August 2020 Newsletter

Note from the Editor

Welcome to the August edition of the Upper Valley Running Club Newsletter! Keep your submissions coming to newsletter@uppervalleyrunningclub.org.

Editor
Amanda Kievet

Trail runner, wool mill owner, web developer, quote unquote farmer.

Article Collection
Geoff Dunbar

Former UVRC president, co newsletter editor, and UVRS coordinator.

Letter from a Board Member

Running in the Time of Pandemic

By: Tim Smith

I personally have been through a roller-coaster, both emotionally and in my running, over the last few months.  

As many of you know, I injured my knee at the end of the Autumn season last year, and so hobbled through much of the winter.  By February I was starting to log a few miles and was just getting to the point where 3 miles was conceivable, which meant that the Shamrock Shuffle was plausible. Then we all met COVID-19 and life took an abrupt turn.

The Upper Valley Running Club is the core of my social life, and from the beginning of the pandemic it was clear to me we were talking six months or more before life returned to "normal".  I was not certain a club could survive such a long hibernation. I was quite convinced I would go stare crazy.  Just when the world was opening up for spring it was like somebody announced that due to a clerical error Winter, and cabin fever, was going to be extended into the foreseeable future. Spring and Summer were on hold.

But it is up again, down again. Out with the shuffle, in with . . . a new challenge.

Okay, it was March, life goes on and we will adapt.  I will post Tuesday Night Track work outs, even if I have no idea if anyone is doing them.   And we will add the Lone Runner Challenge and post something on Strava for every weekend.  And I don't really know anything about Zoom, but we will create "Zoom Pub Night", and "UVRC Zoom Cafe".  

Things even got better in that funny way the world works. My son has been working for an NGO in Africa and was evacuated, so came to live with us for a few months.  When he arrived at the end of March I was doing 4-5 miles a day, but he was starting from scratch.  For a few days I could outrun a twenty-something!

April settled in as it does in New England.  Rainy days with brief sun showers, and clear days with a bit of rainshine. My mileage grew and my pace settled down, and maybe a race-less season would be good for my knee's recovery. My son's condition improved faster than mine, and we were soon logging 10+ mile runs through the hills and dales of the upper valley.

In May I discovered that "Virtual Races" are not really races at all.  They are activities, without being events.  And without competition are they really races?  This is where my project "Remote Racer" started.  In a virtual race people run and then compare their times afterwards.  But if you could compare running in real time - that could be interesting.  

I am a physicist who has always worked the data and computer side of a problem, and so was able to cobble together an app in a short time which did the most basic task required for a remote racer as I envisioned it.  But this is how we get sucked down a rabbit hole. With two weeks of work the app was 80% successful. Can the rest be that hard?

As a data task it has been challenging.  What do you do if your GPS has a large uncertainty?  Was that a bad data point, or did the racer just go around a sharp corner?  And in the Upper Valley there are many cellular network dead spots.  What if some one drops out of a race?  Or closes the app too early?  Personally it has helped my running.  Not only do I race (or at least do an up-tempo run) every Thursday, but I have also log a lot of miles just testing new algorithms. Also I have connected with people who are far away. (People who have raced will recognized some of these names). 

One of the most consistent remote runners is Lillian Rose, who is my niece and lives in Texas where she will start High School and cross country in the fall. She has cut over a minute off her mile time since her first race.  Brendan is someone I raced against in High School, and was on my team in College.  He still lives in Upstate New York and when I look at his Strava runs I see he is in a neighborhood where I trained in 1982-3! Robin is now in Brooklyn and running in Prospect Park.  There is another niece near Boston who runs. And there is a nephew in Texas, who had to stop mid race to carry his exhausted dog home.

And now? Am I ready to run with other people?  I know the virus is as deadly as ever, but this Winter of our Discontent has gone on far too long.  

And anyways, in August I jump to a new age group and then  .  .  . life moves forward.

Member Submission

Saturday Morning Runs?

By: UVRC Board

We will start Saturday morning runs on August 8. We have been reluctant to do so because we recognize that the virus which causes COVID-19 is just as deadly today as it was in March, and just as infectious. But we also recognize that running with friends is important, and there are things that we, individually and as a group, can do to make things safer.

