Marine Corps Marathoners can’t squeeze in much more running before Sunday’s race. If they want to shave seconds off their time, they’ll have to focus on other stuff: what they’re wearing, how they’re sleeping, what they’re eating. (Sponsor Team Beef is pushing its #BeefFuelsMCM hashtag.) Plus, there are a few more options out there that might seem, well, out-there. Chevy Chase’s new Nava Health and Vitality Center promises several sport-specific services, including IV micronutrient therapy and hyperbaric chambers, while Alexandria-based hypnotist Laura Palmer promotes her performance-boosting work. We gave all three techniques a go.
You’re so vein
You can ingest vitamins. Or you can have them injected into your bloodstream via an IV. The latter leads to faster absorption, and (if you have a sport blend with amino acids and antioxidants for recovery and endurance) faster running speeds, according to Nava.
After I signed a stack of waivers for the treatment ($375), a nurse practitioner went over my medical history and walked me through the list of possible side effects, including headaches and nausea. Most people just “feel a little pep,” she said. Then I sat in a lounge chair in Nava’s IV therapy room, which also hosts a giant TV screen in case you want to see something other than a needle sticking into your arm. I’d been warned that the process might burn, so I braced for intravenous agony. But I only had two complaints: My fingers in the stuck arm grew cold and I could taste the cocktail while hooked up. (It was tinny and citrusy.)
About a half-hour later, it was all in, and I was ready to go. On my run a few hours later, I felt particularly well hydrated, and yep, some extra pep. M.S.
Shall we trance
There’s no swinging watch to keep your eyes on in Palmer’s form of hypnosis (aka Bridgenosis). She defines the state as just relaxed enough to clear away the “limiting beliefs” holding you back.
At our one-on-one in her Old Town office, we discussed my goals and experiences, and Palmer introduced a few calming techniques. My favorite: the zip-up. Take one hand and run it up the midline of your body to your mouth while repeating a positive mantra. Her soothing voice soon had me yawning, which she said is common. Then Palmer typically has clients lie on her couch so she can give them suggestions, which they’re free to listen to consciously. Or they can drift away and let their subconscious do the work.
Instead, I went home to listen to her pre-recorded 18-minute race-specific hypnosis program. (Marine Corps Marathoners can get it free by emailing email@example.com.) She had me picture myself beside a beautiful body of water, feeling strong and … uh, I’m not sure what else. It sure stuck with me on my next run, though. Sprints never felt so zen. V.H.
Countless athletes — including Lance Armstrong, Michael Phelps and the Nationals’ Rafael Soriano — swear by the performance benefits of hyperbaric oxygen therapy. The claim? Hanging out in an all-oxygen environment supposedly speeds up recovery. So I was about to climb into something that looked like a giant body bag.
Before the treatment ($120), a Nava nurse practitioner took my vitals and checked my ears. (An infection raises the slim chance of an eardrum rupture.) I was prepped on what to expect: an airplane-like pop in my ears, a whooshing sound and occasional monitoring to make sure I’m OK. Then I stepped in, lay down and got zipped up. I worried it might feel claustrophobic, but as the chamber inflated, it grew almost roomy — I emailed on my phone no problem, then chilled out for the rest of the hour. The air inside didn’t seem much different, just more filling.
I emerged in a pleasant fog, like after a deep sleep. My next run seemed normal, which wasn’t a surprise. I was told I’d need a minimum of three sessions to see results. Lori Kelley
You might also like: