Endurance Training – What’s The “Next” Big Thing - Part 2
View Part 1 for Music, Minimalistic Footware and Compression Gear trends.....
Self Massage – The Stick & Foam Rollers
If you’ve ever been to a race expo, you must have run across the vendor carrying The Stick Massage Tool. It basically resembles a rolling pin that you use to roll/massage your legs, back, arms, etc. The Foam roller is surely the #1 recommend item for those that get the dreaded IT Band injury. We tell you to roll on it and warn you “it’s gonna hurt”. These are both examples of self massage or a bit of Rolfing (vigorous massage) providing myofascial release.
The big names in this field are The Stick, Trigger Point Performance Therapy, TheraBand and OPTP. While I think all these items are great tools to have and use, the vast majority will use only when an injury has occurred or they feel it is coming. Those people are sometimes too late to get the greatest benefit that comes with continuous maintenance.
The Stick, aka the toothbrush for muscles, is by far the best selling gift I’ve seen for runners and triathletes. Since these tools are generally inexpensive and last for many years, they will continue to be mainstays in virtually every athlete’s toolbox. Moji, a newer entry in the field is gaining ground quickly with a unique approach using rolling steel balls.
In the endurance world, supplements sometimes get a bad rap. They are usually associated with bodybuilding or the doping you read about in professional sports. The truth is, even your gel pack can be considered a supplement (in broad terms). This broad definition would be anything consumed outside of your normal diet, which either provides nutrition or stimulation (thermogenic/caffeine).
Most of the time supplements are used because they are convenient. Carbohydrates are quite easy to find in just about everything you eat, but that doesn’t mean that your grilled cheese should be placed in a zip-lock baggie for mile 10 of your half marathon. Gels, chews, beans and sport drinks make it very easy to drink or eat your carbohydrates (usually a combination of 2 or more types of carbs) with minimal effort. Many gels, chews and beans on the market are more than carbohydrates. Some will also contain caffeine and/or amino acids to help aid performance. This is where the line blurs for most as amino acid supplements are/where the holy grail of weight training recovery.
It is true that science and testing is finding that nutrients like amino acids are an aid to endurance athletes, both during and post training. But beyond your mainstream carbohydrates, proteins and caffeine you can find many other products marketed to endurance athletes to either “stop lactic acid burn” or “increase oxygen utilization”. While many manufactures have sound science behind them – CarboPro Systems, First Endurance, DBM Endurance, Hammer, etc. they mostly using the same playbook of ingredients. Concentration of ingredients, quality of raw ingredients and proprietary combinations/ratios will all affect the pricing of these items.
Again my personal opinion is that you will get less results from the majority of these items during your initial “get in shape phase”, as opposed to using them when you are hitting plateaus in your training. During your start you will/should see plenty gains on your own as your body (the greatest tool you have) is adapting to the new stresses you are placing on it. Each training session is a process of breaking your body down and then allowing it the time and nutrition to repair stronger.
Nutrition and supplements are nothing new as a whole. The packaging is going to evolve as we get tired of the old and ratios are going to change as science improves. As more of the population does take up endurance training (running, triathlons, cycling, crossfit, etc.) there is going to be more of a desire to compete and do so legally. Legal endurance enhancers will continue to gain momentum, become more mainstream and may even be the next big thing.