Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Body Type and Training Athletes

How can body shape affect an athlete’s reaction to training and recovery?

We know that every athlete is different. However, when it comes to body types, these differences in shape may determine how your body adapts to high intensity training. Some will argue that it is all common sense, when you carry some extra weight your performance is impacted. However, sometimes having a little extra weight can benefit swimmers and bikers on a flat surface while at the same time being far from beneficial for runners.

A more muscled athlete, known as a mesomorph, is generally not as good as a skinnier (ectomorph) athlete at tolerating high level of speed and lactate tolerance training. It means that the more muscle you have on your body the longer you may need to take recover from the high end efforts. Coaches and athletes will need to be mindful of this when building and designing the training plan.

Body type also plays a role in gender adaptations. Different hormone make ups related to body shape also affect training and recovery. Males for the most part cannot tolerate high intensity training as well as women. This is due to their higher levels of testosterone. Training hard impacts testosterone levels and therefore tends to cause more damage for those with higher level of testosterone. This doesn’t mean that men can’t train as hard as women, again it just means that they need to factor in more recovery time.

Don’t think that women are getting off easy on this. Though female athletes recover faster from hard training since the impact is not as severe on their hormonal balances, the science of body types also has an impact on female tolerance of high intensity training. Females with an endomorph body type (soft and round and gains fat easily) will tolerate higher volume of hard training than females with a leaner mesomorph build (muscled athletes). So they too will have to factor this into recovery time.

In general, athletes and coaches need to know that body type matters in training and recovery. If you are male, or have a more muscular build your body’s systems will be impacted more heavily by high intensity or high volume training. By watching diet and factoring in extra recovery time, athletes will be better equipped to adapt to these types of training sessions.

Resource from the SIRC Collection: 
Manietta K. Shape Matters. Australian Triathlete. February 2012;19(4):34-36.

Contact SIRC for more information on training and recovery for athletes!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Respect, Fair Play and Ethical Behaviour - SIRC Newsletter

SIRC Newsletter Now Online: Respect, Fair Play and Ethical Behaviour

We have heard before that respect, fair play and ethical behaviour (also known as sportsmanship) are all learned behaviours. The question is from whom and when do we learn these? It is never too early to learn the fundamentals, physical education classes and grassroots programs are excellent places to start. However this behaviour should be exhibited at all levels of sport, recreation through to high performance. As well it shouldn’t just be limited to athletes; parents, coaches, officials, fans and even sport organization staff should all show respect, play fairly and behave ethically. Sports and physical activity are meant to be fun; these behaviours help to create a positive experience.

SIRC has compiled the following articles to help you learn more about respect, fair play and ethical behaviour and how to lead by example.

Read the Full Newsletter: http://www.sirc.ca/newsletters/mid-apr12/index.html

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

SIRC Governance Resources and Webinars

Over the past year, SIRC has been working together with Sport Canada and the Canadian Olympic Committee to enhance the knowledge base about issues concerning governance within sport organizations. In an effort to help sport organizations develop and maintain effective governance practices SIRC has been gathering resources and tools that can assist sport organizations with their governance and made these available through our online Sport Governance portal.

Why should governance matter to sport organizations?
  • Strategic thinking and direction-setting are fundamental to success 
  • The sport environment is complex and the demands on leaders are significant 
  • Management can thrive when supported by strong governance 
  • Organizations need to be accountable to their members and stakeholders 
  • Organizations want to be recognized as credible by the public 
  • Funding partners expect results and accountability 
  • Participants in sport have high expectations of their organization and its leaders. 
As part of our efforts to bring useful tools to the sport community SIRC has been working with experts in the governance field to develop a series of free webinars that focus on a variety of governance related topics. All webinars continue to be archived on the SIRC website so that anyone can go back and share with colleagues that may not have been available at the live presentation.

Topics already presented include:
We invite those interested in governance concerns to register for the upcoming free live webinars on the following topics:
Contact SIRC for more information on sport governance!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Making waves in the big pond!

On their pathway to higher competition, athletes find themselves adapting to different levels of competition and moving from being the "big fish in the little pond" to the "little fish in the big pond" as a recent article in the SIRC Collection says. This move from being the best at one level to being one of the many who are the best at the next can often be a psychological challenge for many talented athletes. Managing these complex emotions can be key to transitioning the athlete's performance.

Tips from the author:
  • Focus on being your best. Comparing ourselves to others leads to focusing on our faults which causes declining confidence.
  • Focus on the present. Don't get distracted by long-term goals or previous accomplishments, focus on how you can make the most of your current opportunities.
  • Be coachable. You may have to make changes to your training to fit in with your new level of competition, you need to be open to the changes and willing to listen and learn.
  • Make the most of your new resources. New levels of competition may bring new specialists (strength training, nutritionists, psychologists, etc.) to your coaching team. 
  • Keep perspective. While your sporting achievements make up your athletic identity do not forget that it is only one part of a well-rounded person.
  • Develop good habits now. Never delay learning all the little things and details that will improve your overall skill, bad habits learned early may be amplified at higher skill levels.
  • Learn from Others. Talking to others who have "been there" may help you skip some of the pitfalls or better prepare you for what transitions lie ahead.
In the end, being open to learning new things and taking time to recognize accomplishments helps give an athlete a better perspective on transitioning to higher levels of competition. Athletes achieve their new levels by challenging themselves to be better. Keep the focus on moving forward and making personal improvements!

