I received the following comment from Jay Jack on the topic of Paleo/Primal fueling for a 50K run:
I know this doesn’t really belong on this thread, but, I don’t know where else to put it, and I thought someone might like it. Well, this was a my experiment. I decided to do a Palro/Primal Ultra (50k on trails).
I ate dead strict Paleo (w butter and heavy cream) 100% for 3 months before the race. Prior to that it was not that strict.
I trained for this by doing Crossfitesque work (more like CF Football), in addition to my doing BJJ/Muay Thai/MMA as I own an academy.
I did only one long run (should be called a speed hike as I hike all the hills, I only run the downs, and jog the flats) per week. Kept my heart rate under 75% on all long runs. I was also in VFFS for all runs and conditioning.
I did all my training runs fasted and using only coconut water.
I built up to a 20 miler as my last training run.
Race Day: ate eggs scrambled in bacon grease. coffee with pastured heavy cream. During the race I ate only these little energy balls made from a recipe in the Thrive Diet book made of coconut oil, dates, lime juice, and I added guarana for some extra kick. Drank only coconut water and regular water. Wore VFF treks. Kept an average heart rate of 76% (1 damn % higher than I wanted). finished in 8:12 (50k). Not setting records, but I’ve never done any race before. Not a 5k, nothing. So this was a TOTAL experiment.
It is possible to do an ultra without breaking any Paleo/Primal lifestyle parameters. Just felt like proving it. Why… no idea. Just decided I wanted to. I know people might bag on it, but I thought somebody may enjoy hearing about the success of it.
Now onto some other off the wall goal.
First, I wanted to thank Jay for sharing this. My best material is generated in response to questions and commentary from you folks so I am truly grateful when you share experiences and questions. I want to look at a few items that I emphasized above (underlined).
1-One long run per week.
Now, if you look at Jay’s schedule it’s pretty damn active: sprinting, lifting, short met-cons, MMA-Jits. I’m guessing he had 3-4 “running” sessions per week with the sprint work and met-cons, but then just 1 long run.
2-Kept my heart rate under 75% on all long runs.
This is an important issue for several reasons, but the main one being SPECIFICITY. Runs of this duration are NOT sprints. Can sprint work aid these efforts? Absolutely, but you MUST train how you want to PERFORM!! I really like Richard Gibbens ideas at Power Running. Basic ideas: Lift weights, sprint and run your race distance AT YOUR RACE PACE. Running 5K’s? If you want to be good, run’em fast & hard. Running 50K’s? If you want to FINISH you better game play that scenario (run some distance, figure out your pacing) and it might be helpful to show up rested and not overtrained.
3-I built up to a 20 Miler as my last training run.
Just more of the above. Race distance, race pace. Practice the specifics of YOUR event.
4-Kept my Heart rate at 76%.
Not only did he practice for a specific output, he actually DID that! Many people scrap the plan when game day arrives due to nerves and EGO. This is particularly important as we consider the next piece.
5- I’ve never done any race before. Not a 5k, nothing. So this was a TOTAL experiment.
BALSY! But not unreasonable. He had a plan, made things reasonable and stuck to to it. Now, I’ve focussed mainly on the training element, Jay tackled this more from the fueling perspective. The big concern for most folks attempting a long endurance event is how to do it “paleo/primal”. Well, you find the most concentrated food sources you can (in this case coconut oil and dates, some coconut water). I’d likely throw in some kind of jerky just to make sure branched chain amino acids are propped up, I might also throw in some extra sodium ( just a bit of sea salt) to make sure we do not get a hypo-natremic situation.
1-Is this the BEST way to tackle the event? I don’t know. I really like products like Cytomax, they work great. But folks have simply asked the question “can you do events like this with ancestral foods?” and the answer is clearly, Yes, paleo foods work just fine.
2-Will Paleo produce ELEEEEEET performance? Uh…it will likely help, but as Floyd Landis has hopefully made clear, Eaton, Cordain and Lindeberg will have little influence on elite athletics compared to Upjohn, Merc and Phizer. Want to be a champion? Pick your parents wisely, get a solid pharmaceutical plan and train your fanny off. Paleo nutrition may indeed improve recovery enough to make a difference in the whole picture, but I’d tend to lean towards EPO and T-Gel as possibly more important!
