Sunday, March 17, 2013

Beet juice and Athletic performance

Research behind beet juice and athletic performance is compelling. In fact it's compelling for your health in general. A series of small but mostly well-designed studies have associated beet juice intake with increased exercise performance. Apparently beet juice allows your muscles to perform the same amount of work while using less oxygen, making your body's energy production more efficient. Here are some of the main findings:

Beet juice increased time to exhaustion: cyclists who drank beet juice could ride 16 per cent longer than without beet juice in their diet. The beet juice also allowed them to increase intensity or measured wattage with less oxygen cost.

Beet juice improved performance (1-3 per cent) and power output in 4km, 16km, and 10km cycling time trials.

The results were significant. The beet-juice group was able to cycle an average of 16 per cent longer. The author, Professor Andy Jones, noted: “Our study is the first to show that nitrate-rich food can increase exercise endurance. We were amazed by the effect of beet juice on oxygen uptake because these effects cannot be achieved by any other known means, including training.”

Beets contain many health promoting substances, including the antioxidants betalain, resveratrol, and quercetin. But several studies have revealed that nitrates are responsible for the performance benefit of beets.

How this occurs is that the nitrates in beets convert to nitrite, some of which is converted into nitric oxide. Nitric oxide's role in regulating blood pressure and promoting cardiovascular health is well-established.. Nitric oxide regulates vasodilation, relaxing blood vessels and improves blood flow, which allows more oxygen to reach the muscles. Secondly, nitric oxide helps muscle mitochondria become more efficient.

I personally put whole beets as well as the roots and leaves, which by the way are nutrient rich, in my Vitamix machine along with an apple or other fruit to sweeten it up. There's nothing like getting these elements from natural whole food sources - nothing processed or synthetic. Oh and a little thing to remember is your stool or urine can have a reddish tint so don't be alarmed. Here's a video from Exeter University explaining their findings...

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Garneau Carbon Pro team shoes

Another addition to the addiction is a new pair of Louis Garneau Carbon Pro Team shoes. Though very durable, my older LG Carbon shoes are really showing their age, the leather is getting too stretched out and they're beginning to feel like slippers. I've always liked the Garneau shoes due to their venting system which is among the best in the industry. The new shoes come with 2 insoles; one is red which is used for cold weather as it's not vented. The other is blue for hot weather and has small vent holes. What's interesting is it contains Xylitol which is an alcohol-based sugar. Have you ever tried that chewing gum that gives you that cool frigid sensation when chewing? Same stuff. When your feet sweat the moisture released converts the insoles into cooling pads. I haven't used them in the heat yet and from what I’ve read it's not like sticking your feet in into an ice bucket but it does provide a moderate cooling sensation. The shoe itself has a channel beneath the foot bed that channels air from the vent at the front of the shoe, and out the exhaust in the middle. I did find the shoes to be very stiff - excellent power transfer. The toe box is a little narrow so you might want to size up a half size but I was able to stay with my normal size 44. The heal retention system is called the HRS-300 which is an internal polymer or strap that keeps your heal in place. My heal was truly secure and comfortable, zero slippage. List price $300.00
Blue insole for summer with Xylitol, Red insole for winter
Huge vents on top
Director of photography

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Winter riding gear

Craft 3D leg warmers

With temps in the mid 40's I finally have an opportunity to get a decent road ride in and a little climbing to boot just so I don't forget how to suffer. Thankfully the trainer miles this winter has keep me in the ballpark fitness wise and I actually had some legs under me. If nothing else I wanted to test out some fairly new cool weather riding swag. It's really hard to balance out what gear to use in the winter - to hot and you sweat then freeze, to cold and you just freeze.

It's the second time I used a new pair of Craft 3D leg warmers. At first observation I thought wow these are way too thin. They do have some wind block material on the front of the leg and knee but even that seemed thin. The first time I used them it was in the 30's and about 15 minutes into the ride I felt like the back of my knees were actually starting to sweat, totally amazed by the warmth they provided. It's amazing something so thin can be so toasty, truly the best warmers I've used to date. I wouldn't use them mountain biking because branches or rocks could tear them easily or it appears, strictly for road biking in my opinion.

The other piece of swag is the Demarchi Contour racing 3L jacket. It's actually 3 layers but thin not bulky. Windproof front panels with a stretchy outer mesh, thermo panels in the back and underarms, soft brushed inside that's permeable to let out excess body heat. At around 40 degrees I've been able to wear just a winter base layer and this jacket and stay pretty comfortable.

Honestly though, I really can't wait to throw the winter stuff to the back of the closet. Soon.
Demarchi Contour racing 3L jacket

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Use winter workouts wisely

Being the weather has been horrible here in the Northeast and riding the trainer at home is getting real old I decided to venture to my local gym to participate in a spin class. I really only use the gym for strength training and focus my endurance training normally outside but this wasn't the typical gym "spinning" environment on spinning bikes as everybody hauled in their real road bikes with their trainers. I'm not really a big fan of spinning classes on spin bikes but hey that's just me. I guess seeing people on beautiful spring /summer mornings riding on a stationary bike in a "room" just doesn’t do it for me. On the other hand if it's keeping them active and motivated that’s fantastic. The instructor was a friend whom did the Leadville 100 a few years ago. Another friend showed up as he's training for the Lake Placid Iron Man, an event he's competed in before and is a really strong rider so the "motivational" atmosphere was there. The instructor blended really good music with simulated hill climbs, intervals etc. and really likes to give it a good hammering. As people fatigued the slumped head and neck syndrome was becoming obvious. More than a few were locking their arms in attempt to support their torso, head and neck area. It was very apparent that not much upper body strength / stability training had been done this winter. It provided good observation on how easy it is to become unbalanced from a strength standpoint and how important upper body training really is in the world of endurance training. Use the winter months wisely, the transition into spring training will be much easier.