RUNNING BEYOND – A new book announcement

Cover

Multiple meetings, trips backwards and forwards to London and I am pleased to say that I can now announce that I will have a new book available in late (September tbc) 2016.

It has been a long term dream to find the backing of a publisher and I am pleased to say that Aurum Press Ltd (Here) have had the trust to allow me to produce a book on a sport I love through photography and words.

An added bonus is that Kilian Jornet has agreed to write the foreword.

A work in progress, I anticipate some long days and nights as I evolve this project. I hope through imagery and words it will be an inspiration to those who look at it and read it.

Grubby pages with repeated use, I’d like to see multiple ‘post it’ notes marking races for future ‘bucket lists’ and most of all I hope it will be a book that allows you to dream.

Wish me luck as I put this together. Many thanks for the continued support and most importantly, thanks to Aurum Press Ltd, Kilian Jornet and all the wonderful races and people around the world who have afforded me the opportunity to make a dream a reality.

Ian

*Please note the cover is just an illustration. I anticipate a new cover for the actual book.

 

Recent Printed Publications for iancorless.com

TCC Lead Page

The first few months of 2015 have been very rewarding and I have had several articles and features printed worldwide in a series of top ranking magazines.

From the rainforests of Costa Rica, to heat of the Sahara. Anton Krupicka looking broken at Transgrancanaria, Joe Grant between a rock and a hard place at The Coastal Challenge and Sir Ranulph Fiennes beating the heat at the Marathon des Sables.

Here are the magazines with links

Like The Wind HERE

Runners World HERE

Trail Running Magazine HERE

Competitor HERE

Outdoor Fitness HERE

Here is a selection of the printed articles. All my tear sheets can be viewed HERE

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MDS 2015 Darren Outoor Fitness UTLD Runners World 2015 TCC 2015 Trail Running Mag MDS Sir Ranulph Fiennes captured_spread

Great Lakeland 3 Day #GL3D – Day One

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What a day… the 2015 GL3D started in glorious sunshine but in true Lakeland condition, conditions deteriorated pretty quickly.

Strong winds, rain and snow made every race tough for the respective categories: Elite, A, B, C and walkers. At times the temperatures were a reported -10 on the tops in the wind

Here is a selection of images to summarise the day. A full set of stage and overall results will be uploaded in due course.

 

All images ©iancorless.com – all rights reserved Images are available to purchase at iancorless.photoshelter.com

Iznik Ultra Race Report on RUN ULTRA

Iznik Ultra 2015

 

The Iznik Ultra series of races once again took place this last weekend, April 18th and 19th. It’s always an exciting way to combine running and time seeing some of the incredible sights of Istanbul.

Turkey is not known for ultra running. Despite its geographical location, its history and the multi-cultural influences placed upon it. Ultra is a sport for the few. Runners such as Mahmut Yavuz, Elena Polyakova and Aykut Celikbas have pioneered the way and they are loyal to Caner and the Iznik races. Last year I invited Jo Meek, Robbie Britton, Marcus Scotney and Tracy Dean to the races. They dominated the 10k, marathon, 80km and 130km distances. 2015 would prove to be a similar story with Donnie Campbell and Zoe Salt winning the 130km events in style.

Please go to RUN ULTRA HERE and read the full article.

You can view the full image gallery HERE

If you require images for personal or commercial use please go HERE

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Race Day Nutrition (Part Three) – Marc Laithwaite

©iancorless.com_TCC2015_Day4B-1685

Last week we showed you how to calculate the amount of carbohydrate used during cycling and running, in order for you to produce a structured plan for race nutrition. This week, we begin the process of looking at what and when to eat on race day and the first step, is to explain the basic physiology.

Missed part one (here) and part two (here)

Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates or ‘sugars’ are a prime source of fuel when exercising and unfortunately, as explain in previous blog posts, they are relatively limited. The term for stored carbohydrate is ‘glycogen’ and we store glycogen in the muscles (to use for movement) and in the liver (to supply sugar to the brain and maintain blood sugar levels)

There are different types of carbohydrates, but ultimately, they are all broken down to glucose as this is what we use as our prime fuel. When you eat or drink carbohydrate, it first goes into your stomach. We can’t absorb carbohydrates through the stomach wall, so they progress from there into the intestines and are absorbed through the intestine wall

The rate of absorption

The carbohydrates you eat are broken into glucose and pass through the intestine wall into the blood stream. Remember that in recent blogs, we’ve stated that the limit for this seems to be around 60g per hour of glucose. Depending upon the type of carbohydrate and how it is consumed (drink or solid food), the time taken for the carbohydrate to be broken down and absorbed will vary.

