Pacing Strategy – Marc Laithwaite

Pace

Over the last 4 weeks, we’ve discussed how you can manipulate your diet to enhance fat burning and your endurance performances. This week, we look at the missing piece of the jigsaw, which is training intensity and more importantly, pacing strategy.

The basics of fat metabolism for endurance athletes are simple and based on 2 key factors. First, you can change your diet in some way to enhance fat usage (e.g. riding / running fasted). Next, you can adopt a ride / run strategy (intensity and pacing), which encourages fat usage during training and racing. You can opt to do only one or the other of these things. But in reality, if you couple them both together you’ll have the biggest impact.

We’ve discussed diet, so today we are going to talk about ride and run strategy in terms of pacing and intensity, for running and cycling. So let’s outline some of the basic things, which you may already know and if not, you need to know:

  1. I stressed last week that every session should have a key objective and therefore a key intensity to obtain that objective. The biggest error is people doing ‘hard stuff too easy’ and ‘easy stuff too hard’. Generally they are linked by the fact that if you do the ‘easy stuff too hard’ you’re too knackered the following day to do the ‘hard stuff hard’. As a result, everything tends to fall into a grey, middle area.
  2. The 2 key objectives of the long easy session for ironman competitors or marathon and ultra runners are generally to utilise fat for better fuel economy and to ‘complete the distance’ (time in the saddle or time on feet). If you don’t ride at the correct intensity, you will hit neither of those objectives, due to the following problems:
  3. At lower intensities, total energy expenditure (kcal per hour) is lower and fat usage is higher. This means that only a small amount of energy comes from carbohydrates and your body has the opportunity to practice using fat, which is necessary for the process to become more efficient. OBJECTIVE 1: If you do not run / ride at the correct intensity, you will not develop effective fat burning.
  4. Because riding and running at a higher intensity uses more energy and generates more muscular fatigue, it’s not rocket science that you will have to stop earlier. This is NOT just based on fat / fuel usage, there are other factors at play related to muscle damage and fatigue. As a result, many ironman triathletes or marathon and ultra runners are not reaching target distances and stopping short on long rides or runs. OBJECTIVE 2: If you do not run / ride at the correct intensity, you will not be able to reach your target distances for your training rides and runs.

As outlined above, the 2 key objectives are enhancing fuel use and maximising distance and to achieve both, the intensity must be correct. If you’re using Maffetone as discussed 4 weeks ago, then you’re all set. If you’re not then for most people, the intensity we are discussing is zone 1, which is comfortable conversation pace.

You can use heart rate to monitor your training intensity and cyclists can also use power devices to do the same job. Let’s take heart rate as an example and consider the following scenario as an example:

Tom has a zone 1 cycling heart rate of 118-128 and uses his heart rate monitor when completing all his ironman cycle training. We know that Tom will maximise both his fat usage and can maximise his training distance by holding his heart rate steady within Zone 1.

Avoiding the spikes

One key thing to take into account when riding in Zone 1 is avoiding spikes. If Tom completed his long Sunday ride and reported an average heart rate of 124, it first appears that he has ridden to plan. Unfortunately upon closer inspection, he spent half his time at a heart rate of 148 climbing hills and the other half of his time at 100 rolling down the other side, thereby generating an average of 124. Whilst the AVERAGE looks correct, the TIME IN ZONE was very poor.

Every time you push hard on hills and allow your heart rate to rise out of Zone 1, your metabolism switches from high fat usage to high carbohydrate usage. Not only is there a switch to carbohydrate, you guzzle the fuel as if there’s no marathon to come. I would liken this to driving your car and every time you reach a hill, changing into first gear and flooring the accelerator, for those old enough to remember you can also pull the choke out for good measure.

OBJECTIVE 1: Tom is not practicing fat burning during his ride. Every time he pushes on the hills, fat usage ‘drops out’ and only returns when the body has stabilised a few miles later.

OBJECTIVE 2: Tom is guzzling fuel at such a high rate, he completes 60 miles of his planned 100 mile ride and is pretty knackered so calls it a day. Tom feels that despite the event being 112 miles (plus the marathon to follow), 60 will suffice. Good luck with that one Tom.

Q: Surely if I’m riding harder that’s more beneficial as my fitness will improve?

A: Not really, you’ve failed on both key objectives. If your training is planned correctly, you should be doing other sessions which will include ‘harder riding or running’ to cover that aspect of fitness.

Where does this all this go wrong?

