PO (Erythropoietin) and blood doping is a huge problem in sport today, as the Lance Armstrong blood doping scandal has shown in cycling. But runners have also been coming out of the wood works with the use of EPO like Christian Hesch who out rightly confessed to use of the banned substance. As an athlete I am always looking for a way to improve my ability and run faster, train harder and beat my competition. I couldn't live with myself, though, knowing that if I did pick up a GB vest/prize money or achieve a PB that I did it not by pure determination and grit.
The only option available to me then is to find a natural way to increase my performance and achieve great results and one of those discoveries is the not so humble super food, the beetroot.
So why the humble beetroot?
Beetroot is very rich in nitrate levels helping the body to use oxygen more efficiently. Nitrates enlarge the blood vessels, reducing blood pressure which enhances blood flow sending fresh oxygenated blood to the muscles much quicker. In addition, it helps healthy muscle contractions, the energy boosting nutrients such as iron, folic acid and vitamin C protect the cells from free radicals released during high intensive and endurance based exercise.
What does this mean for me?
Basically, the beetroot protects the heart, great news! This is obviously very important in everyday life, not just in training. But for athletes needing stamina, including athletes doing shorter distance high intensity and endurance athletes like triathletes, marathon runners and ultra-endurance athletes like the Ironman, and Ultra runners it means you can sustain the same levels of exercise for longer.
Originally the idea was obviously juicing the Beetroot, which is still a great idea. But for those who are looking for simplicity and a little more technology in their nutrition, I looked at a company called Beet-it. Interestingly they were producing a Beetroot Juice as a small part of their vegetable range when they were approached by some researchers from the William Harvey Research Institute.
It was these researchers who persuaded their MD, Lawrence Mallinson, that their beetroot juice was going to become popular within the health market (through links to blood pressure) and sports nutrition (oxygen usage efficiency). Initially he wasn’t convinced, but after sales increased in those specific markets, they began to work closely with the researchers.
I recommend watching this short video on the benefits on Beetroot juice and how the guys at Beet IT have enahnced this process. The video is by Andy Jones, one of the creators of the Beet-it shots.
After further investigation, i discovered the England Rugby team tested the organic juice and found that drinking 250-500ml before a game just wasn’t suitable. This led to the concentration of the juice being increased; the nitrate content developed to a 0.3g concentration in 70ml. After the Organic shot became established it was obvious that the sporting world was more focused on the nitrate content and associated sporting benefits rather than the organic credentials of the shot. They therefore developed the SPORT shot from conventional (inorganic) beetroot with a 33% increased nitrate content.
The Nitrate is a nutrient found in soil that helps build protein. This converts into nitrite in the body and then into nitric oxide, which has a “double whammy” effect: It widens blood vessels and increases blood flow. It also reduces the oxygen needed by muscles, enabling them to work more efficiently. To really reap the benefits of the juice you need to be drinking the concentrated shot of 7cl /0.4g of nitrate, to get the same amount of nitrate from the regular beetroot juice you would need to drink 550ml. This product has been dubbed by some as "the new legal blood doping”.
England Rugby Union Team Training
My experiment with the shots would be to take a weeks worth of shots in the build up to a race, taking 2 shots in the morning with a few hours between them.
Pre taking the shots I was running around 54-55 minutes for 10 miles which is fairly quick and wins a few races but it was not where I wanted to be by the end of the year, I wanted quicker times and more PB's.
My Daily Journal for Race week:
I was due to do quality sessions instead of quantity this week, so that I would feel fresher in training and races. All paces are in minutes per mile (min/m)
Monday: 3 miles @ 5:05, :5:06, 5:06 (3 miles warm down to get a bit of mileage in there)
Tuesday: 6 x 1200m @ 3:30 - 3:40 pace which were run a little quicker than I was supposed to do (the shots were doing the trick)
Wednesday: 45 mins @ 5:55 - 6:05 which I would cover just over 7 miles and get in a nice aerobic workout.
Thursday: easy 20 mins in the morning followed by easy 40 mins with 1min strides in the evening.
Saturday: easy 30 mins with 1min strides
Race day: I got up around 6am to start hydrating my body. I started with a shot of the beet-it sports drink followed by an electrolyte drink.
My overall review for the Beet-IT shots are unquestionable 10/10, I have never experienced such a huge benefit from something I read about in a magazine. On the start line I felt recovered and relaxed enough to not think about who could beat me and went into the race thinking “what time could I post" instead of thinking, “I'm really tired”.
It is probably psychosomatic but I felt it mentally helped me to stay focused, and focus on what time could I post.
It benefited me such that I have implemented the shots into my next race plan where I aim to run a 10km in a PB which currently stands at 32:48.
Yes the shots can be expensive. However, if you are looking to improve your times in a healthy and legal way then Beet-ITcan definitely help. You wouldn't want to take these shots every day, rather in the 2 weeks that build up to your A-race. You can also use the Beet-it Organic 1 litre carton juice as a part of a normal everyday option and then increase the intake with the shots as and when needed.
Kyle is a competitive runner, winning multiple races including the South West England XC championships, placing in the Top 15 of the IAAF World series XC races and was ranked 3rd in the UK for 10 mile races as a junior.
Kyle researches and trials recovery and performance enhancing technology for different endurance based companies as well as founding Sole Endurance. Sole Endurance is a company that creates sporting platforms that challenge the human body with the current project developing a charity ride from London 2 Monaco in June 2013.