Articles by Matt Laye

Physical Performance and Mental Fatigue

What if decision fatigue leads to physical fatigue? The concept that mental fatigue is related to physical fatigue is an active area of research. There are a few theories which are being tested. The first is the centr...

The Distribution of Muscular Fatigue

One of the favorite debates of exercise physiologists is fatigue and the limits of performance. Is fatigue just in the brain? Or is it in the muscle? Are we limited by the cardiovascular system? Or by the ability to use...

Carbohydrates: What’s the Magic Number?

Carbohydrate has four calories per gram which equates to 240 - 360 calories per hour. Current nutritional guidelines for carbohydrate intake during ultra activity is 60-90 grams per hour (g/hr), which lasts 2.5 hours or...

Packs & Physiology: How Extra Gear Alters Running

Big days on the trails can require a lot of gear, nutrition, hydration and extra layers. While necessary, all that weight does not always feel great when you are 10, 20, 80 miles into a long race or run. In addition to t...

Maintaining Fitness During Detraining

The stress and anxiety associated with the COVID-19 pandemic reaches every part of our lives, including our exercise habits. Initially, I was going to write about how being a fit runner is beneficial for the immune syste...

Hydrogels: Hype or Hydration?

Sports nutrition during the Tour de France in the early days consisted of rabbit, hot chocolate and lots of strong red wine. Today, we have a greater understanding of what nutrition is necessary for optimal performance a...

Diagnosing Overtraining Syndrome

The basis of any effective training protocol is stress and rest. Runners must engage in activity which is more strenuous than usual which causes fatigue. When the stress of training is coupled with adequate rest, a posit...

How Plyometrics Beat Expensive Shoes

How can you get a 4% improvement in your running? Some say you just need to buy a new pair of shoes, but the science tells us plyometrics may be the answer.One of the things I like most about running is its efficiency. T...

The Challenges of Cold Weather Running

As ultrarunners, most of the time we are worried about hot weather rather than extremely cold weather – and for good reason. Thermoregulation of body temperature in warmer weather is problematic. While running, about 75-...

Long Live the Ultrarunner

In 2009, Elizabeth Blackbourn, a scientist at UCSF, was awarded a Nobel Prize for her work discovering telomeres and their importance in aging. Telomeres are repeated sequences of DNA that protect the end of chromosomes...

Injuries in Every Body

Physiologically, there are a lot of differences between men and women. For instance, there are differences in body composition and the ways they fatigue, and there are many potential explanations for performance differen...

The Goldilocks Rule

Ice baths are a good thing, right? Don’t antioxidant vitamin supplements improve your health? If you have been reading this column over the last several years, you know science is more nuanced than that. For instance, ic...

The Benefits of Exercise for Cancer Patients

In memoriam of Dr. Pernille Højman Immediately after completing my PhD, I had the privilege of working as a post-doctoral fellow at the Centre for Inflammation and Metabolism in Copenhagen, Denmark. I worked in a lab of...

The Unique Psychology of an Ultrarunner

It doesn’t take a psychologist to know that runners are a bit different in the head (which is a good thing since I’m a physiologist). Ultrarunners on the other hand, well, most people think they more than just a bit diff...

Western States Research Update

My research experience is diverse. I’ve worked with rodent models of inactivity, human skeletal muscle in cell culture and dietary restriction effects on aging in flies. When starting at The College of Idaho, I was unsur...

The Role of Protein During Exercise

During exercise, we typically think of carbohydrates and fats as our main sources of fuel, while protein is associated with recovery. Today, many sports nutrition bars, gels and drinks contain branched-chain amino acids...

The Best Cross Training

The concept of exercise specificity is extremely important for sports performance. Specificity is the idea that you get the most benefit for a sport by doing that particular sport. If you want to be a better trail runner...

Can Heart Rate Variability Help You Train Better?

What is heart rate variability (HRV) and does science support it as a practical measure of training adaptation?1 HRV is controlled by the autonomic branch of our nervous system (responsible for breathing, digestion, etc....

Pregnancy and Running

There are certainly many ultrarunning women out there with a far better perspective on how to manage pregnancy while continuing to ultrarun. So at the risk of “Man-splaining,” the goal of this article is to summarize the...

Caffeine and Endurance

There are a lot of supplements and even more money in the sports nutrition world. Frankly, most supplements have limited scientific evidence, especially herbal types. However, caffeine is a notable exception. Caffeine’s...