Many of you will have heard of the ‘Glycemic Index’. This scale was designed with diabetics in mind and it dictates how quickly foods are broken down and absorbed through the intestine wall. To measure the GI of a food is relatively simple (but complex at the same time). The process is to give someone a specific food, then take blood samples at regular intervals for the next hour to see how rapidly the blood sugar (glucose) levels rise.

The ‘GI’ scale runs from 1-100. Foods with a low score will take longer to reach the blood and give a more consistent supply (slow drip feed). Foods which enters the blood stream quickly, will give a more immediate spike in the blood sugar levels. Pure glucose has a score of 100 as that will lead to a rise in blood glucose more quickly than anything else.

The role of insulin

The reason why the GI scale is so important for diabetics, is the ‘insulin response’. A rise in blood glucose will lead to a rise in blood insulin, which is the hormone responsible for removing glucose from the blood and pushing it into the liver and the muscles.

Your daily diet should be made up of foods low on the GI scale. It you eat foods which are high on the GI scale throughout the day, this results in repeated sugar spikes and subsequent insulin spikes. Over time, your insulin will become less effective (overuse can lead to it becoming less sensitive to glucose). The reduced sensitivity can eventually lead to type 2 diabetes (insulin doesn’t work correctly). You may think, as an athlete, you are not susceptible to type 2 diabetes, but you’d be wrong. It is critical for you that your insulin works correctly, so you should be doing everything in your powers to ensure it does.

The secondary issue relating to insulin, is the impact upon fat metabolism. It reduces the amount of circulating fat by encouraging storage in fat tissue. In terms of your daily diet and metabolism, this has significant consequences upon weight loss and fat use. Constant spikes in blood glucose and insulin will reduce the amount of fat you metabolise throughout the day.

Are we discussing daily diet in this blog or race day nutrition?

Okay, I am going off track a bit, but I think it’s important to understand the foundations. As an athlete, you need a constant and balanced supply of energy to complete your training sessions and to recover quickly. Therefore, you should be eating to encourage a more stable metabolism and that is derived from low to moderate GI foods, NOT high GI foods.

So how does this work during racing?

  1. If you are racing an endurance event, you really need to ensure that you have a steady supply of glucose, without disrupting fat metabolism. A large spike in glucose and insulin, could inhibit fat metabolism, which means you’ll be forced to use more glycogen and run out more quickly.
  1. There are times when you may well need a rapid rise in blood glucose. If you have an extreme low point in the race and find yourself sitting on the road side, you may need an ‘instant hit’. Under such circumstances, you need the quickest glucose spike possible to get you back on your feet. At times like this, who cares about insulin!!

Here’s the thing, if you do scenario number 1 correctly, then you shouldn’t experience scenario number 2. The other issue is that products that are sold to deal with scenario number 2 (high energy, quick acting gels) are being used for scenario number 1. If you are half way through a 12 hour event and your energy levels are feeling relatively good, should you take a product which gives you an instant spike in glucose and insulin? Remember, we are aiming for a ‘constant’ and ‘balanced’ blood glucose level, we are trying to avoid blood glucose ‘fluctuations’.

So this blog is not what I intended when I started typing and none of the original planned information has made the page. Needless to say, this 4 part ‘race nutrition’ series is not going to be 4 parts.

A critical point to take away is that over the years of giving advice, we’ve found that the daily diet can have a huge impact upon training and racing performance. In particular, cutting out high GI foods can lead to a dramatic change in metabolism and enhance your fat utilisation.

Your homework for this blog is to take a look at the glycemic index. You’ll find this very interesting and you’ll probably find that many of the foods you presumed to be ‘sugar spiking’ are not and vice versa.

What if I said that Coke had a score of 60, whilst mashed potato AND jacket spuds had a score of 90 (that means mashed potato and jacket spuds can give more of a sugar spike than Coke!!)