  1. Riding very hilly courses makes it difficult to keep heart rate in zone 1 and it also makes it difficult to ‘flat line’ heart rate, keeping it constant and avoiding spikes. You need to really focus on ‘backing off’ on the climbs and using a heart rate or power meter as a guide.
  2. Riding in a group makes this problem 10 times worse as most cyclists will naturally want to show their counterparts (tends to be relevant for blokes, not women) that they are stronger than anyone else in the group. As a result, Sunday rides can tend to be a short hard interval up each hill, followed by long periods of recovering and spinning at low intensity.

Key points to take away:

  1. Ride to zone and most important, you need to take out the spikes on the hills, to maximise metabolic benefits.
  2. Start easy on your ride. There is a real tendency amongst amateur athletes to ride way too hard in the first hour or two, which results in a huge drop off later in the ride (again, this is more likely in groups). Hold back and soft pedal for the first couple of hours to allow a long aerobic warm up and better energy levels later in the ride.
  3. If you ride with others, your options are to explain the benefits to them and change their mentality, let them go on the hills, change your group or ride alone.
  4. If you are riding more consistently in zone 1, you should make every effort to maximise distance. If you are currently riding 60 miles or running 13 miles in training, by dropping and controlling the heart rate, you should be capable of increasing the distance and progressing closer to 100 for cycling or 20 for running.

– 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

Bullet Proof Coffee – Boost Your Endurance by Marc Laithwaite

I Love Bullet Proof Coffee

There is a current trend for ‘Bullet Proof Coffee’ which is used to boost endurance performance, in this post, we’ll explain the basic thinking behind the concept and how it can help you when training for endurance based events such as marathon running, cycling and long distance triathlon events.

Why Bullet Proof Coffee?

It’s something we’ve discussed many times before, if you can increase your fat burning during exercise, you will save glycogen (carbohydrate) and therefore exercise for longer. People who use glycogen at a high rate will run out much more quickly, so shifting your metabolism to use fat as your main source of energy is of great benefit.

What is Bullet Proof Coffee?

Bullet Proof Coffee 2

The subject can become a little over complicated, but in simple terms, it’s ground coffee with added MCT oil and butter. The perfectionists will argue that you need a specific high quality coffee bean freshly ground, but I’m sure you can start with general filter coffee powder and progress from there! The term MCT oil refers to ‘medium chain triglycerides’ which are a specific type of fat which is known to be fantastic for energy. MCT is found in coconut, so MCT oil is generally derived from coconut with the flavour removed. The other ingredient is butter, preferably organic and grass fed to be high quality, don’t use ‘Flora’ or ‘I can’t believe it’s not butter’ it’s really not the same. Full fat, organic, grass fed butter might sound a little strange as it’s high in saturated fat. However, saturated fat is one of your main fuels and critical for endurance performance.

Those who know a bit about nutrition trends will be familiar with the above info, those who are not familiar with nutrition trends might be thinking ‘I thought saturated fats were the bad one’s?’ It turns out they were wrong, who’d have thought it? it’s a long explanation so probably easiest if you just go with it…

The process:

Bulletproof Coffee

Make your coffee, add 1-2 tbs of MCT oil and 1-2 tbs of butter. Put it all in the blender and whip it up until you have a nice froth on the top. You can pour boiling water into your blender to keep it hot, then empty it just before the coffee goes in to stop the coffee cooling. Fat & oil don’t dissolve in water so it floats in the top.

You alternative option (the fanatics will not like this) is to use MCT powder. It works a bit like coffee mate, add a heaped teaspoon to your cup then add a small amount of coffee. Give it a good stir and whip to get the lumps out, then add the rest of the coffee. MCT powder tastes quite creamy (not of coconut) and you might find it more palatable than oil and butter floating on the surface, although I’d encourage you to try to original recipe also!

When should I drink it?

Before you go training, most people will generally opt for one of the following:

1. High carb breakfast
2. No breakfast
3. High fat breakfast

All 3 are viable, but it really depends upon the athlete and the type of session you are about to take part in. We will discuss this in a lot more detail next Tuesday.

Eating no breakfast (fasting) is a common method for encouraging the body to burn more fat, but actually taking a high fat breakfast (in this case a bullet proof coffee), might enhance fat usage even greater, by increasing the amounts of fats circulating in the blood.

