You may have seen marathoners wearing compression socks that are highly fashionable, either half-calf or sometimes full-thighs in length. These running garments are based on the concept that compression apparels can improve a runner’s blood flow to the muscle during running. Hence, it can improve a runner’s performance and aid in the post-run recovery of the strained thigh and calf muscles. But, are these scientifically proven or not? Let’s check out.

Expedite running performance – true or not?

When muscles are compressed, the blood vessels are forcefully opened, allowing more blood and oxygen to flow. This can increase the muscle’s working capacity, especially during high-intensity and endurance running. A study conducted by researchers from University of Newcastle found that improving the working capacity of the muscles can actually improve performance, but does not make runners any faster. However, the researchers pointed out that future studies must still be conducted, because in this study, they investigated a small sample size, which means that findings could still vary if conducted in a much larger population.

Improve post-run recovery – fact or myth?

When runners use compression apparels, it improves the flow of the blood in the working muscles. This can help reduce the pressure and strain in the affected muscles during running, aiding in faster recovery two to three days post-run. This concept has been supported by numerous studies already.

The verdict – compression apparels do help improve the work capacity of the thigh and calf muscles and expedite recovery period, but these garments do not guarantee a faster running performance when used.

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cycling sun sleeve

Years ago, runners relied on flat colas and sports drinks as their main source of carbohydrates to keep them up and running during long endurance events like half marathons and marathons. Carrying these hydration and energy-giving drinks, however, can add up to carrying unnecessary additional weight packs during running. The rise of energy gels has been a vast improvement in recent years and these days they are a tastier solution too!

How do energy gels actually work?

Energy gels help replace the lost carbohydrates of the body. The gel’s quick consumption is necessary to promote faster recovery during running, which is why it is ideal for heavy carb-burners like triathletes, cyclists and marathon runners. Once consumed, carbohydrates in the gels are quickly absorbed in the blood to supply the brain and body with nutrients and calories needed to enhance performance levels. It also helps delay muscle fatigue and increase blood sugar levels to keep you up and running over those long gruelling miles.

When to take it?

Generally, it’s advisable to take a gel around 15 minutes before the race starts, to allow it to take effect. Since people have different digestion responses, you should check with your sports nutritionist on when is the best time for you to take energy gels. Also, make sure you’re getting enough water, as well; continue consuming gels periodically during the event to prevent dehydration and early fatigue.

The gels come in different flavors, and different nutrient composition. Be sure to read the nutrient panel on each of the gels you consume so you know exactly what’s in them.

Many contain varying amounts of these ingredients: Potassium, caffeine, maltodextrin, fructose, blend of amino acids, Ornithine Alpha-Ketoglutarate (OKG), fruit puree,. B Vitamins, Ginseng extract.

* Look for gel’s that contains multiple sources of fuel (like glucose and fructose) will keep your system energized faster and longer.

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LA marathon hydration water bottle

There’s only a few days left before the LA Marathon. After a week of rain in Los Angeles the forecast for this weekend’s marathon is in the high 70’s making it really necessary to watch your hydration during the event. Experts agree that it’s vital runners keep themselves well-hydrated, so here are two simple yet effective tips to keep your hydration at good levels during the marathon.

Starting it slow

It really helps to execute a good plan at the start of the race – marathon runners know that it is really important to preserve energy for the later parts of the race. Never let the anticipation and adrenaline rush push you into a fast start. You need to start slow to let your body adjust to its rhythm and conserve both your energy and fluid levels, which you will need throughout the run.

Take water station breaks

Over the course of the marathon, there will be water stations or hydration zones, with drinks provided by Arrowhead and Gatorade which you should not miss, you need to replace those lost fluids even if you don’t feel sweaty. By the time you actually feel thirsty you are already in a state of dehydration, it’s better to take a few seconds off your time and finish the marathon fully hydrated than try to save those few minutes by running on by and face perhaps not finishing the race due to unexpected dehydration.

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Quick and healthy snacks that Olympians love to eat

Do you want to run, ski, swim or even bobsled like a professional athlete? Of course, you have to endure a lot of training first, but this is just part of an athlete’s life. The fuel they put into their bodies has a huge effect on the results they get from training. Eating the right combination of foods help them to stay healthy and competitive. Here are some nutrient-packed, on-the-go snacks that Olympians eat while training.

