Tuesday, November 11, 2014

100: Head/Heart/Feet

100: Head/Heart/Feet opens is an amazing look into the Vermont 100 (VT100).  At this point it's the most decorated ultrarunning film, appearing at 12 film festivals, receiving  director's award.  We follow Zak Wieluns in his third attempt at completing the VT100.  As the story unfolds of race, we flash back to his training and previous attempts.  This story is complemented with stories of other endurance athletes and germane interviews from professionals.  Anyone in the sport has failed an attempt at an event, or knows someone who has.  (Know thyself in my case!)

I am a sucker for these films since it is my sport.  I was stoked to be offered a chance to view a Kickstarter Screener.  I guess my wood working background appealed to 'Hammer and Saw films' (hehe).

100: Head/Heart/Feet opens at an aid station 'somewhere in Vermont' at 10:30pm we see a race that has been going on ALL day.  Weigh-ins for the runners, medical attention, head lamps, cramps, scrapes and (notably) dozens and dozens of volunteers, crew'ers.  So much support.  As a runner, I seldom get to see the behind-the-scenes work, concerns, logistics and support that goes in to races like this.  Movie summary from the creator's the site:
“100: Head/Heart/Feet” will follow the day-to-day life of ultra-runner Zak Wieluns as he trains for and finally runs a 100 mile race. The actual event is called the Vermont 100 Endurance Race, one of the original 100 mile runs in the USA. This year the Vermont 100, which raises funds to benefit the Vermont Adaptive Ski and Sports Association, celebrates its 25th anniversary, promising an even more competitive challenge for the 300 dedicated runners who attempt to complete this grueling competition over Vermont’s paved streets, gravel back roads and wooded trails…in daylight and darkness…all within 30 hours. A well-trained few will complete the race; many will never cross the finish line.
Being a 'recreational' runner, like Zak, one finds a struggle for not just the runner but also for those close to the runner.  Many of us are: parents, husbands, cubicle-slaves, and.... also wanting to run 10-20 hours per week??  John Lacroix is interviewed in the movie and makes the most salient points about how the hobby of unltrarunning is <paraphrased> what we need to be happy.  It is important our loved ones understand that.  With equal fervor, we must encourage our loved ones' pursuits for equivocal levels of happiness! (just my opinion.)

This movie is the story of a journey, finishing something you've started.  Lean on people you care about to help you through your journey.  Never be afraid to ask for help.  I cried three times during this well put together documentary*.  The filming shifts to focus in on small details of what a runner might notice.  Explains the physical and emotional pains of reaching far to achieve something great.  This movie is for everybody, whether or not you plan to run 100 miles.

My favorite line: "dude I really smell, seriously I think I really smell."

My favorite scene: The recurring interjections of a sports psychologist explaining the underlying rationale an endurance athlete is making the decisions and reasoning they exhibit.  Tied with the interviews of ultra-athletes that give their own applicable experiences.  

What bothered me about the movie: The concept of weigh-ins for endurance athletes.  It's ok to see if someone is gaining too much weight (overdrinking!)  But losing weight in an endurance event will never lead to dehydration as is suggested.  It's not the movie-makers' fault for this potentially misleading information.  The concepts of calories in = calories out and drink to lower body temperature or avoid dehydration are antiquated and need to stop.  Hundreds of endurance athletes have overhydrated and died through exercise associated hyponatremic encephalopathy (EAHE).  Many times by EMTs not knowing what the athlete is suffering from and adding more hydration intravenously.  It's a pet-peeve of mine that this dogma continues.

Support the sport, see the movie.  Then train for something hard!

*As a teenager I swam for the state.  I was tested for VO2max, step-tests, etc.  At the time, I was under the impression I would be some notable athlete.  Mostly it was natural ability, decent genes.  After a misspent youth and young adulthood, I didn't do another competitive event until I was 39 years old.  Watching Zak go through some of the athletic testing resurfaced some of those emotions.  So well filmed, it hit me hard.

"So if you'll excuse me, there's someone I need to get in touch with and forgive.... myself"
-Fat Bastard

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Phone ArmBand

Carrying my phone on a run is non-negotiatble with me.  I'm making calls on low HR runs, listening to audiobooks/podcasts.  I love being outside, but as a paleorunner in a modern age I have found I need constant information.  Always learning.