You’ll notice that there is also something called ‘glycemic load’. This takes the volume of food into account e.g. you can’t compare a full jacket spud with a teaspoon of glucose as the volume is very different. Don’t worry about that for now, it’ll over-complicate the matter!

Take a look for yourself, and see what’s low and high. There’s loads of them on the internet, Google glycemic index table. Next week we’ll look at the foods you eat during the event. How can you manipulate the use of drinks, bars and gels to maintain a steady blood glucose supply and avoid the fluctuations that we have discussed above. See… I told you there was a point to this blog.

Until then, stay healthy.

– Marc Laithwaite

About Marc:

Sports Science lecturer for 10 years at St Helens HE College.

2004 established The Endurance Coach LTD sports science and coaching business. Worked with British Cycling as physiology support 2008-2008. Previous Triathlon England Regional Academy Head Coach, North West.

In 2006 established Epic Events Management LTD. Now one of the largest event companies in the NW, organising a range of triathlon, swimming and cycling events. EPIC EVENTS also encompasses Montane Trail 26 and Petzl Night Runner events.

In 2010 established Montane Lakeland 50 & 100 LTD. This has now become the UKs leading ultra distance trail running event.

In 2010 established The Endurance Store triathlon, trail running and open water swimming store. Based in Appley Bridge, Wigan, we are the North West’s community store, organising and supporting local athletes and local events.

Check out the endurance store HERE

Endurance Store Logo

JEZ and the DRAGON

Jez and the Dragon

“…it kind of draws upon my all around hill skills really. My ability to look after myself in tricky weather situations, navigate my way between checkpoint stations and just generally manage myself and be safe. Whilst it is a race there’s a kind of survival element, there’s definitely a lot of appeal in all that. I think that UK ultra-running traditionally drew upon all those skills with mountain marathons and similar events. It’s nice to go back and do a big event based on those elements and test myself in different ways. It brings excitement and gets my adrenaline going.” – Jez Bragg

 

You can read the full article on Jez Bragg on RUNULTRA HERE

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The Berghaus Dragons Back Race™

The legendary Dragon’s Back Race™ follows the mountainous spine of Wales from Conwy Castle to Carreg Cennen Castle. This incredible 5-day journey is approximately 300 kilometres long with 17,000 metres of ascent across wild, trackless, remote and mountainous terrain. It is not a trail race.

The original Dragon’s Back Race™ happened in September 1992 and ever since, it has been whispered about with a mix of awe and trepidation. Its reputation had reached legendary status with fell, mountain and ultra runners the World over by September 2012 when the second Dragon’s Back Race™ happened.

The Dragon’s Back Race™ is one of the hardest mountain races in the World.

The next race will be the 22nd-26th June 2015. If you are considering entering or just want to experience the awesome challenge offered by the Dragon’s Back Race™ we strongly recommend that you watch the multi award winning film of the 2012 race.

Potential competitors should read the information here>>>.

Shane Ohly
Race Director

LAKES SKY ULTRA – new race for 2015

lakesskyultra

Skyrunning UK is pleased to announce a new race for 2015, the LAKES SKY ULTRA™. A 50km+/- course with 4300m+/- ascent that includes soaring ridgelines, rock scrambling and a course that will test the most experienced competitor. Starting and concluding in the iconic Lakeland village, Ambleside: the LAKES SKY ULTRA will look to bring a European feel and ambiance to Skyrunning in the UK.

Ben_Abdelnoor_Sky_Race

Created by Charlie Sproson (Mountain Run) and Andrew Burton, the LAKES SKY ULTRA™ will follow on from the recently announced Glen Coe Skyline in providing competitors from the UK and overseas with an opportunity to test themselves on a course that harks back to the late 80’s and early 90’s when ISF President, Marino Giacometti went fast and light to the summit of Monte Rosa.

We may lack altitude in the UK but we have a strong history and heritage founded in the traditions of fell and mountain running. The LAKES SKY ULTRA™ will combine a series of graded scrambles: 0.5 at Swirral Edge, grade 1 at Striding Edge and grade 3 at Pinnacle Ridge to offer a unique racing experience but it is not for the feint hearted…

Sky-Race-Map-from-Ambleside-_LSU-version

“We have so much great scenery and courses in the UK; we certainly have exposure and technical terrain. We have a sense of high mountains even though we lack altitude. Throw in British weather and our course will be a challenge. No question. We are offering an opportunity to explore from a different perspective.”