We can not make the probability of transition and infection vanish. So if you are uncomfortable with the idea of joining us, please stay away. 

Start of Runs

We will be following the guidelines which Leb Rec is using 

  • Attendance List - so if someone does become infected, we can do tracing.
  • 5 questions & temperature check - done ahead of time, so we don’t have to stand around in a group at the start.  We will set up a Google form for this.
  • Small groups - we typically break into small groups anyhow, broken up by pace and distance.  But think this out ahead of time, so we don’t have to spend time at the beginning as a mob.

Running Etiquette  - Six feet? Mask?

I have read that if a six foot circle was adequate most of the time, then for a runner, that circle would be more teardrop shaped, narrow but with a long tail behind you.  That study also said what with cross winds made the real boundaries nearly impossible to figure out.

The good news is that open air transmissions are very rare, but I am sure we would all like to do better than just adequate.  (You run A LOT to do better than adequate!)  We can be the good neighbor when we are out on the rail trail and roads.

  • Among ourselves, don't bunch up.  The outside is really large - use that space.
  • When passing other people (the rail trail is busy), we can reform into a single file with lots of space.  

What about masks?  In almost all mask ordnance/recommendations I have read they are an exception for when performing rigorous exercise.  So I don't think we can expect/require members to wear them.  I, personally, will wear one when we meet to start. I will probably carry it in my waistband most of the time running.

How Will Things Evolve?

We are doing this on a trial basis.  If a lot of people show up, we may have to set up multiple starting places.  If very few people show up, we will organize in a different way.  

Every week, in the Saturday run announcement, we may have changes to how things work. Please make sure you read the details in the announcement. There will also be a link to a Google form for answering the COVID questions.  This will also give us an idea how many runners to expect so we can be prepared.

This is a strange new world we are living and running in.  But I have often thought that it is the athlete, with hard work and discipline, who is in the best position to face new demands.  And it is a team (and club) which gives us the support we need to do more than we think we can.

The UVRC Board

Member Submission

Last Legs

By: Jim Burnett

On my last legs is the best description of where I am in life. If aging inevitably ends in death, then living and dying begin at birth. As a 70-year-old I am edging, some would say sliding, toward the end of the timeline that will, in the end, define me. For me this is a happy thought. So let me carry on, let me reflect and let me remember and feel the fire and the ice.

Week 1 — The Upper Valley Running Club and the COVID-19 pandemic

I hoped that the 2020 Boston Marathon would be the glorious beginning of my 6th decade of racing 26.2 miles. The COVID-19 Coronavirus had other ideas. I now share the fears and concerns of all residents of the planet and I want to help mitigate the pandemic in whatever way I can. I believe wholeheartedly that challenges create opportunities and as UVRC president I want to do what I can to give back and help the local running community.

Krissy Flythe is a key staff member of the Recreation and Parks Department of the town of Lebanon NH, who volunteered to fill in for Paul Coats, the longtime irreplaceable head of R&P and occupy his seat on the UVRC board as club treasurer as well as take Paul’s place as race director for races put on by R&P. Fearless and bubbling with extra energy, Krissy is a godsend. Despite being forced to twice-postpone the club’s favorite spring season opener, the Shamrock Shuffle 5k, before organizing a virtual version of the race and providing full refunds to all registered runners due to the spread of the Coronavirus, Krissy hasn’t missed a beat and has now turned her attention to opening back up the many programs that R&P offers the Upper Valley, the lion’s share of which are focused on kids and families.

The UVRC board has decided to follow Krissy’s lead and is, as I write, considering applying the most recent version of the state’s social distancing guidelines and protocols to rejuvenate of our Saturday Group Runs and, in turn, our Tuesday Night Track (TNT) workouts. Up to this point UVRC committee members (thank you Hannah, Dorcas and Tim among others) have utilized virtual and social media, mostly Zoom meetings and Strava based running challenges, as the best available alternative to group activities.

After more deliberation and planning, it is my hope that UVRC will be able offer a trial run of our Saturday Group Run as soon as August 8th with TNT to follow soon thereafter. If all goes well, the board will re-establish these group activities, to include social distancing guidelines, after our next board meeting on August 10th. The board will pursue this process one step at a time and welcomes comment and input from all members as we figure out what the new normal is to become, at least for now.

