Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Heavy Day For Ultra Runners

An Example Of How & When To Add Weight

"Heavy Day"  For Runners
Squats, Deadlifts, Shoulder Press, Bench, Pull Ups (can substitute with Lat Pull Downs)
Warm up is KEY, use just the bar and do the exercise a dozen reps.  Add a tiny bit of weight where 10 reps is easy.  Then you're into your work set.  
For simplicity, a work set is 3x8 (3x8 = three sets of 8 reps).  On day one, chose a weight you can 'comfortably' do 3x8.  Each week we'll go up in weight by the smallest increment. 
Let’s say that for one of the exercises in your workout routine (let’s call it Exercise XYZ) you are currently lifting 50lbs. Let’s also say that your program calls for you to do 3 sets of 8 reps for Exercise XYZ.
Now let’s say today you did Exercise XYZ and it went like this:
  • Set #1: 50lbs – 8 reps
  • Set #2: 50lbs – 8 reps
  • Set #3: 50lbs – 8 reps
As you can see, you lifted 50lbs for 3 sets of 8 reps in this example. Since your program calls for you to do 3 sets of 8 reps, this workout was a success.
Since you’ve reached the prescribed set/rep goal for this exercise, it’s now time to increase the weight by the smallest increment possible. So, the next time you perform Exercise XYZ, you should do something like this:
  • Set #1: 55lbs – 8 reps
  • Set #2: 55lbs – 8 reps
  • Set #3: 55lbs – 8 reps
See what happened? Progressive overload took place. You increased the weight you were lifting by 5lbs (which is usually the smallest possible increment) and performed that same prescribed 3 sets of 8 reps with this new slightly heavier weight.
That means this workout was once again a complete success. The next time you perform Exercise XYZ, you’d go up to 60lbs and again attempt 3 sets of 8 reps. You would then continue increasing like this as often as possible over and over again.
The only thing is, most people will NOT be able to increase this much and/or this consistently from workout to workout (beginners might, but few others will).
In fact, instead of that second successful workout shown above (the 55lbs for 3 sets of 8 reps), many people would have ended up only able to do something like this:
  • Set #1: 55lbs – 8 reps
  • Set #2: 55lbs – 7 reps
  • Set #3: 55lbs – 6 reps
This is completely normal and should still be considered a successful workout (it is still definitely progressive overload). Now, in this case, your goal the next time you perform Exercise XYZ is something like this:
  • Set #1: 55lbs – 8 reps
  • Set #2: 55lbs – 8 reps
  • Set #3: 55lbs – 7 reps
And then the time after that…
  • Set #1: 55lbs – 8 reps
  • Set #2: 55lbs – 8 reps
  • Set #3: 55lbs – 8 reps
And the time after that…
  • Set #1: 60lbs – 8 reps
  • Set #2: 60lbs – 7 reps
  • Set #3: 60lbs – 6 reps
And you would repeat this similar pattern of increasing reps/weight over and over again so that your body continues having a reason to adapt and improve over and over again.
Oh, and in case it isn’t obvious enough, if your weight training routine called for 3 sets of 10, 4 sets of 6, 5 sets of 5, 2 sets of 12, or any other combination of sets and reps, you’d still progress virtually the same way as shown in the above example, just with a different number of reps and sets.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Changing it Up (sick, hurt, but a plan ahead)

I've been absent for a while from my blog :-/.  Sorry about that fans and cyberbots that frequent this page!  

Brief recent History: 

After summer 2015 my training hit a real wall.  I had no energy or motivation to train.  I went to a doctor (for anyone that knows me, this does not happen, ever).  Although intentions were good, the doctors I visited were only convinced in treating symptoms.  
A health marker seems low, we should supplement with that marker.  
But isn't that marker the output of a cycle and it's deficiency is more likely a pathological dysfunction in that cycle and its inputs?   
Blank stares
Blood tests, specialists later I found I have the Ebola.... just kidding, Ebstein Barr.  Looks like the dude from Welcome Back Kotter and the founder of Pikes Peak's Barr trail got together to make this energy sapping virus.   According to the blood tests I *had* it.  So I'm all better now (?).  

I also have this "hip thing" going on.  Pain in the hip flexor, left side.  It would always go away with more running volume and switching to a standing desk.  But during my much lower training volume it's flared up and been off/on greatly affecting my runs.  A few times a week I would come limping back to my desk after my lunch time run.

What I'm Doing about it   


I was referred to a physical therapist Mark Plaatjes at In-Motion Rehabilitation.  I would not stop talking to him about training and racing.  It was a real pleasure to have his ear, and his treatment.  He is good, really good.  I felt like $1m after he massaged, stretched, dry needled, elctro-stim, and heating padded me.  

I felt really great after that, but was still treading lightly afraid the good feeling would cause me to overreach.  I waited two more days, then looped around (up and over) Green Mountain.  It was a PR for the main loop without really trying.  The hip was sore the next run, took it slow and pain at a 2:10 at max.  

About to see him for appt #2 today.  

Blood Tests

I was getting so many blood tests to determine my EBV, and checking for other issues that can be measured - eventually I recruited Josh at Fuelary for 'blood results you can understand'.  He compares test results to real ranges of values, not just what the average of the (largely sick) population provides.  I ordered more tests from him to narrow down so markers that raised red flags and look forward to getting those results.  

Way Ahead

I hate the thought of putting this in writing, but... here goes.  Prepare for a road marathon (TBD) in April, then go to Born to Run 100miler in Mid May.  A well executed marathon plan should provide the leg strength, stamina, speed should be an amazing foundation to run a 100 miler.  For 4-6 weeks after the marathon, prepare more race specifically for the 100.  Some of the 6:50-7:00 pace work will be lost, but long slow, slog training will be a nice change and add the necessary fitness.  Then, no races until PPM in August.  

To help encourage this plan, I have acquired a new gadget to measure, record, train-by-power!  I have ordered the Stryd Foot Pod power device thingy.  I was watching videos of how it works and what it's applications could mean and noticed they are located down the street from me.  I visited their office and was able to get a few questions answered.  I am convinced it is worth using.  I ordered a piece that evening and await its delivery.  I will write about it more as I apply it to my running.  It costs ~$200 (pictured is ~$200.25).  

That's my plan, and I may stick to it.  Let's see how the hip / blood work stuff pans out.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Uphill and Downhill things to think about!

Uphill tips
1) The first section is the steepest - don't go out too hard!
2) Taking "baby steps" will help you maintain a good cadence. It's like switching to granny gear on a mountain bike.
3) On long, steady hills, switching often between walking and running is tempting, but it makes you lose momentum and cadence. Pick one or the other and go with it. Switch only when the terrain switches.
4) Posture is everything. Leaning forward from the hips puts too much pressure on your back, an erect posture will provide a better push-off.
5) Look uphill, not at your feet. This will allow you to pick the best line and free up your airway.
Downhill tips
1) Don't over-stride, each landing will put extreme stress on your legs.
2) Lean forward not backward keeping your whole body perpendicular to the ground. Again, this will save your quads and allow you to run faster.
3) If you need to control your speed cut your stride length and increase your cadence. Like using low gear in a car.
4) Like a hurdler, step over, not on rocks and other obstacles. Keep your body level and lift your legs.
5) Pick as straight a line as possible down the hill. The more you move left and right, the more you stress your legs and increase the distance.

Pikes Peak Marathon

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Athlete I'm coaching

59 year old male.  Tested LT and Vo2Max in November 2015, then again in June 2016.

Heart Rate (bpm): 130 154
November(mph): 5.4 6.98 29.26%
June (mph)        :  7.8 10.08 29.23%

Important note...  this athlete is not seeing a compression that can occur when doing exclusively aerobic training.  He has been mixing up strides, fartleks and weekly interval efforts to see this broad spectrum improvement.  

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Quad rock 25 mile...

This year, a couple races got shortened this year.  Getting my PhD has taken so much time.  I've taken to training so may people lately, I am so glad to help then to perform!

Monday, December 28, 2015

I have to

Like most kids, I learned the little engine that could story: "I think I can, I think I can".

I'm here to tell you that's not enough.  It's nice to have positive affirmations.  Thinking is believing and having a belief is nice.  I would like to suggest there is thinking and just doing!

Earlier this month I had a couple small children to think about, work had a bunch of deliverables and school work piled up.  Frequently I found myself myself asking how I could get all the things done and give the amount of attention my loved ones deserve.  There was no 'think I can' it became 'I have to.'

I have to rings in my head when I look up a mountain I wish to run up.  Can I do it?  I have to!

I believe this fine gent said it best:

<<When I kill that guy, you got 30 feet to get to that guard.

Can you do it?

**I have to.>>

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Practice kindness

It's the holiday season, I'm not sure what motivated me to write this way off-topic post.   But... 

What's your first priority?

Over heard At a couple's counseling session:
Husband: ...and my wife just doesn't get it, she kept arguing even though I proved I was right!
Counselor: Yeah, sometimes we all forget what's most important.
Husband: To be right?!
Counselor:  No, to be kind.

It's so easy to make quick and mean judgements.  How many times in traffic do you scream 'goooo, fucker!'.  Or 'that bitch made me miss that light, I could kill her!'.

Argument with spouse or child, crazy self criticism -- it's all the same.  If you had one more wicket added between your senses and your reaction, make it the question: 'am I being kind?'

If kindness was everybody's first priority, life would be pretty sweet.

In your relationships:  They deserve kindness. You deserve kindness in return.  It's free.  It takes one small filter inserted into your brain.  Practice it!

The rub: how can I be kind when fuck-face over there isn't going to be!?
The hard answer: show fuck-face exemplary behavior.  It may be the hardest thing you can do.  But it's the right thing.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Debating the Banting diet - for sport

One of the best dietary debates I have seen (there aren't many).  It begins with a DR offering advice to a woman over Twitter.  Since they did not have a DR/patient agreement it was 'free information' NOT a treating physician's advice.

