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The life of a researcher is tough... especially when conferences are held in the middle of the summer in a happening "town" like Oslo. At the end of June I hopped a plane to Norway with my ears ready for some serious listening and my USB stick (with my own presentation on concurrent strength and endurance training in recreational runners about 98% ready) in my bag. Upon arrival, I found the sun shining (didn't stop once during our stay) on a beautiful city with lots of good dining/outdoor activities/shopping/parks/museums... the only disappointment was that BlogItemURLa href="http://www.holmenkollen.com/index.jsp?SDP_CHANGE_USERLANG=en"Holmenkollen/aBlogItemURL is being renovated so I didn't get to visit the place (I guess I just have to go back sometime!). I definitely recommend a visit to Oslo (though it's not such a cheap place - cheers to traveling on "business"!)br /br /Norway's obsession with nordic skiing makes most folks' obsession with nordic skiing look like child's play. Thus, the conference had a relatively high number of skiing-related presentations (many by Norwegian researchers, quite a few Swedes, a couple Finns and an Austrian if I remember all... topics covered biomechanics, physiology and coaching, among others).br /br /One of the themes that stuck out in the presentations on training was span style="font-style:italic;"volume and intensity of training/span. There was, an entire session on training to achieve optimal adaptations that, after "careful consideration", I chose to attend over the other 7 sessions happening at the same time (well, in reality the skier-magnet in me didn't really give me any other choice...). Other presentations were linked into sessions on physiology, coaching/testing, etc. The presentations discussed, for example, how high intensity training improves VO2max more effectively than moderate intensity training, and how long slow distance (LSD) training is essential for VO2max development/maintenance in even highly trained individuals. These presentations confirmed most of what we already understand about adaptations to training and there were no groundbreaking secrets on how to train, though throughout the congress, some new methods for the assessment of the effectiveness of training and what is going on at e.g. the neuromuscular or cellular level, were presented. br /br /One presentation that stood out for me in a practical sense was one in which the researcher presented three colored charts of yearly training volume (intensity was denoted by different colors) from some TOP level skiers in Europe (I mean world-class here). The next slide was yearly training volume and intensity from a research project done in '99 using top US skiers. The main difference between these plans/training logs was the amount of green on the charts. Green was the color used to denote low-intensity distance training, of which there was significantly more of on the Euro charts than the US chart. While many training methods can produce good skiers, and while there are interindividual variations in training responses, I found it interesting that many of the best skiers in the world really do ski EASY (LOTS of green on their charts which is equal to about 75 to 90% of training volume performed below 2mmol blood lactate). The key observation here was not that total training volume between the Euros and the US differed, but that there was a lot more low intensity training visible on the Euro charts than on the US ones. Could this difference in volume of low intensity training be one of the keys as to why Euro skiers have traditionally dominated the podium? To my knowledge there are no studies directly comparing training between skiers from different nations (and which method(s) might be more effective), but from an observational standpoint I would venture to say that it makes a difference.br /br /In my skiing experience, long slow distance workouts didn't always end on such a slow note even if they started out in the zone and I'm betting I'm not the only one... The competitiveness of a team and multitasking (thinking about the homework/upcoming exam/*insert something else that could make your mind spin here* while skiing) can gradually work you out of the zone as can the expectation that you always work as a team. In college, we logged our hours of training as "easy" when we skied for 3 hours even when the heart rate monitor average BPM didn't necessarily agree...this means that the training volume I had at moderate and high intensity was greater than my training log will let you believe....of course I should have known better, but hindsight is always 20/20 (If you want to read more on that on a "personal level" I wrote a series of six "ski lessons" last year after going to a Finnish Ski Association Coaching Seminar. span style="font-style:italic;"(the views expressed are mine alone)/span Here are the links: BlogItemURLa