Source from the SIRC Collection:
Kimball, A.C. (2012). Making the Transition. Splash, 20(2). 16.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Weight gain ... the healthy way!

Contrary to popular belief there is a time and a place for weight gain. Many athletes are required to gain weight to increase strength, increase their size or increase their musculature. In sports with weight categories, being a heavier weight may not always mean being "fatter" but having a fit heavier body mass. The focus of a recent article in the SIRC Collection addresses athletic weight gain emphasizing a nutritionally balanced plan.

The article acknowledges that gain weight for athletes can be a challenge as weight gain comes from consuming more calories than are burned through activity. However, it is stressed that meeting this challenge can be done by increasing the energy intake by focusing on a variety of healthy foods.

Here are some of the author's suggestions to increase calorie intake for "healthy" weight gain:
  • Plan ahead. Eat at least three meals daily with snacks in between. Planning ahead will help you keep track of total calories of consumption in relation to the energy burned in training/competition
  • Carry energy-dense snacks (trail mix, granola, nuts, low-fat cheese, peanut butter sandwiches)
  • Drink fluids with calories (100% fruit/vegetable juice, 2% milk or chocolate milk). Try a smoothie or milkshake.
  • Try more starchy vegetables (corn, potatoes, peas) which contain more calories. 
  • Add nuts, raisins, dates and other fruits to cereal and yogurts.
  • Include protein (lean meats, poultry, eggs, low fat milk, cheese, peanut butter and beans) to every meal
  • Eat snacks after workouts (fruit, fruit juice, low-fat milk, cereal, peanut butter on toast, bagels or crackers) to replace calories burned in training
  • Increase muscle by including strength training sessions in your training
  • Get plenty of sleep. Rest helps build muscle.
  • Be careful of supplements advertising weight gain and/or increase muscle size, to avoid risk of doping infractions, unsafe ingredients and questionable effectiveness. Most of the same benefits can be found through food options.
The key to remember is that weight gain should be pursued through a balance of healthy food choices, training and recovery. Having a well researched plan in place will be give you the best edge.

Resource from the SIRC Collection:
Woolf, K. (2012). Weight Gain Tips. Splash, 20(2), 12.

Other online resources:
Weight Gain Tips for Athletes
Gaining Weight for Athletes: Nutrition Plan to Put Weight On
Weight Gain in Junior Athletes

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Coaching Running - SIRC Newsletter

The signs of spring are in the air and the number of people running outside and enjoying the wonderful weather is increasing. Warm weather marks the beginning of race season and running clubs, track clubs, university teams, and high school teams are all starting to get back into their rigorous training schedules. For running coaches this is the perfect time to review their plan and athletes for the season. No matter what team/club you coach, you will encounter athletes with different styles, levels, and abilities and it is important to consider all of this when looking at the season ahead.

SIRC has compiled the following articles to help you learn more about the athletes you coach and how to help them reach their goals.


Tuesday, April 3, 2012

No shoes, no problem?

In 1960, Abebe Bikila ran an Olympic marathon in record time ... shoeless (2:15:16). He did not do it for the freedom of barefoot running but rather could not get a pair proper fitting shoes.

There are many arguments being made from both sides of shoes versus barefoot/minimalist debate. While there have been claims that running shoes are causing more injuries, this has not been proven. And on the other side of the fence there is also no evidence that shoes prevent injury either.  With little proof that shoes are bad and barefoot is good, and equally little that proves the converse either, where does that leave us?

Many cite their reason for kicking off their shoes and running as that it is just plain fun. “Our feet have so many nerve endings… Reflexology has its roots in our feet, and running barefoot is a free foot massage,” – Rod Beggs, President of the East Canada chapter of the running society.

 The most common injury reported by chiropractors is from runners trying barefoot or minimalist shoes who have failed to alter their gait appropriately to minimize impact. This causes runners to get shin splints and stress fractures. The body will eventually be able to cope with running barefoot by reinforcing tissue along the lines of the strain.

 The key to running without shoes is having the proper technique. Studies have shown the hitting the ground with the heel first produces more impact force than with mid foot strike. Another important thing to remember is to land over your center of mass to reduce impact on the body.

If you’ve been used to running with shoes your whole life and are looking to start running barefoot or using minimalist shoes, it is important to take it slow in order to let your body transition. Your feet have always been used to cushioning while running, therefore the muscles in your feet aren’t ready to have those cushions removed without strengthening and hardening them along the way.

Reference from the SIRC Collection:
Karnis, K. (2012). Minimalist Running: A Step in the Barefoot Direction. iRun, (1). 22-24.

Barefoot/Minimalist Running Research
Barefoot Running Research