IMPORTANT: It should be used for endurance sessions (long and slow) and works perfectly if you’re following a Maff formula or similar (as per last week’s blog). Each person will differ, but eating no breakfast and drinking a bullet proof coffee would work perfectly for:

Endurance runs of 1-2 hours
Endurance cycles of 2-3 hours

The timescales will very much depend upon the experience and fitness of the athlete. If you are very well trained, you may well be able to do more on a single drink, but these are average timescales. You should not take any breakfast beforehand and you should not eat sports products or ingest any other form of energy during the run or ride. You should also ride at the correct intensity (as per Maff or similar).

What to do next?

Buy some filter coffee, or some beans and a grinder. Google MCT oil or MCT powder and purchase some online, then get some grass fed organic butter. If you don’t have a blender, don’t worry, just give it a good whisk with a fork!! Drink the coffee 30 minutes before exercise.

– 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

Episode 66 – Krar, Enman, Forbes, McGregor

Ep66This is episode 66 of Talk Ultra and on this weeks show e catch up with Rob Krar after his incredible Western States. Kasie Enman is on the comeback trail after her 2nd child and we chat after a stellar 2nd place at Speedgoat 50k. Scott Forbes just this last weekend won Race to the Stones in the UK… a great result but Scott has an incredible story. In Talk Training we talk nutrition with Renee McGregor. The News, a Blog, Smile and Miles with Emelie Forsberg, Up and Coming Races and Pocket Rocket is back… Stevie Kremer.

NEWS

HARDROCK 100 results iRunFar
 
·      Kilian Jornet – 22:41:33
·      Julien Chorier – 25:07:56
·      Adam Campbell – 25:56:46
·      Jeff Browning  – 26:58:59
·      Scott Jaime  – 27:46:14

·      Darcy Piceu – 29:49:58
·      Betsy Kalmeyer – 37:57:22
·      Betsy Nye – 42:22
·      Tina Ure – 42:45
·      Suzanne Lewis – 42:55

 
SPEEDGOAT 50K

·      Sage Canaday  – 5:12:30
·      Paul Hamilton – 5:31:15
·      Alex Nichols  – 5:33:30
·      Rickey Gates  – 5:46:36
·      Mike Wolfe – 5:53:17

·      Anna Frost – 6:42:00
·      Kasie Enman  – 6:43:48
·      Ellie Greenwood – 6:53:04
·      Hillary Allen  – 7:03:57
·      Kerrie Bruxvoort  – 7:12:41

INTERVIEW with KASIE ENMAN
 
Skyrunning Ice Trail Tarentaise

  • Francois D’Haene 7:38
  • Fabian Antonilos 7:56
  • Tom Owens 8:02
     
  • Emelie Forsberg 9:25
  • Allessandra Carlini 9:42
  • Maud Gobert 9:42+
  • Skyrunning Dolomites SkyRace
     
  • Kilian Jornet 2:03:50
  • Ionut Zinca 2:05:20
  • Tadei Pivk 2:05:21
  • Manuel Merillas 2:07:29
  • Alexis Sevennec 2:07:54·
  • Laura Orgue 2:26:17
  • Emelie Forsberg 2:27:40
  • Maite Maiora 2:31:58
  • Christel Dewalle 2:35:53
  • Magdalena Kozielska 2:36:23
     
     
    DODO TRAIL
     
    ·      Ricky Lightfoot 5:19:21 new CR
    ·      Jean Pierre Grondin 5:55:30
    ·      Jeannick Boyer 6:02:54
     
    ·      Landie Greyling 6:49:10
    ·      Estelle Carret 6:51:55
    ·      Andrea Clemons 8:37:35 
    BLOG
     
    Dakota Jones has ab excellent write up on Hardrock 100 on iRunFar – http://www.irunfar.com/2014/07/falling-off-edges-hardrock-2014.html

     
    INTERVIEW

    ROB KRAR produced the 2nd fastest run ever at the 2014 Western States. We caught up with him just a few days after the race for a chat.

    SMILES and MILES with EMELIE FORSBERG

    TALK TRAINING with Renee McGregor lead nutritionist
     
     
    INTERVIEW
     
    SIMON FORBES won the Race to the Stones in the UK which is impressive. However, he has a fascinating back story.