I did Massanutten Mountain 100 miler on baby food. BMACK advised on eating real food for races which makes sense since that is what we eat everyday. So on the advice from “Paleo for Athletes,” I tried baby food. Baby food is real food, just mushed up (technical term). Every hour I ate a 2 block meal with 5x fat. These meals consisted of a baby food fruit package (lots of different fruits), baby food meat jar (turkey, chicken, and beef), and a bag of nuts. I put these three items into a ziplock bag, which I could fit two sets into a waist pack. Each aid station I had more in a drop bag that I would just pickup, stash, and go.
Results: Awesome. Never had any GI, energy, or sleepiness issues. Smooth sailing.
Thanks for everything Robb!
Robb Wolf says
Bad-ass! Tell BMACK howdy for me.
Diana Hsieh says
Regarding CrossFit and paleo as training and fuel for endurance work, you might be interested to read about two tests that a CrossFitting couple did:
First, an ultramarathon by Tammy: http://blog.modernpaleo.com/2010/04/putting-crossfit-to-test-tammys-first.html
Second, a super-tough half-marathon by non-runner Greg: http://blog.modernpaleo.com/2010/04/better-test-of-crossfit-toughest-half.html
The videos (particularly for the second) are awesome.
Clynton Taylor says
Great job Jay! Very cool. That’s my goal, to run a 50k. I’ve just done one race, a 10k trail run. I’m doing crossfit to get my back strength up – still healing from surgery. I did no refined sugars, no gluten, and no milk products for 3 months last year and it was great. Oh, and I’ve been vegetarian all my life. I’m hoping to do a similar diet again this summer, adding what I learn from Paleo.
Thanks for sharing,
Summer Wesson says
First off, I have the utmost respect for you, your knowledge as well as anyone who attempts an ultra distance event. I can only speak from my own experiences in this area and I want to address two things that you talked about here.
I have completed 19 races of 50ks to 100 mile events. When I started them, I did not eat Paleo and only ran high mileage but switched to a Paleo diet and CFE (with no mileage past 13 in my training) about a year ago after I attended your seminar. Here are two things that I faced that differs from the advice you gave here.
I found that by eating strictly paleo prior to and during the event, I was bonking big time about 18 miles into the race. My glycogen storage was completely depleted and I was reduced to a walk. As much as I tried to fuel my carbohydrate sources through a strictly paleo approach, I just couldn’t get enough no matter what I tried. What I learned through my own research is that fruit is not always the best source for this since it is comprised of fructose and cannot be absorbed by the muscles as easily. After that started to happen to me, I experimented with a non paleo source prior to my runs (Gener8 Vitargo) which I glycogen loaded several days in advance and bam… no bonkage and a new PR on a 50k course.
The second thing I want to bring up is the mention of needing to run high mileage at ‘race pace’ in order to run a race like this successfully. I do agree that some people need to have a longer run or two in prep for the race simply to train their minds but it is not needed for these long distance events. Prime example, my boyfriend Carl Borg who completed the Angeles Crest 100 mile race in a very respectable 29:30 while only training up to 13 miles prior to the event and in the 3 months prior to Angeles Crest, he only ran a grand total of 140 miles. I incorporated this same type of training into my regime and had similar success, new PRs and finally the loss of my abdominal fat brought on my cortisol production that high mileage brought with it.
For me, Paleo for Athletes was a life saver in terms of race fuel and in terms of training my body really responded well to the mixture of CrossFit and the CrossFit Endurance training program. Every body is different, but that was my experience. Thank you for posting this!
Robb Wolf says
What’s Up Summer!!
1-The Paleo carbs I’ve ALWAYS recommended have been of the yam/sweet potato varieties due to fructose preferentially refilling liver glycogen. Many people interpret paleo as “low carb” and it’s not, and they frequently make the mistake of not including roots and tuber in the mix. I’ve found people generally do great on this type of approach, but the failing has consistently been during-race fueling. It’s tough to run with a yam in ‘yer pants (or so I’ve heard) and thus I have historically recommended products like cytomax+WPI for long events. Jay’s commentary is simply a statement of “here is A way to do it” I’m not marketing this as THE way. Folks consistently ask “can you do this stuff with “just” paleo food sources. I;ve historically said it;s better not to approach it that way (the Cytomax+WPI for example) but obviously it CAN be done this way.