Andrew and Charlie have had some great days out planning routes and have therefore created a course with added spice. It will be a test and the route will inspire those who like a challenge. They have pulled together something quite special. Soaring ridgelines in the sky… Skyrunning!”

“We have some very technical parts on this course but we also have plenty of simple running. The route has three graded scrambles so foot and hand placements are going to be important. We have elements of not just running but hands-on rock fun to be had!”

In year one the LAKES SKY ULTRA™ will only have 100-places available and this race will require a certain type of runner. Participants will need to provide a list of past experience when applying. Just being an ultra runner won’t cut it. Charlie and Andrew quite clearly state, “We need scrambling and rock climbing experience. However, we are planning a mountain skills course in August to help those interested to gain experience… but this will not guarantee race entry!”

Striding_Edge_LSU

Safety is key in any race, however, Skyrunning races of this style are designed to challenge… so, although Charlie and Andrew are looking at safety, a course of this nature does bring risk and ultimately, that is part of the attraction; hence the vetting procedure. “If a runner is asking, ‘I wonder if I have the correct experience?’ they probably don’t!” says Andrew.

Charlie Sproson on a recce day. Image ©steveashworth MovieiT

Charlie Sproson on a recce day. Image ©steveashworth MovieiT

The LAKES SKY ULTRA ™ course is designed to have an element of danger, however, no compromises are being made in regard to the safety of everyone.

“We will have manned checkpoints at high level sections of the course, electronic checkpoints and a cut-off at Patterdale.” Charlie explains. “We will also have evacuation routes should they be required due to danger or injury. An appointed safety officer, Joe Faulkner from Nav4 will look at the course and will provide safety without taking away the excitement… for example, on the grade 3 scramble we may have a fixed rope? Many of these elements are yet to be decided but we are looking at all aspects.”

 

Make a date in your diary, 12th September 2015.

The LAKES SKY ULTRA™ is coming.

http://www.lakesskyultra.uk/

Email Charlie Sproson: charlie@lakesskyultra.uk

“The Helvellyn range is one of the most iconic massifs in the Lake District. The combination of this spectacular mountain and a series of scrambles make the LAKES SKY ULTRA™ route a real highlight within the UK. We have fantastic edge running from Riggindale Straights to Kirkstone pass with some amazing scenery. You can look over Ambleside from Red Screes… this course has it all. Mountain scenery, splashed with lakes and technical terrain make this a True Mountain™ experience.”

The race will start and finish in Ambleside and Skyrunning UK sincerely hope over time that the race will mimic some of the experiences that have been encountered in some of the top European races. Think Zegama-Aizkorri or the Dolomites Sky Race. A town center race start and finish includes everyone: families, shops, restaurants, tourists, supporters and of course the race can interact with everyday life. It’s going to be incredible to bring this experience to an iconic Lakeland town. We want people with cowbells, whistles and cheering. A carnival of Skyrunning!

Images all ©MovieiT

Pacing while racing – Marc Laithwaite

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So last week we discussed training at the correct intensity during long, endurance sessions. This week, we are following a similar theme but we are focusing more on race strategy and how to pace yourself during an event. Many of the things we’ve discussed in the past weeks are critical not just for training but also during competition, so let’s complete an overview of past topics and how they relate to race pacing:

  1. For longer events, fat utilisation is critical to prevent glycogen stores depleting quickly. You should have optimised this in training beforehand, but during your race, riding and running at the correct intensity is critical. If your race pace is too quick, then you are in danger of running your glycogen stores low, resulting in a poor performance.
  1. Maintain a constant intensity and avoiding spikes is also critical. If you push hard on uphills and recover on the downhills, your intensity will vary greatly throughout the race. Remember, when you pick your intensity for any event, average figures (average heart rate or average power) or pretty useless as a guide. You need to hold the intensity constant, with little change in intensity. If you aim to ride or run at a heart rate figure of 130 beats per minute, then set yourself a tight range of 125-135 for the duration of the event. Slow on the uphills and hold pace on the flat and downhills.
  1. Avoid the fast start or you’ll suffer later in the event. It’s very clear watching ironman races, marathon and ultra races that at least 90% of the field start at a quicker pace than they finish. There are 3 main reasons for this: The first is that you are fresh, so going hard feels easy. Coupled with this, you have an adrenaline shot at the start, so this exaggerates how good you feel. The killer shot is the fact that everyone else feels the same, so they all go too quick and it takes a very brave person not to react and follow everyone else!

