Episode 145 – Jeff Browning and Mark Hammond

Episode 145 of Talk Ultra brings you an interview with Jeff Browning who has been dominating the 100-mile racing scene with a string of highly placed finishes – but how? Jeff tells us the secrets of his success in a fascinating interview. We also speak with Mark Hammond who placed 3rd at Western States this year. We have the news and Speedgoat Karl is co-hosting
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00:10:10 NEWS
Speedgoat wins 50k a good sign for his next 100.
ELS 2900
Ne format for this year as alpinists took part as teams of two and they had to navigate. Lina and Sanna El Kott Helander won the ladies race and Dominic Trastoy and Lluis Sanvicente won the men’s, times 21:05 and 16:41 respectively.
Lakes in a Day UK
Katie Kaars smashed the ladies old CR in a new time of 10:46:29 for the 50-miles and bagged a £1000 bonus. She also placed 3rd overall.
For the men, Marcis Gubats took top honours in 10:18:39, Jack Casey 2nd in 10:43:49 and Nick Green 3rd man (4th overall) in 11:04:07.
Elizaveta Ershova and Liz Barker placed 2nd and 3rd ladies’ respectively in 11:52:54 and 12:50:31.
Report HERE
Limone Extreme SkyRace
Marco De Gasperi took the top honours and the 2017 SWS title, a fitting reward for the Skyrunning legend who started the sport aged 16! Tove Alexandersson, an orienteer world champ, took the female victory in an impressive and committed finish that saw her collapse on the line covered in blood from numerous falls.
Jan Margarit and Stefan Knopf placed 2nd and 3rd and Michelle Maier and Ragna Debats took the podium slots for the ladies.
Sheila Aviles joined De Gasperi as the 2017 SWS champ for the Sky Classic distance.
The COMBINED title was won by Jonathan Albon and Maite Maiora.
Report HERE
Moab 200
Courtney Dauwalter runs an incredible 57-hours and 52-minutes for an outright win. Sean Nakamura won the men’s race.
John Muir Trail FKT
Francois D’Haene obliterated the JMT FKT by 12 hours finishing in 2-days, 19-hours and 26-minutes. This result coming so soon after winning the UTMB!
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00:40:01 Interview with JEFF BROWNING
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02:04:27 Interview with MARK HAMMOND
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UP & COMING RACES

Argentina

Puna Inca Trail | 200 kilometers | November 03, 2017 | website

Australia

Queensland

100 km | 100 kilometers | October 21, 2017 | website
50 km | 50 kilometers | October 21, 2017 | website
Run to Paradise Ultra Marathon | 74 kilometers | October 22, 2017 | website

South Australia

105 km | 105 kilometers | October 28, 2017 | website
57 km | 57 kilometers | October 28, 2017 | website

Victoria

100 km | 100 kilometers | October 22, 2017 | website
50 km | 50 kilometers | October 22, 2017 | website

Canada

Ontario

50 km | 50 kilometers | October 21, 2017 | website

Croatia

109,8 km | 109 kilometers | October 20, 2017 | website
161.4 km | 161 kilometers | October 20, 2017 | website
57 km | 57 kilometers | October 21, 2017 | website

Ecuador

50K | 50 kilometers | October 21, 2017 | website

France

Aude

Raid des Bogomiles | 101 kilometers | October 20, 2017 | website

Aveyron

Boffi Fifty | 50 kilometers | October 21, 2017 | website
Endurance Trail | 100 kilometers | October 20, 2017 | website
Trail des Hospitaliers | 75 kilometers | October 29, 2017 | website

Calvados

Raid solo 52 km | 52 kilometers | October 21, 2017 | website

Corse-du-Sud

CCR Bleu Long | 86 kilometers | October 26, 2017 | website
CCR Rouge Court | 78 kilometers | October 22, 2017 | website
CCR Rouge Long | 166 kilometers | October 22, 2017 | website

Savoie

75 km | 75 kilometers | October 22, 2017 | website
Grand trail du lac – 80km | 80 kilometers | October 22, 2017 | website

Germany

North Rhine-Westphalia

Röntgenlauf Ultramarathon | 63 kilometers | October 29, 2017 | website

Greece

Rodopi Advendurun 100 miles | 100 miles | October 20, 2017 | website

Hong-Kong

Salomon LT 70 | 70 kilometers | October 28, 2017 | website

India

Meghalaya

70k Ultra | 70 kilometers | October 28, 2017 | website

West Bengal

Himalayan 100 Mile Stage Race | 100 miles | October 29, 2017 | website

Israel

Ultra Marathon Sovev Emek – 61 Km Run | 61 kilometers | October 26, 2017 | website