href="http://ritvat.blogspot.com/2008/05/ski-lessons-1.html"Lesson 1/aBlogItemURL, BlogItemURLa href="http://ritvat.blogspot.com/2008/05/ski-lessons-2.html"Lesson 2/aBlogItemURL, BlogItemURLa href="http://ritvat.blogspot.com/2008/05/ski-lessons-3.html"Lesson 3/aBlogItemURL, BlogItemURLa href="http://ritvat.blogspot.com/2008/05/ski-lessons-4.html"Lesson 4/aBlogItemURL, BlogItemURLa href="http://ritvat.blogspot.com/2008/05/ski-lessons-5.html"Lesson 5/aBlogItemURL, BlogItemURLa href="http://ritvat.blogspot.com/2008/05/ski-lessons-6.html"Lesson 6/aBlogItemURL). Based on what I listened to and observed in Oslo, I cannot, unfortunately, write a formula to achieve skiing glory, but the take-home message was to train with purpose (easy when you need to go easy and hard when you mean to go hard) and do not underestimate the power of low intensity training!div class="blogger-post-footer"img width='1' height='1' src='https://blogger.googleusercontent.com/tracker/1572647974447867713-6623429200946775750?l=vakavaraceteam.blogspot.com' alt='' //div

Greetings from Finland! As a former (or current/honorary Vaker), I've been added to the blog to throw in a little bit of international and sports science perspective. As some of you might already know, after completing my BA at br /BlogItemURLa href=" http://gustavus.edu/"Gustavus/aBlogItemURL (a little after other Vakers Nate, Nichole and Mel and before Kathleen), I headed to the BlogItemURLa href=" http://www.jyu.fi/en/"University of Jyväskylä/aBlogItemURL in Finland to work on my Master's in what is called the Biology of Physical Activity. Somehow or another the MSc snowballed into a research assistantship (in our department, and in part with BlogItemURLa href="http://www.kihu.fi/english/"KIHU/aBlogItemURL because of my thesis topic) and starting work on a PhD (1 class down and years to go!). So far my studies have focused on combined strength and endurance training (because strength training and endurance training produce divergent adaptations, more on that at a later date) and I've been dabbling a bit in endocrinology, we'll see where that goes. I still ski and run (less racing as of late) and have gotten a bit into rowing and orienteering.br /br /The first bit I will contribute here from the world of sport science deals with nutrition and recovery (inspired by a blurb in a recent email from my ski club here). The sports drink and nutritional supplement market is a huge money-maker, but are expensive sports drinks worth it? Supplements and sports drinks can certainly play an important role in an athlete's nutrition/recovery; however, the use of lots of supplements suggests that one does not trust their own nutritional choices (paraphrasing the head coach of the Finnish Natl team as well as my dad here...). A well-balanced and adequate diet that is made up of a variety of foods should be able to reasonably fulfill your daily nutrient requirements and besides that, the bioavailability of nutrients is typically higher in foods than in pills and powders. (The mini disclaimer: some supplements may be necessary, for example, calcium and iron for women...).br /br /A recent study by BlogItemURLa href="http://www.jissn.com/content/6/1/11"Kammer et al. 2009/aBlogItemURL published in Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition reports that cereal and non-fat milk are as effective in promoting muscle recovery following 2 hours of cycling at 60-65% VO2max. br /br /A quick explanation: Long bouts of endurance exercise deplete muscle glycogen stores (your fuel) and increases the rate of protein synthesis while at the same increasing the rate of protein degradation (which typically exceeds the rate of synthesis). In order for the muscles to recover from endurance exercise (so you can get back out there and do it again), glycogen stores need to be replenished and a positive net protein balanced needs to be achieved. Glucose is needed for glycogen synthesis and amino acids are needed for protein synthesis, so simply put: carbs and protein are needed for recovery. br /br /In this study by Kammer et al., subjects randomly performed two trials after whcih they were given either Wheaties and non-fat milk or a commercially available sports drink. Similar positive results were achieved with cereal and milk as with the commercial recovery drink. This suggests that cereal and milk are an effective recovery food. (A BlogItemURLa href="http://ovidsp.uk.ovid.com/spa/ovidweb.cgi?QS2=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"previous study/aBlogItemURL by the same research group concurs).br /br /For more details on these studies, my embedded links should bring you to the articles. Until next time, eat your Wheaties (or insert other whole grain cereal here)!div class="blogger-post-footer"img width='1' height='1' src='https://blogger.googleusercontent.com/tracker/1572647974447867713-2572115942064772155?l=vakavaraceteam.blogspot.com' alt='' //div