There is an element of sheer panic for many people during the first hour of an event, when riders and runners are streaming past them at a quicker pace. From a psychological standpoint, this is incredibly difficult to handle, so we inevitably end up going with the flow of traffic and picking up our pace.

Here’s the thing, most of those people passing you in the early hours of an ironman bike course, or the opening miles of an ultra race, will be walking huge chunks of the event in the latter stages. If your better pacing means that you are still running in the latter stages, any time losses now will be erased and reversed without any issues whatsoever. In fact, many of them might actually drop out and not even finish!! This is the most important race of the year for you, having spent 12 months preparing, are you going to blindly follow someone who is pacing the event badly? Knowing deep inside that you’re riding or running at the wrong pace, are you going to chase them, only to ‘blow up’ in spectacular fashion later in the day and destroy your chances of a great performance? Sound stupid? Well that’s how a lot of people race.

Focus on the process and not on the outcome

Let’s make this very simple. In a long distance endurance event, you can only go at the pace that YOU are able to sustain for the duration of the event, what everyone else does, should not affect your race strategy. Prior to your event, you should have a pre-set intensity that you are intending to sustain. You may have a power meter on your bike to measure watts or you may have a heart rate monitor to gauge how hard you are working. Once you have that pre-set intensity, you should stick to it and ignore all other competitors. This concept is termed ‘process orientated’ as opposed to ‘goal orientated’ racing.

What’s the difference?

Goal orientated is simple, you set a target of 12 hours for your event and you swim, ride or run as fast as required to achieve that 12 hour time. It doesn’t matter if you’re going quicker than you can handle, you simply chase the pre-set time. Process orientated refers to you focusing on the process of swimming, cycling and running at the right pace. Following a nutrition plan and doing all the things you’ve trained to do beforehand. You focus on the process only and ultimately, when you reach the line, the finish time is whatever the finish time is. What’s key, is that is you focus well on the processes, your finish time will be the best you are capable of on that day.

Process orientated racing works best in longer events as tactics play less of a role. You can’t control who enters the event and you can’t control how well those people race. As a consequence, you cannot control your finish position at the end of the day. The only thing you CAN control is your own pacing and race strategy, to give you the best possible chance of achieving the finish time you hoped for.

Live in the here and now

Ultimately, whilst you will have a pre-set pacing plan, you will have to be flexible on the day. Your pacing strategy and other actions should be based on the ‘here and now’. You should be making regular checks and asking yourself how you feel at that moment in time and whether there is anything you need to do as a consequence. For example, if you had planned to run at 5 minutes per Km pace and you feel that pace slowing, then you should not panic. Instead, think about what you need to do at that time to solve the problem. Do you need to eat and drink? Do you need to slow a little? Be flexible, don’t just continue in a blind manner trying to hold the same pace or it will result in a major collapse.

One of the key things to remember when competing in long distance events such as Ironman or ultra running is that energy can fluctuate. In a simple marathon race, you tend to feel ok at the start and then gradually get worse as the event progresses. In an Ironman marathon or ultra race, you can have patched where you have to walk because you feel so low, but 5 miles later, you may be running at a strong pace.

When you have a drop in energy, don’t lose focus and don’t lose your head. That’s the point where lots of people just give up, start walking and never start running again. Focus on the here and now, what do you have to do to solve the problem and get back to the plan? Whatever happens, you can only be as good as you can be on that particular day. If you focus on the processes, you’ll know that when you cross that line, that’s as good as you are, for today at least.

– Marc Laithwaite

About Marc:

Sports Science lecturer for 10 years at St Helens HE College.

2004 established The Endurance Coach LTD sports science and coaching business. Worked with British Cycling as physiology support 2008-2008. Previous Triathlon England Regional Academy Head Coach, North West.