 I once bought a set of headphones that came with an armband for my phone.  I became a big fan of holding the phone up high on the arm.  Soon after I tore it trying to fit credit card, building id card, car key, etc etc in there.  the armband adjustment was just folding the material - pretty cheesey.
Then I bought a bigger phone and had to retire this thing.  I went to carrying phone in my hand!  Or using 'Ultra' style vest just to have my phone with me.  Carrying it in my hand cost me $hundreds in cracked screens.  You never think you're going to trip... until you do.  :(

This new mofo from ArmPocket has it all.  It's roomy, extra pocket inside for incidentals.  There is a strap that keeps phone pressed against the inside of the clear plastic.  Touchscreen work just fine.  If you have Siri (or equivalent) you can execute quite a few commands by telling her what to do.
A photo posted by Mark Lofquist (@malofquist) on

A photo posted by Mark Lofquist (@malofquist) on

The Goods:

Easy to use adjustment strap. Extra Pocket.  Velcro to hold extra headphone cable.  Unzips/zips easily.  Touchscreen work through plastic.

The bads: Still searching for a downside.  Will take getting used to if you're new to an arm band, like you have to think through how to shed/add layers.  My only issue, and this seems silly- the zipper tabs are metal and there's two of them.  They *clink* together and I think there's something moving in the woods :).  Maybe it's just that I need to relax a little.

If you have to carry a phone, use this product.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Injured?? How could *I* be injured??

...Um, because I'm dumb and overreached.  

A rant:

After 5 years of injury-free running (5 years being the extent of my running ‘career’).  Starting in 2009 at age 39.  Ffwd to Spring 2014, running ~50-60mpw with 10-14k feet of elevation.  Mostly 70-90min runs at lunch time up into technical trails.  

Took a MAF test (fix heart rate to 180-(your age) and run 4 miles after warm up, record your average pace) on the only flat land around my neighborhood. I was clicking off 6:50-7:15 pace.  

Mid June broke my second toe (on business travel, tripped on a flat non-technical trail in Boston, ironic) and took 5.5 weeks off - cold turkey.  I cancelled a few summer races (reluctantly).  By mid July I was running again.  I tried to match pace and distance from before injury.  I had one more trail marathon I wanted to do in mid August.  With a month of training, I could regain the fitness I had.  no?  

I did a MAF test and noticed 8:45-9:15 min/mile!  Very sad I’d slowed so much with 5 week break.  

In my runs before the race, I was sore after my lunchtime runs.  Felt nice to be sore, but this made me abandon long runs on the weekends to adequately recover.  *Never run so sore that it affects your form!  

The marathon came, I had no expectations.  I ran it pretty well, but was limping the end of it.  The second half was all downhill and I found myself walking parts of it.  Just felt like I couldn’t handle that much time on my feet.  My longest training run was ~12miles since the toe break.  

I took the day off after the race felt good!  Just little aches and pains.  That Tuesday I decided to take a little recovery run.  Just to see how I felt.  I was 2-3 miles in and I was loose and feeling fine.  I ran some decent miles expanding my planned route.  Then I felt the pains that made me walk in the race.  I slowed then walked, then limped.  Nothing traumatic, just right leg seized up in many places.  *I am horrible at self diagnosing injury, level of pain, etc.  All I know is I couldn’t swing my legs correctly.  Reminds me of the sad image of when an animal gets hit by a car then tries to run away and seems surprised that their limps don't move the way they expect :'(. 

I took 4-5 days off.  Every day seemed to hurt more, limping while walking.  I tried a lunch time run, three miles out, then limped back.  Then repeat (4-5 days off, try, limp).  
Very unscientifically I threw a lot of things at it: NKT, ART, x-ray (no stress fracture), wraps, splints, acupuncture.  Actual diagnosis was soft tissue damage along fibula 2-3 inches above ankle.  This was the opposite leg from toe-break.  Probably some compensation issues and maybe rolled my ankle one too many times coming down a mountain.  

