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How Much Protein Do Athletes Need? (Part 1)

How Much Protein Do Athletes Need? (Part 1)

Protein! A hype word like no other in the health and fitness world. Endless tomes of information and misinformation on the subject lurk out there on the internet, with mud-slinging fights aplenty in any forum you care to look at. There is likely no other dietary component that inspires as much debate, insofar as athletes are concerned, as protein. This article isn’t being published to add more fuel to the fire, and I must warn you that there’s no magical solution proffered in the conclusion. Nutrition is something that different bodies react to in different ways and if someone is trying to bludgeon you with a concrete opinion, it’s probably worth questioning their motives.

Here we take a look at some of the research and recommendations on how much protein athletes should be consuming, and the reasons why. There’s no universal answer but I hope this will provide some interesting points to consider when making dietary choices. Protein is obviously of significance – playing a key role in myriad bodily functions – but figuring out how much, what type and when you should be consuming protein is really quite a confusing undertaking. It’s by no means as simple as protein = gains. I mean, firstly, what is protein?

Jake Riley – Training for the Olympic Trials

Jake Riley – Training for the Olympic Trials

Troop detailed two key sessions that had been completed in the leadup to the trials.

One was completed at Teller Farm trails outside Boulder, as follows. 5km warm up. 4 miles of hills out, return and do a 5km press uphill back towards the parking lot. Jake closed the final 5km uphill in 16:45 in windy conditions, which Troop took as a good indication for his preparedness for the hilly course in Atlanta. He said that Jake’s cross-country pedigree would really favour his chances come race day.   

The other key workout which Troop uses is an eighteen-mile progression. This should be run eight and then four weeks prior to a race, with a three-hour run six weeks out. Troop aims to simulate race conditions as much as possible. The workout is completed on a three-mile loop, a drinks table is put out to practice taking on fuel. Practice makes perfect.

Three miles easy to warm up, change shoes. 

Miles 3-6: 5:55-6:00/mile

Miles 6-9: 5:30-5:35/mile

Miles 9-12: 5:15/mile

Miles 12-18: 5:00-5:05/mile – marathon pace (with a ~5second/mile concession for the 1600m elevation)

Jake ran this workout significantly faster in the leadup to Trials than when he was preparing for Chicago. Troop says he executed the session really well and looked comfortable.

Training With Tokai University – Ekiden Winning Team

Training With Tokai University – Ekiden Winning Team

The athletes strip down to singlets and shorts. Next% adorn the feet of all but a few athletes, and we follow the fluorescent queue of feet out onto the track. There are a number of students at the infield next to the start line, wearing Tokai tracksuits but evidently not running. Noriaki says they’re the team assistants. The half dozen assistants are gathered around a cooler box and a small whiteboard. The athletes join them and form a circle leaving a gap for the two coaches to make their address. After attentively listening to both coaches speak, a collective bow by the students indicates the session is about to start. Five by one-mile, repeats followed by five two-hundreds. Jogging a lap between each rep. Noriaki explains that he and Moro asked the athletes to keep it very steady, make sure pace was constant.

Thijs Nijhuis (2:10:57 Marathon) – Training Principles and Diary

Thijs Nijhuis (2:10:57 Marathon) – Training Principles and Diary

Week 51 (Denmark)
M: 10k in 4.00, commute to hospital + 14k in 4.00 commute back T: 8k in 4.10, commute to hospital + 20k in 3.59, commute back
W: 25k incl. 15 x 1k with 60 seconds standing rest. 1k avg. 2.58.
Th: 25k in 3.50 + 10k in 4.25.
F: 14k in 4.03
S: 26k incl. 5-4-3-2-1k with 3min light jogging rest. Times: 15.13-12.01-9.03-5.57-2.51. Overall 3.32 per k. Eve: 10k in 4.19.
Sun: 34k in 4.05, hilly forrest.
Total: 186k

More Tempo Running – A Key Ingredient To The Kenyan Success

More Tempo Running – A Key Ingredient To The Kenyan Success

For reference, the Kenyan athletes were completing about 60% of their total kilometres as easy runs, 25% as tempo runs, just under 10% as short intervals, just under 5% as long intervals and around 1% as tests/competitions. For comparison the national level athletes completed close to 70% of their total kilometres as easy runs, 10% as tempo runs, around 6% as short intervals, 12% as long intervals and 2% as tests/competitions. 

When considering the application of this for either your own or another athlete’s training it is obviously extremely important to consider the goals, strengths and weaknesses of that specific case however the comparison between athletic levels presented in this study is definitely interesting. If working in a similar time period (10 weeks from major competition) and you’re doing a lot of longer intervals, it may be worth switching some intervals for tempo runs, and hey, Wilson Kipsang does it. 

VO2Max – What is it and Does it Matter?

VO2Max – What is it and Does it Matter?

So why does all this science matter and what does it mean for you? First of all, VO2max is the strongest independent predictor of future life expectancy so everyone out there should be at the very least slightly interested in their own value, athlete or not. Additionally VO2max  becomes especially useful once we consider its impact on athletic performance. 

In order to walk, run or move at all, our body needs to produce energy; we can either produce this energy without oxygen (anaerobic) or with oxygen (aerobic). Any exercise will require energy production from both aerobic and anaerobic systems however their relative contribution is determined by the duration and intensity of the effort. As anaerobic energy production is only possible for a very short period of time, our bodies will always try to meet the energy demands aerobically. In trained individuals it has been shown that during a maximal effort the switch to predominantly aerobic energy systems occurs somewhere between 15 and 30 seconds into exercise as by this point we have “run out” of anaerobic fuel. The rate of work, power output or running pace that an individual can maintain aerobically is determined largely by their VO2max. 

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