But the following conversation is the meaty part.  At minute 4:00 Martha says "Carbohydrates or glucose are the main source of energy for the human body."   I wish I could ask her: 

On June 23rd, 2015 I wrote:

I ran 11.5hours Saturday.  During the race, I consumed ~500 calories.  A simple running calculator says I burned 7,860 calories.  If carbs are the "source of energy for the humans" then how was I able to do that?

I'm not nearly well-connected enough, but I would like to pose this^^ question to as many dietitians or folks that offer up advice for eating and participating in sports up to and including ultra marathons.

More on the video:

At minute 5:50

Noakes: "What a lovely explanation, unfortunately there's no science behind it whatsoever.  It is complete nonsense.  ...Probably 50% of SA'ers are insulin resistant.  Insulin resistance causes obesity, heart disease, cancer, dementia."

At minute 17:30

Martha: "Because we have long term studies to show us" [that the high carb diet is safer]

Noakes: "Which one, explain which study so I can look it up quickly on the internet?"
...she can't answer because there is no study that shows high carb diet over 20-30 years outperforms any other alternative diet.
Noakes: "There have been clinical trials to prove the contrary, the Woman's study, the ....<cut off by the reporter>".

The above video worth viewing. Sadly, it is a debate that isn't wrapped-up well.  It could use Oxford style debating rules with references on hand.  To that end it's frustrating.  

The conclusions I have drawn from my research are:

  1. Insulin resistance is the MAIN cause of chronic conditions and the maximum expenditure on our health care system.  Causing heart disease, obesity, diabetes,dementia, cancer,... (please see me for references for this assertion).
  2. I don't recommend a low-carb diet for people, I recommend an appropriate-carb diet for people.  Everyone has a maximum level of sugar (and sugar-like) substances they can ingest before they get resistant to their own insulin excretion.  Find your max level and stay below it.
  3. The diet currently encouraged by Government policy, which was written by Agricultural department(1), is not based on science, and is not working for many.
  4. There are fat-soluble vitamins and water-soluble vitamins, there are no carbohydrate-soluble vitamins.

    (1)Think about that, a heavily grain-based diet written by the Dept of Agriculture.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Margerine: How is it Made

Cheaper than rendering Lard.  Check out how Margarine is made.

Consuming these products helps the bottom line of the manufacturers.  Hey we'll sacrifice our health in the name of your bottom line though! I mean, what's the worst that can happen by shifting the ration of Omega 6 : Omega 3 fatty acids from an ancestral 2:1, 1:1, 1:2 to a sick-producing 8:1, 12:1, 20:1?  Well, there is this:
Scientists have known for more than a decade that the omega-6 fats contained in vegetable oils (like those used to manufacture margarine) degrade human bone density.  Now new research has thrown light on how that happens and why anyone concerned about osteoporosis needs to immediately stop consuming them.
Every processed food on the supermarket shelves is loaded with omega-6 fats (in the form of seed oils).  Every fried food has been boiled in omega-6 fats (seed oils again). Our National Heart Foundation actively encourages us to eat margarines brimming with omega-6 fats (yep, seed oils).  And the charity responsible for advice about Osteoporosis doesn’t even mention the known link between omega-6 fats and the disease.
In this environment it is not strange that the number of people affected has doubled in just a decade, it’s a bloody miracle it hasn’t tripled.  But stay tuned, at the rate we are increasing the consumption of omega-6 fats, there is much more pain to come.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

It wouldn't be so hard if it wasn't for the one hill

My best side
It wouldn't be so hard if it wasn't for the one hill!

That was this year's theme for the 60th running* of the Pike Peak Marathon "PPM" (*more like run/walking).

Note: this is the story of a recreational middle aged athlete.

My History with the PPM (tldr;?)

PPM Attempt 1: In 2013, after ~4 years of experience in my newfound hobby of running, I moved to Manitou Springs, CO and thought that and coming out of clicking off upper 6min - low 7min miles in east coast road marathons -- I should focus more on trail running.  More specifically Colorado trail running.  I would sign up for the 2013 pikes peak marathon and to place 'relatively' well (for a middle aged dude with only a few years of lifetime running under his hydration-flask-filled-running-belt.)

From my house, it was a 3mile run to the mouth of the Barr trail.  I would just keep ascending a little farther every week from March to August and show e'rybody this was my new backyard!  By August 2013, I'd ascended pikes peak 4 times and had bi-weekly runs up to Barr camp.  I was becoming an acclimated and a trail runner.  ;)

The 2013 PPM race went .....very poorly. I'm not sure why!  I pushed as hard as I could, but I heard a barrage of requests "excuse me, can I please get around you?"  At the end, I felt like I'd worked hard and really earned my medal.  It seemed harder than many 50milers I'd done to date!  Something so grueling about all that constant UP only to be rewarded with potential energy you can't cash in on during the never ending downhill!  2013 Finish Time: 6:48, Ascent split: 4:04

PPM Attempt 2:  Early 2014, I transferred to my old company and moved to Boulder, CO.  Glad to still be in Colorado!  But honestly, I feel more of a suburban-dweller than a mountaineer.  To get above 10,000' elevation requires a drive.  It's 3+ miles of flat city streets with crosswalks before I hit 'the trails' for a run. The quality breweries make up for any of these 'gripes' - just different for running options.    