Kara Goucher

Portland Oregon’s marathon runner Kara Goucher has competed in the London Olympics in 2012. She’s also considered as one of the fastest women to ever debut in a world half-marathon event. Her on-the-go food is the fiber-rich, energy-giving quinoa, which is high in protein and carbs.

Dotsie Bausch

This native of Irvine, CA is a seven-time national cycling champion, who had also competed in the 2012 Olympics. Before and after work outs, Dotsie loves to drink pumped-up smoothies made of bananas, oranges, pumpkin seeds and agave nectar. This is rich in Iron and Vitamin C, which are very important components of a cyclist’s diet.

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Mariel Zagunis

Mariel is a native of Beaverton, Oregon and is a two-time Olympic gold medallist, who competed in the fencing events. Mariel’s fuel snack is the nutritiously, creamy zucchini soup rich in protein and carbs.

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Why Is The Nordic Combined one of the toughest games played in the Winter Olympics?

OLYMPICS NORDIC COMBINEDAfter four years, the much-awaited Winter Olympics is finally back. Olympians have dedicated time and effort mastering their craft and making sure that they are 100% ready for the Games. There are a lot of events played at the Winter Olympics and one of them is the Nordic Combined.  Let us take a look at how the game is played and why is it considered as one of the toughest events in the Games.

About the Nordic Combined

This event is a combination of two distinct events, the ski jump and the 10km cross-country relay. This feat alone makes athletes of Nordic Combined one of the well-versed skiers in their category. Why? Because the event starts with athletes speeding off a large hill, where they will do the 140-meters high ski jump (imagine flying across a football field plus another 50 yards). Without proper speed, balance and gumption, as well as right take off and landing position, the ski jump will not be successful. Following the jump, the athletes will then do a 10-kilometer race to test their speed and endurance. Overall, the Nordic Combined is an event that tests the Olympians’ versatility, patience and skills.

Are you watching the Olympics? What’s your favorite winter sport?

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winter exercise running

Some important notes before training or exercising in cold weather

Winter athletes use different training regimens to stay fit and competitive. Exercising in cold weather is one of the most important aspects of their training, because it helps them get used to certain body changes related to low temperature. But, it is important to understand that exercising in cold weather is very different from exercising when it’s warm.

There are many benefits to staying active when the temperature plummets not only is it important to keep your summer season fitness level up but regular exercise helps to shrug off the blues associated with long dark days spent mostly inside. Here are some things you should remember to stay fit and active during the winter season.

Dehydration still occurs

Believe it or not, dehydration can still happen even in cold temperatures. The only difference between cold and hot climate is that our thirst receptors are not very active during the cold season, but this doesn’t mean that we cannot get dehydrated. According to studies, thirst sensation decreases by 40% during cold season, but we still have to keep a well-balanced fluid level.

Running during winter makes your body temperature fall faster

When you move constantly, you generate heat and sweat faster. However, sweat dries faster during cold season, which means that you can lose more body heat when running. To avoid this, you should wear clothes in layers. Start off with an inner garment that effectively wicks sweat away from your skin, so as not to will leave you feeling chilled when you slow down. Next wear a warmer fleece or wool layer, and finally a breathable, waterproof outer layer. If the temperature’s really cold, wear a scarf or face mask, too, to help warm air before inhaling it in.

Don’t forget hands, feet and head. Again go for layers, a thin pair of gloves/socks under a heavier pair. A thermal beanie will help to prevent 50% of your body’s heat escaping through the top of your head.

Remember sunscreen. You can still get sunburned in the winter, especially if you are exercising in the snow or at high altitudes.

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3 More States Say “Ban The Tan!”

Ban The Tan

In the summer of 2013 Illinois, Nevada and Texas voted in legislation to restrict access to indoor tanning salons for minors which will take effect this year.

According to statistics from the skin cancer foundation in cases of melanoma diagnosed in those aged 18 to 29, a whopping 76% were found to be attributable to tanning bed use

The American Academy of dermatology believes that 28 million Americans use indoor tanning salons each year over 2 million those users being teenagers.

There are now 6 states with laws banning indoor tanning for minors and an additional 29 other states considering legislation regarding restricting or prohibiting sun bed use by minors.

In addition, the FDA has proposed raising tanning beds to a class II level which would mean stricter regulations on sun bed use and better information would be made available by tanning salon owners warning the public of the increased health risks associated with tanning bed use.

Do think it’s safe for kids to use sun beds? Should it be up to parents whether or not they #BanTheTan?

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