Late September, after a cortisone shot and a little bravery, I ran very slowly.  Every step hurt the same amount, but I felt my form was somewhat in tact.  That night and the next morning I noted that I felt much better.  I could walk without a limp.  I ran again, just 50mins this time, same slow pace.  Hurt during, but better after!  Repeat all week.  My MAF pace at this point was 11:30 min/mile.  Very depressing, but I’m so happy to be out there moving!  Part of this slow MAF pace is my form isn’t right, I’m purposely shuffling.  

The injury still prevents me from lifting my body weight (one foot’ed calf raise) on my right foot.  I can not jump rope, or launch off a rock with right foot.  I give runners advice all the time NOT to run if they can't do these movements.  But I think I'm being ginger enough.  I am closely tracking my runs limiting them to (180-44)bpm and only 4miles.  I have 2 routes I'm running, one hilly and one flat.  I will do these for 6 weeks (1 week down, 5 to go).  

HR fixed to 135 BPM
Course 2miles out, two miles back (Skunk trail)
Hilly course130313:4713:2914:0614:22
avg = 12:53avg = 12:41avg = 12:10avg = 12:59
HR fixed to 135 BPM
Course 2miles out, two miles back (at home, flat)
Flat course1-1610:5611:15
avg = 11:25avg 11:44

Still a work in progress.  Will post an update, and turn this into a 'part one'.  

Thursday, September 4, 2014

I am elastic already i don't need your help

Elasticity - the ability of an object or material to resume its normal shape after being stretched or compressed.

When landing on your foot or feet, you compress tendons, ligaments, muscles.  If you return to original shape quickly enough, the stored energy in the springier elements in this kinetic chain give you an extra push.  Even when running slowly, pop your feet up quickly and deliberately to take advantage of this. 
To test how quick, deliberate motions take less effort, try jumping an imaginary rope at a natural rhythm for 10 jumps.  Then try to jump once every 2 seconds for 10 jumps.  Which took less energy?
 Your natural jump rope rhythm and rate-of-bounce turns on an amazing kinetic chain that returns much of the landing energy (ground force reaction) to the next jump.  To turn off segments of that chain try this.
10 jumps on your imaginary jump rope without bending your knees (turns off quad and hamstring absorption). Reset.  10 jumps on your imaginary rope landing on your heels (turns off lower leg, or gastroc. chain including achilles tendon, calf, soleus, etc). 
Now to the cushioning.  An extreme example of cushioning would be jumping on a trampoline.  If you tried jumping rope on a trampoline, you'd find it's ~3 seconds per hop.  You are adjusting to the resonance of the trampoline's elasticity.   You proved your natural rhythm is much faster, but you had to move to an unnatural rate to accommodate an outside spring put in series with your built-in springs.  

A less dramatic example would be hold a marble 24" from a hard counter top surface and let it bounce.  notice its first bounce is only a few inches less than 24.  Now place a paper towel on that counter and repeat.  You've lost 50% of the bounce.  The marble deforms more and thus returns more energy without the 'help' of the thin cushion.  Try a thicker cushion, try something springy - anything make bounce higher than the original test?  The poor deformed marble needs to re-expand to its original shape to deform this new cushion THEN push itself back up. 

These examples are of simple systems, elasticities that are rigid and only one value.  The beauty of the human form is muscles can tighten and relax in a way to adjust the elastic properties of your kinetic chain.  If you've ever ran across a trampoline, the trick is to pop your foot up so fast that you don't have time to sink into the trampolines large elastic value.  Pop-pop-pop.  That actually takes more energy, but you compensated.  Your shoes' cushions are the same way.  You can compensate, change your natural rate, vary your leg's spring-compliance but why should you? Why are treadmills another layer of springiness you didn't ask for? 

My first minimal shoes were slabs of thin, hard rubber with no foam and no EVA (also... no spring, rockers, air pockets, etc).  It took some getting used to but letting the natural springs take over took me from 5km to 80km runs.  

Beware of those unintended consequences.  Remember that 'help' isn't always helpful.    

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

How to Climb a Mountain

Maybe that should read 'why climb a mountain'.

When I did the Pikes Peak Marathon in 2013, I knew it would be ~6-7 minutes per mile slower than my road marathon pace.  This can be frustrating for a 'runner' where moving slower can seem like failure, in a way.  But if you fix effort level which can be measured by heart rate, an inclined run can turn into a walk and yield the same 160 bpm that a 7 minute/mile pace flat run can yield.