     
    UP & COMING RACES
     
    Australia
    Australian Capital Territory
    Bush Capital 60 km Ultra | 63 kilometers | August 03, 2014 | website
    Queensland
    Flinders Tour – 50 km | 50 kilometers | July 27, 2014 | website

    Austria
    Dirndltal Extrem Ultramarathon | 111 kilometers | August 02, 2014 | website
    Pitztal-Gletscher Trail Maniak 95K | 95 kilometers | July 26, 2014 | website

    Belgium
    Flanders
    100 km Dodentocht® | 100 kilometers | August 08, 2014 | website

    Canada
    Alberta
    Canadian Death Race | 125 kilometers | August 02, 2014 | website

    Quebec
    Trans Gaspesia | 260 kilometers | August 03, 2014 | website

    Finland
    Lapland
    NUTS Midnight Sun Trail Ultra 125 km | 125 kilometers | July 25, 2014 | website
    NUTS Midnight Sun Trail Ultra 55K | 55 kilometers | July 26, 2014 | website

    France
    Haute-Corse
    Via Romana – 62 km | 62 kilometers | August 03, 2014 | website
    Haute-Savoie
    Trail du Tour des Fiz | 61 kilometers | July 27, 2014 | website
    Isère
    Défi de l’Oisans | 200 kilometers | July 27, 2014 | website
    Trail de L’Etendard | 65 kilometers | August 03, 2014 | website
    Jura
    Tour du Lac de Vouglans | 71 kilometers | July 26, 2014 | website
    Loiret
    L’Orleans-Océan | 410 kilometers | July 26, 2014 | website
    Savoie
    Courchevel X Trail 54 km | 54 kilometers | August 03, 2014 | website
    La 6000D | 65 kilometers | July 26, 2014 | website
    TCT 50 | 50 kilometers | August 03, 2014 | website
    TCT 73 | 73 kilometers | August 03, 2014 | website
    Ultra 6000D | 110 kilometers | July 26, 2014 | website

    Germany
    Bavaria
    Chiemgauer 100 k Mountain Ultra Run | 100 kilometers | July 26, 2014 | website
    Chiemgauer 100 mi Mountain Ultra Run | 100 miles | July 26, 2014 | website
    Brandenburg
    Berliner MauerwegNachtlauf | 62 kilometers | July 26, 2014 | website
    Lower Saxony
    Süntel-Trail 50K | 50 kilometers | July 26, 2014 | website

    Guadeloupe
    Rèd Mammel | 50 kilometers | July 25, 2014 | website
    Ultra Transkarukera | 120 kilometers | July 25, 2014 | website

    Italy
    Aosta Valley
    Monte Rosa Walser Ultra Trail | 50 kilometers | August 02, 2014 | website
    Piedmont
    Terra Acqua Cielo Wild Trail | 50 kilometers | August 03, 2014 | website

    Sicily
    Etna Trail | 64 kilometers | August 02, 2014 | website

    Veneto
    Trans d’Havet Ultra | 80 kilometers | July 26, 2014 | website

    Latvia
    Cēsis ECO Trail 80 km | 80 kilometers | August 02, 2014 | website

    Madagascar
    Isalo Raid – Grand Raid | 80 kilometers | July 26, 2014 | website

    Mauritius
    Trail des 7 Couleurs | 120 kilometers | July 26, 2014 | website

    Mongolia
    Mongolia Sunrise to Sunset 100K | 100 kilometers | August 06, 2014 | website

    Portugal
    Ultra-Trail Nocturno da Lagoa de Óbidos | 50 kilometers | August 02, 2014 | website

    Réunion
    Trail du Grand Ouest | 60 kilometers | August 02, 2014 | website

    Romania
    VLC Ultra TrailRun Petrimanu 56 | 56 kilometers | July 26, 2014 | website

    Russia
    Elbrus Mountain Race | 105 kilometers | August 01, 2014 | website

    Serbia
    Tara Challenge | 61 kilometers | August 02, 2014 | website
    Tara Ultramarathon | 115 kilometers | August 02, 2014 | website

    Spain
    Andalusia
    Subida Granada Pico Veleta | 50 kilometers | August 03, 2014 | website
    Aragon
    Calcenada – 104 km | 104 kilometers | August 01, 2014 | website
    Gran Trail Aneto-Posets | 109 kilometers | July 26, 2014 | website
    Vuelta al Aneto | 58 kilometers | July 26, 2014 | website
    Castile and León
    Gredos Infinite Run – 120 km | 120 kilometers | July 26, 2014 | website
    Tilenus Xtreme Ultra Trail 105 KM | 105 kilometers | July 25, 2014 | website
    Tilenus Xtreme Ultra Trail 60 KM | 60 kilometers | July 25, 2014 | website

