes of real racewalking, your shins are probably going to be really sore if you’ve never done it before. Just as your bicep will be sore if you’ve never lifted a four pound weight 300 times. Because at high speeds, you’re going to be going three and four sets per second with good high level racewalking so it adds up pretty quickly.
Ben: Interesting, are there other injuries that are prevalent among racewalkers?
Dave McGovern: If you want to stay on shins a little bit, in rare cases there is a true anterior compartment injury where there just isn’t room for the muscle to expand. When you (unintelligble) a muscle, it’s going to expand about 40%, but you’ve got the two bones in your lower leg and you’ve got that fascia in front of the muscle – if that muscle can’t really expand, the pressure builds up and then it really does become a problem. Occasionally, very occasionally, racewalkers will get a fasciatomy where they’ll cut that open to allow expansion but that’s very rare. More common injuries in racewalkers are things that happen over time. Just like any kind of a tendonitis injury where repeated motion over and over again, the muscle gets tight and pulls on the tendon so things like tendonitis, high hamstring tendonitis – sometimes performance leading into sciatic pain, but that’s after repeated motion again and again to just about anything, you can wind up with some tendonitis. If you obey the usual rules of building slowly, not changing anything really drastically and allowing the body to adapt, you can avoid most injuries and there are far fewer injuries in racewalking than there are in running. Not to knock running, but we do tend to have fewer injuries.
Ben: Are there specific muscles that are known to be very strong among racewalkers or specific muscles that if someone were weak in, racewalking would help?
Dave McGovern: You know people think we must have really massive glutes from racewalking, but everytime we go get tested by the physiologists – the kind of stride that we have – the glutes are fairly weak. We actually use a lot of the same driving muscles as runners. The hip flexors, the quads coming forward. As far as pulling the leg back, it’s not much used as propulsion because the muscles that pull the leg back tend to straighten the knee to make it legal. But a lot of the muscles that you’re using to propel yourself forward in running, you also use in racewalking. We tend to have nice quads. We actually tend to have really nice shins as you mentioned. You can look at a racewalker and they look different from runners. They tend to have a little bit more upper body and the shins are really characteristic. They’ll have meaty shin muscles.
Ben: Gotcha. Now how about for cross training? Are there athletes that you’re aware of – whether professional athletes or recreational athletes – that use racewalking as a way to stay fit for other sports?
Dave McGovern: I was a decent runner in high school and I just haven’t really run much since but I can still just about any time go out and do a 5K under 18 minutes and I think I can still break 5 minutes per mile and I really don’t do any running. It’s really good cross training. I say it’s good crossover training where you’re crossing over from racewalking to running, you are using a lot of the similar muscles. So after I run a race, which a couple of times a year I’ll jump into a 5k, my calves are usually pretty sore and my quads are a little sore but everything else feels just fine. So it really is good cross training for running. I’m getting a lot of triathletes coming in and I think the problem is a lot of people will come to triathlon because they’re injured as runners and they start swimming and biking for rehab and then they say, “I really want to do a triathlon because I’m doing all this swimming and biking” and then they start training and then they realize, “Oh that’s why I’m swimming and biking because I can’t run anymore.” I’m getting more and more people that do enjoy swimming and biking, but they can’t do their running anymore so they want to learn how to racewalk. So usually at my clinics almost every one, I’m getting one or two triathletes. Pretty much fo running, well running and triathlon as a running component obviously. That’s where a lot of racewalkers tend to gravitate in terms of crosstraining.
Ben: One thing that come to mind as you talk about that is that run/walk protocols are becoming more popular among triathletes especially during Half Ironman and Iron distance triathlons. It seems that developing a good efficient racewalk would actually help a triathlete to maybe use a few different muscles and do a faster race/walk protocol.
Dave McGovern: Right and that’s one of the big secrets I do tell people at my clinics. A lot of people training for triathlon who are running and walking are working harder and harder trying to get their run times down. They maybe have the potential ofincreasing your pace by 15 seconds a mile, but then that walk – they’re walking a 13 minute mile. They could take minutes off their walk time. They could get themselves down to a 10 minute mile. It’s going to be a huge improvement in their triathlon times. So, even if they don’t get into Olympic racewalking – nobody in a triathlon is going to be judging their form. They don’t have to worry too much if the knee is perfectly straight, but if they use some of the elements – a shorter, faster stride using their feet; bending the elbows at 90 degrees – they can improve their walk time considerably and that would bring their triathlon time down considerably.