UVRC is fortunate to have many members who care about the health and wellness of the Upper Valley and it’s local running community during this challenging time. We have members who are willing to jump at the opportunity to help out. Many people in the UV have responded to COVID-19 by getting outside and recreating. Perhaps down the road we runners will look back and say, “Nothing has ever made me want to run so much ever before.” And, as Friedrich Nietzsche (and Chad Denning) famously said, “That which does not kill us makes us stronger.”

Member Submission

Hot, hot, hot!

By: Judy Phillips

...Or, "The  Kid Stays In The Picture"

The dogs days have hit Northern New England hard. It’s really good that our Springer managed to get a nice summer cut a few weeks ago. He’s very athletic, and feeling lighter has definitely improved his running. Following his example, we are slowly training for (hopefully) some longer races in the Fall.

Mr. Bojangles resting after a run. Much cooler after his grooming!

8/8  Sugarworks Trail Run - Shelburne, VT (2.5k & 5k options)

This race is new to us. I was researching VT and NH race possibilities for this month, and came across this one. It’s in our state but quite a trip still, which will require leaving the house around 6 AM race day; we’re rather out of practice for that. Still, I love trail races and trail running in general, and it would be nice to try this one. We enjoy RaceVermont events, and it looks like this one is still on, with several Covid precautions enumerated on the site. There’s also a virtual option but I’m virtualed-out, can’t add another! The reward at the finish is a maple ice cream cone. Perfect!

Here are two races, typically the same weekend, good for planning a Maine getaway next year:

8/15  Breakaway 5k - Old Orchard Beach, ME

Run a relatively easy course though neighborhoods in this old beach town. At one point, we traditionally are treated to the aroma of bacon frying - my husband especially enjoys that! Plan on this one for next year; it’s been cancelled.

8/16 Westport Island Shore Run - ME (3.5 mile walk & 10k options)

Westport Island is located on Maine’s mid-coast in Lincoln County in Sheepscot Bay, approximately 30 miles northeast of Portland. Surrounded by the Sheepscot River to the East and the Back and Sasanoa Rivers to the West, Westport Island is a tiny, picturesque Maine town, accessible by car over a bridge over the Back River.

I’ve written about my husband’s favorite 10k; this is mine. It’s a challenging, beautiful course, with hills and lovely scenery, including my favorite section through a marsh (lots of mosquitoes!). It’s a very small field, and the walk option has over the past 4 years or so siphoned off some runners from the longer distance; there is an early start for walkers. Suffice to say, I have won my age group a few times. But that’s not why I enjoy this race: it’s the tough challenge in the heat of summer, in the midst of a lovely Maine setting. Hope it happens this year!

8/13 Wine 4 Miler - Auburn Pitts, NH (1.25 mile walk option)

This race gets the award for the most creative adaptation to event planning during the Covid pandemic: it’s still on, ON the race day, and will be chip-timed. It has a big window, for a staggered start: 3-7 PM, to maintain social distancing. We did this race for the first time last year. It was an interesting course through neighborhoods and a short stretch on a trail; the finish was deceptive, with an unexpected last loop just as you thought you were on the straightaway to the finish. Lots of runners sport fun, wine-themed costumes.

Member Submission

Social Distancing

By: Ellie Ferguson

As the state and the country attempt to reopen, with VERY mixed results, often seeming to be  going the wrong way, what to do, what to do..i do feel our gov Chris seems to be on track for trying to do the right things to reduce/minimize the effects of covid.. Being in the more socially distanced part of the state population wise anyway, this may be helping us. I personally am finding myself still off in the woods, and often in the more obscure places(read the local spots the tourists don't know about) As well as floating around the local ponds on my kayak.. beats the heat and the crowds. Be safe…

Got out for my first covid era social distancing race at the All out in Moody Park. There were a rip roaring 45 of us...The one nice thing with trail races they often tend to be social distancing anyway. As this was my first time for 5 miles in a while I conned the guys to let me go out early so even more social distancing.. Anyway, it was good to get out with a small crowd. Tristan showed up.. he is now back in the area not missing the big city.. While I am guessing virtual racing and cancelled races will likely be the norm for a while, it was great to get out.. 