Regarding Vitargo- For PWO or Peri-workout situations I see great benefit for a large molecular weight carbohydrate like this. For a general pre-race carb-load, it;s tough to beat yams/sweet potatoes IMO.
2-Let’s be clear on this! I did NOT say “high mileage”! I said “practice your race distance, at your race pace”. Two completely different intents here as I’m sure you will agree. In jay’s preparation it appears he followed a mixed mode protocol similar to CF Football. He also received metabolic conditioning from grappling, boxing and kick boxing. THEN he slowly built his mileage in ONE LONG SESSION PER WEEK. ONE. If Jay has his training log perhaps we can look at the total milage he put out for a given time period and we can compare that to what was prescribed in CF Endurance. The protocol he followed would not be called “high mileage” by anyone in endurance athletes. At least I don’t think so. Let’s add to this another wrinkle: You are and advanced, experienced endurance athlete. For Jay this was his FIRST race. It;s tough for me to think of a better way to acclimate him to the rigors of his task than a good GPP base (which he had) and then slowly increasing volume (mileage) in a manner consistent with his goals.
Now, is this the BEST way to excel at endurance athletics? Likely not, as Jay advances we might alter some things, but I’ve sent people to age group world championships in Tri with this EXACT protocol and they are injury free, and continuing to set PR’s. Sounds like you are doing the same thing on another plan. What WOULD be interesting is to see which plan has the most work in it. The work by Stephen Seiler is very interesting in this regard. Intervals are good, they are not the whole enchilada. From this context I honestly cannot see the difference between a 13 mile and 20 mile training run, especially when I think running anything longer than 100m is torture!
So, perhaps Jay can share his training and we can analyze things for training volume.
Jason Sobczak says
I’ve eaten pretty strict paleo on 4 endurance events in the last 1.5 years, a 50k, 2 duathlons in the 2.5 hour range, and a 100 mile ultra last November. Paleo foods, coconut water, etc were enough to provide the energy that I needed before and during the event however I suffered from severe sodium depletion every time. Fortunately on the 100 miler I brought a thing of sea salt with me and was pouring it in my hand and eating it as early as mile 30. The other races were short so I didn’t think I needed it and didn’t bring it with me, so I had to deal with cramps/spasms in my legs and calves during the last few miles of each race. I will always carry it in my camelback pocket from here on out.
Awesome effort, post and analysis. Wish I’d seen this when I was still in the military- could have replaced the gels and chocolate bars and most likely performed better.
As for your role models, Robb: I don’t want to be a buzz killer but, as a person of a similar genetic background to you from the South Pacific, trying to match dudes from PNG/Fiji/Samoa on speed/power/jackedness is a lofty goal- the guys in the photo have almost certainly never seen a barbell or power cage. Still, a kid can dream can’t he?
Robb Wolf says
Exactly! I’ve gotta do my best!
I wanna know one thing: What is the dude in the middle (in the picture) “Fran” time? He looks to be chugging the Kool-aid. 🙂
And on the subject of race foods, I love Cordain’s thoughts on the matter. I have a client doing her first 1/2 marathon and she has bought in completely to the Paleolithic way!
Jay Jack says
Holy Crap! One of my students wrote me freaking out “Dude you got your own blog post from Robb Wolf!” Blew me away.
Awesome. Good call on the Jerky. Actually had some in the bag, but was so hot, I couldn’t even consider eating it. When I was that worn, I was convinced it was too “dry”. Totally unreasonable, but apparently after about 15 miles I lose all ability for rational thought. My wife cornered me for fights for years (means I shut up and listen), and she made me eat the energy bites. I forgot to tell her I packed the jerky, so it wasn’t forced on me!
Thanks for the positive feedback. I really appreciate it.
BTW, amazing blog. Thanks for all the awesome info.