I tried to keep up my training when I could -  just trying to be a better trail runner.  I found routes that were hard and tried to improve my pace at fixed effort levels.  But in June while traveling for work I tripped HARD and broke my second toe.  It was comical how UNtechnical the trail was.  I was out of commission for at least 6weeks.  Sadly, I had to cancel races and put training on a big pause.  The toe was getting better fast and I was making short, LOW heart rate runs after a month**.  I wanted the new bone mass to know what it was in for, of course!  I upped my mileage to ~10-13miles and it was time to run the PPM again.

At the time, I was thinking of the ole saying 'better to enter a race 10% undertrained than 1% overtrained.  I was certainly under trained, but I had some gains from the months prior.  It went SO much better than the previous year.  I was in the right place from the get go.  With one mile to go on the ascent portion, I was giggling that I felt so well.  I could still bound up rocks, plenty of energy left.  I knew I was MUCH better placed in the race.

The downhill however, my toe was throbbing and that was affecting a twist and push off on the right side.  I kept rolling my ankle over and over***.  I was so mad, walking for extended periods while descending.  I finished kind of strong, but limped home.  Too soon after toe healing to race?  Good to have an extended taper before a race to let the rest of my body fully heal?  Not sure.

Ffwd - after the race I ran a recovery run (probably too hard) and felt a snap!  Some connective tissue to fibula was in pain.  I went through weeks of recovery from that.  Between that pain and the toe, I took >20% of my running year off!  I was a little crazy, like a caged animal.  There was a pleasant distraction of my son, Logan being born! 2014 Finish Time: 6:04, Ascent split: 3:41

PPM Attempt 3: 2015 had a nice start!  I participated in most of the Human Potential Running Series fat ass events.  It was a great way to get out when the weather wasn't so good and go long distances.  I used time between these events to focus on other trail skills and cycle through several traction aid devices for snow/ice running.  As the spring/summer was getting closer, I'd decided on only three races to run: BigHorn 50miler, Sheep Mountain 50miler, and PPM (again!).

I was having a hard time focusing training in spring.  I like to hit at least 10hours / week, but I seemed to be stuck at 6-8hours for a few weeks in a row.  I decided to recruit the coaching assistance of Team Colorado's Peter Maksimow.  I watched Peter win the Greenland 50km and wondered how to run as evenly and smoothly as he!  But poor guy, I contact him saying 'help i have a few 50s coming up and want to do better at PPM!  He crafted a training plan on the fly constantly checking on how I was responding to the increase in volume.  Peter was also very helpful in telling me how to handle the days after a long slow, grueling race like the BigHorn and Sheep Mtn races.  Another difference for me was seeking time to complete more than one long run per week.  As a result, there were a few 13-15hour weeks - running many of those extended miles at night after kids were asleep. (please remind me to make up those lost hours of sleep!)

My body responded well to the slight over-reach and I was getting segment PRs on my old paths.  The day after a long run I'd feel great, then sore, then great - a real roller coaster.  My wife looks down at dinner one night and says "I think your calves are now bigger than your thighs" (haha!).

Around this time, I apply to become a Carson Footwear Ambassador after having ran in their Iguana Racer for so many of these extended training runs.  I believe in the brand and think they're on to something!  I order their blue tigers (insert "we're tiger and bunny and we like the boom" audio clip) and receive a bonus race singlet for my troubles!  (Thanks Mr. Carson).  I knew the tigers would be just what I needed.  I didn't bother wearing them except for the race, that worked VERY well.

Just before this year's PPM, I find out I need to travel to east coast (sea level) for the better part of the week.  Two possibilities: I lose red blood cell count that comes with altitude acclimation, or I recover well for a taper in this 'hyperoxic' place.  It could go either way, eh?  

The race: gun goes off and I....wait two minutes because I'm in wave two!  Start time for people like me is 7:02am.  My previous finish time put me at an approximate finish place of #265.  The first 100 athletes start in wave one, those talented bishes!  When I finally do start, I insert myself about where I think I belong for my coral.  I can see the first runners, and I'm a cluster behind them.  On the way UP I spent much more time saying 'excuse me can I pass you' than receiving it.  Some very well disciplined people passed me with much energy near the top!  But I feel I took many more places than I gave up. I was tired, but I knew I was doing well.  I never looked at watch, did NOT monitor heart rate.  Exclusively went by breathing.  Near the top it was one breath per step and I was walking.  I felt very tired, but muscles felt good!

I began my descent and after a few miles felt the onset of a few cramps.  I used Noakes's theory of the central governor and convinced my body that muscle group did NOT intact need to shut down and the cramping feeling went away.  Some downhill miles were 10mins, then I counted a 9, then an 8, the final stretch were a couple miles in the 7min pace.  I needed only a few walking steps on the way down where it was most technical.  I was passed by some VERY talented downhill runners, they'd been waiting for these stretches to turn it up and zoom by the likes of me!  I was happy to be in their company even if they finished just ahead of me.