Member Submission

The Art of the Race

By: Andrew Erickson

Back then, it was simple. Back then, it was easy.

Racing was a jostle to the finish. It was a one-on-one, guts-to-the-line grind to lean ahead of whoever challenged you from the start. No watches, no timing systems, no split mats. We raced because it was pure and beautiful to lay it all on the line in a footrace against another human being, channeling the forces of nature and evolution into a primal suffering that only a select few understand in modern times.

I had the opportunity to run with Tim Smith this Saturday, and we had a conversation about how cross-country raced used to be, how the only method of determining place came in the form of popsicle sticks and the watchful eye of a coach. Tim’s generation was in the heart of that purity, mine was on the tail end of it. We conjured a feeling of nostalgia, of wondering where it all went wrong, when the science and the specificity and the oversaturation of information adulterated something so natural. In 21st century racing, so many runners are burdened by splits, real-time pace updates on watches, performance lists, heart rate analysis, cadence breakdown, Vo2 max levels, calorie counts—the list goes on. Leave it to the human race to overcomplicate one of the simplest and most beautiful movements in nature, tearing it apart to the micro level and analyzing every part, leaving us wondering things like why did I run 7:25 pace instead of 7:20? Heart rate at 178!? My effort was higher than last week even though I was going slower? My cadence is off by 3 steps per minute, what am I doing wrong?

Shhh. Quiet these things in your mind. Unplug for a day, and remember what you are doing when you lace up and step out the door is one of the last primal things we get to experience, and it is not determined by data but by feeling. Your running should not be regulated by artificially generated data, it should be regulated by how you feel on a given day: your mood, your fatigue level, how your heart feels. Running should be paired with your spiritual self and what that represents to you; should be synonymous with your ideas of simplicity, beauty, and passion. Racing is the same way—take away the data, shun the worries of heart rate and pace and splits—simply run how you feel, as hard as you can. This is the way it was meant to be, the way we have been doing it for thousands of years, because the evolutionary chain of development is far stronger than any watch someone designed in an engineering lab. If you release your body and mind from the tensions of information overload, it will do incredible things—things you may not have dreamed it could do. Because, as the old saying goes, running is 90% mental. In my years of training and racing, I feel that is pretty accurate—although very difficult to understand and absorb into practice.

These days, oversaturation of information can lead to depression, animosity, anxiety, and fear. Our minds weren’t designed to process such large amounts of data in short periods of time; it is unnatural and unnecessary. We are left with a feeling of nostalgia, of wishing things were back to a simpler and less complex time. This can be applied to nearly every facet of everyday life, not just running, and it is a colossal task to pull oneself away and exist outside the boundaries we have created for ourselves, if only for a minute, or an hour, or a day.

But with running and racing, we can find that place. It exists on the roads, on the trails, outside in nature. We can make the choice to leave the realm of the modern world and exist in harmony with nature, finding what we were meant to experience along the way.

So during your next race (whenever that may be) leave the watch. Don’t look at the clock, don’t worry about what the person next to you has run in the past. You are only as good as the day on which you choose to race and lay it all on the line, literally. When you are standing on that starting line, warmed up with damp palms and a fluttering heart, know that you are about to embark on an ancient journey of the footrace, of the race against fellow man. Whoever chooses to go with you, or you with them, sense the race. Listen to their breathing, their footfalls. Push them, test them, break them. Keep up, or push into the wall. Understand the patterns, disassemble the feeling of racing hard, and then lay it all on the line at the end. The time? The time doesn’t matter, not one bit. Who won is what matters, who prevailed. That is what you will remember, what will tattoo itself in your memory.

While it may be more complicated than it used to be, racing can still be broken down to the primal level. Don’t let data and information get in the way of who you are and the runner you want to be. In the next race, feel something. In the next race, run hard and pure. In the next race, run for what it used to be. Because while the world changes, running can still stay the same. 