    Catalonia
    BUFF® Epic Trail Aigüestortes | 100 kilometers | August 02, 2014 | website
    Cadí Ultra Trail | 80 kilometers | July 26, 2014 | website
    Ultra Catllaràs | 55 kilometers | July 26, 2014 | website
    Principality of Asturias
    Ultra Trail DesafíOSOmiedo | 86 kilometers | August 02, 2014 | website

    Sweden
    Tierra Arctic Ultra | 120 kilometers | August 08, 2014 | website

    Switzerland
    Grisons
    Swiss Alpine Marathon K78 | 78 kilometers | July 26, 2014 | website

    Thailand
    Bangkok Ultra Trail Festival – 50 km | 50 kilometers | August 03, 2014 | website

    Turkey
    DASK ADAM Anatolian Mountain marathon – Long Course | 75 kilometers | August 07, 2014 | website
    DASK ADAM Anatolian Mountain marathon – Medium Course | 60 kilometers | August 07, 2014 | website

    United Kingdom
    Cumbria
    The Montane Lakeland 50 | 50 miles | July 26, 2014 | website
    East Riding of Yorkshire
    The Montane Lakeland 100 | 100 miles | July 25, 2014 | website
    England
    Round the Rock | 48 miles | August 02, 2014 | website
    Round the Rock Ultra Marathon | 48 miles | August 02, 2014 | website
    Hampshire
    Oxfam Trailwalker GB (South) | 100 kilometers | July 26, 2014 | website
    Kent
    The 50 Mile Challenge | 52 miles | July 28, 2014 | website
    North Yorkshire
    Oxfam Trailtrekker GB (North) – 100 km | 100 kilometers | July 31, 2014 | website
    Oxfam Trailtrekker GB (North) – 65 km | 65 kilometers | July 31, 2014 | website
    Stirling
    Devil o’ the Highlands Footrace | 43 miles | August 02, 2014 | website

    USA
    Alaska
    Resurrection Pass 100 Mile Ultra Trail | 100 miles | August 08, 2014 | website
    Arizona
    Vertigo 63K Night Trail Run | 63 kilometers | July 26, 2014 | website
    California
    Angeles Crest 100 mile endurance run | 100 miles | August 02, 2014 | website
    Salt Point 50 km | 50 kilometers | August 02, 2014 | website
    San Francisco 100 Mile Endurance Run | 100 miles | August 02, 2014 | website
    San Francisco 50 Mile Endurance Run | 50 miles | August 02, 2014 | website
    San Francisco 52.4 Ultramarathon | 52 kilometers | July 27, 2014 | website
    Skyline 50K | 50 kilometers | August 03, 2014 | website
    Colorado
    Grand Mesa 100M | 100 miles | July 26, 2014 | website
    Grand Mesa 37.5M | 60 kilometers | July 26, 2014 | website
    Grand Mesa 50M | 50 miles | July 26, 2014 | website
    Mountain Ultra | 220 kilometers | August 01, 2014 | website
    Mount Werner Classic – 50K Trail Run | 50 kilometers | July 26, 2014 | website
    Ouray 100 Mile Endurance Run | 100 miles | August 02, 2014 | website
    Ragnar Relay Colorado | 200 miles | August 08, 2014 | website
    Wild West Relay | 200 miles | August 01, 2014 | website
    Idaho
    Standhope 60K | 60 kilometers | August 08, 2014 | website
    Wild Idaho 50K Enrudance Run | 50 kilometers | July 26, 2014 | website
    Wild Idaho 50M Enrudance Run | 50 miles | July 26, 2014 | website
    Maryland
    Catoctin 50k Trail Run | 50 kilometers | July 26, 2014 | website
    Minnesota
    Minnesota Voyageur Trail 50 Mile Run | 50 miles | July 26, 2014 | website
    Mississippi
    Big Butts 100K | 100 kilometers | July 26, 2014 | website
    Big Butts 50K | 50 kilometers | July 26, 2014 | website
    Montana
    HURL Elkhorn 50 K Ultramarathon | 50 kilometers | August 02, 2014 | website
    HURL Elkhorn 50 Mile Ultramarathon | 50 miles | August 02, 2014 | website
    Nevada
    Ruby Mountain Relay | 184 miles | August 08, 2014 | website
    North Carolina
    Mattamuskeet Death March | 100 kilometers | July 26, 2014 | website
    Ohio
    Burning River 100 Mile Endurance Run | 100 miles | August 02, 2014 | website
    Oregon
    Siskiyou Out Back Trail Run 50K | 50 kilometers | July 26, 2014 | website
    Siskiyou Out Back Trail Run 50M | 50 miles | July 26, 2014 | website
    Pennsylvania
    Viaduct Trail 100 Mile Ultramarathon | 100 miles | July 27, 2014 | website
    Viaduct Trail 150 Mile Ultramarathon | 150 miles | July 26, 2014 | website
    Viaduct Trail 50 Mile Ultramarathon | 50 miles | July 27, 2014 | website
    South Carolina
    Landsford Canal 50 K | 50 kilometers | July 26, 2014 | website
    Vermont
    Moosalamoo Ultra – 36 M | 36 miles | August 02, 2014 | website
    Virginia
    Dahlgren Heritage Rail Trail 50 km | 50 kilometers | August 02, 2014 | website
    Washington
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3:51:35