During the race I had a medium sized bottle to carry with 1.5 scoops of Ucan Superstarch.  I had 2 refills of pure water in my bottle, in total.  I dropped the bottle with 2.5miles to go to the summit, picking it back up on the way back down!  People noticed it was left there and a couple other bottles were dropped at the same place - trend setter, no big deal.  In my pockets were 3 packets of Stinger Honey (just honey, none of their other options).  Along the way, I drank two cups of the aid-station-provided Gatorade and took a total of 12 red grapes.  I consumed approx 400 calories during the race, while bring 4,800.  This is more sugar than I would consume in an ultra that could last double the time.  PPM is a more intense bout!
The advantage of being a fat adapted athlete (one who burns the fat he's carrying IF the intensity level is low enough) is that I can fuel myself off my own fat and/or exogenous simple carbs.  
End result was a >30minute PR.  I finished 61st place overall, 7th in my age group.  A couple minutes from 5th, which would have been a trophy!   2015 Finish Time: 5:32, Ascent split: 3:28

Summary (in nonsensical list format)
1. If you can afford it, get a damn coach.  You're accountable to somebody, you have someone to talk to about a very common interest - your performance.  They can evaluate where your shortcomings are dispassionately, etc...

2. If you like to race, get gear that can you can rely on. (lol,... you-can, Ucan).  For example, those shoes.  Like me, you can train in the most minimal of shoes.  But if you plan to run at night, technical trails, at speeds that may exceed considerate foot placement - get a shoe that offers some appropriate protection.  A shoe that doesn't add more mass than what your'e used to, either with rock plates or a more dense rubber bottom.  During this year's PPM, I KICKED a few rocks that would've been a broken bone in less of a shoe.  It's hard to find a shoe's sole that offers proprioception, but protection from sharp rocks - and is light weight.  That's what I found in Carson's shizz.

3. When I was a gym-rat that only cared about muscle size, I noticed to see 'real' gains I had to workout a body part more than once a week.  I harkened back to that reasoning this season - in adding multiple long runs in a week, I immediately saw them getting easier.  Showing your body this is the new normal is the key, she'll adapt!  

**This is KEY to a good recovery after an acute injury.  When you get movement back, set a heart rate monitor to a low value and NEVER exceed it.

***Many people don't know that at a certain point, a trail runner has ankles of steel - what sprains some people's ankle barely affects two steps of a seasoned trail runner
This is why downhill doesn't always mean 'faster'

Hi honey, a few more steps!


Monday, July 13, 2015

Another boring race report

Last weekend I lost my mind and 'ran' the first year of the Sheep Mountain Endurance Run.  Advertised distance was 52 miles, elevation gain 9,000', lowest elevation 10,000, and highest 12,500'.  That climb and that altitude makes this the toughest run of my life!

But I, like a few others added some bonus distance due to so many turns on to small relatively unused trails.  I have the worst sense of direction when I get in my head, so tacking on ~1.5miles is pretty normal for me.  The race markings were good, I just needed to look up every once in a while to see them!  There were a dozen times when I'd panic because I hadn't seen an orange marker.   Also a dozen times when I laughed because I was running towards an orange flower!  One intersection was ambiguously marked. I was fortunate to see a few other runners scratching their heads as well.  Together we figured it out.

By the way, F.U. Strava, Garmin, all others ugh, Fuk!  I decided NOT to wear my Garmin Fenix 2 because it locked up / froze again last week while running in Boston.  I have a large external battery for my iPhone and used the Strava app.  Around mile 44 I didn't hear another 'mile update' for a while.  I opened the app and it had crashed.  When it woke up again it had remembered my last position and just said 'starting run' like nothing had gone wrong.  Turns out it missed ~70 minutes of my run.  So the recorded results read 49.9miles ran, I believe it's closer to 55!  Maybe the app was fine, I just took a hang glider from point A to point B.  Hang gliders seem heavy until you finally deploy it and shave off precious miles from your race :-/.

Mile...something, a breeze would knock me over
  Race Nutrition: I ate
5-600 calories in, 8,000 calories out.

  • Under Armor shirt with custom HPRS logo!  Don't you know I'm logo?
  • Inov-8 RaceShell 220 waterproof hoody - much needed at 40degree start and a short storm.  A terrible windy/cold rain that hit me with 5miles to go!
  • Inov8 X-Talon 212 shoes, even though I train in the most minimal shoes I can find I treat 'race-day' with more protection and grip for mud.  This course wasn't as muddy as I'd thought, maybe an Altra Lone Peak or Superior would've been better
  • Ultimate Direction Anton Vest with a Nathan's hydration bladder
  • Asics shorts,   
  • Born2Run split toe socks
My Performance: This was a race of attrition, 11 out of 56 starters DNF'ed (a handful of DNS'ers as well!).  Altitude was getting to everybody. I can not explain why my altitude symptoms were pretty manageable.  I was mad I could't run simple non-technical 3-10% grades.  Breathing hard just to power-walk!  I kept reminding myself, oh yeah this is at 12,000'.  This relieved some frustration.  With a history of starting too fast and overestimating my abilities, it was a confidence booster to see someone ahead of me and slowly reel them in.  Although I have gotten stronger in the past couple of months, I know passing people was more them being at a low then me being at a high.  But still, ninth overall and seeing many GOOD runners come in after me was a pleasant surprise.  Maybe it's a sign of improvement on these tough Colorado trails.  My next race, the Pikes Peak Marathon performance will be a good indicator of improvement.