Member Submission

Mt. Washington History

By: Tom Moore

Pam Moore finished third women (first NH woman) twice in the early nineties 1992 & 1993. Her times were 1:20:33 and 1:20:57. Those earned her the Crossen Cup (1st NH woman), which I believe is in a box in our basement.  Pam is pretty damn tough; she ran up the mountain in 1992 ( & 1993) without doing any significant hill work (we never thought about going over to Ascutney…or perhaps it was the fact that we had two little ones at home, full-time work and we had to trade off workout times). It was especially hard the second year as she had an emergency appendectomy in May. She lost at least three weeks of training due to that.

We really, really enjoyed the camaraderie of the whole Mt Washington Road Race experience. Certainly, a great club experience. We both “ran” the race a couple of times in the late 1980’s, without the benefit of much training and Pam ran it again in 2010 with her niece who had just graduated high school. I’ve attached an article that I found in our box of photographs kept under one of the beds. With no races going on, maybe it would be interesting to put it in the newsletter.

Route of the Month

Lyme Road/River Road

By: Laura Petto

Route Name: Lyme Road/River Road

Strava Link: here

Route Distance: Variable – up to 14 miles

Elevation: low - 10 miles out and back has ~350, 14  has ~500

Terrain Type: mostly paved, short dirt at the end of River Road.

Description: To be honest, I don’t run this much. If I’m by the river, I’d much rather be rowing on it. But, I think I’m the only dual UVRC and UVRF member, and unfortunately, the river freezes over, so this is nice for some flats in the winter. It’s almost as flat as it gets up here for a long run, which is nice. None of the hills have a high elevation grade, either. I spend most of my time watching the river, which we are so lucky to live nearby. The traffic on Lyme often gets to be a little much right before River Rd, so keep an eye out. There’s often a bald eagle that nests in a pine tree on the river maybe 200 ft after Wilson’s landing, so keep an eye out for that. In the winter, these roads are well maintained (until the dirt part of River Road) and give a particularly beautiful view of the frozen river. The conservation land at the end of River Road is very serene. A nice run to give the legs a break from the hills of Norwich.

Parking: Kendal or Wilson’s landing

Variations: vary the turning point or parking spot

Runner Profile

Andrew Erickson

By: Scott King

Name: Andrew Erickson

Town: Lebanon, NH

Where are you from originally and what brought you to this area?

I am originally from Stewartstown, Pennsylvania, a town on the Maryland border. I came to the Upper Valley after graduating college at the suggestion of my old teammates who lived here and needed a roommate—so I sold a bunch of my stuff, quit my job and moved! 

What do you do professionally?

I am a creative and freelance writer; I also paint houses to supplement my income.

How long have you been running?

13 years, ever since middle school 

How long have you been running competitively?

Since my sophomore year in high school, so about 9 years. 

Why do you run?

Running fulfills me and makes me feel accomplished each day, I also feel I owe the sport for so many good things that have happened to me in my life.

Recent memorable moment while running?

First ascent up Moosilauke this spring and seeing the view of a new season!

Best athletic accomplishment and why?

Probably winning the Vermont 50 in 2018, mostly because it wasn’t expected and it was super hard!

If you like to race, favorite race distance? Why?

Half marathon—perfect blend of speed and distance.  

If you like to race, notable race moment? OR most memorable race?

Meeting Alex Hall at the Gate City Half last year and him convincing me to join UVRC!

Training partners?

Dan Shea, Alex Hall, Andy MacGibbon

Favorite local running route?

Three Mile road in Etna

Favorite post run treat?

Chips & Pickles  

What made you start running?

My older cousin convinced me to run a mile when I was 12; the rest is history

Who is your running “idol”? 

Dan Shea. 

Why did you join UVRC? 

I wanted to become part of the local community, meet new people and contribute to this beautiful place, so I saw a running club as a great place to start. 

Ever run in a costume?

Definitely not  

The only running shoe for me is New Balance - 890’s 

Ever been injured? How did it happen?

Too many times. I’ve had three stress fractures in my back and a host of soft-tissue stuff, IT bands, Achilles, knees, on and on. It happened because I ran too much and stretched too little. Lesson learned let’s hope not forgotten.  

Hot or cold weather runner?