Italy

Campania

Amalfi Coast Trail | 87 kilometers | October 22, 2017 | website

Friuli-Venezia Giulia

Ert Rommel Trail 64k | 64 kilometers | October 28, 2017 | website

Piedmont

120 km | 120 kilometers | October 20, 2017 | website
57 km | 57 kilometers | October 20, 2017 | website
82 km | 82 kilometers | October 20, 2017 | website

Morocco

Race Désert Marathon | 100 kilometers | October 25, 2017 | website

Nepal

Annapurna 100 | 100 kilometers | October 28, 2017 | website
Annapurna 50k | 50 kilometers | October 28, 2017 | website
Solukhumbu Trail | 289 kilometers | October 27, 2017 | website

New Zealand

Norway

100 Miles | 100 miles | October 21, 2017 | website

Réunion

La Mascareignes | 67 kilometers | October 20, 2017 | website
Trail de Bourbon | 111 kilometers | October 20, 2017 | website

South Africa

Bonitas Golden Gate Challenge | 70 kilometers | October 20, 2017 | website
Kalahari Augrabies Extreme Marathon | 250 kilometers | October 26, 2017 | website

Spain

Andalusia

Ultima Frontera – 166 km | 166 kilometers | October 21, 2017 | website
Ultima Frontera – 55 km | 55 kilometers | October 21, 2017 | website
Ultima Frontera – 83 km | 83 kilometers | October 21, 2017 | website

Catalonia

LTSM | 66 kilometers | October 21, 2017 | website
Ultra Trail de la Serra de Montsant | 100 kilometers | October 21, 2017 | website

Principality of Asturias

Ultra Trail Oscos Natural | 55 kilometers | October 21, 2017 | website

Valencian Community

Mondúber Utrail | 66 kilometers | October 28, 2017 | website

Sweden

Markusloppet | 50 kilometers | October 28, 2017 | website

Turkey

Cappadocia Trail 60km | 61 kilometers | October 21, 2017 | website
Salomon Cappadocia Ultra Trail® | 114 kilometers | October 21, 2017 | website

United Kingdom

City of Edinburgh

50 km | 50 kilometers | October 22, 2017 | website

Cumbria

Ennerdale 50k Trail Run | 50 kilometers | October 21, 2017 | website
Original Mountain Marathon | 52 miles | October 28, 2017 | website

Oxfordshire

Autumn 100 | 100 miles | October 21, 2017 | website

Powys

Rebellion | 135 miles | November 03, 2017 | website

Suffolk

Coastal Trail Series – Suffolk – Ultra | 34 miles | October 21, 2017 | website

Worcestershire

Halloween 7in7 | 295 kilometers | October 30, 2017 | website

USA

Arizona

100K | 100 kilometers | October 28, 2017 | website
Javelina Jundred 100 Mile Endurance Run | 100 miles | October 28, 2017 | website

California

Lake Hodges 50K | 50 kilometers | October 28, 2017 | website
Ragnar Relay Napa Valley | 186 miles | November 03, 2017 | website
Reebok Ragnar Napa Valley | 200 miles | November 03, 2017 | website

Colorado

50K | 50 kilometers | October 22, 2017 | website
Indian Creek 51 km | 51 kilometers | October 21, 2017 | website
Indian Creek 52 Mile | 52 miles | October 21, 2017 | website

Connecticut

Bimbler’s Bluff 50k | 50 kilometers | October 22, 2017 | website
Scantic Valley Six-Hour Ultra Marathon | 50 kilometers | October 29, 2017 | website

Delaware

Sinnemahone Ultra Marathon 50K | 50 kilometers | October 21, 2017 | website

Florida

80 Mile Relay | 80 miles | October 21, 2017 | website
Jacks 50k Trail Race | 50 kilometers | October 22, 2017 | website
“Running for the Bay!” 50K | 50 kilometers | October 22, 2017 | website

Georgia

Running Dead Ultra 100M | 100 miles | October 20, 2017 | website
Running Dead Ultra 50M | 50 miles | October 20, 2017 | website

