Day 2 of Marathon Training: Placebo Effect…Kind Of

Yesterday was Day 2 of Marathon Training…well, more of getting back into top shape (aka my track & field fighting form).

Whenever I am making a come-back (from being sick/busy/lazy/burned out from training or all of the aforementioned), I take half a sachet of SNI Jump Start Nitric Oxide Speed Pack in Race Raspberry.

SNI Jump Start Nitric Oxide Speed Pack available at RUNNR stores in Manila

Each 15g pack costs 50 pesos.  I only take half of it, so that’s 7.5g.  I like this berry flavor, but I know that RUNNR sells other flavors too.  Mix with one glass of water.

Nitric oxide should be taken 30-45 minutes before working out.  I don’t follow this strictly sometimes since I only take half the pack.  This half-the-pack dose was recommended to me by my runner-friend Rov, who is an exercise nut like me.  This PRE-workout supplement is actually intended for body builders.  Body builders use nitric oxide so that they can pump more iron and do so without tiring out fast.  This results in muscle definition or “cuts” becoming visible in a short period of time.

So what’s the science behind nitric oxide?

Nitric oxide, chemical abbreviation NO, is composed of one atom of nitrogen and one atom of oxygen. Nitric oxide is a free form gas produced by the body that helps to control the circulation of the blood, regulating activities of the brain, lungs, liver, kidneys and other organs. Nitric oxide transmits messages between the nerve cells, helping to stimulate the endocrine system and increase blood flow, thus delivering more nutrients to muscles. This action not only increases muscle growth, but also reduces inflammation, which is important for muscles that are under stress.

Read more:

For those who don’t want to take artificial supplements, there are certain foods which help the body produce nitric oxide.  Of course, these vegetables won’t have the same instant effect as the supplement, nor will it affect your performance with the same intensity.  See table below.

Classification of Vegetables According to Nitrate Content (mg/kg FW) from: Santamaria, P. Nitrate in vegetables: toxicity, content, intake and EC regulation, Journal of the science of food and agriculture 86:10–17; 2006.

How does this benefit runners? Just like body builders, we are able to workout longer and harder without tiring out fast because of the increased blood circulation.  Endurance, basically.  This supplement is totally safe and not illegal at athletic meets (unlike steroids).

During Day 1 of Marathon Training (Monday), I took 7.5g of nitric oxide.  I felt great while running…like I had never stopped running on the road!  I would have kept taking this for two weeks straight and then stopped after I got my groove back, but I wanted to conduct a little experiment.  Was my comeback easy because of the nitric oxide, or was it merely a placebo effect?

I ran 30 minutes again today, same route as Monday, but did not take N.O.  The effect?  I felt just fine.  I didn’t fatigue at once.  I covered almost the same distance (even farther, actually) and even felt like I was running at a faster pace (I really need to get one of those watches that monitors my speed).  I thought I’d be dead-tired after finishing because I skipped on the N.O., but I feel the same way I felt on Monday.  I know this isn’t a scientific way of testing if the supplement works or not, but since this is the purpose I use it for, this is how I’ll test it.

My conclusion: taking N.O. just has a placebo effect on me for my comeback phase.  My brain and body are fooled into thinking that taking the supplement will make me less tired and last longer during the “comeback phase.”  NOT TRUE.  Maybe if I were a sprinter, a pole vaulter, a javelin thrower, a body builder, or an athlete in any sport which required explosive movements, I’d benefit from this supplement more.  Ooooooor….I would probably benefit from it more when I do sprint intervals, fartleks and weight training…but that starts next week, so I shall write a part two for my product review of nitric oxide next week.



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