Robb Wolf says
THANK YOU. Do you by chance have your traingin schedule the months leading up to the event? It would be cool to do some analysis of your mileage.
Summer Wesson says
Thanks for the response Robb! Points certainly noted. Very well put. 🙂
Robb Wolf says
Good to hear from you summer! Tell the CFE crew I said howdy.
Jay Jack says
Yeah, I actually did all my long runs with a Garmin 405 with heart rate monitor, so I could track all the info and even see it on a google earth type map. I think I can send that to you somehow if you want to get all geeked out with data!
Quick background before I give the Training Info. When I was fighting (I retired), I would run 2-3 miles once a week as “active recovery”, but I was sure that it was just because my wife (Amanda Buckner- a fighter as well as my coach) was mean and liked to watch me suffer. I would’ve sworn that 5k was my absolute limit. When I did any running, I would have to ice my knees after. I have had tons of knee problems. Then I started reading about mid foot running (Pose ect…) being injury free. Looking for a post retirement challenge, I decided to see if I could run pain free. I went slow and smart and worked my way up to an easy 5k distance without pain. So naturally I thought “I wonder how far I can actually go?’. So I made my plan.
Wanted to burn sugar not fat, so cleaned up and went paleo.
Kept my normal training schedule that goes like this:
Monday through Friday:
dog jog (800 meter trot with pee stops (about a 400m walk with them off leash, and another 800m trot home) as a “warm up”, and because I’m a good dog owner!
More power than met con (I pr’d my Zercher squat and bent press on the same week I did my longest run!) . I will force myself to do a met con 1 or 2 times a week, but I keep them between 5-15 minutes. I got the idea of using 3 weeks on and 1 week “off” from Dan John. So I usually do 3 weeks hard and then 1 easy or off all together depending on how banged up I feel. I’m very into recovering know.
I own The Academy in Portland Maine so I’m on the mat at least 5 days a week, rolling or sparring with my people. Not on a schedule, but I put my hands on someone every day somehow or another. Now that can be met con for sure, but for the most part it’s recreational level. Hard but fun. Not “white buffalo” to use your words.
On Sat or Sun I would do my long run
I decided to keep my heart rate under 75% to encourage fat usage for fuel. I looked at the Calendar and picked the race. I was doing a 5k in about 45ish minutes so I would go for 1 hour on my first “long Run”. Every week I would add 20 minutes. I would do this for three weeks, and have a “back off week” and the fourth week would drop back to 1 hour just for active recovery. (That coordinated with my WOD back off weeks so that whole week was easy)
So it started like this:
week 1- 1hr
week 3- 1:40
week 4- 1hr
week 5- 2 hr
week 6- 2:20 and so on until it ended with my last training run was 5 hours and 20 miles. According to all the info I could get my hands on, that was plenty long enough to ensure success. There was 1 extra “off week” before the race to just be really fresh.
I based the nutrition on the idea that “non-ancestral” activities, require “non-ancestral” fuels. If I was trying to sustain a sugar burning level of heart rate, and trying to win the event, I would for sure need to use other stuff. But…. I was just covering ground as fast and EFFICIENTLY as possible. Kept the heart rate low and sustainable, so I didn’t need the stuff. Plus it was a bit of an “flip em off” to all the people who say you Can’t do it without shoes, and gels, and bread, and M&Ms. I didn’t want to win. You probably can’t the other stuff. But hell, you can’t win anything nowadays without neolithic supplementation of some kind (food or otherwise).
They said “no way”.
I said, “yeah, watch this”, and ran that thing the way I wanted to.
I’m a tad stubborn.
Damn, that was long sorry.
Robb Wolf says
Good stuff Man! Keep it rolling, I’m nothing if not a geek!
Love to hear what you think is the best nutrition strategy to prevent muscle catabolism during a weekly long run of 15-25 miles? Lots of carbs, some protein? Maybe a pre-run mix of bcaa’s plus glutamine?
Robb Wolf says
I think a mix, PCF + BCAA’s and glutamine sounds good. Obviously the mix will need to work around intensity and gastric emptying. F might come from coconut milk/MCT’s.
