Ultramarathon & Spirulina : an inbred harmony?
Ultramarathon : Is Spirulina creating raves?
Athletes engaged in ultramarathon have achieved a mythical status among endurance runners. These top athletes do not garner much attention from the press. And people will only recognize ultramarathon runners as marathon runners with an “ultra-” appended.
Ultramarathon : extreme sport
So, in practical terms, what is an ultramarathon? There are all types of extreme sport events, generally designed to be extremely harsh. The limits of physical human capacity are pushed back at every race.
Take the Badwater endurance run in the US: 217 kilometers in the Valley of Death, with a total vertical drop of 5,800 metres and temperatures exceeding 50°C . Scott Jurek, like many others, failed to complete the challenge a few times. However, later he actually won it twice.
… for which nutritional strategies take an utmost importance
Extreme athletic endeavors require specific nutritional strategies. The human body is pushed to its physical limits and diet quality will have a major impact on performance.
Trying to engage in ultramarathon eating only pizzas or steaks may have seemed like a good strategy few years back. Of course, the ugly consequences of such an unbalanced diet takes its toll. When undergoing such physical exertion, nutrition is of critical importance. A winning runner isn’t only a runner that claims victory during one single race but an athlete that minimizes inflammation, the risk of injury and improves post-effort recovery, thus minimizing the demands on his strained body.
The current trend is to favour foods with low inflammatory or even anti-inflammatory properties — many major endurance runners are even full-blown vegans. In any case, Spirulina is also a trendy sports supplement.
Growing rage of Spirulina in Athletes
This choice is that of Scott Jurek or Brendan Brazier, two uncontested legends of ultramarathon running. They take Spirulina and boast its merits, which is a rather good sign of Spirulina efficiency.
French ultramarathon runner Seb Chaigneau is also a consumer of Spirulina. He conquered the top rank at the Olympus Marathon as well as the Lybian Challenge, twice — running 196 kilometres in the desert in complete self-sufficiency, in non-stop of course!
My favourite example however, one that gives us the impression that we could each one day emerge as an exceptional athlete, is Rich Roll. This American athlete went from couch potato to runner of the Epic 5 in only six months. Epic 5? The idea is do toil through an Ultraman run –swimming 10 km in the open sea, biking 421 km cross-country and running 84 km on foot– five times in a single week!
I am of course not saying there is a cause-to-effect relationship but there probably was a bit of Spirulina in such a feat!
Ultramarathon Spirulina Nutrition
A study performed on nine runners — asked to run at 75% VO2 max for two hours followed by 95% VO2 max to exhaustion. The runners were tested with a placebo and after using spirulina. Results show an average 30 percent longer run when supplmented with Spirulina. An increase in fat oxidation and decrease in carbohydrate oxidation was also noted. These findings suggest that spirulina supports the body’s ability to preserve glycogen stores and utilize fat for energy more efficiently. Spirulina also reduced oxidative damage and promoted antioxidant activity after exercise.
Apart from potential performance gain, spirulina is a great source of nutrition. The health benefits gained from its nutritional composition are many to include it in regular diet.
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