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Load Study Abstract

February 15, 2010

Hello everyone.  Here is the abstract for the load study that I participated in during the fall.  Pretty cool stuff.  Generally… the results? Don’t use two bottles.  You can read below; but carrying two hand bottles was the least efficient way to carry liquids.  Interesting.  Dr. Drum will be presenting this at the National ACSM conference this year.  Running is going well right now.. feeling fit.  Annie and I are really looking forward to heading to the Olympics this week.  Stay tuned.  Happy trails.

(Copied from October blog post). (Intro) Here is a picture taken yesterday. I am participating in a physiological study which is trying to determine the most efficient way to carry water/gels during running. I did 4 x 20 min at 63% of my maximal VO2 value. For me that was 4 x 20 min each at 7:47 pace on the treadmill.  I did one set with nothing, one set with 2 hand-bottles, one set with 1 hand-bottle, and one set with a running pack with 2-liters of water (6.5 #’s total weight). Interesting stuff.  I will not comment yet, but in due time I’ll let you know the results. (There are still 3 more guys to test, and I do not want to influence their experiences). This picture was taken by Western State College of Colorado Exercise Science Professor Dr. Scott Drum.  Scott is also the Western State College High Altitude Performance Lab (WSC HAPL) director. In addition; Scott is also the director of another group I belong to: the Gunnison Endurance Project. (GEP). Anyone interested in a week long ultra-running camp in Gunnison over the last week of July? Please post comments if you are.  Thanks for reading. Live well. DC

Running and Carrying Various Loads Cause Change in Selected Physiological Variables Scott N. Drum, J. Kyle Busing.

Western State College of Colorado and High Altitude Performance Laboratory (HAPLab), Gunnison, CO

There is little investigative evidence related to carrying one or two handheld bottles or a heavier pack and how these loads affect running performance and/or strategies related to finishing long endurance events.

PURPOSE: To investigate the change in subjective and objective physiological variables while carrying various loads and running.

METHODS: This study compared control (CON) to one of three load carrying conditions, including 1 handheld bottle with 24 oz of fluid + gel (1BOT) (2 lbs); 2 handheld bottles each with 24 oz of fluid + gel (2BOT) (3.5 lbs total); and a Nathan™ backpack holding 64 oz of liquid, gear, and 2 gels (PACK) (6.5 lbs total). Subjects (N = 5) reported to the HAPLab once for a VO2max test and 2-3 days later for 4 x 20-minute runs (randomized to CON, 1BOT, 2BOT, and PACK) at 63% of VO2max based on pace (min·mi-1). Each running bout was separated by 5-minutes of passive recovery with ingestion of 24 g of carbohydrate + 16 oz of water. Gas analysis was continuous during each bout and heart rate (HR), rating of perceived exertion (RPE), volume of oxygen uptake (VO2), minute ventilation (VE), and respiratory exchange ratio (RER) were constantly assessed. Comparisons between CON and each of the load conditions were conducted using a one-way ANOVA with significance set at p < 0.05.

RESULTS:Subject characteristics (mean ± SD) included age (22.4 ± 1.7 yrs), height (69.7 ± 1.6 inches), body weight (147 ± 14.3 lbs), VO2max (66 ± 3.0 ml·kg-1·min-1), and running pace at 63% of VO2max (7.7 ± .6 min·mi-1). Versus CON, the greatest significant mean differences (p < 0.0004), respectively, occurred during the 2BOT condition for HR (135 ± 12 vs. 141 ± 12 bpm), RPE (9.9 ± 1.0 vs. 11.7 ± 1.1), VO2 (41.3 ± 2.9 vs. 43.3 ± 3.4 ml·kg-1·min-1), and VE (77.7 ± 6.3 vs. 83.7 ± 8.0 L·min-1. The greatest mean RER (.86 ± .04) occurred during the PACK run and was significantly different (p < 0.001) versus CON (.84 ± .03).

CONCLUSION: Results indicated that 2BOT elicited the greatest HR, RPE, VO2, and VE, but not RER. The heavier PACK seemed to be more economical compared to 2BOT. CON was perceived as the easiest condition with the lowest reported values. Therefore, while competing in distance running events, especially ultra races, it might be desirable to carry light loads close to center mass and if allowed, let a pacer carry water and food during the later stages of the race.

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6 Comments
  1. February 15, 2010 7:22 PM

    This is surely an interesting investigation, but even if the results were "significant" based on p-values, it's hard to draw any conclusions from a 5 person "study." It's quite possible that the results could be skewed if two of the runners never ran with water bottles or simply had weak (or strong) arm muscles. I'm not suggesting that this research is meaningless, but at best it creates a hypothesis that warrants further testing. I look forward to those more robust results.

  2. February 15, 2010 7:52 PM

    Thanks, that is helpful information. I have tried carrying one and two bottles and would agree with the conclusion. I wasn't too sure if it was the difference in courses in my case. I do find getting a good arm swing is helpful along with the alternating of the hand carrying the bottle. I don't like the feeling of a pack…

  3. February 16, 2010 3:31 PM

    I would be interested in understanding the body dynamics while running. Having used two bottles for well over a decade I found the weight in my hands was easier to compensate for particularly if running fast and over challenging terrain. A fanny pack or backpack moved more around my body and if tightened down to avoid movement it restricted movement or breathing. My bottles were 20oz.

  4. February 19, 2010 7:13 PM

    I've never had luck running with a bladder on my back (Camelbak) or my waist. I prefer to run with one bottle due to weight and hassle if the route / course / water sources permit. Running with two bottles seems easier than switching one back and forth every few miles. When both hands are holding something it seems (mentally) more balanced and I don't think about switching hands. The weight doesn't enter into my mind. Good information from the study. Thanks!

  5. February 23, 2010 4:52 PM

    Hi Duncan,Gary from California here (your running companion at the Leadville training camp). I decided to come out to Colorado again this summer to run the San Juan Solstice – would like to get together for some runs before the event if you are around. Shoot me a note at g2h2 at earthlink dot net.Cheers,Gary Gellin

  6. March 15, 2010 5:47 PM

    My thoughts are more in alignment with Bryon. I grew up backpacking and spent many years in the Army with a pack on my back. So, having a hydration pack on feels completely natural. Running with handhelds feels very wierd though.So, I think to expand on the study you would have to take a variety of runners with different hydration styles to form a baseline and then switch them up to see how it affected performance. Another huge variable though is cooling because one thing I have noticed is how much more sweat accumulates on my back with a hydration pack on.

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