Jay Jack says
As far as I can tell, on Garmins website, I can only send one runs info at a time, not the whole calendar. But I started the prep for this in like Nov of 09, so it’d be a boatload. Ton of data, but, don’t know if you really want that much info. If you do, just send me an email and tell me where to send it. I know you probably get sent a ton of crap that people want you to analyze, so I totally understand if you’d rather not!
Again, Thanks for all the help with everything. I couldn’t done any of this without the info from your work.
Robb Wolf says
Perhaps you could do the analysis for me. here is what I was thinking:
Look at the last say 3 months of your training and track MILEAGE run. Then look at the prescribed mileage over at CF Endurance. i have a feeling that what you did is more economical in regards to training volume. perhaps not, and perhaps it was not even “optimum” but it obviously worked and the simplicity is remarkable. We have done very will with this paired down approach to endurance training that reflects the ideas at Power Running. Let me know if you are game, but no worries if that sounds like a pain.
I’ve done some long (up to 75 milers) bike races, offroad, with just pemmican and water. You can make your own pemmi and control fat/protein/salt/ and yes carbs (mashed up cooked yams, or fruit mixed in) and had pretty good luck.
Wow, here we were, totally eating up this posting because it is all about stuff we do, only to find a fun mention of ourselves from Diana (thanks, D!).
We’re the goofballs in the videos, and we’re HUGE fans, Robb! Thanks so much — you have become our primary nutrition and training reference. We’ve been in the ranks of The Six from the beginning… and we miss the bleepable words. ;^)
When Tammy was training for that 53.7 ultra — her first! — she had been fairly strict paleo for many months (cream in coffee, occasional Ultra beer), and she dialed it down to uber-strict in the final week or two. She was doing 4-per-week CF with brutal interval runnerish stuff added in a couple times during the week, and longer runs on the weekends, for the three months leading up to the event. And, of course, we were watching super-close for overtraining (she gets downright cranky if I make her take a day off, so that was a real battle). During her run, I was mixing batches of Paleo for Athletes-inspired gook that she would normally never touch, but which worked for her stomach and seemed to have the right attributes to keep her going for such a long event: water and about 250 calories/hour of glucose syrup, almond butter, some mashed-up banana, whey protein powder, and salt. Mmmmm, yummy. For 12 hours… yeesh! But she never bonked in the slightest, never had tummy issues, and has never felt as good after ANY race as she did after that ultra! It was a totally new experience to not be utterly depleted and beat-up for weeks after anything in the ballpark of a marathon, much less this. But there she was, hitting the CF workout Monday morning! Very cool.
My run was interesting in that I’ve never trained to run, but as a CFer I thought it would be fun to take on “the toughest half-marathon in the northwest” to see if I could make their event my WOD — and turn in a respectable performance. (It wasn’t completely spontaneous, though: over the month or three before it, I went out to do 6-8 runnerish workouts with T, on top of my 4-per-week CF, mostly to make sure I wouldn’t hurt myself and so I would know the pace I was targeting was feasible, etc.) Mission accomplished, and I was likewise right back in the CF gym hitting it Monday morning with no troubles.
Anyway, thanks again for all the amazing advice that helps regular people like us have so much fun! Now we’re studying the Power Running site to optimize her training for future runs.
Jay Jack says
Yeah, I’ll figure that out. Might take me a bit. But I’ll do it.
Chad Cilli says
I dunno Robb. In response to follow up question #2, I’m by no means elite, but since I went paleo, I am often accused of being on steroids. I try to think of it as an unintentional compliment, but I’ve been chewed out before by guys who wanted to know what I was taking, and when I told them I just eat real food, they got downright offended that I’m “hiding” my cycle from them. I think for 99.9% of people, going paleo is all the boost they need. Most people will never train at Landis or Armstrong levels regardless of pharmaceuticals, and I mean that more from a standpoint that most people lack the motivation to spend that kind of time training rather than simply lacking the genetics.