Hawaii

Peacock Challenge 55 Mile Run | 55 miles | October 21, 2017 | website
Peacock Ultramarathons 100K | 100 kilometers | October 21, 2017 | website
Peacock Ultramarathons 50K | 50 kilometers | October 21, 2017 | website

Illinois

Chicago Lakefront 50K | 50 kilometers | October 28, 2017 | website

Kansas

Kansas Rails-to-Trails 100 Mile | 100 miles | October 28, 2017 | website
Prairie Spirit Trail Fall Classic 50K | 50 kilometers | October 28, 2017 | website
Prairie Spirit Trail Fall Classic 50 Mile | 50 miles | October 28, 2017 | website

Louisiana

50K | 50 kilometers | October 21, 2017 | website

Maryland

Patapsco Valley 50K | 50 kilometers | October 28, 2017 | website

Michigan

Y’OPA Halloween Costume 5K Run | 70 miles | October 28, 2017 | website

Minnesota

Surf the Murph 50K | 50 kilometers | October 21, 2017 | website
Surf the Murph 50M | 50 miles | October 21, 2017 | website

Missouri

50K | 50 kilometers | October 29, 2017 | website

Nebraska

G.O.A.T.z 50K Trail Run | 50 kilometers | October 22, 2017 | website

New Hampshire

Ghost Train Ultra Race 100M | 100 miles | October 22, 2017 | website
Ghost Train Ultra Race 45M | 45 miles | October 22, 2017 | website
Ghost Train Ultra Race 60M | 60 miles | October 22, 2017 | website
Ghost Train Ultra Race 75M | 75 miles | October 22, 2017 | website
Ghost Train Ultra Race 90M | 90 miles | October 22, 2017 | website

New Jersey

100 Mile | 100 miles | October 21, 2017 | website
50K | 50 kilometers | October 21, 2017 | website
50 Mile | 50 miles | October 21, 2017 | website
The Teaneck 5K Walk/Run for Children with Cancer | 5000 kilometers | October 22, 2017 | website

North Carolina

Allison Woods Halloween Hobble | 100 miles | October 28, 2017 | website
Triple Lakes Trail 40 Mile Run | 40 miles | October 21, 2017 | website
Tuna Run 200 | 200 miles | October 20, 2017 | website
Tuna Run 70 | 70 miles | October 21, 2017 | website
Uwharrie 100K Trail Run | 100 kilometers | October 21, 2017 | website
Uwharrie 100 Mile Trail Run | 100 miles | October 21, 2017 | website

Ohio

Run With Scissors Double Marathon | 52 miles | October 28, 2017 | website

Oklahoma

100K | 100 kilometers | October 21, 2017 | website
100 Mile | 100 miles | October 21, 2017 | website
135.6 Miler | 135 miles | October 21, 2017 | website
50K | 50 kilometers | October 21, 2017 | website

South Carolina

Paris Mountain 50k | 50 kilometers | October 21, 2017 | website

Tennessee

100K | 100 kilometers | October 21, 2017 | website
100 Miler | 100 miles | October 21, 2017 | website
50K | 50 kilometers | October 21, 2017 | website

Texas

50k | 50 kilometers | October 21, 2017 | website
50K | 50 kilometers | October 24, 2017 | website
Cactus Rose 100 Mi Trail Run | 100 miles | October 28, 2017 | website
Cactus Rose 50 Mi Trail Run | 50 miles | October 28, 2017 | website
Trans-Pecos Ultra | 163 miles | October 22, 2017 | website

Utah

Atlas St. George | 40 miles | October 27, 2017 | website
Goblin Valley Ultra 50K | 50 kilometers | October 28, 2017 | website
Pony Express Trail 100 | 100 miles | October 20, 2017 | website
Pony Express Trail 50 | 50 miles | October 20, 2017 | website

Virginia

The Wild Oak Trail 100 “Hot” TWOT | 100 miles | October 20, 2017 | website

West Virginia

33 Miles | 33 miles | October 28, 2017 | website
34 Miles | 34 miles | October 28, 2017 | website
40 Miles | 40 miles | October 28, 2017 | website

Wisconsin

50K | 50 kilometers | October 29, 2017 | website

Vietnam

120 km | 120 kilometers | October 22, 2017 | website
70 km | 70 kilometers | October 22, 2017 | website
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02:40:06 CLOSE
02:43:19
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Website – talkultra.com

FAT a burning question for the long distance runner

©iancorless.com_MDS2016-6159

Racing in any running race requires a specific and targeted approach to your objective. The objective can be a one day race of a short distance, a medium distance race such as a marathon or maybe you are going to run long, 50 miles or more… You may even be running for multiple days?

