Episode 188 – Zach Bitter 100-mile Treadmill WR Special

Episode 188 – A Zach Bitter special all about his 100-mile treadmill world record (tbc) established on May 16 2020.
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ZACH BITTER SPECIAL

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ZACH BITTER 100 Mile World Record Attempt, May 16

Zach Bitter is no stranger to tough endurance challenges. He currently is the World Record holder for 100-miles on a track, setting an incredible time of 11-hours, 19-minutes and 13-seconds.

On May 16th starting at 0700 (PST) he will take on the challenge of setting a new treadmill world record, the time to beat 12-hours 32-minutes set by Dave Proctor.

The whole event will be streamed live via YouTube broken down in 2-hour slots. I (ian Corless) will host the first slot followed by Jamil Coury, Dean Karnazes and Dave Scott, Fight for the Forgotten, Erik Schranz and finally, Zach’s wife, Nicole Bitter.

Throughout the day, the hosts will be joined by a plethora of guests as the whole world record attempt will be discussed live.

GO HERE FOR THE LIVE FEED

Zach Pre-Event Q&A

What was your A-Race plans in 2020?

I had planned on peaking for a track 100-mile race in London in April, called the Centurion 100. World 100km Championships was slated for September in Winschoten Netherlands, which was likely going to be a focal part of my early Fall. Beyond that, I had planned on doing some local events near Phoenix through Aravaipa who puts on over 30 events per year and are a blast to jump into. 

Why do you like running 100milers on track?

I really like the comparability. If I do a 100-mile race on a track, it is easier to tease out improvements, mistakes, etc… from one event to the next. I also really like the process of finding out how fast I can run 100 miles when there as few hurdles in the way. I love the trails too, but they just tend to be more varied.

What is it that you like or intrigues you about running on a treadmill – and going after treadmill 100mile WR?

I big part is simply that with all events being cancelled, it gives me the opportunity to test my fitness and my most recent training cycle. I have been running ultra-marathons for almost ten years now, so hoping on a treadmill for a significantly longer time than I have spent on one (30 miles is the furthest I have gone to date) has enough uncertainty that it makes it exciting, but is close enough to my strengths that I feel I can put together a solid performance if things go well.

What’s your approach to mentally handling 12hours running – on a track, and now on a treadmill? 

I usually focus on three main things. First, I like to pick small benchmarks to focus on throughout the day, so you do not burn too much mental energy thinking about running 100 miles or 12 hours all day long. Second, I like to visualize in my race specific long sessions where I would be on race/event day, so for my longer sessions on the treadmill I pretend I am that far from finishing and visualize what it will be like on race/event day. Third, I like to rotate distractions like listening to music, or picking a short distance to target and visualize where I would be on one of my favorite running routes at home. 

What been your mileage – to build up a base into this WR attempt?

I have been consistently hitting up to 120 miles per week the last month. A lot of it being at aerobic threshold or just below, with a few bouts of lactic threshold work, and few long runs at goal 12-hour intensity.

What has your taper been like for this WR attempt?

Pretty typical to what I normally do. I usually taper for about two weeks. I drop volume and intensity a bit and give myself more time between any key sessions.

Can you tell us about your fueling philosophy in training/living and racing – in terms of carbs/fats etc.? 

I follow a HFLC diet. It is not a strict keto diet or zero carb approach, although I will tease those ranges during offseason or recovery blocks. The races I do are quite long, so be default lower in intensity. The fueling variable and potential digestion issues that come with it makes it easier for me to follow a lower carb approach. On race day, I will switch from using SFuels Train/Life to SFuels Race+. Essentially, my fueling goal on race day is designed to defend muscle glycogen with exogenous carbs just enough to have gas in the tank at the end.

What are the big learnings in performance, recovery, training consistency with a low-carb high fat approach to training and racing?

For me personally, I find it to be more consistent. I find it easier to count on quality sleep, and even levels of energy. This no doubt adds to consistency in training. I couldn’t explain why, but I also notice that I have better range of motion following big efforts in training and racing.

At what points in the year would you go Ketogenic, vs. lower-carb/higher fat?

Usually, it is most common during the less structured portions of my year. When I finish a big race and have carved out a couple weeks to focus primarily on recovery and do not have any specific workouts on the schedule is a common spot for me. Off season time as well. When I do my biggest training blocks, I almost always have de-load weeks built into the program, which sometimes reduce volume and intensity by as much as 50 percent. These weeks are another spot where I am usually more inclined to steer closer to strict keto.

Tell us about your race fueling in terms of calories you will be taking on each hour?

For races that I am targeting my training around, I will typically aim for approximately 40 grams of carbohydrate per hour. My experience has been that 40 grams an hour provides me enough exogenous carbohydrate to defend glycogen, but not so much that it results in stomach/digestive issues.

What will a good day look like on May 16 – for you?  in terms of feeling in the first 30miles, the middle of the race and the last 30 miles?

There will be a lot of uncertainty for this event. It is a bit harder to predict things that I have not done before, and I try to respect the unknown. Since I have not run past 30 miles on a treadmill, there will likely be some on the fly adjustments being made, but this is what makes this adventure exciting to me. Ultimately, my number one goal is to give folks a sense of community during these isolated times and bring awareness to Fight For The Forgotten. Normally, for a 100-mile event, I would describe a good day as consistent with a strong finish, so likely tight splits with not too much variance from one mile to the next. For this event, I think there may be some benefit from skewing my pacing throughout the event to change up mechanics and give myself more of a variety of targets throughout the day. This type of strategy might be helpful in breaking up the day into smaller segments. With that said, I would like to get to 100 miles before the clock hits 12-hours, however that plays out. Regardless of the pacing strategy, a good day will likely have me feel fresh at 30-miles, a bit worn but focused at 60-70 miles, similar to how I would feel for a long run at the back end of a big training week, and driven to push on tired legs for the final 30 miles.

What is your sense on what it will take to set a new World Record – in terms of race pace through the race?

Dave Proctor’s current 100-mile treadmill world record is approximately 7:30 per mile, so it will take at least that. I am relatively fresh from a racing standpoint and my fitness is on par with similar build ups I have done in the past when running under 12-hours for 100 miles. You never know with 100 miles though. Anything can happen and some hurdles will likely happen, so all you can really do is show up ready, trust the process, and see what the day provides.

The event is sponsored by:

SFUELS, NORDICTRACK, ALTRA, BUFF, COROS and PURPOSE.

TUNE IN ON MAY 16 HERE

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