Definitely cold, hence moving to New England 

Morning or evening runner?

Both! 

What is your motivation?

The prospect of weighing 148 pounds for the rest of my life.

How did you become interested in running?

Peers in school and my cousin, who was a Division 1 miler.

What is your favorite race?

The Stewartstown Lions Vineyard 5K, in my hometown. You get a free bottle of wine for winning.

Favorite running book/film?

No film, but book would be Bowerman and the Men of Oregon by Kenny Moore

What does your daily workout consist of?

Junk miles, with the occasional workout for good measure 

How about favorite work out?

10x400 w/200 jog, classic

What is your diet like?

I mainly follow a plant-based vegan diet, but make concessions for cookies occasionally 

If you could run with anyone, who would be the person? 

Kenny Moore

Additional input or comments?     People to mention?

Just that this running club has been an incredible way to venture into the community, to network and make wonderful friends. My experience moving here has been uniquely positive thanks to the people I have met through UVRC.

What else should the club know about you?

I’m not the fastest runner in the Upper Valley, for those who have made that assumption. 

Aside from running, what are your hobbies?

Writing (also my job) painting, reading, and fixing cars & motorcycles. 

Ask the Coaches

Benefits of Supplements

Got a question for the coaches? Send it to newsletter@uppervalleyrunningclub.org and I'll send it on! I’m totally out of questions, so if you want this feature next month, definitely send me something.

I'd love to know more about any health benefits behind using natural supplements such as turmeric, beet juice etc on joint stiffness, inflammation or overall health? Is there any truth to it?

Susannah Gravel

Laura Hagley

I don't have much of a response because I don't think there is much concrete evidence to support the use of these for performance.  Once there is evidence, it is usually manufactured to an extreme.  In cases where anything is found to be extremely effective, then we see a ban by WADA.  

 My recommendation and personal choice - eat real food, and always your veggies, like my Mom taught me. :)

Laura Hagley

Laura Hagley, DPT, CSCS, EP-C runs competitively for Millennium Running Club. She placed 25th at 2016 Olympic Trials, and competed in the Elite Women’s Wave of the 2016 Boston Marathon. Professionally, Laura is the Director of Ancillary Services and Physical Therapist at Valley Regional Hospital in Claremont, NH. For questions, please email laura.hagley@vrh.org.

Dorcas DenHartog

Amen, Laura! Love good food. Eat close to home. Connect with your family in the kitchen, garden, with a CSA, and pyo field trips.

I think we should direct them to Stacy Sims’ work nicely presented in her 2017 book: “ROAR: How to Match Your Food and Fitness to Your Unique Female Physiology for Optimum Performance, Great Health, and a Strong, Lean Body for Life.” What do you think? A good first intro is Tina Muir’s interview with Sims on her podcast, Running 4 Real. I am a fan of Muir’s podcasts!

Also: Dr. Jennifer Gaudiani: Celebrate Body Diversity (very helpful information to diagnose and understand Eating Disorders and Disorder Eating, for athletes, parents, coaches, everyone)

Dorcas DenHartog

Dorcas DenHartog coaches cross country running at Hanover High School and summer track for UVRC

Laura Hagley

I second that: Tina Muir is great.  

Laura Hagley

Laura Hagley, DPT, CSCS, EP-C runs competitively for Millennium Running Club. She placed 25th at 2016 Olympic Trials, and competed in the Elite Women’s Wave of the 2016 Boston Marathon. Professionally, Laura is the Director of Ancillary Services and Physical Therapist at Valley Regional Hospital in Claremont, NH. For questions, please email laura.hagley@vrh.org.

Carly Wynn

Okay, preface: of all the questions I have offered input on, this is perhaps the one I am least qualified for. That said, I will give an opinion.

Short answer, yes, there has been evidence that both beet juice and turmeric may have positive effects on types of athletic performance and aspects of overall health.

Beet juice (along with many leafy greens) contains a high concentration of nitrate, which is converted into nitric acid within the body, and has a role in regulating blood vessel dilation and mitochondrial biogenesis (essentially, growing stronger mitochondria, the cellular "energy centers," and key players in aerobic output.) Some studies have shown a decrease in systolic blood pressure following several days of consuming beet juice, and studies of high performance endurance athletes show that this may correlate with lower oxygen consumption over a maximal effort session.