The PPM is an out and back, you get to see every runner.   It's amazing to see the range of human performance in that sample.  Some front-runners are **trucking** long strides, large broad jumps over obstacles - to - those that are doing a sort of zombie walk, leaning on rocks to catch their breath.  A  small handful of runners were heading back down the mountain having missed the cut offs at certain aid stations.

In 2013 my PPM training was convenient since I lived in Manitou Springs.  I could leave my house (on foot) and in 3 miles, I was on the Barr Trail.  For my weekly long runs, I practiced ascending to 8,000, then 9,000, etc etc until I reached the top.  I ascended the full summit 4 or 5 times before the PPM '13, taking the train back down.  I ascended by train and descended by foot a couple times.  Somehow the race went very poorly for me.  5 months of living in Colorado, the training runs, I expected to be 5:30, but it took me 6:48!  Poor estimates like this leave my wife waiting nervously at the finish line.

This year, I'd moved to Boulder training in 5,500-8,200 feet of elevation without taking a road trip.  Family/work life does lend itself to making trips to 14ers for true altitude training.  My training runs got ~20miles by late May (for the August race).  But in early June, on a business trip to Boston I tripped on a trail run and broke my toe - bad.  Cleanly, but non-displaced, fracture of intermediate metatarsal of my second toe.  This being my longest toe, any toe-off stage of gait re-stressed the fracture.  I had to be careful.  I took off the rest of June and most of July.  In my big come back I tried a 13mile sea level flat training run and I was hurting the next day(s).  Even shin splints, which I hadn't felt since my first attempts of running in 2009-10.  I was clicking off some nice 9 mile hilly runs by August.  No long runs, no altitude, but some signs of strength.

PPM 2014 arriving.  I discussed my plans for the race with my mom.  Getting someone who knows me so
Just don't trip, just don't trip
well, but doesn't understand the sport is ALWAYS helpful.  She said 'just don't trip'.  Such a simple statement and it rang in my head tap-tap-tap-just-don't trip-just-don't-trip-tap-tap-tap.  Thanks mom!  It worked, I didn't trip.  There is carnage after this race, much open wounds from many who fell!  I was not one of them.

My ascent felt great, I was walk/running watching my Heart Rate Monitor(HRM) occasionally.  NOT concerned with distance.  I tried to stay under 160, preferably 156 bpm.  I knew I could hold that for hours and hours.  In 2013 it took me just over 4hours to get up there (worse than most training runs).  PPM 2014 seemed all about restraint, I held that heart rate!  I passed person after person and ascended in 3:40.  Given my training I couldn't expect a better time, but it happened!

Is my camel-toe showing?
The turn around felt amazing, I was bounding and zig-zagging.  I thought I was making good time.  After a few miles down, I could feel the lack of volume in my training.  My muscles were tightening up even before mile 20.  Even on the less technical sections I felt like I was lucky to dip into ~10 minute/mile pace :(.  I felt the sting of people passing me.  'Just don't trip Just don't trip' kept working.  I saw people fall, people cramp up and limp off the course.  People that missed the time cut offs.  I felt ok with where I was.  I consumed ~4 scoops of Ucan Superstarch, 4 honey stinger gels, and a few handfuls of grapes (at aid stations).  For my effort level, it felt like I was perfectly sated.  Taking in 600 calories, and burning 4600 calories proves I'm pretty well fat-adapted.  A fat-burning machine?  ;).
Crossing finish line just a few minute past my goal.

Soaking my legs that would cramp  if I moved them too fast!

The final 1-1.5 miles on road surface I felt like a robot, and the finish I felt like smiling.  Temperatures reached 104 degrees in the sun on the descent.  I KNEW I'd lounge in the creek at the end.  I could feel it towards the end.

My Nathan Quickshot water bottle, Ultimate Direction AK Race vest, and Born2Run Trail Shoes worked flawlessly.

The details of my 'performance':


Friday, August 1, 2014

Overuse injuries?

The are no overuse injuries, just underuse: 

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

falling asleep just like running?

My latest focus in running is relaxation.  A body-audit, if you will.

