Category: News

Jumproping: an excellent accompaniment for any runner’s training

Jumproping: an excellent accompaniment for any runner’s training

“Jumproping” is both a blessing and a curse in many runners’ training sessions; it is often considered little more than a diversion, whereas it can instead serve a very supportive, important role in our training program.

If done with continuity, exercises with a jumprope can bring significant improvements to various aspects:

– More effective thrust through the development of reactive force and elasticity, as well as the activation of all leg muscles, particularly in the lower leg, ankle and foot.

-Running technique through the development of coordination, in addition to the activation of muscles which are often underused between the ankle and foot.

-Resistance, if the exercises are part of a sufficiently intense training session

Let’s look at a few applications:

-2-3 repititions of 1-2 minutes each at the end of warm-up

-1-2 minutes as an interval exercise in indoor strength circuits when running outdoors is not possible. A potential workout is 20 min of warm-up, 3 sets of abdominals, + 1 min jumprope+half squats, 1 min jumprope+push-ups, 1 min jumprope+alternating-leg lunges, 1 min jumprope, with a recommended 2 min between sets

-technical strides with the jumprope, skipping, walk-kicking, heel-running, etc.

Expert runners can vary their jumprope use even more, reaching up to 5 min or more of continuous exercise. We suggest starting calmly and patiently (the first few times you may find it difficult to jump continuously), progressively including the jumprope in workouts, until you reach a level of continuity of at least one or two workouts a week.

In short we can say that the jumprope is a very useful tool to include in general training workouts in the fall and winter that all runners will benefit from, especially those who practice trail running, who will note and enjoy increased general coordination (useful on downhill and uneven terrain) and elasticity. Aside from the most expert runners, training sessions which incorporate jumproping are discouraged in workouts right before a race in order to avoid any leg soreness.

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Coffee and running: a winning combination?

Coffee and running: a winning combination?

Let’s clear up the relationship between running and coffee, or better, caffeine.

By now a must for many people in the world, so much so that it is one of the most consumed substances in any form, COFFEE contains a substance that was first isolated about 200 years ago by a German chemist: CAFFEINE. How does caffeine affect our body? The well-known researcher Graham has told us that caffeine induces the body to CONSUME FAT FOR ENERGY, which lets runners save the glycogen content in their muscles. Caffeine also has a stimulating effect on the nervous system, and is therefore able to help you perceive less fatigue. Other research also suggests that caffeine improves MUSCULAR EFFICIENCY.

In principle, a dose exceeding 12MCG/L of caffeine in urine is considered doping (by WADA, World Anti-Doping Agency), which is equivalent to drinking more than 7 coffees simultaneously 30 minutes before a race. Several studies have been conducted which demonstrate the effects of caffeine in terms of improved performance. Consuming 2.5 cups of coffee before a workout or race already has ergogenic effects (improving energy consumption), and in particular, in one experiment it was noted how athletes who had been given an amount of caffeine exceeding the allowed limits “were able to prolong their efforts up to 90.2 minutes, compared to the 75.5 minutes of other athletes who had not consumed caffeine”, while the allowed doses only showed a light increase in stamina during a moderately strenuous aerobic workout.
The effect of caffeine’s metabolism is documented by the respiratory exchange ratio, the concentration of plasma glycerol and free fatty acids, as well as the maximum oxygen intake.

This therefore demonstrated the effective function of caffeine that had been hypothesised: it improves fat catabolism, reducing the oxidation of carbohydrates. But as mentioned before, there is more. If these are the effects on energy metabolism, there are also a whole host of excitatory consequences in the nervous system. Caffeine also facilitates the contribution of calcium ions, and, by increasing the sensitivity of muscular myofibrils, it aids muscle contraction.

These data must however be reasond with, as it is important to note that if fat is not used in races up to 10 km (so metabolically speaking, caffeine doesn’t help), in longer races such as a half-marathon or marathon there are certain factors which limit the energy improvement of caffeine, such as TOLERANCE TO IT BEFORE EXERCISE (a high amount of caffeine induces tachycardia, tremors and nervousness), and especially the HIGH CONCENTRATION OF CARBOHYDRATES before exercise. So what we can deduce from all this is that coffee before a marathon is useless.

Nonetheless, if taken in small amounts (approximately 1/4 of a coffee) along with maltodextrin or fructose, it facilitates their absorption in the intestine, thus increasing the amount of energy available to muscles.

There are many different scenarios, which should be evaluated one by one. The quality of the caffeine is undeniably important as well, as pure caffeine provides a significant improvement in performance when consumed just beyond the allowed limits.

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Running barefoot: good or bad?

Running barefoot: good or bad?

Run barefoot, and therefore in the most natural way possible, or protect yourself with sports shoes to avoid any kind of risk?

Does running barefoot deprive you of the elastic rebound provided by shoes? These and many other issues should be addressed in order to answer the question. To do so, we consulted two foot experts that I coach and with whom I share studies on the topic. The kinesiologists Daniele De Pasquale and Marco Giambastiani tell us their opinions. I find their testimony extremely useful because as athletes, they have a thorough understanding of what it means to run.

But first, a few words about feet.