The important thing to remember is that ‘training’ and ‘racing’ are 2 separate things and your fuelling approach should reflect this.

Any long distance event will require you (a unique individual) to utilise fat as a fuel source. You can teach your body to utilise a greater amount of fat as fuel and also to use less calories overall, making you more economical.

Other factors come into play, for example, someone who will be in the top 5% of the race results will have different needs to a runner in the final 5%. However, fat as a fuel is used and we can all adapt.

If you follow the guidance below over a 12-16 week training period you will adapt to fat usage.

Run at the correct intensity -slow and steady. Find out a specific heart rate zone in which to work. Maffetone method is a good starting place.

Avoid fluctuations in intensity when training long, average heart rate or power output are NOT the critical figures, it’s TIME IN ZONE that counts.

Eat foods which are balanced with low GI (glycemic index) carbohydrates and fats to encourage fat usage and avoid sugar spikes.

Avoid gels and sugar products based on point 3 above.

What happens during the race?

Let’s assume that while racing you burn 700kcal per hour, 50% of which comes from carbohydrate and 50% of which comes from fat. Carbohydrate loss is the one to worry about, in this scenario, 350cals (50% of 700). 350kcal of carbohydrate equates to 88 grams of carbohydrate (4 kcal per gram).

Here’s the big problem!

Most individuals can only absorb approximately 60g+/- of carbohydrate per hour.

A simple way to look at this is by looking at ‘you’ as a car ferry. The cars that you will fit in the ferry boat carry carbohydrate, lets say 10g per car. Your car ferry only holds so many cars… in our scenario it is 6!

But we have already worked out that you as an individual burning 50/50 carb and fat require 88g of carb. That is 8.8 cars.

So, you line up 9 cars on the dock every hour but only 6 fit. This leaves 3 on the dock. The boat sails away, comes back 1-hour later and 9 new cars have arrived in addition to the 3 you left waiting…

This is the same as adding carbs through your intestine wall to your blood stream. If you carry on missing 2.8 cars every hour, one thing is guaranteed to happen – you will either need to slow down or you will blow up!

As stated, a typical person can absorb 60gram +/- per hour.

For our example above, that means that you’re going to fall short. You’re using 88 grams per hour and you can only replace 60 grams per hour. That’s a 28 gram / 112 kcal per hour deficit.

If you try to eat more (an additional 2.8 cars) every hour, it’s unlikely to be digested and will simply sit in your stomach or intestines without providing energy. That may be okay for 1-hour, possibly 2 but then the classic scenario of stomach distress happens. How many runners have you talked to that have complained of stomach distress while running?

It’s really important that you understand, eating more food doesn’t mean you’ll have more energy and it may well mean that you’ll face stomach upsets.

Our above scenario works on the presumption that you are only using 700kcal per hour, bigger people and less efficient people may be using more? Our scenario also assumes that 50% is coming from fat and 50% fro carb – that may not be the case at all! In-fact, as much as 80-100% of energy may be coming from carbohydrate! A disaster for the endurance athlete.

Take multi-day racing for example when you are racing day-after-day with compromised recovery and limited calories. You just simply cannot carry enough carbohydrates to sustain you over the period of an event, particularly if it is a self-sufficient event such as the Marathon des Sables.

To move forward effectively armed with good knowledge about you as a person, you need to address 3 questions:

How many calories do I burn per hour?

How many of those calories come from fat and carbohydrate?

How many calories and what percentage of fat/ carb should I be taking in as a consequence?

Do a 1 hour run at your ‘race pace’ and then use your heart rate monitor to calculate how many calories per hour you are using when exercising at that intensity. These figures can be somewhat unpredictable but it will provide a starting point from which to work from.

Most heart rate monitors will use your age and weight to work out kcal per hour. This will only give you an approximate calorie burn per hour and won’t tell you what % of energy comes from carb/ fat. There are some tools on the internet such as: http://www.braydenwm.com/calburn.htm which can help to give you a basic idea.