Ben: That’s a skill I would have liked to have known a couple of years when I did an Ironman triathlon injured and had to work the entire marathon. I think I averaged about a 14 minute mile. I would imagine if I had known how to racewalk, I could have gone much faster. So that’s interesting. Now what about researches? Oh, go ahead.
Dave McGovern: Sorry, my brother is a very good triathlete. He just did the Classic in 9… he’s done 9:41. I think he did 9:58 in this one, but his marathon was – I say only – but his marathon was only 3:28. My best marathon walk is 3:38 and I’m not a very good marathon walker. I have started doing them because I’m older and I’m starting to – the Olympic event for men is 20 kilometers and also 50k, so to train for the 50k i started to do some marathons. But I don’t consider myself very good, I’m pretty close to what he did at the end of his Ironman so I get to dig him with that.
Ben: That’s pretty impressive actually because most people would kill to be able to run a 3:38.
Dave McGovern: Well, the Olympic speed – the top guys in the world right now will go through the marathon under three hours and then do five miles more at that pace and usually faster. Their last 10k is usually the fastest in the race. It’s quick. Those guys are under seven minutes a mile at the highest level.
Ben: You’ve got me very interested in racewalking. In adding that to my skills. For people listening in like myself who are wanting to hook up with maybe a resource in our local community or a way to find racewalkers or racewalker workouts, what would be the best way for us to do that?
Dave McGovern: If you have a pen, my Web address is racewalking.org but if you want a bit of a longer one racewalking.org/contacts.htm. And you can find local racewalking contacts, clubs or individuals that host my clinics both in your local area and in the U.S. and worldwide. If you find one that’s not on there, please send it to me but I put any local contacts I find on that list. So it’s racewalking.org/contacts.htm.
Ben: Got it. I will put a link to that in the Shownotes for folks as well. Finally Dave, you’ve written a couple of books on racewalking and I’d like to make those available to people as well, and maybe link to those as well. What’s the name of the books you’ve written or the book that you’d recommend for folks listening in?
Dave McGovern: The Complete Guide to Marathon Walking is actually still available through my Web site and through Amazon. The Complete Guide to Racewalking is out of print because I had a little tactical error. I thought I would have my new book out by now and we had a baby 14 months ago that has completely taken away any writing time that I’ve had so I’m trying to get this next book out, and that will be called The Complete Guide to Competitive Walking. I mix racewalking, non judged marathon walking… I’m also the national coach for the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation Half-Marathon Walk Team and started doing more half marathoning advice than I did in the marathon walking book.
Ben: Gotcha. Well after interviewing today, it’s on my list of books to read. Actually a couple of those are on my list of books to read. So I’ll put a link to that in the Shownotes for you folks listening in, to the books and also to Dave’s Web site and Dave, thank you for coming on the call today.
Dave McGovern: Sure thing. Thanks Ben. After my friends told me about your podcast about a month ago, I started listening in and I’ve become a big fan. Thanks for being out there.
Ben: Fantastic. Folks, if you like this podcast, please leave a ranking at iTunes, go to iTunes, do a search for Ben Greenfield Fitness and leave a ranking. Let me know what you like about the show, and please be nice. While you’re at it, check out my other podcasts – The Get Fit Guy – we just had a really interesting anecdote on the fat burning zone and how to find out your personalized fat burning zone. Those are quicker five to 10 minute podcasts. Speaking of podcasts, be sure to tune in for a very special announcement next week about some changes to the www.bengreenfieldfitness.com podcast. Don’t worry they’re not going to take away the podcast. Nothing like that. Then, the only other thing as far as special announcements go, let me know if you’re interested in the Thailand triathlon trip or the Austin triathlon camp. Again, if you have a question, feedback or anything else go to email@example.com and also let me know if you end up being able to get those Shownotes delivered to you via iTunes and if you’d like the ability to do so. Have a great week.
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