It's not often when the lessons learned from the social sciences transfers (almost) directly into the world of sport. So when National Public Radio's social sciences correspondent Shankar Vedantam showed a correlation between frequent (surgical) activity and the positive or negative outcomes of those procedures i could not help but pay closer attention.
Vedantam reported on the analysis of hospital and discharge records of over 56-thousand coronary bypass surgery patients by two researchers at George Mason University. It appears that surgeons who had performed a surgery the day prior to the studied case were less as sharp as a surgeon who had a day away from the operating room between procedures. The least desirable outcomes came when surgeons came back from a long weekend or a couple of vacation days.
The chances of dying before discharge, if you undergo coronary bypass surgery, is 2.7 percent. Each day away from the operating room adds another .07 percent. So if your heart surgeon just returned from a two-week cruise you would have one percent-less chance of making it out of the hospital alive. Perhaps the surgeon was mentally refreshed but when it came to the neuromuscular skills and dexterity involved in performing the procedure they might have a little rust.
Vedantam mentioned a variety of other possible factors to include inattention to postoperative complications or reacquainting one's self with the dynamic of the surgical support team.
"Faster, funnier," you say; how does this perhaps correlate to run training?
When it comes to run training, especially as the number of races decrease, I've often relaxed the pace of summer training workouts. Sure, there's a big gap between May Day and Independence Day, when the next local race is here, and then nothing for another month or two before the autumn race schedule begins...and so many folks don't want to run during the 90's (days, degrees, percent humidity...or all of the above) so that even the easiest aerobic efforts can place an athlete at an advantage.
Or, if you've gone from training for 5Ks and 10Ks to focus on a marathon, you likely found at the end of the cycle you resembled an ox; strong, yes, but also slow. It's not going to hurt a runner to do a few brief efforts at 5K or 10K race pace as part of their long run training, either as a couple of short one-to-two-minute pieces during the middle of a run, or a few 50-meter striders as part of the cool-down, just to make certain the slow-twitch muscle fibers don't have all of the fun.
Long-distance training doesn't mean it's going to be all slow.