Running On Beetroot Juice

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Athletes will try lots of different things to keep them in the best shape. From supplements to odd training techniques, sometimes even odd foods. 

“Everyone is always trying to find the next thing that’s going to help with their training,” Greg Koch with 605 Running Company said.

Koch says he always has customers and friends willing to try the latest runners craze to improve performance. So what’s trending right now? Beetroot juice. Yes, beet juice.

“I have a few folks that swear by beetroot juice.  They’ve done it for a while now and think it makes a huge difference,” Koch said.

New studies have shown beetroot juice, which is rich in nitrates, can lower blood pressure and even help with endurance for athletes like long distance runners.

If beetroot juice doesn’t exactly sound tasty to you there is also beetroot powder you can add to your smoothies. A beetroot flavored Larabar cabbage probiotic.

The only problem: most studies are inconclusive. 

 “There’s been a lot of research on beetroot juice and its impact on performance and a lot of runners have heard of how it can impact their performance but there haven’t been a lot of research on those studies in the heat,” dietitian for the Sanford Sports Science Institute Lizzie Kuckuk said.

Kuckuk decided to conduct a study in Sioux Falls.

“A cool research study that you would read in Runners World on the impacts of beetroot juice on performance in a hot humid environment all done in a little lab in the middle of a corn field in Sioux Falls,” Kuckuk said.

Participants run in an environmental chamber at the Sanford Fieldhouse with a placebo. Then they compare their results and monitor their internal temperature to the same run after drinking beetroot juice.

“This is equivalent to drinking six cups of beetroot juice a day and then they would be loading for six days and come in on the sixth day and that’s when their race would be,” Kuckuk said.

Kuckuk says in the meantime, even without conclusive research, she recommends adding beets into your diet, runner or not.

Kuckuk says researchers are still looking for more runners to participate in the study. They need male runners from the age of 18 to 45.

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