Finish: (although my name is Swedish....) At the finish, we were given the glorious opportunity to kiss the Sheep.  I call him Karl, he just kind of looks like a Karl.  I plopped down in perfect burpee form and kissed his little skull.  Then after asking permission, a quick little dry hump for good measure.  Next few runners picked up Karl and kissed him, I thought: 'oh smarter'!

  • Aid station volunteers, it was a love fest.  So many encouraging words and cheers.  Thanks for the shot of Fireball early on  
  • My wife and two tiny little chil'ren for waiting so long for me to finish
  • Peter Maksimow for telling me what/when to run to make me mo' better stronger
  • RD Sherpa John, you made a memorable race for us.  I loved the time I spent doing the hardest thing I've ever done.  Can't wait to do it again!  

You had me at 'unstable explosives'! 

This.... is a trail!  Requires ankles and feets of steel

Amazing views, pictures do no justice

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Race report oh my god, what did you eat

I'm not the type to type-up a race report.  I figure 'oh my god, who the hell cares?'  What steps I took / where won't change anybody's life.   But serious thanks to Peter Maksimow for coaching me (on short notice) to get me through a 50+miler as it has been a while since I've ran that distance!  
But my race nutrition plan might be of interest to a few.  During my racing am I Practicing what I preach

Important definition: 'hitting the wall' = the inability to switch from carb-fueling to fat-fueling while in motion.  By fat-fueling, I mean the fat stored in your body.  No matter how thin you seem, you have days of fuel right there.  Being able to access it is a use it / lose it skill.  A carb dependent athlete has a poorly developed ability to mobilize and metabolize their own body fat and use it as a fuel. 

My goal over the past couple of years is to become 'fat-adapted'.  This does not mean always living in ketosis or fueling my runs with fats.  What is does mean: I'm not dependent on a solely carbohydrate-based fuel while running.  I can switch fuel sources on the fly.

In Dr Jeff Volek's yet unreleased FASTER Study (FASTER=Fat-Adapted-Substrate oxidation in-Trained-Elite-Runners) to look at the physiological differences between elite male ultra-marathon runners with one cohort following a conventional high carbohydrate diet and the other following a low carb/fat-adapted strategy.  One qualitative finding for high performance is all participants got much faster (surge of energy) when they took in a simple sugar source of calories.  Everyone responded to Gels like rocket fuel.  Difference being, carb-adapted athlete needs these gels in an IV bag.

Most every dietitian I have met will tell me that the body needs sugar (carbs) for energy. Well let's see if the basic arithmetic supports this.

My race this weekend, 52 miles, 7860 kcalories burned.

I store between 1200 and 2000 calories in my muscles and liver if those stores are tapped off.  I ingested 500kcals during the race.  I had a breakfast out of a styrofoam left over box, some mushrooms (no, not THAT kind), cheese sticks, little slab of chicken: 300 kcals.  
7860 - 2000 - 500 - 300 = 5060 kcals
Hmmm, where's the energy balance?  Ans: Those 5000 missing cals came from my own fat. The source of my exogenous 500 kcals:
  • ~2.5 scoops of Ucan superstarch sipped somewhat regularly diluted in 2 Liters of water
  • 1 Justin's Almond Butter (I had 4 with me, but hard to eat.  wasn't feeling it.  better in cold weather
  • misc: several little slices of watermelon, little bunch of grapes, two jolly ranchers, a few dixie cups of pepsi - mmm pepsi
How to get fat adapted? Ans: Eat a lower carb diet normally, practice intermittent fasting, narrow your eating window most days, run without fueling, run fasted on occasion.  You'll soon realize, many of the pangs of hunger you feel are habit, food addiction, small alien fetus growing inside you.  

Any times this doesn't work? Ans: High intensity efforts, you will need a high share of carbs to fuel an effort.  No matter how fat adapted you are, you will bump up against your limit of fat mobilization.  According to the study, fat mobilization varies from 0.67 grams/min for a carb-adapted athlete to 1.54 grams/min for a fat adapted athlete.  

Anyway(s), I had a fun low-intensity race, and here's some random pics blah blah race report....

Amazing aid stations with people serving and servicing you!

Scenery sent from the gods

So.... so much mud!

'Selfie'-type picture,... of myself

Saturday, May 16, 2015

First of All - Do No Harm

I'm switching that to "do know harm?".  Do you know the harm of what you're doing?

In ancient Egypt the tombs were prepared for the god-king pharaohs.  Every organ was removed and placed in to beuatifully carved vessels.  During the process of preserving evetything that was important they shoved a stick up through the nose; into the brain; stirred it up and poured into the sewer system.
Imagine, these tomb preparers were so dumb, they didn't know the value of the 2-3 pound organ in the skull.  That sort of reminds me of the medical community not knowing the importance of the 2-3 pounds of gut flora living in our digestive tract.  This flora out numbers the human cells in your body 10 to 1.

