Compression Tights and Natural versus Commercial Carbohydrates
Two new studies of note.
First is a new study on the use of compression tights versus regular running shorts. I've never used compression tights, let alone compression anything, but I see people wearing the socks and tights in races, so there might be something to them. As a new study seems to indicate, there is. Entitled The Effect of Graduated Compression Tights, Compared to Running Shorts, on Counter Movement Jump Performance Before and After Submaximal Running the study looked at jump performance in runners after a period of running. They found a significant difference in jump height in those wearing compression tights versus those just wearing running shorts after the period of running. They also found that those wearing the compression tights perceived a lower level of exertion in the jump exercise then those with just running shorts on. Now, jumping does not have a ton to do with running, especially ultra or trail running. However, I can think of a couple examples where this might play into ultras or trail running. First, if a run/race has a lot of steeps, wearing compression tights might help. Likewise, if the race is close at the finish, having more energy in the legs (or perceived energy), could be of benefit, especially if you have to do any kind of "sprint" at the end. So there may be something to wearing compression tights versus the standard running shorts. If you watch any of the fast races in track and field, all of the athletes wear compression tights. Perhaps as more studies come out indicating their benefits over the usual running shorts, they will start to become more regular on the trails and in longer races.
The other study of interest is one entitled Natural versus Commercial Carbohydrate Supplementation and Endurance Running Performance. As the title suggests, the authors looked at the differences between natural carbohydrates (in this case raisins) versus commercial carbohydrates (sport chews) in athletes during endurance running. They found that there was no significant difference. As the authors conclude: "Raisins and chews promoted higher carbohydrate
oxidation and improved running performance compared to water only. Running performance
was similar between the raisins and chews, with no significant GI differences." This is good to know. Many runners tend to either eat only real food or rely 100% on goos and sports bars/chews. It is good to know that rather then the specific type of carbohydrate you ingest (both of these are high glycemic carbos so they digest very fast), the important point is to ingest carbohydrates regularly when doing long runs. I tend to switch between pure sport chew/goo and "real" oat bars on my longer trail runs, and that seems to work for me (plus plenty of water). What works for you might be different, but at least you don't have to worry that someone popping sports chews and goos every 30 minutes will have any advantage. Not as long as you do the same with your carbos.