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Victor Sailer, Photo Run

The Scientific Runner

Often, we come across various new training methods and ideas. Some are very straightforward, while others seem so far fetched and confusing.

Many of them are based on studies being done in labs and elsewhere by scientists around the world.

This column will look at research which relates to running. This is meant only to report on the studies, not to offer any advise or new ideas.

Most of us are aware that almost anything can be proved or disproved by science. Still, it is interesting to note what is going on in the scientific arena and how it relates to us, the women runners.

Endurance Training And Muscle Glycogen Accumulation In Humans

In a study out of Washington University School of Medicine, an investigation was undertaken to determine if endurance training increased the ability of human skeletal muscle to accumulate glycogen after exercise. This is of course, the basis behind the carbohydrate loading of endurance athletes.

The process involves a final exercise bout, depleting the body of muscle glycogen, then spending the three days prior to the event replacing this glycogen. This particular study dealt more with the effect of training on glycogen than on the loading itself.

These subjects exercised 6 days a week for 10 weeks. Three days would focus on high intensity stationary cycling, and three days would involve continuous running.

Prior to training, muscle glycogen concentration was measured after an intense exercise bout which left the muscles depleted of glycogen. After the 10 weeks, the glycogen concentration was again measured after an intense exercise bout. Measurements were taken 15 minutes, 6 hours and 48 hours following the intense exercise.

This study found that endurance training increased by two times the amount of glycogen remaining in the skeletal muscles following the exercise bout. In addition, this increased glycogen remained higher through all three measurements.

Glycogen synthase activity (the result of the breakdown of glycogen) was not significantly different after endurance training, which would lead to the conclusion that endurance training enhances the capacity of the human skeletal muscle to accumulate glycogen following depletion exercise.

So the carbohydrate loading this is a good idea.

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