All humans are 99.9% similar in genetic make-up but the gut flora is so diverse, no two people have more than a 40% overlap.   The majority of your immune system resides in the gut biomass.  90% of chronic conditions are a result of gut biome mismatch or insufficiency.  Your food cravings, nutritional needs, mood, heart, skin, brain health are all dependent on the health of the old friends you carry in your gut.  The figure below gives a snapshot of some conditions that you'd be afflicted with if you lack sufficient breadth and depth of gut biome diversity.

People are born without bacteria, and acquire a gut biomass in the first few years of life. Babies get their first dose of microbes as they're passing through their mother's birth canal. Babies born by caesarean section don't acquire their microbes this way. In fact, studies show that C-section babies have a markedly different microbiota from vaginal birth babies, and may be at higher risk for certain types of allergies and obesity.  The gut biomass in C-section babies more resembles skin bacteria strains, and can take a lifetime to normalize.  While the gut biome is initially forming a baby's metabolic, immune, cognitive, and reproductive systems are undergoing extensive development.

Since the 1950s, it is well known that feeding livestock antibiotics makes them gain weight like crazy.  It was first this weight gain - THEN farmers noticed with their newfound artificial disease resistance animals could be packed closer together.     

Western medicine is the greatest development for acute or traumatic conditions.  But just by the ignorance surrounding the conditions that stem from the gut is shockingly sad.  The existential fallacy in logic is: an argument has a universal context and a particular solution.  The premise that bacteria is bad so anything that fights bacterial growth is good is wrecking our health.  Destroying the gut biome is doing harm.  Do not take an anti-biotic 'just in case'.  Never deprive antibiotics from someone very sick, but realize that most childhood colds, ear infections, sore throats just go away on their own.  You have no idea the damage you're doing to the majority of your cells.  

Now our health food stores are packed with probiotics sometimes containing 'many' strains of bacteria.  The odds of a store bought probiotic helping your gut flora is liken to winning the lottery.  It's depth, breadth and biodiversity that makes a healthy gut.  The science is not out yet on what externalities may help cultivate a healthy biomass.  Sadly, science is just now getting to the point of quanitfying the many issues that can result from having a weak gut biome.  Exchanging poop is much more likely to help you, or simply eat real food.  I KNOW thats a bridge too far for many.  

Friday, February 27, 2015

Skora's Latest, the Tempos

Spring/Summer Running Season is Coming!

Even though there's Mega-Tons of snow out there, I'm planning ahead.   Although I am 'Mr Minimal Footwear", I am also 'Mr Variety of Footwear.'  In a given week, I will cycle through 2-3 pairs of shoes. This practice:
  • Spreads the 'love' of tiny differences in muscle activation that occurs from differing footwear
  • Spreads out time that I need to make a (read: another!) shoe investment
In my rotation I will keep higher stack-height shoes.  They are a tool in my shoe-tool-box that I most often pull out when fatigued but need to hit it again, or in a drop bag of an ultra and need extra stack height to go on.  

 Typically, my back to back long runs on a Saturday/Sunday.  The Sunday run I will enter fatigued but I want to hit the larger muscle groups more aggressively.  Therefore, the more supportive shoe comes out!  Saves foot muscle activation when feet are tired. 

The Tempos are now my go to shoe for this purpose.  Holy cow, comfy.  The first two hours I owned them I ran 14miles at a decent clip.  The breathable upper will be heaven-sent in hotter weather, especially hitting the pavement.  On trails, I'll be bombing down a little more aggressively than normal - which will give me a good training benefit there! (22mm stack height, medium EVA cushion).  

Things I really dig: 
  • Grooves in sole.  Even though it's a tall shoe for me, grooves make it flexible.  I'm getting good foot mobility in there!
  • Breathable upper.  This mesh will be VERY refreshing.  I plan to wear them for my 100 km Road Ultra coming in mid March
  • Smart Lug Placement.  Great traction even on pea-gravel, sand collected on road shoulders.  
  • Zero drop. This should go without saying for me... We all have these amazing springs that return ground force reactions.  An elevated heel reduces those springs' effectiveness.  Zero-drop is a prerequisite for me (and should be for you.) 
  • Subtle little curve in the sole. When I am running long miles on unchanging surfaces (like road running). I find I will consciously adjust toe emphasis.  Force toes to relax, or curve them up, or press them down.  Varies over long runs.  The sole in the Tempos have a subtle upward toe curvature. This *may* weaken toe extensors over time, but my first impression is it feels NICE.  I last longer!  This is another reason why it will work for my road ultra! 
  • Color = visibility on the roads.  I'm normally shy, but I want cars, bikes to see me coming!
Things I dig less:
  • Can't wear in winter, can't add microspikes.  The elastic from my kahtoolas crush my toes. With thick boiled wool socks they can be a good winter shoe.  But I needs' my spikes'!  
  • Will I rely on them too much? Will that weaken foot muscles due to thick(er) cushioning than what I'm used to?  Can't wait to find out :).  