Pick a body part that I shouldn't be engaging for running and ask myself if it's flexed or relaxed.  Muscles you've identified as not helping, then ask yourself if it's relaxed.  Try flexing then releasing.  Pay attention to your running form, the sound of your steps, and your breathing.

Letting go of unneeded muscles will lower your heart/breathing rate, functioning economy improvements.

I have noticed I can incorporate this technique as I fall asleep. Its good practice for muscle relaxation while running. I noticed when I lay down to sleep my hands make tight'ish fists. Recognizing this and flattening out my hands changes my breathing and increases relaxation. Flex a foot then relax it. Notices the difference?  Flex gastric chain then relax it.  Notice Tue difference. Turning off everything allows sweet sleep. Relaxing most things allows for sweet runs.

* This topic supports my theory that the key to endurance is not ability to engage muscles but is the ability to relax muscles. Extrapolated explains a cramp-inability to release a completely flexed muscle. Watching heart rate creep to maintain the same intensity is due to recruiting muscles you don't need for the motion.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Take your time adding more weight to your lifts

Take your time.  

When trying to get stronger.  Say your form is GOOD, rock solid.  

Once form is locked in, getting stronger means the entire chains strengthens. The gains you’ll see given appropriate time to recover:

Muscles take ~90days
Connective tissue takes >200 days
Bone density increases in ~2years

Keep increasing the weights you’re lifting too soon and outpace the connective tissue and bone density and you’ll fail.  

Lift a weight that’s HEAVY for you until lifting it is inconsequential.  Spend months on the same weight perfecting it.  When it no longer causes any adaptations increase that weight, and you’ll be surprised how far you’ve come searching for that next weight that’s heavy for you.  Repeat the cycle.  

What’s your hurry?  

Ask Coach Sommer, Robb Wolf did:


Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Why Are Fat People Hungry

Weight loss is a terrible goal when simply living, eating and playing in a healthy-ancestral way has the side benefit of a 'nice' body.  A body that suits your pheno-type.  But some people are into solving symptoms like 'losing weight' instead of 'identifying why they need to lose weight.'
I always ask the question 'why are fat people (those who store excess adipose tissue) hungry'?  
I weigh 157 pounds with ~6% body fat.  Let's round up to 10lbs of fat, that's 35,000 dietary calories of energy.  That is enough stored energy to run every second i'm awake for 10days, and I am a pretty small dude.  Yet people with 5, 10, 50, 100lbs of fat on their body need to eat 3 times a day (plus snacks) to maintain their sedentary lives to keep from being hungry?  That's hard to swallow.  

If you're curious,... it's metabolic derangement, that is why fat people get hungry.  with all that stored potential energy on board, one can not burn the stored fat in your adipose tissue if you're producing insulin.  One produces insulin in response to simple carbohydrate intake.  

Consuming simple, refined carbohydrates is like spraying ether in your old lawn mower.  In stead of priming the carburetor to get the REAL fuel from the tank into the engine, you spray something that is burned easily, quickly and then gone. You can keep an engine running by constantly spraying a bit off this fluid into the carburetor, leaving your full tank untouched.  the revs go high and then conk out - like you at 3pm at work looking for a snack, or a carbohydrate-dependent marathoner at mile 20.  

Weight loss clients should be asking, how can I access the fuel in my tank rather than storing more and more. I highly recommend Dr Davis's Wheat Belly which explains how the stored visceral (belly) fat becomes it's own organ secreting hormones contributing to the derangement of needing constant short term fueling.  

Shouldn't I just exercise to get rid of fat?  Exercise has been proven to increase appetite. Making yourself hungrier makes weight loss difficult. The only way exercise causes you to lose stored fat is because high intensity exercise squashes the insulin response from the carbs you've eaten allowing access to some fat.  You have to over come the simple sugars, then suppress the insulin, THEN burn stored fat in that order.  Again, you are squashing a symptom.  

