Articles by Matt Laye

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...

Stride Frequency and Running Economy

Most of us can’t escape the ultra-shuffle as we reach the later stages of races. As we fatigue our biomechanics change in many ways, including changes in stride length and frequency. In this article I will shy away from...

Be Like the Cool Kids

It’s summer and the competition and temperature on the trails is heating up. Summer ultras have the added benefit(?) of being long enough that athletes often need to run during the peak heat of the day. Most of us know,...

Don’t Get Bent Out of Shape

Stretching is one of those hot button topics in which everyone has an opinion. Some people swear by it as part of their strategy to stay healthy while others refuse to stretch (full disclosure, I fall in the second categ...

Race Day Carb Selection

You’ve done the physical work. You have put in the vertical, put in the miles, put in the time and yet come race day it can all come undone by a lack of energy or other nutrition issue. Race day nutrition can be complex,...

Training with Purpose: Periodization

The stress of any given training is due to the intensity and duration of the types of running that occurs. The idea of periodization of training is that during some periods you may train at a low intensity for a long dur...

The Science on Injury Prevention

Why do some people get injured and others don’t? It seems like this simple enough question would be solved by sports scientists, especially when it comes to new runners. However, injury prevention for novice runners is a...

It’s Cold Outside, Make Sure to Heat Yourself Up

As winter approaches the idea of heat adaptation seems premature and somewhat unnecessary. Sure as temperatures dip outside an occasional bout in the sauna is nice, but can it help you in your next race? Recent research...

Mind Your Microbiome

It is easy to think of ourselves as a single person or organism with one set of DNA. However, in reality we are super organisms made up of both “us” and microbes. Our microbiome includes bacteria, viruses, fungi and prot...

NSAIDs: Worth the Risk?

Author’s Note: I am not a medical doctor and don’t pretend to be one here. You should discuss your use and any concerns with NSAID use with a medical professional. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatories, or NSAIDs, such a...

A Primer on Performance Enhancing Drugs (PEDs)

The Western States 100-mile run is the latest high profile ultra to recently adopt a zero-tolerance policy against runners who have previously tested positive for performance enhancing drugs. Moving forward, they will no...

Choose Your Parents Wisely

Nature or nurture? Genetics or environment? These two competing factors control everything from our likelihood to develop a specific disease, to our sprinting versus endurance athletic ability. Studies shed insight on th...