Jay Jack says
195.06= total mileage run for the three months prior to the race. That includes any jogs with dogs, or interval stuff. Doesn’t include any additional walking unrelated to exercise, only mileage RUN. (Ok, long training runs= hike uphills, but I’m trying not to nitpick). I looked at the CFE website, briefly, and have NO idea how to figure out their rx’d mileage for a 3 month period. I thought about looking at their WOD archive and just adding it up, but some of them are for time, not distance. If I plugged theoretical #s into that, Id just be making crap up. Didn’t want to be that guy…. Throwing around made up #’s and such. If I figure it out, I’ll add it up, but here is at least half of the equation.
Robb Wolf says
this is interesting, we should have a way to get that mileage. let me think on that a bit, perhaps Summer can help us out?
Hi Robb (and Jay)
I am a garmin user and what you can do is make all your runs “public” versus private. Then send the link of your “dashboard” to Robb– or post it here. What it would entail is you clicking through each run and choosing “public”–
Thanks for all the info.
Coach Rut says
Not so loud. We have a dozen athletes who go to everything from 2 mile fun runs to marthons and kick a$$ with virtually no running.
Robb Wolf says
Funny how simple seems to be damn good!
Good stuff. Thanks for putting this up and thanks to Jay Jack for letting us know what his training methods were for his first 50k.
I figured someone was going to bring up the high-vs-low mileage issue (*waves to Summer ^_^ *). Good points on your rebuttal/clarification. Although your comment of “… cannot see the difference between a 13 mile and 20 mile training run…”, in races that are from a marathon to a 50k, I would agree – a good 13 mile training run can be just as good as a 20 mile one. When you go to 50 miles, 100k, or 100 miles or more…I believe that you would be better off doing a run longer than 13 miles (or 20 even) every once in awhile. Not for just the mental aspect, but the body behaves quite differently when running longer. I can go 13 miles on water alone. I can do a marathon on 2 energy gels and water. When I’m in the second half of a 50 miler, I can only stomach real food and my body demands something with protein and fat in it along with carbs. Now whether you need to continue really long runs after you figure out what you can and can’t stomach is debatable. I say yes, but that’s solely on my own experience. Everyone else’s experience might be different.
In any case, the non-stop argument between high-vs-low mileage training will never end with people on both sides thinking their way is right instead of thinking “It’s right for me.” In the end, we’re all an experiment of one and have to find that sweet-spot in our training, nutrition, and life.
Mitch LeBlanc says
Interesting read. I’d like to offer my experience, because it’s very similar (basically identical). I had previously only trained for a single race: a road marathon. We did that training (starting from basically scratch, maybe 10 km max), building to 35 km or so, in about 3 months. Massive shin splints forced a two week rest, then race went fine (3:36).
Second time around (4 years later?) we signed up for a 45 km called the Six Foot Track. Took a lot longer to train, and based on what we read on running sites, developed a plan identical to Jay’s: 3 weeks of gradual increase, then 1 week rest (fall back to week 1 distances) … then start the next month at the longest distance of the previous month. We increased both long run distance and total weekly mileage by 10%, (when increasing.)
I trained for maybe 8 months… first few months were so easy: 10% is a slow gain, but built a good base. Was almost injury free throughout. Built all the way up to a 45 km long run in 4:30. Near the end averaging only around 50 km per week. Not too much intervals, etc. I also did a bit of Krav Maga training (mma style), 3 days a week.
Throughout I was eating almost entirely paleo. Maybe including some dairy, but went a few months without, I think. I felt amazing. I did, however, use gels during my long runs. But recovery was all paleo (sweet potato in shakes = awesome) and I literally felt 100% the day after my 45 km, which was crazy. It made a total believer out of me, quite frankly (even though my Paleo knowledge is pretty poor, I think.)
For the race I just ate my guts out two days before, but ate hardly anything the day before. Dried fruit, nuts, etc. During the race they had bananas, watermelon, and I hate a few power gels. No issues with digestion. Finished super strong, ran a 4:49, probably could have run a 4:30 (did a bit of waiting around for a cramping friend.) on a pretty hard course? (Winner did a 3:20?)
Anyway, just wanted to write to make the point that his training routine sounds totally consistent with recommended ideas from “runners”, including his max mileage, and anyone thinking of doing the same thing should be totally reassured that it’s so much easier than you think. Just stick to the spreadsheet!
ps: amazing website, can’t wait for your book!