Shouldn't I eat less to get rid of fat?  This is a tough question, you may trick your body into tapping into stored fat after you've beaten the strong urges to eat.  Once this happens you will be surprisingly sated.  This is temporary as soon the stored fat soluble vitamins will be depleted and you will achieve a new hunger, that of micro-nutrient depletion.  This is why calorie restrictive diets typically fail and the dieter regains the weight in spades.  Calorie restriction typically accompanies micro-nutrient restriction, which is bad and beyond the scope of this post.  
  1. Lower carb consumption - plot your macro-nutrients in a web based food log like livestrong.com\myplate and tinker with what foods to cut to reduce high "glycemic load" foods.
  2. Change the timing of your carb consumption - never eat carbs for breakfast, try to continue your sleep-fast into mid day.  Eat energy dense foods early bacon, eggs, sausage, avocado, nuts and raise carb intake as the day goes on.  Workout on an empty stomach, dive right into your fat reserves.  
  3. Both - lifestyle changes give you lifestyle benefits. I kick off my athlete's fat burning metabolism with a weekend fast, no food for 24-36 hours.  It's easier than you think.  Check out Perfect Health Diet, or Warrior Diet for why.
It's not just for you and 'how you look', a carb-dependent, heavy person is starving inside.  Your kids will be born wired to think the world is short on food and posses a thrifty gene epigenetic expression. 

For a crash course in molecular biology to see what's happening inside the cells, Dr McGuff says it all (the entire video is good, but I've ffwd it to the relevant portion):

Monday, June 23, 2014

The Problem of Paleo Diet Arguements

Excepts taken from Chris Kresser's Interview of Mat Lalonde (from here)

Mat Lalonde PHd Chemical and Chemical Biology:

Invalid Inference 1: Our Paleolithic ancestors ate Paleo this way and they were free of disease

I’ll also say that the goal of my talk at the Ancestral Health Symposium was to help people better justify why they’re using this dietary approach or lifestyle.  You know, I do realize that I ruffled some feathers because there are some folks who are coming out of field, and I’m coming out of field, but not that far, you know, chemistry and medicine aren’t that far off.  But there are some folks who are coming from different fields, and really all they’re grasping on is this evolutionary thing, and they don’t realize that all it is really at the end of the day is a great way to formulate hypotheses, and I was seeing a lot of mistakes made in the blogosphere, and I was afraid that it was going to prevent a lot of professionals from taking our movement seriously.  So that was the goal ultimately, and you know, it’s just so simple to ridicule the whole caveman argument that I wanted to go beyond that, I wanted to give people a little bit more to think about, so if you are on a paleo diet, or what I prefer to say actually, because there’s really no such thing as a paleo diet.  The foods aren’t available anymore.  You can try to mimic it.  That’s the best you can do.  But a diet that’s meat, vegetables, tubers, and fruits.  That’s what I call it.  Typical arguments for this will go like this:  Our ancestors and modern hunter-gatherers consumed a diet that was mostly devoid of grains, legumes, and dairy, and they were virtually free of diseases of civilization.  People then make the invalid inference that consuming a diet mostly devoid of grains, legumes, and dairy will thus allow us to be free of diseases of civilization.  

Invalid Inference 2: We haven’t evolved enough to thrive on modern agriculture

Mat Lalonde:  We evolved over millions of years without consuming the foods that became readily available only after the advent of agriculture.  Hence, we’re not adapted to these foods.  But this assumes that a species isn’t adapted to a food because it’s never consumed it.  And if you look at the evolutionary record, that’s incorrect.  There are plenty of examples throughout evolution where species discover novel sources of food and thrive on them.
You know, when you cooked plant matter or meat, it became more easily digestible so your gut could get a little bit smaller and you got better nutrition as a result.  If you look throughout history, you’ll see that food itself is a huge driver of evolution.  You know, the availability of food has driven some major adaptations.  And that’s another part where I didn’t ruffle some feathers, but I think I was misinterpreted during my seminar talk at AHS, where some people seemed to think that I was implying that adaptation was very quick.  And I didn’t say that.  I said that adaptation depended on time and pressure.  And if the pressure is very high, then it can be very quick.  So European herders becoming adapted to lactose, for example, would be a great example. 

