I have often heard people say that triathletes are willing to accept new ideas, methods and technology more readily than other single discipline sports such as cycling, swimming and running because triathlon is a relatively new sport. How many triathletes do you see wearing Newton shoes or compression garments? You can’t have a conversation with most triathletes without talking about core stability and the latest nutrition product on the market to boost performance. I bet you see more triathletes than any other type of sportsperson wearing minimalist shoes in transition this season. Is this because we are open-minded individuals or are we just a little too eager to jump on the bandwagon and believe what we are told/sold?
I bought a new compression garment this week. There was a list on the back of the box of all the qualities that the product offers:
- Superior compression fabric
- Fast recovery
- Improved circulation
- Reduced fatigue
- Reduced muscle damage
- Heightened agility
- Sun protection
All but two items on the list had a symbol suggesting I read the fine print. Which two items didn’t have the the symbol? The first and the last. And what was the fine print? ‘Suggested benefits’. There is very little evidence to suggest compression garments have any significant effect on performance or recovery. I am not saying there is no evidence but perhaps we have been lead to believe that the effect is greater than it really is. So why did I buy the compression top? To match by compression tights!
The same can be said for running shoe technology and barefoot running. I have read ‘Born to Run’ and it is a great read. The chapter that discusses the running shoe industry is fascinating. I would love to write a blog on both topics but unfortunately I just don’t have time. However, if you are interested in reading a little more about running shoes, my colleague Ian Griffiths (Sports Podiatrist) wrote a very good blog on the topic. You can read it here. If you are interested in reading a bit more about barefoot running then you should read this series of blogs by Ross and Jonathan from the Science of Sport. Start here and read from bottom to top. Both blogs are pretty lengthy and do contain a fair bit of science but I think they are worth looking at.
A healthy level of skepticism is a good thing. Dig a little deeper before you make your next purchase that promises a reduction in injury risk, improved performance or faster recovery. This week is our ‘Splash and Dash’ threshold swim session. It’s going to be tough I am afraid (but only as tough as you want it to be). The run is a mix of 10km and 5km pace intervals of a mile in length. Don’t forget the Captain’s Dinner!
See you Sunday for some healthy debate about shoes or the lack there of! Tim (LFTC Coach)