There's a quiet renaissance happening in American distance running. At the IAAF World Cross Country Championships this year, the Americans beat the vaunted Kenyans, a team we haven't bested since 1984. In 2012, Galen Rupp became the first American since 1964 to win a medal at 10,000 meters, and at the outdoor track and field world championships, Americans won medals in the men's and women's 800-meter and 1,500-meter races for the first time . . . ever.
What made the difference? Data-based training and nutrition practices from the top U.S. coaches and researchers. Lately these methods have spread from the front of the pack toward the back. "I use the same concepts with the fast runners as I do with the not-so-fast runners," says Greg McMillan, a Flagstaff-based coach who trains athletes of all levels, both pros and beginners. Here are 11 principles you need to know for more efficient training and faster times.
Drink when thirsty.
For years, runners were told to drink enough water to offset all sweat losses during running. If you heed this advice, you have to drink constantly – and may suffer from bloating, nausea, cramps, and in some rare cases, death by hyponatremia. Fortunately, the thinking on hydration has changed. Top coaches now advise that when you run, you should drink only when thirsty. "The science shows that if you drink more or less than your thirst dictates, your performance will be impaired," says Timothy Noakes, author of 'Waterlogged: The Serious Problem of Overhydration in Endurance Sports.' Also note that drinking as you go has little effect on performance in runs lasting less than one hour. So for most races and runs, leave behind the hydration belt.
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