They're really good looking.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Take Stock in Broth

Marco Canora outside Brodo.Credit
Restaurants are starting to sell cups of bone broth in cups for customer s to swig.  

NYC restaurant 'Brodo' charges $3.50 for a small paper cup of the nutrient-rich elixir.  (I can't help think of 'Brondo' - which I believe has electrolytes, lol.)

Like an espresso drink, the broths at Brodo can be customized, with add-ins like grated fresh turmeric, house-made chile oil and bone marrow from grass-fed cattle, which transforms plainly delicious broth into a richly satisfying snack. 

“It’s been known through history and across cultures that broth settles your stomach and also your nerves,” said Sally Fallon Morell, an author of the new book “Nourishing Broth.” “When a recipe has that much tradition behind it, I believe the science is there too.”
The difference between stock and broth is elusive in the bowl but clearer in the kitchen. Many people use the terms interchangeably, but strictly speaking, both broth and stock include bones and meat, but stock has a higher proportion of bones to meat. And to those who have taken up “broth-ing,” it is the content of the bones — including collagen, amino acids and minerals — that is the source of its health benefits. Extracting the nutrients from bones is accomplished through long cooking and by adding some acid to the pot, like vinegar, wine or a bit of tomato paste, which loosens and dissolves the tough bits.
Of course you can make your own. Pleeeaaase make sure if you're using beef bones that they're grass fed.  As always lamb/bison is a better choice since we haven't figured out how to factory farm them.  Ask your butcher, even a grocery store butcher.

On a recent episode of paleorunner.org podcast (no relation to this blog), Aaron interviews Dr Paul Jaminet and they discuss making bone broth.  Great advice in there, such as how to: make small batches and store as your liquid additive to anything you're cooking; pour out the first simmered top to remove bacteria and particulate matter, etc.  Cook with it, or take a shot every once in a while.   

PR90 Paul Jaminet - How to live the Perfect Health Lifestyle.  At time 23:48, Paul discusses his bone broth making procedure.

NYT article about Brodo

Friday, January 2, 2015

Coolest fact I learned in 2014

I need a better 'coolest fact I learned' schedule.  I stumble across things that I had better write down because they resonate and I feel the need to share (some may say over-share!).

Coolest fact: Starts with trees:  Ever wonder where their mass comes from?  The General Sherman tree, for example annually puts on the mass of a large oak tree every year.  
'where did it get its mass, its thick trunk, its branches?' — the instinctive answer would be from the soil below, plus a little water (and, in some mysterious way, sunshine), right?
From here"Would it surprise you, ... to discover that 95 percent of a tree is actually from carbon dioxide, that trees are largely made up of air?"  You can measure their carbon sequestration in pounds, baby.

The inputs to a tree are soil-minerals+sun+CO2.  the outputs are O2.  The growth in a tree is the difference between CO2 and O2's the tree breathes.  For humans, it's different - in fact opposite.  The inputs to humans is food+water+sun+O2.  The outputs are CO2+waste products.  

Humans gain weight through food, and lose it through exhaling.  
Consider this: All other factors held constant, the weight loss attributed to exercise is largely the CO2 you're outputting compared to the O2 you're inputting.  Exercise makes you breathe faster/harder.  

If you're packing on a few extra pounds, breathe yourself thinner.  

Monday, December 8, 2014

The Winter of Scarcity that Never Comes

This is my hypothesis:
Our distant ancestors had access only to berries in the late summer.  We consumed them and they were sweet which gave us a reward in our pleasure centers of our brains.  We ate them specifically to gain weight for the upcoming winter.  A food intended to fatten us up should NOT have a satiating trigger, that would defeat the purpose.   
Fast forward to today, sweet is available all the time.  Still no satiety trigger.  We are constantly fattening for a 'winter' of scarcity that never comes.  
If only there was a controlled way to test this... for example:

  • In the upcoming That Sugar Film, Damon Gameau, a filmmaker and TV actor, vows to follow a strict diet of “healthy,” low-fat food with high sugar content, News.com.au reported....
  • Gameau reportedly consumed 40 teaspoons of sugar per day, or slightly more than the average teenager worldwide, according to News.com.au. According to the American Heart Association (AHA), the average American consumes 20 teaspoons of sugar daily
<40 teaspoons of sugar?? "to match averages." What did he do, just shoveled sugar in his mouth? Not exactly.>
  • “All the sugars that I was eating were found in perceived healthy foods, so low-fat yogurts, and muesli bars, and cereals, and fruit juices, sports drinks ... these kind of things that often parents would give their kids thinking they’re doing the right thing.”
  • Within three weeks, the formerly healthy Gameau became moody and sluggish. A doctor gave him the shocking diagnosis: He was beginning to develop fatty liver disease. According to the Mayo Clinic, the most severe outcome for fatty liver disease is liver failure.
  • Gameau said his sugar-laden diet left him feeling hungry, no matter how much he ate.
These are highlights taken from this news Article: "Man eats sugar-heavy diet for 60 days, receives shocking diagnosis"  (stupid click bait title, must be the new norm')