What you really want out of turmeric is curcumin, and it takes a lot of turmeric to get the amount necessary for any significant effect. So if you want to go the turmeric route, get a supplement, don't just add the spice to your food. There are various claims and a good bit of evidence for turmeric's ability to help reduce inflammation, contribute to management of conditions such as arthritis and anxiety, and potentially even reduce the risk of cancer.

There are considerations around both nitrate and curcumin supplementation with regard to how to increase absorption into the bloodstream, potential negative interaction with other supplements, and contraindications. Do your research; if you're supplementing, you'll want to give your body a good chance of actually using the thing. And it doesn't hurt to check in with your doc (insert standard disclaimer here.)

As with all supplements, there are extravagant claims in circulation about both of these supplements, as well as conflicting research. The positive effects found in some studies are not guaranteed for any individual athlete nor are nitric acid and curcumin the only ways to achieve the effects they may have. I recommend that any athlete considering adding a supplement get a clear picture of what effect they are hoping this supplement might have, why they are interested in this effect, and what else they could be doing to support this goal. There are many ways to "skin the cat," and the magic pill route functions best as a minor part of an overall healthy picture, which will likely include dietary modifications and consideration to various lifestyle components.

Additionally, athletes may want to experiment and see for themselves. It seems that every elite athlete has their own favorite miracle supplement, so you might want to try a few to find yours... or you might decide it's a waste of time. The decision is yours. As long as your doctor agrees, it's probably a safe bet that drinking beet juice won't hurt you, so you could always just do it for the placebo. Going to some length to achieve an effect (i.e; taking your turmeric to reduce inflammation) may further motivate an individual to adopt other behaviors in support of that same goal, such as reducing refined sugar intake. As with any good experiment, if you do decide to experiment, change one variable at a time: add the supplement, test the specific function this supplement is supposed to improve performance around, and see if you notice a change. If you like it, you can become another athlete raving about their personal favorite supplement.

Carly Wynn

Carly Wynn is a personal coach at www.CarlyOutside.com, and can be reached at Carly@CarlyOutside.com

Jim Burnett

I have read many articles and books that discuss and recommend natural supplements, or not, and as a result can offer the following takeaway: It’s impossible to prove whether natural supplements are effective or not but, unless you take megadoses of highly concentrated herbs, spices, etc., they will do you no harm. As one author put it, “a medical claim about the effect of a supplement is just that, a claim and not proof.” There is also the placebo effect to consider. The placebo effect is defined as "a beneficial effect produced by a placebo drug or treatment, which cannot be attributed to the properties of the placebo itself, and must therefore be due to the patient’s belief in that treatment.” So, I say, if you think it helps and it’s not too expensive, go with it.

Another important question is, how long has a given natural supplement been around - 10 years, 100, 10,000? Personally, I am much more apt to try a spice or herb that has been a mainstay ingredient in a cultural cuisine in a distinct area of the world for millennia, such as turmeric, aka cumin, has been for India. Unfortunately, today’s herbs and spices are not what they used to be, having been refined and tampered with, so, I think it makes sense to support our local farmers to choose local organically grown whole foods, herbs and spices. 

The bottom line is more about what you don’t eat or add to your food than it is about what you do add. My apologies for circling back to this topic, but, for my money, there are many battles going on within the world of health and nutrition, natural supplements among them but the War needs to be fought on refined carbohydrates. Burn more fat and eat fewer carbs = live lean.

Jim Burnett

Jim Burnett is the president of the Upper Valley Running Club

Tim Smith

I have always wondered what the attraction for beetroot juice was. So I have been doing some reading since this question was posted. It appears to me that the nitrate levels in your blood respond quickly to drinking beetroot juice, but you actually achieve the same levels, just a bit slower, by eating spinach and lots of other vegetables.

In other words, if you have a race in an hour, and you haven't eaten your veggies all week, then you might think about beetroot juice.  

Admittedly, my research was pretty shallow.

Tim Smith

Tim Smith is the former two-time president of the UVRC, and coaches winter TNT for UVRC.

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