In 2006 established Epic Events Management LTD. Now one of the largest event companies in the NW, organising a range of triathlon, swimming and cycling events. EPIC EVENTS also encompasses Montane Trail 26 and Petzl Night Runner events.

In 2010 established Montane Lakeland 50 & 100 LTD. This has now become the UKs leading ultra distance trail running event.

In 2010 established The Endurance Store triathlon, trail running and open water swimming store. Based in Appley Bridge, Wigan, we are the North West’s community store, organising and supporting local athletes and local events.

Check out the endurance store HERE

Endurance Store Logo

Training is like baking – Marc Laithwaite

©iancorless.com_IMG_3117Marino2014_

In recent posts, we’ve been talking about enhancing fat burning to boost endurance. This week’s post was due to focus upon pacing strategy for training and competing and specifically how pacing interacts with the types of fuel you use when exercising. However, as we’ve been discussing Maffetone in recent weeks, I’ve had a few messages stating that I’ve contradicted myself. The reason for this is that I am a believer in the importance of short and high intensity workouts for endurance performance. In the past I have outlined the danger of too much low intensity riding and running, specifically how it makes you slower. I understand why this may be seen as contradictory, so let me explain…

If you are competing in Ironman, one of the things you need to consider is your estimated time and pacing strategy on the bike section. To calculate your ‘race pace’ a simple and popular test is the cp20. During this test, the rider is required to sustain the highest power output for a 20 minute period and from the results, you can calculate your ‘functional threshold’. Some of you may have heard these strange terms before but in simple terms your ‘functional threshold’ is the output you should feasibly be able to manage for an hour. The calculation is simple, look at the average power for the 20 minute test and 95% of that figure is your functional threshold

Using functional threshold you can guess the amount of power that in theory you can sustain for all distances up to the Ironman 112. For example, 70% of your functional threshold is a reasonable target for Ironman. The critical thing here is that the power you can hold for only 20 minutes (a very short period of time) predicts Ironman pace. So, if you cannot ride quickly for 20 minutes, you will undoubtedly be riding slowly in Ironman over a distance of 112 miles, as 70% of ‘slowly’ is ‘even slower’. A common mistake people make when training for long distances is that they focus on endurance only and ride lots of slow miles. They ‘get it in their heads’ that Ironman is all about ‘the distance’ so ride long and slow. As a result of doing so much slow riding, their 20 minute power output is reduced to a score potentially even lower than when they started! Subsequently, their Ironman pace (70% FTP) is therefore also reduced.

So the solution is simple, just train to produce the highest power output for 20 minutes by doing short and high intensity riding and you’ll PB in Ironman? Unfortunately not… The test dictates your Ironman pace from the amount of power you can produce within the 20 minutes. However, the critical part is that the test also presumes that you have done the mileage, so therefore have the endurance to support your performance.

The same applies to running and training for a marathon. Let’s say as a ‘guess’ that if you double your 10k time and add 4-5 minutes, you’ll be close to your half marathon time. Now double your half marathon time and add 10 and you’ll get your predicted marathon time. You’ve probably heard that formula before, it’s been around for many years. The key thing to point out is that when using that formula, your 10k time is therefore dictating your marathon time. As with our cycling example, if you can’t run quickly for 10k, you can’t run a fast marathon.

However, the formula of double 10k and add 4-5 minutes or double half marathon and add 10 presumes that you have ‘done the mileage’. You can’t just train for 10k racing and expect to run a great marathon. Your 10k time will ‘predict’ your running speed in the marathon, but without the mileage in your legs, you won’t be able to hold that pace for the entirety of the race.

So let’s look at it this way:

  1. The 20 minute test in cycling or the 10k time in running tells you how quickly you are capable of riding or running Ironman or marathon.
  2. Whether you have done the long distances in training will determine whether you are actually capable of maintaining that speed and reaching the finish line in your target time.
  3. As a quick summary, ‘how fast can you go and can you keep it going?’

The simple lesson to learn here is that both long-term endurance and maximal output over shorter distances are equally important for performance. If you choose one but not the other, you’ll either manage the distance ‘comfortably but slowly’ or you’ll go quickly at the start and die a painful death at the end. Don’t dismiss either of these key factors if you want to hit your target time.

