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How Training Methods Improve World Records

In 1900, the world record for the mile was 4 minutes and 15 seconds. Thirty-five years later, it was 8 seconds faster, and now, more than 100 years later, it is almost 35 seconds faster.

The fantastic improvement in world records is due to superior training methods. The limiting factor in running long distances very fast is percent VO2 max, or the maximum amount of oxygen you can take in and use. Don Lash, the world record holder in 1935, had the same VO2max as the best runners today and he ran only 4 minutes and 7 seconds, 26 seconds slower than the present record.

Today's runners run the entire race near their VO2max because they run so much faster in training. A runner can run the entire marathon at more than 80 percent of his VO2 max, because he runs so much faster in training. Fifty years ago, the best marathon runners ran their very fast interval workouts at a pace of no faster than 4 minutes and 20 seconds per mile with repeat quarter miles at 65 seconds. Now, virtually all top marathon runners run their repeat quarter miles faster than 60 seconds each. It's the faster interval training, even at the expense of reduced workouts and longer recovery periods, that makes the difference.

WHY MEN'S WORLD RECORDS ARE GETTING FASTER THAN THOSE OF WOMEN: World record times for women in running, swimming and speed skating sprint events improved so dramatically from 1952 to 1980 that they came close to the times of men. However, after the early 1980s, the gap between women's times and men's times widened, even though the times of women continued to improve (Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, March 2007).

The only reasonable explanation for this widening difference between men's and women's world records is the increased TESTING for the illegal use of steroids (artificial male hormones) that started in the 1980s. Adult women are naturally weaker than adult men. Boys and girls who receive equal training are almost equal in athletic ability until puberty. Then boys become larger, stronger, faster and much more athletic. The appearance of male hormones at puberty makes the difference. If female athletes are given male hormones, they immediately become able to take longer and harder workouts, lift heavier weights, and improve in all events that require strength or speed.

Male hormones help athletes recover faster so they can do more hard work and therefore become much stronger. The only reason for the widened gap between men's and women's world records in the last 20 years is the increased testing of female athletes to see if they are taking masculinizing hormones. I do not believe that the recent Olympic swimming time of a female Chinese athlete that was faster than that of men can be explained by just training. I do know that the world distance running records set many years ago by Chinese women are suspect also.


Reports from

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Stomach cramps during exercise


Obesity Does Not Protect Diabetics

This week, a study showed that people who have normal weight at the time of their diagnosis of diabetes are twice as likely to die over the next 10 to 30 years as those who are overweight at the time of diagnosis (Journal of the American Medical Association. August 8, 2012). THIS DOES NOT MEAN THAT OBESITY PROTECTS DIABETICS FROM DEATH. It means that if you are thin when you develop diabetes, you have a type of diabetes that is more likely to kill you.

THE MOST COMMON CAUSE OF DIABETES: Type II diabetes is most commonly caused by inability of your cells to respond to insulin. When blood sugar levels rise too high, your pancreas releases large amounts of insulin. Insulin then attaches on insulin receptors, special hooks on the outer membranes of cells. Then it drives sugar into cells. ANYTHING THAT PREVENTS INSULIN FROM ATTACHING TO ITS RECEPTORS CAN CAUSE DIABETES. If insulin cannot attach to its receptors, it cannot drive sugar into cells. This causes blood sugar levels to rise too high, and sugar attaches to the outer membranes of cells. Sugar attached to cell membranes is eventually converted to sorbitol which destroys the cells. This cell destruction is what causes all of the known side effects of diabetes. FULL FAT CELLS BLOCK INSULIN RECEPTORS. Fat inside cells prevents insulin from attaching to its receptors, so having extra fat in your body causes diabetes.

STORING FAT PRIMARILY IN YOUR BELLY IS A SIGN OF DIABETES. Insulin causes fat to be stored in the belly, so almost all people with big bellies and small buttocks have high insulin levels because their cells cannot respond to insulin, and the pancreas responds by producing excessive amounts of insulin. Most people who store a lot of fat in their bellies and have small buttocks already have diabetes or are pre-diabetic.

