Does the cooling effect in swimrun let you go longer and harder?

Why does it feel like you can swimrun forever? Well, sort of.

When running on that hard and long stage in the sun heating up in you wetsuit, many of us have experienced fighting with these nasty thoughts of giving up. Overheating can be really tough on your physical performance and also on your psyche. But then you hit the waterline, swim for a short distance and feel the cool water trickling down on the inside of the wetsuit, and all of a sudden you feel like a champion again.

But why?

After a longer swim you can feel really strong again, which probably has to do with the switch of discipline and the following recovery, i.e. when not using the same sets of muscles swimming as running. But scientific research seem to suggest that another reason behind this could be the cooling effect. Some studies suggest that the temperature of the water do play an important role in prolonging this sensation of being able to ‘swimrun forever’. Or at least to recover enough between the stages so that one can finish the much dreaded ÖtillÖ course.

Perhaps even the mega-260km-challenge SAUC!

Pic: Huffington Post

Below you’ll find two articles that can be of interest to the swimrunner-science-nerd out there.

Happy reading!

/The WoS Team

Evaluation of passive recovery, cold water immersion, and contrast baths for recovery, as measured by game performances markers, between two simulated games of rugby union.

Higgins, Trevor; Cameron, Melainie; Climstein, Mike

In team sports, during the competitive season, peak performance in each game is of utmost importance to coaching staff and players. To enhance recovery from training and games a number of recovery modalities have been adopted across professional sporting teams. To date there is little evidence in the sport science literature identifying the benefit of modalities in promoting recovery between sporting competition games.

This research evaluated hydrotherapy as a recovery strategy following a simulated game of rugby union and a week of recovery and training, with dependent variables between two simulated games of rugby union evaluated. Twenty-four male players were randomly divided into three groups: one group (n=8) received cold water immersion therapy (2 X 5min at 10oC, whilst one group (n=8) received contrast bath therapy (5 cycles of 10oC/38oC) and the control group (n=8) underwent passive recovery (15mins, thermo neutral environment).

The two forms of hydrotherapy were administered following a simulated rugby union game (8 circuits x 11 stations) and after three training sessions. Dependent variables where generated from five physical stations replicating movement characteristics of rugby union and one skilled based station, as well as sessional RPE values between two simulated games of rugby union. No significant differences were identified between groups across simulated games, across dependent variables.

Effect size analysis via Cohen’s d and [eta]p2 did identify medium trends between groups. Overall trends indicated that both treatment groups had performance results in the second simulated game above those of the control group of between 2% and 6% across the physical work stations replicating movement characteristics of rugby union. In conclusion, trends in this study may indicate that ice baths and contrasts baths may be more advantageous to athlete’s recovery from team sport than passive rest between successive games of rugby union.

Link to full article

A short-term ice-cold water bath decreases postexercise lipid peroxidation.

Paweł Sutkowy, Alina Woźniak, Tomasz Boraczyński, Celestyna Mila-Kierzenkowska, and Michał Boraczyński

The aim of the study was to determine the effect of a 5 min head-out ice-cold water bath on the oxidant-antioxidant balance in response to exercise. The crossover study included the subjects (aged years) who performed two identical stationary cycling bouts for 30 min and recovered for 10 min at room temperature (°C; session 1) or in a pool with ice-cold water (°C, 5 min immersion; session 2).

The concentration of thiobarbituric acid reactive substances (TBARS) in blood plasma (TBARSpl) and erythrocytes (TBARSer) and the erythrocytic activity of superoxide dismutase (SOD), catalase (CAT), and glutathione peroxidase (GPx) were measured three times during each of the two study sessions: before the exercise (baseline) and 20 and 40 min after the appropriate recovery session.

Lower concentration of TBARSpl 40 min after postexercise recovery in ICW was revealed as compared with that after recovery at RT (). Moreover, a statistically significant postexercise increase in the TBARSpl and TBARSer concentrations was found. A short-term ice-cold water bath decreases postexercise lipid peroxidation.

Link to full article