To finish, I’ll go back to something, which I mentioned 3 weeks ago, when writing about the Maffetone formula. Each training intensity, level or zone has it’s own benefits and purpose. Too frequently athletes do their easy stuff too hard and their hard stuff too easy, as a consequence the sessions merge into one grey area of moderate intensity. When riding or running in zone 1, there are specific benefits, which are lost when you push too hard. When attempting a high intensity interval workout you will not gain the specific benefits of that session if you do not push hard enough.

Training is like baking, you need to put lots of different, but high quality ingredients together or you’ll find that on race day the whole thing will just taste a bit bland.

Go forwards endurance students, train well and practice burning the fat

– Marc Laithwaite

About Marc:

Sports Science lecturer for 10 years at St Helens HE College.

2004 established The Endurance Coach LTD sports science and coaching business. Worked with British Cycling as physiology support 2008-2008. Previous Triathlon England Regional Academy Head Coach, North West.

In 2006 established Epic Events Management LTD. Now one of the largest event companies in the NW, organising a range of triathlon, swimming and cycling events. EPIC EVENTS also encompasses Montane Trail 26 and Petzl Night Runner events.

In 2010 established Montane Lakeland 50 & 100 LTD. This has now become the UKs leading ultra distance trail running event.

In 2010 established The Endurance Store triathlon, trail running and open water swimming store. Based in Appley Bridge, Wigan, we are the North West’s community store, organising and supporting local athletes and local events.

Check out the endurance store HERE

Endurance Store Logo

Maffetone Formula for better endurance performance by Marc Laithwaite

Marc Laithwaite at Lakeland 100/ 50 2014

Marc Laithwaite at Lakeland 100/ 50 2014

In a new series of articles, Marc Laithwaite (The Endurance Store), endurance coach and regular contributor to Talk Ultra podcast will provide insight in how you can become a better endurance athlete by training smart and eating for performance.

In the first article, we look at the Maffetone Formula also known as ‘MAFF.’

 

The term ‘aerobic base’ is used widely in endurance sports but what exactly does it mean? To build aerobic base athletes will generally do long and slow distance to gain specific benefits, we consider those 2 key benefits to be as follows:

  1. Conditioning – Your legs deal with a great amount of impact every time they hit the ground, which causes muscle damage. In turn, this muscle damage will slow you down. The only way to prevent this muscle damage is to become accustomed to ‘time on your feet’. Hence, by slowing down and running long distances at a slower pace, you will ‘harden your legs’ and prevent damage. If you run too hard during your ‘base training runs’ you will not be able to run far enough to get the required ‘time on feet’ so slowing to the correct intensity is critical. It’s important to note that this applies to cycling also, whilst the impact isn’t the same, the repeated action of pedalling means that your muscles will break down, your hips will become tight and your back will ache!
  2. Metabolic Adaptation – Your muscle fibres will adapt and more closely resemble the ‘slow twitch variety’. One of the key changes is the ability to use fat as a fuel source and also to use less energy overall. These combined changes mean that you are less likely to run out of fuel during longer distance exercise. If you can change your muscle fibres so running out of fuel is unlikely, combined with your ‘hardened legs’ which don’t become damaged easily, you are ready for some serious endurance action.

So how slow should I run?

It’s very common for endurance athletes to get the ‘training zone’ thing very wrong. The key thing to remember is that variation is critical, so easy sessions to develop base should be easy and high intensity sessions to develop power should be extremely hard. Many athletes tend to drift into the middle ground where no training is really easy, no training is really hard, but pretty much everything is ‘moderately hard’.

What is the Maffetone Formula?

Made famous by Mark Allen who won the famous Iron War with Dave Scott in 1989. Allen had repeatedly failed to beat Dave Scott, always running out of fuel in the marathon stage. He turned to Maffetone who revolutionised his training, with the principal aim of enhancing fat burning to make him a more effective runner. Maffetone employs a maximum aerobic heart rate above, which you cannot exercise. Initially, athletes find it very frustrating as they will be running very slowly, but over time there are large benefits to be had as the base aerobic system improves.

What’s the Formula?

Subtract your age from 180.

Modify this number by selecting among the following categories the one that best matches your fitness and health profile:

If you have or are recovering from a major illness (heart disease, any operation or hospital stay, etc.) or are on any regular medication, subtract an additional 10.