LACK OF MUSCLES CAN CAUSE DIABETES: Muscles help to prevent blood sugar levels from rising too high and damaging the cells in your body. Resting muscles are inactive and draw no sugar from the bloodstream. On the other hand, contracting muscles actively remove sugar from the bloodstream and don't even need insulin to do this.

WHY ARE PEOPLE WHO ARE FAT WHEN THEY ARE DIAGNOSED EASY TO CURE? Virtually all people who are fat when they develop diabetes can cure their diabetes by losing weight. When they empty their muscle, liver and fat cells of fat, these cells can once again respond to insulin. Blood sugar levels drop and the person is no longer diabetic.

WHY ARE PEOPLE WHO ARE NOT FAT WHEN THEY ARE DIAGNOSED WITH DIABETES MORE DIFFICULT TO CURE? More than 90 percent of diabetics are overweight. Thin people who develop diabetes do not have full fat cells. They are diabetic because:

• Their pancreas does not make enough insulin. We have drugs to make the pancreas put out more insulin, but we do not have drugs to permanently make the pancreas produce normal amounts of insulin.

• Their muscles are so small that they do not remove sugar from the bloodstream adequately. Lifting weights would help, but growing large muscles is beyond the motivation of most people with small muscles. It takes a lot of consistent painful resistance exercise to grow larger muscles.

• They may have other hormone abnormalities that are far more difficult to treat.

• Immediately try to lose fat by eating less and exercising more
• Start a supervised exercise program and try to exercise every day
• Start a supervised weight lifting program to grow larger muscles
• Avoid all sugared drinks except when you exercise
• Avoid all sugar-added foods
• Avoid red meat (saturated fat from animals blocks insulin receptors)
• Eat large amounts of vegetables and fruits
• Get your blood levels of hydroxy-vitamin D above 75 nmol/L


ACE-Inhibitors: Drugs of Choice for High Blood Pressure in Exercisers

If you are an exerciser who needs to take medication to control high blood pressure, take an Angiotensin Converting Enzyme Inhibitor (ACE-inhibitor). It can improve your ability to exercise.

Calcium Channel Blockers usually do not harm your ability to exercise, but almost all other classes of drugs for high blood pressure, particularly BETA BLOCKERS, limit your ability to exercise.

ACE-INHIBITORS MAKE YOU STRONGER AND FASTER. After a year of exercising, older debilitated people who took ACE-inhibitors to treat high blood pressure had a much greater improvement in short-duration exercises and 400-meter walking speed than similar adults who did not take these medications (J. Am Geriatr Soc, July 2012;60(7):1244-1252). Other studies show that ACE-inhibitors slow the decline in muscle strength, walking speed, and overall physical function associated with aging (Arch Intern Med 2000; 160:53-60 & Lancet 2002;359:926- 930).

HOW ACE-INHIBITORS MAKE YOU A BETTER ATHLETE: ACE-inhibitors increase the growth of capillaries in muscles to bring more oxygen to exercising muscles (Am J Hypertens 2006;19:80-86), and increase the number of type I fast-twitch fibers in muscles to make them stronger (Clin Exp Hypertens 2010;32:76-83). Other studies show that ACE-inhibitors increase the body's ability to respond to insulin so more sugar can be brought into exercising muscles to help you move faster.

List of common ACE-inhibitors, beta blockers and other blood pressure drugs


This week's medical history:
George Gershwin, Incorrectly Diagnosed with Depression

For a complete list of my medical history biographies go to Histories and Mysteries


Recipe of the Week:

Roasted Veggie Bean Pot

You'll find lots of recipes and helpful tips in The Good Food Book
- it's FREE


August 12th, 2012
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About the Author: Gabe Mirkin, MD

Sports medicine doctor, fitness guru and long-time radio host Gabe Mirkin, M.D., brings you news and tips for your healthful lifestyle. A practicing physician for more than 50 years and a radio talk show host for 25 years, Dr. Mirkin is a graduate of Harvard University and Baylor University College of Medicine. He is board-certified in four specialties: Sports Medicine, Allergy and Immunology, Pediatrics and Pediatric Immunology. The Dr. Mirkin Show, his call-in show on fitness and health, was syndicated in more than 120 cities. Read More
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