Robb Wolf says
good stuff, really appreciate the info.
Mitch LeBlanc says
ps: that photo is amazing. Credits? Background info?
pps: If you want similar (though not Jay’s) training mileage, can send Excel sheet. Though he should just be able to print screen his Garmin report!
Robb Wolf says
it;s from wikkipedia.
I think you’ve touched on powerrunning before. Richard is something like a 28 minute 5k guy, never broke 4 in a marathon and has spent the last many years telling everyone how to train and ignoring the feedback. Last i saw on his disc board, some guy was looking for help in a 1.5 mile run about 2 years ago, spend a year and knocked a few seconds off, then asked richard for more help because he was having trouble getting past a mile (I think Rich had him do long runs of 3 miles). Rich told him he couldn’t help him any further.
Don’t bother with powerrunning. He tried peddling the same crap on a bodybuilding site as bodybuilding training.
Robb Wolf says
Thanks for the feedback. i’ve used the ideas with pretty good success, but I am by no means an “endurance” coach.
Robb, I’m curious about what aspects you used. I know the training tables he has are just numbers he entered into Greg McMillan’s pace calculator. Most of the other stuff is just the First training program repackaged. I think somewhere on his site he suggests running 7 miles at 10k pace…quite the trick if you can pull it off.
Robb Wolf says
Just the idea: Lift weights, get technical via tempo repeats, do a long-ish effort once every 7-10 days. I guess it’s been my own interpretation but it’s worked remarkably well and is low BS, low tech. I doubt I’ll ever be sought out by someone wanting ME to program their endurance efforts, but for my folks this has proven to be an efficient and productive approach.
Understood. It comes down to goals and how much training one wants to put into it and what you’re willing to take for a result. I was following Michael Henze’s training prior to last month’s 24 hr ultra world championships (he finished 2nd American after Scott Jurek). This is someone who tipped the scales at 300 pounds not that long ago, and his training for this event included a solid month+ at 200+ mpw and longs to 56 miles. He did have lofty goals though. Take care.
Robb Wolf says
Good stuff, really appreciate your comments.
Jay Jack says
Ok, Id love your opinion on an endurance training question. Specifically, how little training can you get away with and not lose capacity? As I was going through my training log, I saw that In the last month leading up to that 50k, I missed a long run after a back off week. Because of the way it played out, I wound up only doing 1 long run in that last 5 week period before the race. It was the 20 mile training run. Before that I was on that schedule I wrote initially, but at the end it was 1 run in 5 weeks then the race (2 weeks= no run, 1 week= 20 miler, 2weeks= no run, then race) That made me start thinking… How often is enough to keep the ability? The training schedule I listed above is pretty typical (active but short intense stuff), with the exception of the 1 long weekend run. Kind of wanted to do another 50k, but am wondering, how little (of the long runs) I can get away with. Kind of like the running version of the guys that are only working out every 8-10 days (Devany maybe? can’t remember offhand). So, How many of those long runs a month would maintain the capacity I have built? 2 a month, 1 every third week, weekly? I know, I know, Endurance isn’t your “thing”, but endurance folks already think I’m a tool for only running once a week, and asking about running less just pisses them off. So, I thought I’d ask you! Of course, I totally understand if this is not interesting. Just seemed like a cool puzzle. Thanks for all the input either way. This place is invaluable.
Robb Wolf says
We might take a cracka t this on the podcast. Short answer: I don’t know. there are so many moving parts with this: Aerobic capacity, substrate (fuel) storage and utilization, connective tissue integrity. Some of the super compensation models might offer prediction but the bottom line is once recovery is met for endurance work aerobic capacity starts degrading almost immediately. So long as you doing some short work you could prop-up the capacity of the longer stuff…but really just guesses on how long that will hold things together.
