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Scientific Studies
In this section I will provide a list of Scientific Journal articles which I have found to be informative.  In addition tot hat I will try and give my opinion on what the study means in terms or real world application to training.
  If you know of any journal articles that you think would be helpful to others, please e-mail( the link to me and I will post them.

Psychological effects of EPO use:
Effects of recombinant human erythropoietin injections on physical self in endurance athletes. Ninot, Gregory; Connes, Philippe; Caillaud, Corrine

Full Text: COPYRIGHT 2006 E & F N Spon


This study examined the time course of mean self-esteem and physical self scores in three groups: male endurance athletes treated with recombinant human erythropoietin (rHuEPO group, n = 6), a placebo group (n = 5) injected with a sodium chloride solution and a control group who did not receive any injection (n = 6). Each participant completed the Physical Self Inventory twice a day (between 07.00 and 09.00 h and between 19.00 and 21.00 h). Using a 10 cm visual analog scale, the participants assessed global self-esteem, physical self-worth and the sub-domains of physical condition, sport competence, attractive body and physical strength (Fox & Corbin, 1989). This was conducted over three consecutive periods: in the 2 weeks before the course of injections, during the 6 weeks of injections and for 4 weeks after the injections. Aerobic capacity was assessed before and after 4 weeks of treatment. The results showed a significant increase in aerobic physical fitness in the rHuEPO group and a significant increase in perceived physical condition and physical strength scores at the end of treatment. The main psychological result was that endurance athletes were highly sensitive to the effects of rHuEPO on physical fitness. The perception of increased physical condition may lead to a stronger commitment to training. The rHuEPO injections presented a dangerous hedonic effect linked to endurance training. These results confirm the need to tackle rHuEPO abuse at any time during the training season

My take: EPO use not only increases aerobic capacity, but it gives a psychological boost to the athlete when he is taking it, allowing him to train harder. In addition to this, the conclusion the authors made that "recombinant human erythropoietin may have reduced physical pain or the perceived effort invested in training," is interesting.   That's interesting because in addition to the physical benefits of EPO, the idea of less percieved effort could limit the chance of psychological burnout or staleness.  It would allow the athlete to do more work without becoming mentally tired.

Kenyan Runners

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Journal of Sports Sciences April 2006 v24 i4 p415(8)

Demographic characteristics of elite Kenyan endurance runners. Onywera, Vincent O.; Scott, Robert A.; Boit, Michael K.; Pitsiladis, Yannis P.

Full Text: COPYRIGHT 2006 E & F N Spon


Kenyan athletes have dominated international distance running in recent years. Explanations for their success include favourable physiological characteristics, which could include favourable genetic endowment, and advantageous environmental conditions. The aim of this study was to compare the demographic characteristics of elite Kenyan runners with those of the general Kenyan population. Questionnaires, administered to 404 elite Kenyan runners specializing in distances ranging from the 800 m to the marathon and 87 Kenyan controls, obtained information on place of birth, language, and distance and method of travel to school. Athletes were separated into two groups according to athletic success: those who competed in international competition and those who competed in national competition. The athletes differed from controls in regional distribution, language, and distance and method of travel to school; athletes also differed from each other with the exception of method of travel to school. Most national and international athletes came from the Rift Valley province (controls 20%, national athletes 65%, international athletes 81%), belonged to the Kalenjin ethnic group (controls 8%, national athletes 49%, international athletes 76%) and Nandi sub-tribe (controls 5%, national athletes 25%, international athletes 44%), and spoke languages of Nilotic origin (controls 21%, national athletes 60%, international athletes 79%). A higher proportion of all athletes ran to school each day (controls 22%, national athletes 73%, international athletes 81%) and covered greater distances. In conclusion, Kenyan runners are from a distinctive environmental background in terms of geographical distribution, ethnicity and travelled further to school, mostly by running. These findings highlight the importance of environmental and social factors in the success of Kenyan runners.

It has previously been shown that Kenyan boys who travelled to school by walking and running had a 30% higher [[VO.sub.2max] than those who did not (Saltin et al., 1995)

My Take:  The majority of great runners come from a specific region of Kenya for some reason.  This could be because of the high altitude in this region.  In addition to this, a larger percentage came from select tribes.  This shows that the Kenyan runners are coming from a distinct group in a distinct environment for the most part.  The most striking finding is that of those who ran to school, only 22% of controls did, while 73% national athletes and 81% of international athletes ran to school.  This gives some credence to the old tale of kenyans being good because they run to school from a young age.  Also control groups tended to walk or use another method, instead of run to school even if they had to travel similar distances.  Approximately 50% of international runner traveled over 5k to school.  One more interesting thing is that out of the International athletes, 33% were motivated by economic reasons, 18% by talent, 18 % by tradition, 14% by olympic tradition, 7% by fun.
       The study does not give any definitive answers to the success of Kenyan runners, but it does bring up some interesting questions.  The fact that the amount of runners who run to school as composed to "normal" Kenyan citizens is very interesting.  In my opinion, a difference of almost 60% doesn't just happen by chance.  It strongly suggests that while it may not be a direct requirement to be an elite runner, running to school must help.  It could give those athletes a good aerobic base like many have suggested.  Also, the reasons to run is interesting.