Invalid Inference 3: We should live like our ancestors because we’re still genetically the same

Mat Lalonde:  We’ll lump this into genetics and epigenetics because the third thing I hear a lot is our genes are virtually identical to those of our Paleolithic ancestors so we should live like they did.  And this has to be the most ridiculous statement of them all because here is a group of people that claims to take an evolutionary approach to life, yet shows it does not understand evolution.  Human beings and chimps have virtually identical genomes to the tune of 99.5%.  The difference between a human being and a chimp is in gene expression in the epigenome.  Just because two species have similar genes does not mean that they will both thrive in similar environments or with similar food sources.  You know, one of the mechanisms through which adaptations arise is a change in gene expression.  It would be absurd to suggest the epigenome of modern humans is identical to that of our Paleolithic ancestors, given the substantial changes in environment and food that have occurred since that era.

What is the best scientifically backed argument for Paleo?

Mat Lalonde:  There has been insufficient time and evolutionally pressure for complete adaptation to seed consumption arise in homosapiens.  And I think about that today, and I’m like, well, you know, people might think that there could be complete adaptation.  Let’s say you were to take a population and give them only wheat to eat, but unfortunately I don’t think that’s the case, because all evolution cares about is getting to the next generation. And eating these foods will allow you to reach reproductive age.  There are certain types of insects that live only long enough to reproduce, and then they die off, and then the next generation takes over. That’s right, so the challenge right now is that we are trying to live for a very long time and very well and healthy, so we’re pushing the boundaries.
<<So that we’ve evolved some what might be called “shallow” adaptations or mutations, and some examples of this kind of rapid genetic change are the evolution of light skin in response to humans moving into northern climates or the changes in some genes or gene expression that regulate insulin metabolism in response to a higher carbohydrate diet.  But those are relatively simple mutations.  They’re not complex adaptations, which are characteristics that involve coordinated actions of many different genes together. >>
When you think about these two statements, what I like about it is that it’s pinpointing what think is a fact in that people who are adapted to grains and legumes or who not necessarily thrive, but survive on these foods are probably the minority.  Now, that’s very different than saying, well, nobody should eat this because we’ve never eaten these foods in the past.  And it is a very different statement, and it forces people to think about themselves, which is what you do all the time.  It’s like, OK, where do I sit on this spectrum?  What do I tolerate and what do I not tolerate?
It all goes back to a personal responsibility argument.  Robb Wolf always says, make changes and see how you look, feel, perform and rank in important disease markers.  In other words, keep an eye on the science, but I put a disproportionate weight into personal experience.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

A Surprising Personal Best

Been running for almost 5years now, in the early development of my running performance I am used to getting a new 'PR' (personal records) every race.  I noticed a trend of 10% improvement every 6months.
Note: when calculating % of time, use minutes not fractional hours.  For example, 10% of of 1.5 hours (90minues) is 9mins.
This is not sustainable indefinitely obviously.   The 10% figure will degrade and reverse over time.  But understanding the race specific work needed to improve a specific race distance takes specific training. No one gets faster without targeted effort.

Brings me to my situation, early 2013 we moved to Boulder.  I knew that in the mountains less pressure = less oxygen, any run out the door was hundreds or thousands feet of elevation change.  I was reacquainted with double digit-minute / mile times!  The only 6-min/mile times I'd seen were occasional asphalt downhill efforts.  May days of holding 6min pace for mile repeats seemed gone.

Now we are in Boulder and it seems the town gets very excited for the nation's ~2nd largest 10km race called the Bolder Boulder.  All of my runs this year are slogs uphill and careful descents, with occasional 7min pace downhills.  The day before the race, we came home early from a rained out camping trip and I said "if the Bolder Boulder isn't sold out, I will run it."

I jogged the 4miles from home to Pearl Street Mall and waited in line to see the registration was open.  I saw they were asking for seeding times.  Feverishly I search ath-links.com in line, I found a 10km race in Richmond in 2012.  That race has 16 feet of elevation change and it's at sea level!  I wondered if I could even repeat that performance at 5,500'!  The registration person put me in corral 'AB' (3rd fastest), the cut off time for 'AA' was 41:00 - missed by three seconds, ugh.  I knew I'd need people faster than me surrounding me to suck me in.

Split toe action
In the morning, I was trying to decide which shoes to wear.  I remembered all my speed work I used to do in my Born2Run Road shoes.  Fond memories of moving fast in these shoes that offer some medium-firm cushioning, but allowing toes to splay for longitudinal arch suspension in my stride.