Paleo, Maffetone & the Method

Have you ever asked yourself?

  • Why can’t I lose weight?
  • What can I do to reach my potential as an ultra runner?
  • Why do I sometimes have pain and discomfort?

Dr Phil Maffetone says he can’t tell you the answers to such questions but what he does say is that he can help you find out.

He has a mantra that ‘everyone can succeed’. I agree, we are all capable of so much more than we think. But often, we need to think outside the box or we need to think in a very different way. We all become programed; we conform to the general consensus when actually finding our own path may very well be the best decision we could make.

Forget easy fixes. They don’t really exist. If you want something, you are going to need to work at it. That doesn’t necessarily mean you will need to make sacrifices but it may mean that you will need to adjust your thought process and look at things from a completely different angle.

Dr Maffetone has evolved and developed his ‘method’. We are all individual but certain patterns exist within all of us when we are not balanced in a perfect way.

As Dr Maffetone says, “These were physical, biochemical and mental-emotional imbalances, complete with various signs and symptoms. These patterns provided vital information, which helped lead to quicker and more accurate evaluations, and faster therapeutic outcomes.”

The ‘method’ leads to specific questions such as “Do you get pain?”

  • How do you get the pain?
  • When does the pain start?
  • What makes it better or worse?
  • How long does the pain last?

“These questions are a vital part of my style, and important tools anyone can use to find and fix physical ailments, metabolic imbalances and other problems.” Says Dr Maffetone.

Ultimately we all need our own personal program that will allow us to progress and function to the best of our ability. We need to self-test.

“By testing the body by adding or avoiding certain foods or specific workouts, for example, one can obtain valuable information to begin piecing together the details of an individualized program.”

There are many different facets of health and fitness that also must work together to create optimum human potential for an ultra runner, we are primarily looking at the bodies efficiency at using fat as a fuel and the physical activity that we undertake in training to make us stronger and fitter for the challenges ahead.

Burning body fat helps any athlete to perform at high levels, particularly ultra runners. The benefits are incredible, lets face it, and we all have plenty to call on. If we are using the fat within our bodies effectively not only can we perform better but we also prevent the accumulation of excess stored fat and weight.

Most of the body’s energy for daily living comes from the conversion of both sugar (glucose) and fat to energy (in the form of ATP).” Says Dr Maffetone “Some people rely on larger amounts of fat, with the result of high physical and mental vigor, improved health, and better all-around performance.“

If you are not able to burn fat and rely mostly on sugar for energy, then you will burn less fat in day-to-day life but more importantly you are neglecting one of the primary fuel sources that will enhance your training and race experiences. In addition, you will have the highs and lows that are associated with the ‘spikes’ from a high sugar diet, you will gain body fat and weight and you may very well feel sluggish with less consistent energy to perform daily tasks.

Is a Paleo lifestyle something that you now feel will enhance your life?

But Paleo is only one aspect of the Maffetone Method. If you want to switch on the fat burning mechanism within your body and enhance it, then we need to look at how we undertake our physical activity. Dr Maffetone pioneered this process way back in the 80’s with Mark Allen (now a highly respected champion Ironman Triathlete).

We need to train our Aerobic system.

“By stimulating the full spectrum of slow-twitch muscle fibers, which rely on fat for fuel, improvements in the heart and lungs with increased circulation and better brain function also occur.”

If we don’t train our fat burning system we are missing a really key component that will enable us to function at the best of our ability, we actually run the risk of becoming aerobically deficient.