Clarence Bass has thought a ton about this, both from a capacity and a body building perspective:
jay, if the goal is simply to finish, the minimum training is no training at all. Finishing just requires showing up at the start line (officially registered, of course 🙂 ) and making your way to the finish. If you’re looking at a time goal (e.g., meet your previous outing) or other related goal, then you start looking at specifics of training. In this case, sounds like you want to match your last performance, so essentially just replicate what you did before. There will be some carry over from the training and the event itself (depending on how long before you try it again), but if your 5 hr long run was really more of a long hike, it might not make too much difference if you keep it at 5, or just do 4 hours or even 3 to 3 1/2. It’s really hard to say because at that type of pacing the real issues might be blister and related management, and coordinating bathroom breaks.
Jay Jack says
Maybe I’m an unusually soft bag of poo, but I was happy as hell with just finishing. I am not the PHD kid, but, from everything I read, it seems that prepping the body to handle that kind of stress requires “some” adaptation. I don’t believe that I could do “no training at all” and make that 50k. Again, maybe I suck, but that’s me. The thing is (and this pisses off runners), but I have no desire to “run” the way most people do. I like the “speed hike” method I’ve developed. I like being able to “run” 20 miles and on the SAME DAY Zercher Squat 295lbs (not “programmed”, just a “lets see” thing). I feel like I couldn’t have “run harder” that day and still pull that off. Without even discussing the fact that, as I understand it, those types of efforts draw you into less and less “whole food” fueling (which I don’t care to do). In my understanding, If I did dedicate more time to running faster, and more often, it would tip the balance towards that end of the spectrum and detract from my more “power sports” type activity. I really don’t want that. See, I don’t want to have to pick. I know it might piss everyone off. But I’m ok with that. I can run farther than most lifters, I can lift more than most runners, and failing either of those…. I’ll just break your leg. And, that’s just too damn cool a set of skills to have to specialize in one.
So without shitting on people’s chosen forte’s, I really was just curious as to the physiology in the question. Once a base is developed, and continuing the power type activities, how often would one consider the minimum “distance” activity required to keep it. Clearly I could duplicate the stress and duplicate the result, but Physiologically speaking, could less work as maintenance? I also understand that it could be one of those “no way to answer” it type of questions. Like, “you’d just have to experiment and see” type answers. But, if your response is something along the lines of “what you did was so lame that it shouldn’t even require training” you can go ahead and keep that to yourself.
Oh, heck, no, I certainly didn’t mean that it was lame. 50k is a long freaking way for anybody so my hat’s off to anyone that takes it on and moreso to anyone that gets through it. Just understand that a race of any distance can be be finished by anyone that has the wherewithall to push through it…it’ll suck for them if they haven’t trained and they’ll be faced with either quiting or suffering through to the end, neither a good option, but it’s still quite the feat. I don’t know the nature of the course you did or the event itself so hard to gauge the performance to the task, but you did yourself well but getting in a good long effort in prep, which gets your joints and feet and skin accustomed to what’s to come, there’s a lot gained from that. The reason it’s hard to get what you need going forward depends on what kind of shape you’re in from a pure stamina perspective stepping into it. The pace isn’t that high but still difficult to sustain for 8+ hours. Any weakness at all will magnify itself 100 times over in a 50k. All that said, put into perspective those that train their asses off for events like this. What really blows my mind are folks that use these events as trainings so something really big.
Still a good job tho. Cheers.
Jay Jack says
Just an update. Haven’t really been doing much running since the ultra. Been chasing some power related goals. Still rolling, sparring and doing probably 1 met con (real short!) a week. Jumped into an obstacle course race last minute (no prep). It was a mountain 5k with 12 obstacles! Awesome. Finished in a tad over 30 min.
Another capacity story that short metcons are enough to do most things.
Doing a 12 mile version in Nov. And flirting with the Idea of a 50 mile ultra next year. Gonna try to do these with LESS training. I mean, I was doing 20 mile training runs for the 50k this year. I’m going to try to do a ton of Hiking, my usual MMA training, The same Power Biased CF’ish work, and Throwing in just enough running to make sure the systems involved are prepared. We’ll see. Shooting for a 500 lb dl at around the same time I hit the 50 miler. We’ll see. No where near either, so I should probably stop typing and go do something hard. Keep you posted.
How would this work if I was training Muay Thai twice a day? Would I have enough energy do you think?
Really loving your work man and I have to say you are fast becoming one of my favourite online authors!
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