I toe (split toe that is) the line and take off and was able to hang with all my fellow corral runners I picked runners to catch and pass my pass-to-was passed ratio was 50:1.  I was happy to fly by a group of 'A'-corral'ers dressed like superheroes.

Done already??
I was moving my legs at a pace I really hadn't tried since 2012.  I refused to look at my watch, not wanting to know my pace.  It buzzed every mile but did not look.

The entire race besides staying in a groove of breathing, I focussed on relaxing any muscle I didn't need.  Were my shoulders tight?  Yes? Why? relave them! and move on to the next muscle group.  Hands relaxed? No?.... etc.

At the mean 10% grade hill to enter the stadium I danced around another runner's puke and thought "their gut biome cannot process beans, they need to cut out legumes..." I crossed the finish line and was handed a "Sub-40minute badge along with my medal."  My heart soared (and sored a little too, haha).  I passed two more people puking with the thought: "I wish I'd worked hard enough to puke".  As a long distance runner I am SURE I had plenty of gas in the tank, it took 2-3 deep breaths to get heart rate down.  No soreness, tightness or other signs of fatigue as I drank my post race beer(s).

I cannot remember the last time I was pleasantly surprised by a race.  7th in my age group.

Inspired:  Now I'm interested in leaving my ultra-marathon shuffle and actually specifically training for a 10km.  Also I want to fly to Richmond to re-try that 2012 race!  I will bring these good luck charms.

1    6:22
2    6:32
3    6:32
4    6:39
5    6:14
6    6:32
0.2 7:06

Note: this is a subject for another post, but less than 1% of the runners in those first few corral took any water or sports drinks.  

Friday, June 13, 2014

Coolest fact I learned in the past 12 months

It all started when I read Scott Jurek's Eat and Run, he mentioned he's a vegetarian since animal's eat plants therefore instead of eating animals, eat the plants and cut out the middle man.

This resonated with me since my little daughter was just born.  I thought, my daughter eats breast milk why eat that when she can eat my wife's diet and cut out the middle man, right?

But WAIT, a newborn lacks the gut microbiome to process the diet of an adult, she CAN'T eat what my wife eats (obvious-fugging-ly).  As humans can not process the cow's diet due to lack of gut biome and the ruminant fermenting tank of an extra stomach.

Paul Jaminet's Perfect Health Diet then mentions ALL mammals eat the SAME macronutrient ratio ~20% carbs, 65% fat, and 15% protein by calories.  But ruminant animals 'eat' grass or (in the case of a giraffe) Acacia leaves, where's the protein and fats. 

The bottom line of this disconnect is that eating and ingesting are VERY different.  A ruminant animal eats - through the mouth plants.  These chewed plants enter a fermentation tank (stomach) where a biome of microrganisms who double in count every minute devour these stomach contents.  When the quantity of these gut animals reach a critical mass they are then sent to the stomach-digestive tract that more resembles an omnivores (or carnivores) for final processing and finally absorbed into the blood stream.  The final ratio of these microbes + plants is 20% carbs, 65% fat, and 15% protein by calories.  See the pattern?  

Assuming you have an omnivores short digestive tract and no ruminant stomach and can subsist from plants alone is flawed logic and needs careful supplementation just to survive.  I love vegetarians and vegans that feel they're making ethical decisions, but the logic of physics is not fact-based.  

Obey your biology and you'll be fine.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Hear me on PrimalRunGeek PodCast

From the Link:


Geoff's Description is here:

Primal Run Geek, Episode 3.0

Episode 3 and the first time, and likely not the last, that we’ve managed to surpass our self-imposed 1 hour time limit…but only by the tiniest of 5 minutes. Geoff and Bill talk about mental training, theSageBurner 25k and DirtFest among other things. We are then joined by Mark Lofquist, a primal recreational athlete from Boulder, CO who runs the Paleo Runners blog as well as moderates an active Barefoot and Minimalist Runners group on Facebook and a related Strava group. Mark is self taught in regards to his passion for primal living and is full of great information and is just an all around fun guy to chat with.
For those that aren’t already aware of the great DC Rainmaker site for endurance and fitness related gear reviews, definitely check it out.