Sunday, December 21, 2014

Runners Who think They're On EPO Run Faster

The real deal- EPO or erythropoietin
I was looking for a picture on EPO so I asked my friend (who's a doctor) if she could take a picture of a vial of EPO from her clinic for me. She said she does not sell any evening primrose oil in her clinic. I said no, not evening primrose oil but erythropoietin (EPO).

Why did I need a picture of EPO? Well, my next post is on runners and EPO of course. We've all read about the performance enhancing effects EPO, how can shave seconds and even minutes off best marathon times. Please read on if you're interested.

Scottish researchers studied a group of runners whose average 10 km personal best time was around 39:15 minutes. Over a few weeks, these runners competed in 3 km races in a indoor 200 meter track,

During a week of the study, the runners were given OxyRBX to self inject. They were told OxyRBX contain small amounts of EPO - a known blood booster than increases endurance performances.

The runners were actually injecting themselves with saline, which of course does not have any performance enhancement qualities.

Guess what? When these same runners raced at the end of that week (in which they thought they were injecting themselves with EPO), the runners finished their 3 km race an average of 9.73 seconds faster (or about 5 seconds faster each mile).

This 1.2 % improvement is a statistically significant improvement and of clear sporting relevance. How significant is this? At the 2012 Olympics, the difference between the gold medal and fourth place was less than 1 % in all track events from 1500 - 10,000 meters for both men and women.

Almost all runners who had expected to see positive changes when injecting themselves with OxyRBX recorded a marked improvement.

This differs from those runners who did not expect much improvement whose performance improved less markedly. The runners reported lower levels of perceived exertion during the race that followed their week of "doping".The runners also said they pushed themselves harder during the races at the end the "doping" week.

Some runners also reported increase confidence in their abilities after the injections, this has been shown to increase willingness to exert extra effort in challenging tasks.

If you sincerely believe that adding a new element to your training (increasing your weekly track and hill workout, speed work etc) will improve your running, it can be a self fulfilling practice as it can increase your motivation, confidence and then better results. No need to dope.


Ross R, Gray CM et al (2014). The Effects Of An Injected Placebo On Endurance Running Performance. Med Sci Sports Ex. DOI: 10.1249/MSS.0000000000000584.

*A big thank you the Dr GL for the EPO picture.

Friday, December 12, 2014

My Christmas Present From Oakley

My Crosslink with red ear stems
Every year end, I get a present from Oakley, you've read about my Fast Jacket and my Jawbone. Sometimes it's sun glasses, sometimes apparel, sometimes both.

Well I've got another early Christmas present from Oakley this year. The Oakley Crosslink. Crosslink? But you don't need glasses some of you will say..

I don't need glasses to see distance, but I am having some difficulty reading now!!  I literally woke up one morning finding it difficult to read the newspaper.

When I'm sitting outside or when it's brightly lit I have no problems reading. However when the light is not so good, I struggle to read. Hence the need for me to get prescription lenses.

A closer look. Yes you get a extra pair of ear stems too.

A big thank you to Joey from Oakley.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

How Long Rather Than How Hard ....

....  may determine your immune response to exercise. Hope I caught your attention for the right reasons with my heading.

A 2 hour bike ride sure beats a 2 hour jam
Here's quite an interesting read, especially for those of you who just finished the marathon today.

We know exercise helps strengthen our immune system, Too much exercise weakens it. How do we know what's optimal?

Researchers compared 30 minutes of moderate treadmill running, 30 minutes of intense running (when maintaining a conversation while running is difficult), 120 minutes of moderate running and of course a control group with no exercise.

This is a very interesting study as researchers administered diphenylcyclopropenone (DPCP), which is a chemical through a patch on subjects' lower back. The response on the back is redness and skin thickening which is then measured. This is very different from previous other immune function studies which use animals or measure certain blood markers or saliva.

Results? A long duration of exercise (120 minutes) causes a temporary weakening of immune function. Surprisingly, the 30 minutes short bout of intense exercise did not weaken immune function.

Other questions remain. How would a two hour bike ride (which is less stressful on the body) compare to a two hour long run? Will your overall fitness matter? If you're used to running two hours every weekend, will the two hour run still weaken your immune system?

Many questions need to be answered. However, I don't think we should oversimplify the takeaway message that it is how long rather than how hard that may affect our immune response to exercise.

So those of you who've run the full distance this morning, all the more you need to rest well.


Diment DC, Forted MB et al (2014). Exercise Intensity And Duration Effects On In Vivo Immunity. Med Sci Sp Ex. DOI: 10.1249/MSS.0000000000000562.