Dr Maffetone explains, “Being aerobically deficient is a common syndrome associated with fatigue, increased weight and body fat, reduced immune function, physical disability, and hormonal imbalance.”

The Maffetone Method also covers so many other aspects such controlling chronic inflammation and stress management, which you may like to follow up on in one of his many publications.

  • “In Health & Fitness” by Dr Phil Maffetone HERE
  • “The Maffetone Method” by Dr Phil Maffetone HERE

I caught up with Dr Maffetone for episode 32 of Talk Ultra and we discussed the Aerobic system and Paleo diet. You can listen to the full interview HERE

Aerobic Training

How do you calculate your own maximum aerobic training heart rate?

To find your maximum aerobic training heart rate, there are two important steps to the Maffetone Method:

1. Subtract your age from 180.

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

a. 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.

b. 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.

c. 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.

d. 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). 

In this example, 145 will be the highest heart rate for all training. This is highly aerobic, allowing you to most efficiently build an aerobic base. Training above this heart rate rapidly incorporates anaerobic function, exemplified by a shift to burning more sugar and less fat for fuel.

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 is 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.

Initially, training at this relatively low rate may be stressful for many athletes. “I just can’t train that slowly!” is a common comment. But after a short time, you will feel better and your pace will quicken at that same heart rate. You will not be stuck training at that relatively slow pace for too long. Still, for many athletes it is difficult to change bad habits.

CASE STUDY taken and edited from markallenonline.com

Mark Allen says:

During my 15 years of racing in the sport of triathlons I searched for those few golden tools that would allow me to maximize my training time and come up with the race results I envisioned. At the top of that list was heart rate training. It was and still is the single most potent tool an endurance athlete can use to set the intensity levels of workouts in a way that will allow for long-term athletic performance. Yes, there are other options like lactate testing, power output and pace, but all of these have certain shortcomings that make them less universally applicable than heart rate.

In our sport there are three key areas of fitness that you will be developing. These are speed, strength and endurance. Strength is fairly straightforward to do. Two days per week in the gym focusing on an overall body-strengthening program is what will do the trick.

Next are the focused workouts that will give you raw speed. This is perhaps the most well known part to anyone’s training. These are your interval or speed sessions where you focus on a approaching a maximal output or your top speed at some point in each of these key sessions. But again, developing speed in and of itself is a fairly simple process. It just requires putting the pain sensors in neutral and going for it for short periods of time.

Now for the tougher part…the endurance. This is where heart rate training becomes king. Endurance is THE most important piece of a triathlete’s fitness (or ultra runner). Why is it tough to develop? Simply put, it is challenging because it usually means an athlete will have to slow things down from their normal group training pace to effectively develop their aerobic engine and being guided by what is going on with your heart rate rather than your will to the champion of the daily training sessions with your training partners!

For those patient enough to do just that, once the aerobic engine is built the speed work will have a profound positive effect their fitness and allow for a longer-lasting improvement in performance than for those who blast away from the first day of training each year.

What is the solution to maximizing your endurance engine? It’s called a heart rate monitor. And using one in the way I am going to describe will not only help you shed those last few pounds, but will enable you to do it without either killing yourself in training or starving yourself at the dinner table.

I lived by the motto “No Pain, No Gain” motto. And it worked…sort of. I had some good races the first year or two, but I also suffered from minor injuries and was always feeling one run away from being too burned out to want to continue with my training.

Then came the heart rate monitor. A man named Phil Maffetone, who had done a lot of research with the monitors, contacted me. He had me try one out according to a very specific protocol. Phil said that I was doing too much anaerobic training, too much speed work, too many high end/high heart rate sessions. I was forcing my body into a chemistry that only burns carbohydrates for fuel by elevating my heart rate so high each time I went out and ran.

So he told me to go to the track, strap on the heart rate monitor, and keep my heart rate below 155 beats per minute.

Maffetone told me that below this number that my body would be able to take in enough oxygen to burn fat as the main source of fuel for my muscle to move. I was going to develop my aerobic/fat burning system. What I discovered was a shock.

To keep my heart rate below 155 beats/minute, I had to slow my pace down to an 8:15 mile. That’s three minutes/mile SLOWER than I had been trying to hit in every single workout I did!

My body just couldn’t utilize fat for fuel.

So, for the next four months, I did exclusively aerobic training keeping my heart rate at or below my maximum aerobic heart rate, using the monitor every single workout. And at the end of that period, my pace at the same heart rate of 155 beats/minute had improved by over a minute. And after nearly a year of doing mostly aerobic training, which by the way was much more comfortable and less taxing than the anaerobic style that I was used to, my pace at 155 beats/minute had improved to a blistering 5:20 mile.