If you are injured, have regressed in training or competition, get more than two colds or bouts of flu per year, have allergies or asthma, or if you have been inconsistent or are just getting back into training, subtract an additional 5.

If you have been training consistently (at least four times weekly) for up to two years without any of the problems just mentioned, keep the number (180–age) the same.

If you have been training for more than two years without any of the problems listed above, and have made progress in competition without injury, add 5.

For example, if you are thirty years old and fit into category (b), you get the following:

180–30=150. Then 150–5=145 beats per minute (bpm).

If it is difficult to decide which of two groups best fits you, choose the group or outcome that results in the lower heart rate. In athletes who are taking medication that may affect their heart rate, those who wear a pacemaker, or those who have special circumstances not discussed here, further individualization with the help of a healthcare practitioner or other specialist familiar with your circumstance and knowledgeable in endurance sports may be necessary.

Two situations may be exceptions to the above calculations:

  • The 180 Formula may need to be further individualized for people over the age of sixty-five. For some of these athletes, up to 10 beats may have to be added for those in category (d) in the 180 Formula, and depending on individual levels of fitness and health. This does not mean 10 should automatically be added, but that an honest self-assessment is important.
  • For athletes sixteen years of age and under, the formula is not applicable; rather, a heart rate of 165 may be best.

Once a maximum aerobic heart rate is found, a training range from this heart rate to 10 beats below could be used as a training range. For example, if an athlete’s maximum aerobic heart rate were determined to be 155, that person’s aerobic training zone would be 145 to 155 bpm. However, the more training at 155, the quicker an optimal aerobic base will be developed.

Completing the Test:

Completing the test is simple, for running find a flat 3 miles course or complete 20 minutes. The simplest way is to find a running track as this makes distance measuring easier. Warm up for 15 minutes within the Maffetone Training Zone and then run 3 miles within the Maffetone Training Zone and record your time. You could use a flat circuit on road and use a GPS but variations in GPS accuracy mean that a running track is more accurate. Record your time for the 3 miles and preferably record your time for each of the mile splits. For the bike, it’s best done on a calibrated turbo training or riding to power. Warm up for 15 minutes in Maffetone Training Zone, then ride 30 minutes within the Maffetone Training Zone and measure average power or distance completed. Remember that the turbo and power meter needs to be calibrated or the accuracy is poor.

Practicalities:

You may find the run pace very slow and frustrating, if so, then you should take this as a positive, your base is very poor and you therefore have plenty of improvement to make for the 2015 season!! All of your easy mileage running should be done in the Maff Training Zone and the test can be repeated every 4-8 weeks. You should see an increase in speed and distance for the same heart rate as your base fitness improves. If you keep getting quicker, then don’t worry about speed work until the Maffetone training reaches a plateau. Develop your base as much as possible at the start of the year for maximum gains later.

On the bike, heart rate is generally lower than it is during running, so you’ll find the test a little less frustrating. In reality, the Maffetone Training Zone for cycling should be adjusted by reducing it between 5-10 beats (my opinion – you might want to incorporate it). This test is based on 180 minus age and we all know that maximum heart rate varies from person to person (220 minus age to calculate maximum has been widely criticised), but just go with it and try the formula, nothing is perfect!

We’d be keen to hear your feedback, go and give the test a try and let us know your progress. If you found this article useful, please share with your friends and re-post on Facebook or Twitter!

– Marc Laithwaite

About Marc:

Sports Science lecturer for 10 years at St Helens HE College.

2004 established The Endurance Coach LTD sports science and coaching business. Worked with British Cycling as physiology support 2008-2008. Previous Triathlon England Regional Academy Head Coach, North West.

In 2006 established Epic Events Management LTD. Now one of the largest event companies in the NW, organising a range of triathlon, swimming and cycling events. EPIC EVENTS also encompasses Montane Trail 26 and Petzl Night Runner events.

In 2010 established Montane Lakeland 50 & 100 LTD. This has now become the UKs leading ultra distance trail running event.

In 2010 established The Endurance Store triathlon, trail running and open water swimming store. Based in Appley Bridge, Wigan, we are the North West’s community store, organising and supporting local athletes and local events.

Check out the endurance store HERE

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