Working scenario:

Billy is 43, weighs 82 kg and is racing a 100 mile race, he falls into a category of 65 carb /35 fat fuel usage. Billy has one main objective – to complete the event without major disaster and to run as much as possible. Billy running at his proposed race pace will use 820 Kcal per hour, so the calculation works like this:

65/35

Fat contribution:  820 Kcal x 35% = 287 Kcal

Carbohydrate contribution: 820 Kcal x 65% = 533 Kcal

Calories from fat do not need to be replaced – we all have plenty of stores. However, carbohydrate NEEDS replenishing and the body can only hold so much. 1g of carb is 4kcal. So, Billy will require 133g per hour!

Uh oh! We have already clearly said that around 60g of carb per hour is all that we can take. Billy is in trouble… he is missing out on 73g per hour. Remember the car ferry and the cars sitting on the dock waiting to get on the boat – Billy, racing over 100-miles will need a multi-story car park for the cars that won’t fit on his boat.

Although Billy is a ’sample’ case, this scenario happens time and time again in races all over the world.

How do you solve this problem?

Billy needs to utilise fat as a fuel more and be less reliant on carb.

The body is pretty clever. It is able to switch its metabolism. So, in the case of Billy, the availability of carbohydrate is becoming an issue, as a result the body will start to utilise fat stores. This is a good thing. Yes? Well yes but one thing will have to happen – Billy will need to slow down. Now for many of us, that is not an issue as a finish is a primary goal. However, this can be hard to take and yes, you may well feel lousy. More importantly, pre-race objectives may go out of the window… target times will be lost and a possible top-10 (if that was an objective) will also go out of the window.

Let’s cut to the chase

If more of your energy comes from fat, you’re less likely to run out of carbohydrate. The best athletes in the world require energy (Kcal) to run at race speed. If a large chunk of that energy requirement comes from fat, their total carbohydrate use is reduced.

As an example, by making changes to Billy’s training and diet, the new version arrives for the 100-mile race using only 700Kcal per hour and 55% of energy is being provided by fat.

A quick maths calculation reveals the following:

1. He’s using 315 Kcal of carbohydrate per hour on the run, compared to the previous figure of 533

2. With his intake of 60 grams per hour (240 Kcal), he now only has a deficit of 75 Kcal per hour compared previously with 292 Kcal (73 grams)

3. As a consequence, Billy could run the whole 100-mile race with a smile.

In conclusion:

For you to run an ultra feeling comfortable, relaxed, efficient and on target, you need to go away and find out:

How many calories do you burn per hour?

How many of those calories come from fat and carbohydrate?

How many calories and what percentage of fat/ carb should I be taking in as a consequence?

You may well find that you need some specific help in working out some of the data and figures outlined above.

A Metabolic Rate Test HERE and a Metabolic Test is the way forward HERE.

In training (not all training, just the slow/ steady runs):

To recap earlier points:

Run at the correct intensity – slow and steady. Find out a specific heart rate zone in which to work. Maffetone method is a good starting place.

Avoid fluctuations in intensity, average heart rate or power output are NOT the critical figures, it’s TIME IN ZONE that counts.

Eat foods which are balanced with low GI (glycymic index) carbohydrates and fats to encourage fat usage and avoid sugar spikes.

Avoid gels and sugar products.

Finally, daily diet plays a key role in overall adaptation. Simple sugars, processed food and so on are all bad in day-to-day life for an endurance athlete. Keep them at a minimum and as a treat.

Periodise your eating just as you would training.

Think about dietary fat and fat-burning and think low carb.

A low carb and high fat (LCHF) diet forces ones body to burn fat. As you will now know, fat stores are pretty much unlimited even in the skinniest guy or girl. Optimising ones body to use fat will use less carbs and allow you to perform longer. This becomes even more relevant in long endurance events, especially when the pace is slower and the energy requirement to run at a certain pace is lower.

Notice I say low carb and not no carb! Carb has a place in your diet, it just needs to be consumed at the correct times and make sure the carbs you eat are low GI and good quality. Avoid white pasta, white bread, anything refined and potatoes for example (high GI) and eat sweet potato, beans, whole grains (but be careful) and plenty of vegetables (low GI).

Protein is also key for recovery, muscle growth and repair.

A typical runners diet, broken down into percentages of fat, protein and carb would have often (and in many cases still does) look like this:

Carb 60%

Protein 15%

Fat 25%

The modern day ultra, endurance or multistage runner has percentages that look like this:

Fat 50%

Protein 30%

Carb 20%

Of course, we have all been told that high fat is bad for us but sugar and in particular, refined sugar is the real evil and in day-to-day life it just doesn’t help you as an ultra runner.