The foot

The foot is at the bottom of the human body’s leg and is a very important anatomical structure, since every action generated by movements and sports activities act directly on it. The foot consists of 26 bones (this number can vary from person to person in consideration of the possible presence of sesamoid or accessory bones) which are usually divided into:

Tarsus, which constitutes the back of the foot and helps form the skeleton of the ankle and heel. The foot has two rows of bones: the proximal row formed by the talus and calcaneus, and the distal row formed by the three cuneiform bones, the cuboid bone and navicular bone.

Metatarsal, which constitutes the front half of the foot and is formed by five metatarsal bones that act as an intermediary between the tarsus and the phalanges of the toes.

Phalanges, which are 14 small bones.

All the toes are formed of three phalanges aside from the big toe, which has only two. All the foot’s bones have a coating of cartilage which is elastic but also durable and allows the bones to slide within the joints. The upper part of the foot is called the instep, and the bottom is the plantar.

There are various diseases which affect the foot, the most common being bunions, which are a deformation of the articulation of the big toe, and flat foot, which is a reduction in the plantar arch.

Fun fact

In the 1960 Summer Olympics held in Rome, Abebe Bikila ran the entire marathon barefoot and won the gold medal.

His coach had agreed to this technical choice. In 1964 he was again successful, this time running with shoes.

8 questions for the expert (Dr. De Pasquale)

Why do you run barefoot?

Basically because I was always searching for a shoe that gave my feet more freedom. The shoes were always too high or too tight and I began to “take them off” more and more, and after 4/5 years I was always running barefoot.

Do you always run barefoot when training?

Now I do, but it was a gradual transition. I always run the same path on asphalt; I wear leather FiveFingers when I’m away from home.

What do you lose in terms of performance?

I actually have improved performance when running under 10 km, but I initially lost it because I had to reset the way I ran. In my opinion, the energy expenditure necessary for running barefoot up to 10 km is negligible. On longer routes there is a loss in terms of time, as running barefoot requires more energy.

Are there any additional effects after running barefoot during training or a race?

I feel much better. While running I can feel my calf muscles working a lot, I have to put in more effort and I feel more fatigue; even if I run slowly my muscles are working hard, but once I have finished the workout or race I don’t feel any pain at all.

Can everyone run barefoot?

It depends on what kind of life the runner has had, his or her experience in sports and if he or she has had any signficant trauma.

Do you recommend working out with FiveFingers shoes to the athletes you treat? 

Only occasionally to those who don’t have any problems and have adapted to using their feet over time. It helps their feet rediscover their natural state.

Do you have any advice for runners?

I recommend minimalist shoes to everyone, no platforms of any kind on the feet.

One last note?

We should devote no more than 30 minutes per day to running: this amount of time would be perfect.

If we want to achieve greater things, we must attain them with the continuous lengthening of our postural chains. I run long distances such as marathons, but I am well aware that to do so and be comfortable I must devote ample time to my body.

Running: with what type of shoes? Is barefoot better? (Dr Marco Giambastiani)

Before presenting my opinion on such a fascinating subject I would like to make a premise: as a kinesiologist who specifically deals with postural alignment, I would like to sound an alarm about the FEET for all runners and other athletes.

Everyday I treat athletes, runners, triathletes, etc. who are unable to perform simple movements such as flexing their toes, flexing and extending their ankle joint and other simple movements without getting very strong cramps.

It seems to me that the average athlete is much more focused on what type of shoe to buy (and with this come the most varying recommendations, even from those who don’t have the slightest idea how the foot is structured and what functions it carries out), and not on the health of their feet.

What we carelessly ignore is the part of the body that allows us to walk, run and orient ourselves in space; it continually sends signals to the tonic-postural system and lastly, adapts to muscular tensions coming from the upper body. It is the only body part that keeps us almost constantly in contact with our planet!!

Logically, the health of the foot plays a key role in running. It is made of muscles, and these muscles must extend for their own health and efficiency.

So let’s think of the foot as a part of the body to look after, making it sensitive (proprioception: the more sensitive a foot, the better your running mechanics will be) by stretching the various flexor and extensor muscles (an elastic foot gives us a major boost and prevents tendon injuries by providing improved cushioning).


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Running in the heat

Running in the heat

It is the hottest part of the year and athletes need to take the necessary steps if they are not to suffer a deterioration in performance. There are several factors to consider, here are just some of them. Correct nutrition is fundamental to keeping the body well fuelled but, at the same time, agile and light. Focus on fruit, vegetables, fibre and whole foods. Hydration should be adjusted according to the humidity level and the duration of the activity in question.

It is important to begin any training session fully hydrated, although this should not be overdone. During the run, it is a good idea to replace liquids lost, preferably just with water or with rehydrating drinks (well diluted). As a benchmark, on a particularly muggy day, drink a glass of water every 15-30 minutes.

In terms of clothing, make sure you wear light-coloured and highly breathable clothes which leave large areas of your skin uncovered to allow for good ventilation, therefore helping your body to cool quickly.

As regards training sessions, try to find time during the cooler parts of the day (first thing in the morning or in the evening), routes which are sheltered from direct sunlight and/or which are airy (e.g. forests, tree-lined avenues, etc.) and create sessions which do not involve excessive energy consumption. When you have longer sessions planned in hot weather, you should take precautions, ensuring you are not caught out. In these circumstances, you may require sun cream, a hat, a bottle belt, sunglasses, etc. The issue, even in this brief summary, is clearly a very complex one, so be very careful when training in the heat and never underestimate the risks it brings.

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