That means that I was now able to burn fat for fuel efficiently enough to hold a pace that a year before was redlining my effort at a maximum heart rate of about 190. I had become an aerobic machine!

On top of the speed benefit at lower heart rates, I was no longer feeling like I was ready for an injury the next run I went on, and I was feeling fresh after my workouts instead of being totally wasted from them.

Now use the 180 Formula as outlined above and….

Go out and do ALL of your cardiovascular training at or below this heart rate and see how your pace improves. After just a few weeks you should start to see a dramatic improvement in the speed you can go at these lower heart rates.

Over time, however, you will get the maximum benefit possible from doing just aerobic training. At that point, after several months of seeing your pace get faster at your maximum aerobic heart rate, you will begin to slow down. This is the sign that if you want to continue to improve on your speed, it is time to go back to the high end interval anaerobic training one or two days/week. So, you will have to go back to the “NO Pain, NO Gain” credo once again. But this time your body will be able to handle it. Keep at the intervals and you will see your pace improve once again for a period.

But just like the aerobic training, there is a limit to the benefit you will receive from anaerobic/carbohydrate training. At that point, you will see your speed start to slow down again. And that is the signal that it is time to switch back to a strict diet of aerobic/fat burning training.

Who is Mark Allen?

Mark Allen was born January 12, 1958 and is the six-time Ironman Triathlon World Champion. He graduated from Diego, where he was an All-American swimmer, with a degree in biology. After competing and losing in the Ironman Triathlon Championships six times, Mark Allen emerged victorious in 1989, winning one of the most difficult one-day sporting events in the world. It would be the first of six Ironman victories for Allen, the last coming in 1995 at age 37.

Web Site markallenonline.com

What is Paleo?

We have had some excellent discussions on Talk Ultra in the ‘Talk Training’ element of the show and I recommend that you go back and listen to them. In particular, my discussion with Barry Murray in episode 19 available HERE

The Paleolithic (‘Paleo’) lifestyle has been gaining a lot of interest lately. It has gained increased momentum recently with such notable figures as Prof Tim Noakes and Comrades legend, Bruce Fordyce changing to this way of eating and reaping the benefits. So much so, that Prof Tim Noakes is re writing the nutrition section of his iconic book “The Lore of Running’.

Followers of a Paleo lifestyle are finding that they loose weight quickly as well as generally feel better once their bodies adjust to it.

Paleo is a call to old food values for millions of years ago before a relatively recent event, ‘The Agricultural Revolution’, completely changed the way humans eat.

But what does Paleo mean for you and your running lifestyle?

Well, it will mean a complete change for many… A daily diet of rice, pasta or potatoes will go. No grains, no bread, and especially no sugar or processed carbs, nothing that comes out of a box or a carton and no vegetable oils.

Nothing labeled “low fat” or “light”. Low or light usually means fat is removed and replaced with processed sugar.

I can hear you now, but that is what I eat. I live on rice, pasta and bread.

Paleo is high fat, medium protein, and low carb. It is about eating plenty of meat, eggs, fish, vegetables, fruits and nuts. The emphasis of this diet is based around eating fats of all kinds such as the ones found in Canola oil. Ideally when cooking, you will use coconut oil or butter.

Paleo and exercise work well together and as we have explored with Dr Phil Maffetone and the case study of Mark Allen, if you are patient the rewards can be reaped. Many ultra runners (amongst other athletes) are switching to a Paleo approach, 2012 Western States winner; Timothy Olson is a classic example.

You may find this article taken from ‘Me & My Diabetes’ of interest.

Earlier this summer, Steve Phinney and Jeff Volek, authors of The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Performance, headed to the Western States 100-mile Endurance Run, to study how runners in this grueling race fared, literally, for they were checking how the athletes performed, AND how they ate.

Link HERE

Ultimately, and I love this quote, this article is ‘Food for Thought’. Paleo has been around for years and recently its prominence has grown. Just like barefoot running became the next best thing after the book ‘Born to Run’, Paleo may very well be the next best diet. I however feel that having investigated it for months that a Paleo approach, or should I say, a reduction in carbohydrate is certainly a direction that can reap rewards and benefits.

But it’s all about the individual and finding out what works for you!

I’d love to get your feedback and stories both for and against all that has been mentioned above.