Note though, fat should be good quality – oily fish, nuts, seeds, good quality meat, olive oil and so on. Bad fats are the obvious ones such as crisps etc.

Periodise your food intake

Just like you will plan training – intervals, hills, long runs and so on. Food should also be planned in-line with training and racing needs. I will write more on this in another post.

In simple terms:

Train fasted for long runs and keep your pace low to promote fat burning. Actually eating fat before a long run has benefits in helping and promoting fat burn. As does coffee. Try Bulletproof coffee before long and slow runs, read here

Recovery consume a little good quality carbohydrate post training, ideally within a window of 30 to 40-minutes and include good quality lean proteins.

Racing

When racing a long distance race, you as a runner will be far more efficient at using the calories that you have within your body if you follow the guidelines above. We have already said that the body can only hold so much carbohydrate, so, if you have your fat burning turned on you will go longer. Your food requirements whilst racing will also change and you will require less sugary products to keep you going.

Pace (the speed you run) will also impact on how the carb/ fat ratio is used. Runners who are racing (looking for a top placing) incorporate different methods to perform. Often called, ‘train low and race high’ – Timothy Olson for example is a good example. Timothy eats high-fat and low carb in training and day-to-day life but when he races he uses sugar (such as gels) to fuel him during the run. His training has adapted him to use less gels (he uses more fat as fuel), last longer and each sugar smack he gets while racing has less work to do as his carb stores are always being used in conjunction with fat.

Carb loading has been used for years and it’s often misunderstood. How many times have you seen or heard a runner gorging on carb for days before a race – why? We already know that our body can hold so much stored carb (approx 2500 cal) so, when we ‘carb load’ we are basically making sure that our carb stores are full pre a race. Don’t over indulge. It will just sit in your stomach, cause discomfort and make you feel lethargic and more than likely, you will add weight to your frame. As a guide in the 24-hour period before your race, keep a balanced diet but up the carb % say from 20 to 35/40%. Again, make this good carb – low GI.

What is key here is finding what works for you.

“The benefits of low carbs really start to distinguish themselves when you get beyond the marathon, because you’re definitely running out of carbs then,” – Jeff Volek

©iancorless.com_MDS2016_Day4_0064

Always check with a medical professional before making any drastic change to your eating  or training regime. The information provided in this post is designed to make you question and pursue an opportunity to enhance your training and racing and we stress that you must find out what personally works for you.

Thanks to Marc Laithwaite for his contribution to this post.

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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.

Episode 32 – Richard Bowles, Dr Phil Maffetone

Talk Ultra Ep32

Speedgoat makes it no35 out of 60 at Antelope 100… We speak to Richard Bowles who is about to embark on another journey! We have an extended Talk Training with Dr Phil Maffetone. We catch up with Mike Wardian on how his recovery and racing is shaping up. We have a ‘Year in the life of‘, the last episode of our ‘MDS‘ build up, 15 mins of Fame with Tony Di Giovani, the News, Up and Coming Races and a Meltzer Moment.

Show Notes:

00:00:45 Start
00:17:15 Mike Wardian we catch up with TNF athlete Mike Wardian as he gets back into training and racing after a series of injuries.
00:28:25 Back to Karl
00:31:30 A Year in the life of – Tyler has just run a 50km and is now preparing for a 70 miler.
00:38:40 News from around the ultra world
00:53:15 MDS special – as you listen to this we will be in Morocco for the 2013 Marathon des Sables. This episode we catch up with Tobias Mews. You can read a 2013 Race Preview  HERE and an interview with Race Director, Patrick Bauer HERE.
01:07:20 Blog – Ellie Greenwood -I know we have had Ellie Greenwoods blog on the show before but just recently she ran Two Oceans in South Africa as she prepares for Comrades. Many think that ultras are about running slow and comfortable pace… Ellie confirms it’s not! Speed matters – HERE

01:10:05 Talk TrainingDr Phil Maffetone Please check on iancorless.com for an article that will coincide with this podcast HERE
01:49:10 Interview with Richard Bowles. Richard has a taste for adventure and running a long way… check out his website HERE you can also read about his next adventure HERE
02:20:20 Meltzer Moment
02:23:15 15 min of Fame with Tony Di Giovani – I met Tony (and his friends) at The Coastal Challenge in Costa Rica. He has an inspiring story…
02:36:15 Races
2:38:50 Close
02:44:14  End
Show Links: