Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Kelly Slater's 11 ASP World Titles didn't rest on talent alone - Functional fitness was key

For 20 years Kelly Slater's been the focal point of pro surfing, in large part because of his dedication to maintaining his fitness level.

Tom Servais...Show me a person who has good posture, and I'll show you someone who is increasing their chances of enjoying a long, productive career, life ... and 11 world surfing titles. OK, maybe not 11, but hear me out.

For those of us who are hunched over computers all day, commuting a half hour or more to work or carrying the kids around, posture is a hidden but alarming health issue that can gradually get worse over time. For surfers and other athletes, improper posture and muscle imbalance can lead to injuries and slow recovery. It can also dramatically affect performance on a surfboard. For more than 25 years of working with ASP athletes, including Kelly Slater, Mick Fanning and Jordy Smith, I have preached the power of posture as a vital aspect in their treatment and training as world-class competitors.

Slater has incredible body awareness and when he trains his focus is on full body mobility, stability and strength. He uses a system called Foundation Training, which emphasizes improving posture and core fitness by focusing on strengthening the back of the body to balance the overused, over-stressed front side. It teaches him how to remember what proper movement feels like.

The athlete with rounded shoulders and forward-carried head posture tends to have poor body awareness and alignment, and often walks and runs with a short, choppy gait with hips and feet turned out. These are the athletes most and often prone to declining performance, slower recovery, more injuries, sickness and eventually, a shorter career. The quality of one's movement each day is literally a window to how well the body performs and recovers. Next time you see Slater at an event, notice how effortlessly he walks, paddles out and pops up on his board. This is no coincidence: it comes from how well his central nervous system is connected to his muscles.

I started working with Slater in the early '90s. He has always had extraordinary mobility, but because his sport requires right and left sides to move differently, he always has to work towards achieving optimum balance.

Top strength and conditioning specialists focus on smoothing out and connecting movement. It's somewhat counter-intuitive, but simply training to make muscles stronger is a recipe for injury. For those of us who don't have the benefit of training with a professional strength and conditioning coach, if you want to improve your overall fitness and health, learn to move your body the way it was designed ... like you did when you were a kid, and not a slave to sitting.

Slater also has such naturally keen movement awareness and innate understanding of how important good posture is to feeling and performing at his best. Poor posture and quality of regular movement patterns over time are the main reason athletes become injured; and for us regular folks and weekend warriors, it's why we have bad backs and hips, sore necks and headaches, carpal tunnel syndrome, and so on. Good movement is measured by an ability to move how the body was designed with the least amount of stress. Interestingly, nothing illustrates quality of movement like watching a great athlete do his or her thing. Why? Because they move like kids do ... with economy of motion, balance and effortless grace. Guys like Slater make it look so effortless because they maintain a relaxed balance of form and function.

Add to this the fact that Slater has a tremendous thirst for knowledge and is a serious student of the body. He can move incredibly well in some directions, and is less effective in others. There is little doubt that he is a flat-out gifted athlete and has the drive a to be a world-class competitor, but his focus on constantly improving his health through good nutrition and improving balance, movement and posture throughout his career is undoubtedly a key factor in his longevity.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Horner begins 2012 preparations early

Chris Horner (RadioShack-Nissan) has begun training a month earlier than usual as he prepares to make his return to competitive action following his heavy fall at the 2011 Tour de France.

The American suffered a broken nose, cracked ribs, concussion and a blood clot in the lung as a result of his crash on stage 7 of the Tour, and was forced to bring both his race and his season to a premature halt. After five months, Horner is keen to get back into action.

“Normally I wouldn’t even be riding now,” Horner told us. “Normally two hours in a day is the very most I’d have done in early December. Then I’d take the last three weeks of December off and start riding the home trainer while I’m up in Oregon for a week, and then I’d go up to San Diego the second week of January on the road, and then we’d normally have training camp near the end of January.”

This time around, however, Horner has been out on the road since the beginning of December, and made the most of RadioShack-Nissan’s recent training camp in Calpe, Spain to get in some warm-weather miles.

“This year, I started on the first of December and I’ll continue all the way through to the next training camp,” he said. “Basically my training for next year started the first of December rather than the first of January.”

Last winter, RadioShack’s American riders were not requested to cross the Atlantic for the team’s pre-Christmas training camp. The merger with Leopard Trek meant that Horner was happy to make the trek on this occasion.

“Normally I don’t believe so much in December training camps, but you’ve got to get together when it’s a new squad like this,” he said.

As in 2011, Horner will aim to perform strongly in week-long stage races throughout the early part of the new season as he builds towards the Tour de France, where he will play a vital role in Andy and Fränk Schleck’s overall challenge.

“I hope to have a good beginning to the season with the Basque Country and California of course, and then focus in on the Tour de France,” Horner said. “I would like to do more or less the same programme and maybe one or more stage race in there this year, just because it’s been so long since the crash at the Tour when I last raced.”

“It’s been a long time and I’m ready to race, so just for pure and simple pleasure and desire and to feel like a bike racer again, I’d like to do something a little early, like Paris-Nice or Tirreno. That would be ideal.”

No retirement plans

Although now 40 years of age, Horner has no plans to hang up his wheels and believes that his injury-curtailed 2011 campaign may even lengthen his career in the long-run. “I just skipped six months of bike racing, so maybe I’ve added another year to my career, maybe it adds to the freshness of my legs,” he said. “As long as the legs do it, I’ll continue. There’s no set date, it’ll just be a case of when I feel the legs are gone.”

Looking back over his career, Horner reckons that he has significantly less mileage on the clock than European-based professionals of his vintage, something which he feels goes a long way to explain his remarkable longevity. Although he began his career at Française des Jeux in 1997, Horner spent the period from 2000 to 2004 in the United States, before beginning his ‘second career’ in Europe with Saunier Duval.

“I raced back in the States from 2000 through to 2004. In 05, I came back over with Saunier Duval but I broke my leg early in the year, so I missed a lot of that,” he said. Then in 2009 I crashed and missed a bunch of that season too. So realistically the amount of years I’ve spent in Europe is pretty low compared to most guys who are 40 years old.

“When you look at Inigo Cuesta, I mean, that guy had done 14 Vueltas or 16 Vueltas. I can’t remember, but it was a huge number. You’d have to ask him personally, but maybe every year of his career he did 80 European races. I’d never do 80 European races. The most I’d normally do is 70 and since I came back in 05, I don’t think I’ve even done that many. But that could be why the legs are so good right now.”

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The Ironwar: Mark Allen & Dave Scott

By 1989 Dave Scott was a six-time Ironman champion and Mark Allen, defeated in his previous attempts, a feared contender. This time, though, all bets were off. From the start, Mark hung on to Dave with mind-numbing intensity.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Slater & John John Battle At Pipeline

Kelly Slater beat out John John Florence during a spectacular quarterfinal round at the 41st edition of the Billabong Pipeline Masters, but the 11-time World Surfing Champion couldn’t match Australia’s Kieren Perrow.

The match-up between Slater and Florence was viewed by some as a “passing the torch” event. Slater, who is acknowledged as the greatest surfer in the sport, isn’t sure if he’ll commit to a full season in 2012. John John Florence, on the other hand, is just 19-years-old and has a long and promising career ahead of him.

Before the event, Slater said:

“I see John John as the guy to beat in this contest. He’s got three 10′s already. He lives right here and surfs here every day. If I were to lose to him, there would be no shame in that.”

Florence almost beat Slater, too. With just 8 minutes left Slater trailed his protege by 16 points. Slater was able to hit two consecutive waves to score a 9.7 and a 7.83 to beat Florence with just 46 seconds remaining.

Slater said:

“I was just trying to hold John John off for one more year. This might have been my last chance to get a few waves against him. He’s going to dominate Pipe for the next 20 years.”

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Kelly Slater tees up golfing future

GOLF??? - "Well then," says Kelly Slater. "Now we're talking."

The world's top surfer is on the North Shore of Oahu, signing posters for the Pipeline Masters. Described breathlessly -- but rather accurately -- as the Superbowl of Surfing, Pipe is scheduled to begin on Thursday in life-threatening, jaw-dropping waves peaking at 18 feet.

Heaving swells will dump their loads on a shallow reef, turning Pipe into a gladiator's pit. With thousands of howling spectators on the sand, man-on-man heats carry the sub-plot of everyone just wanting to get out alive.

Ambulances will be on standby. Medical staff shall be in abundance.

Slater admits the prospect of rocking and rolling at Pipe fills him with a curious mix of anxiety, excitement and outright fear and so seems relieved when conversation turns to a more genteel pursuit, the good walk spoiled.

Slater is so dedicated to the noble yet confounding game of golf, and so proficient, that he has an itch to play professionally when he quits his current day job as the greatest surfer of all.

"I like golf, I love it, I work hard on it and actually I'd like to become..."

A professional? Go on, say it. You want to become a professional. The 39-year-old raises an eyebrow: can we be trusted with such privileged information?

Just say it. It is written all over his beaming face. Slater dreams about tackling the biggest names on the USPGA Tour and here is why: he's a born competitor. A self-described perfectionist. A performer.


As fit as 10 fiddlers, Slater has a golf handicap of two. Reuters watched him play 18 holes at the Arnold Palmer-designed Turtle Bay course and make no mistake, he can play.

Natural gifts are at his disposal: the agility, physical strength and fitness that Craig Stadler might have benefited from. The discipline and dedication that one of his more colorful playing partners, John Daly, never quite gripped and ripped.

The last two occasions he played the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, he beat his partner, USPGA Tour regular Pat Perez.

When he partnered Simon Dyson to win The Alfred Dunhill Links Championship on The Old Course at St Andrews in 2009, it barely rated a mention. Everyone assumed the Englishman carried him. Everyone assumed wrong. The most calm figure walking down the 18th fairway was Slater.

He's played with Daly, Darren Clarke, Steve Stricker and Dustin Johnson. He's sidled up to Ernie Els on a driving range and hit balls without feeling misplaced.

Go on, admit it. You want to play at least one professional event before your time is done.

"I do think about it," he says. "Funnily enough, I just did an interview with the Golf Channel: they're doing a special for Christmas and the three golfers they followed were me, Tiger Woods and Steve Stricker.

"It's coming out Christmas Day. Point is, I'm pretty entrenched in the golf community now, even if it isn't at the competitive level yet.

"It's about the personal challenge for the moment but I would like to maybe compete in the future. There are these vague dreams in my head about it. The trouble would be the amount of time it would take to be good and confident enough.


"There's a ridiculous amount of work that goes into it. I'd have to practice as much as I surfed when I was growing up. All the time I spend at the beach now, I'd have to spend on the golf course. To play those tour guys, even just one or two times, I'd have to be able to completely trust myself: trust my swing, not let any doubts get in my head. I'm not there yet.

"The Champions Tour might be my best bet but I'd have to wait till I'm 55 for that. Only the established guys get to play as soon as they turn 50. They don't want some unknown guy who's practiced for 30 years getting on and everyone is like, 'shoot, the guy we've never heard of from Oklahoma is better than anyone'.

"It would take a lot of dedication but I'm putting a lot of time into my golf. I think anyone, when they do something once, they want to become masterful at it."

Slater glides around Turtle Bay. His swing is smooth and uncomplicated. He has a baseball grip, a rarity among elite players who prefer overlapping or interlocking, but Bob Estes has forged a long career with the same ten-finger technique so it can be done.

A double-jointed back is a god-send for Slater in both surfing and golf: he has looseness and coil to spare. Text book stance. Effortless backswing. A follow-through worth photographing.

A short iron sucks back a couple of meters. The broom stick putter works well enough. He is attracted to the internal warfare that rages inside a man during a round of golf, the odd similarities of courage needed to take off on a 20-foot wave or sink a two-foot putt.

"I've played with almost all the US PGA guys except for Tiger," Slater says. "I've played with Stricker, played in a group with Darren Clarke at St Andrews, Dustin Johnson, had a couple of rounds with John Daly.


"First time I ever played with a pro, I was in Vegas. I went and played with a buddy called Sandy Armour. His brother is Tommy Armour III, their grandfather is one of the absolute legends of golf. Tommy was on tour.

"First hole, I was so nervous I sliced it so far right that it was crazy. Second shot, I hit it way left into deep rough. It was a par four. Third shot, I hacked it up to about 50-feet from the pin. I holed the 50-footer for par, which was pretty funny, but really it was pretty ugly and it was just the nerves of being in a different environment.

"That's what can happen when you don't completely trust yourself. But I do feel like I can hold my own. I actually beat my pro straight-up two years in a row at the Pebble Beach event so when I get it going, I can go, but that was me having a couple of great days and him having a couple of bad days. If we both had great days, he'd beat me by three or four strokes."

Slater's most immediate assignment is inside the liquid Colosseum of Pipeline. To say nothing over 18 holes could be as nerve-racking would be to overlook the essence of golf. A short putt can be as excruciating as a vertical takeoff in its own way.

As Lee Trevino said, the pressure of a ten-dollar putt when there's only five in your pocket. There are precedents for swapping sports. Grand slam tennis champion Ivan Lendl tried to make it to the 2008 US Open at Torrey Pines, but came up short in qualifying.

Australian Scott Draper, though, pulled it off, playing Davis Cup tennis and earning a start in his national golf championship. A master of mind games, patience and self-control, Slater might be better placed than most.

Michael Jordan made a lunge at professional baseball in his post-basketball years but only because his real passion, the good walk spoiled, wasn't up to scratch.

Ever played with Jordan? "No," Slater grins. "I'll wait till he gets a little better."

Wednesday, December 7, 2011


The Primal Athlete - How to Fuel a Marathon

By Mark Sisson

Having yielded to those of you who still insist on running a marathon, yesterday I offered a training strategy that gets you the best results with the least amount of damage. Today’s post is about fueling a marathon – what food to eat and when to eat it. It’s not solely about race day nutrition, because if you just focused on what to eat the day of the race, you’d be missing out on a lot (and you’d likely have problems finishing, or at the very least your performance would suffer). It’s about what to eat while training, a few days before the race, and the day of the race itself. This is the stuff I would do if I had to go back and do another marathon with my current knowledge. I might tweak things slightly if I was trying to make the Olympics, but for the average, relatively fit Primal dude or gal who wants to check this off their bucket list? This is the perfect way to fuel your efforts. And this works equally as well for those of you who think a century ride (100 miles on a bike) might be in the cards.

First, let’s examine what to do while you’re training. What do you eat? How much of it do you eat? Low-carb, high-carb?

Train Low, Race HighFor the layperson, “train low, race high” is basically a way to teach your body to do without a glut of glucose for longer periods of time. By training low on glycogen, your body grows accustomed to running on fat and conserving muscle glycogen. By training low and then racing high – with topped-off glycogen stores in your muscles – you experience a big boost in performance on race day. You’ve built up your ability to access body fat during a run, and that doesn’t go anywhere, but now you’ve suddenly got 400+ grams of muscle glycogen at your disposal. Glycogen that you’ve learned to access efficiently, rather than squander all at once. That’s huge, especially for 26.2 miles.

It’s reasonable to think that Grok often “trained low.” If low-level physical activity in a glycogen-depleted state was the norm for much of human evolution – as I think it probably was – it makes sense that its emulation in modern times would confer performance benefits. It makes sense that our bodies would conserve energy and streamline energy pathways, and that taking advantage of these physiological truths will give us enough of a racing edge without compromising our health – since we’re training “with” our physiology, rather than in direct opposition to it.

There’s been limited modern research on “train low, race high,” and it’s pretty compelling. One study found that athletes who trained twice a day on alternate days and thus had lower muscle glycogen during the second training session almost quadrupled their muscle endurance, while athletes who trained once a day on consecutive days barely doubled theirs by study’s end. Both groups of athletes performed the same amount of volume and intensity, but only one group went into every other training session with depleted glycogen – and that group saw the greatest benefits to both work capacity and energy efficiency (glycogen and fat).

During your training, keep carbs right around 150 grams per day. That may sound like a lot, especially if you’re coming from the lower end of the carb continuum, but rest assured that 150 grams of carbs is a paltry amount for most endurance athletes. At the height of my training, I was blasting through upwards of 700 grams each day. As I mentioned yesterday, increase your carbs the day before – and morning of – your interval training, because much of the benefit from intervals comes from glycogen depletion, and you gotta have glycogen in your muscles before you deplete it. But for the most part, keep carbs at a moderate (for Primal folks) to low level. Stick to approved Primal sources, of course:

■Yams/sweet potatoes
■White potatoes, wild/white rice (if tolerated)

And remember: you’re training. Your performance during a particular run on a particular training day might not go great, but you’re in this for the long haul. You’re in this for the race day boost. It’s not a competition. You’re not trying to beat the other guy (because there is no other guy), you’re trying to train your mitochondria and your energy utilization pathways so that when the time comes, when the event rolls around, you are fully prepared to give it your best showing. Keep it in perspective and don’t beat yourself up too much. One final thought on training: it’s always better to start your race slightly undertrained than over-trained.

Couple Days Before the RaceStart eating more carbs. This is the classic carbo-load, and no, it doesn’t have to reach Phelpsian levels of mayo-and-egg sandwiches on white bread, kilos of pasta, and flagons of cheese grits. You can easily stick to starchy roots, tubers, and fruit (and even rice) to pack those muscles full of glycogen. Maintain your protein intake and moderate your fat intake. You’re looking to maximize muscle glycogen stores.

Just eat twice the amount of carbs you’ve been eating. So, instead of one sweet potato with dinner, have one with lunch and one with dinner. Eat the whole banana instead of half the banana. Aim for about 350 grams of carbs per day. And don’t do any hard training during these last two or three taper days. Maybe some light jogging or walking.

Race DayIf you have two hours before the gun goes off, eat a light breakfast with some representation from all macronutrients. Maybe a few eggs and a banana, maybe half a yam. Nothing that sits heavy in the stomach, and make sure it’s something you can digest. If you are a coffee drinker, a cup today will help mobilize fatty acids. Don’t go zesty, don’t experiment with something new. Stick to the tried and true. If you didn’t spend the last couple of days fueling up, the most optimal race day breakfast isn’t gonna save you. Sorry to say it.

During the race, maintain your composure. Your glycogen-replete body is going to feel eminently powerful. Try not to go too fast too soon. Better to start a bit slower, get those fats into the muscle cells and then increase the pace a bit later. As for mid-race fueling, I’d forgo the usual Gatorade offerings on the course and stick to the rocket fuel found in pure glucose. Some companies sell straight glucose polymer powders (complex carbs as maltodextrin) you can mix with water to your own desired consistency and carry with you on a fuel belt. This is the one time in your life that straight glucose is your friend. The method I have recommended for 20 years is to start refueling at about an hour in to the event, taking 20 grams of glucose every 20-30 minutes. This puts enough glucose into the bloodstream to help fuel muscles without interfering with the intended fat combustion – and it “unburdens” the muscles from having to give up too much glycogen too soon. Be sure to drink enough pure water (usually offered on the course, so you don’t have to carry that) as well.

Now, if you are so inclined, you can also make your own version of a sport drink/energy gel hybrid. It may not be astoundingly delicious, but it’ll get the job done. Here’s how to do it:

1.Slightly heat some coconut water on the stove. Don’t let it get anywhere near simmering. Just let it get warm enough to melt the next three ingredients easily.

2.Add a few dashes of sea salt, preferably one with high mineral content. Sea salt provides sodium, an important electrolyte, plus trace minerals. You’re going to be burning through a lot of it during the race.

3.Add honey, preferably raw and from a local farm (remember, many store bought honey isn’t actually honey anymore).

4.Add blackstrap molasses. Blackstrap molasses comes after the third boiling of sugar cane. It contains less sugar than either white sugar, brown sugar, regular molasses, or dark molasses, but far more minerals and electrolytes. See, sugar cane is a plant with roots that stretch deep into the soil to extract nutrients (some research suggests sugar cane roots may go down as far as six meters). Very few of those nutrients make it into white or brown sugar, and regular and dark molasses contain some, but it’s blackstrap molasses which gets the bulk of the minerals. So, when you add just a couple tablespoons of blackstrap molasses to your energy drink, you’re getting more than twice the potassium than a banana, more calcium than a cup of raw spinach, and almost 100 mg of magnesium.

5.Mix it all together until everything melts and it’s a dark brown murky viscous fluid. I didn’t include specific amounts, but start with a couple tablespoons of each sweetener and the juice from one coconut (or one carton of coconut water). You’ll be cruising for the first bit of the race, thanks to your effective pre-race training and fueling, but when you really start dipping into your glycogen stores, having a banana or two and a bottle of high-potency Primal energy drink will prove useful.

Good luck. If you train and fuel smartly, you won’t really need any luck at all, but I figure it’s a nice thing to say regardless.

Once you’re done with the marathon, I’d move on to different things. Try rock climbing. Try mountain trekking. Heck, try an ultra marathon, but do it at an even easier, fat-oxidizing pace. But many of you will not. Many will get the endurance bug, and it’s a nasty one. This method of training and fueling is not a cure for the bug, but it will negate some of the worst symptoms. If you do try my training and fueling recommendations, let me know how you do. I’m especially interested in knowing how they compare to performances using other methods.

Kelly Slater Wins # 1 Surfer Poll Award

In 2011, Slater picked up his 11th ASP World Title as well as his 17th SURFER Poll No. 1 trophy. There's never been another surfer like him, and the landslide he wins SURFER Poll by each year is a testament to the dominance he's exerted over four generations of surfers. In fact, making an argument that he's the best athlete of all time doesn't take much of a leap of faith.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

The Primal Athlete - How to Train for a Marathon

By Mark Sisson

Leading into this post, I promised myself that I wouldn’t try to dissuade people from running marathon(s) or any long distance races. I already do that plenty in other posts, so today’s is geared toward the folks that simply are going to run a marathon or marathons, regardless of what I say. I know these people exist because I used to be one. Running a marathon can be a huge bucket-list accomplishment. With that in mind, when people write in to ask me about training for a marathon, I think about what I would do in that situation knowing what I know now. How would I train to do the least damage and get the most benefit? Truth is, if I put my mind to it, and you had elite level potential, I could most likely train some of you to win the thing outright, but that’s not what this post is about. This post is about finishing the race without embarrassing and/or hurting yourself. It’s about accomplishing something big, something special. It’s about training for a decent, respectable showing in a marathon. One (or two, or three if you must) and done.

To be an effective marathoner – or even to just finish one – you have to be an effective fat burner. It is the beta-oxidation of fat, both dietary and stored body fat, that provides much of the aerobic energy you will need to maintain reasonable pace for 26.2 miles. I mean, 26.2 miles is a whole lot of miles. When you’re driving somewhere and the sign says “26 miles” to your destination, you think “That’s kinda close, but kinda far.” Now picture that on foot. Yeah. Good luck doing that as a fully dependent sugar-burner. Fat’s the ticket, and if you have spent the requisite few weeks reprogramming your body to derive most of your energy from fat while at rest and at low level of activity (through your PB diet), you will be primed to access fat while training.

With that in mind, you’re not really training for a marathon, per se – you’re training your body to become more efficient with its energy so that you can run a marathon. You’re actually reapportioning how your body uses various types of fuel at different activity levels. Thus, training for a marathon comes down to three primary goals:

1. Achieve mitochondrial biogenesis and optimality.Increasing the number of mitochondria (biogenesis) will spread the aerobic workload – the beta oxidation of fats and some glucose/glycogen- across more cellular power plants. Improving the number and efficiency of your mitochondria will allow you to do more output (running) with less reliance on glucose and/or glycogen as a primary fuel and more reliance on fat (input). In effect, this will increase your “miles per gallon.” Only instead of filling the tank with gasoline, you’re using stored body fat.

2. Increase the amount of fat burnt relative to carbs at a given work output.Glycogen depletion is the defining point of “hitting the wall,” so you want to avoid the wall as long as you can. Remember, it’s 26.2 miles. The more fat you’re able to burn and turn into useable energy, the less glycogen you’ll go through. Muscle glycogen storage is very limited, and whether you’re a sugar-burner or a fat-burner, you’re still going to store the same amount of glycogen – it’s the rate at which you deplete it that counts. If you can access fat more efficiently and use fat for work that would normally require glycogen, you’re winning. If you can train to use fat for higher workloads, you can increase or maintain the intensity without dipping too deeply into your muscle glycogen.

3. Increase your aerobic threshold.The aerobic threshold is the maximum level of output at which you are still relying primarily on the aerobic, or oxidative, energy pathways. As long as you stay under that aerobic threshold, you can train yourself primarily using fat to generate ATP energy (and your high fat diet plays a key role here, too). Once you cross that threshold you start burning more sugar. As you get further into anaerobic territory, however, you’re burning mostly sugar – liver and muscle glycogen. Sugar burns faster (and hotter), and it doesn’t last nearly as long as fat. So if you can increase your aerobic threshold, you should be able to increase the intensity of your runs without dipping too deeply into your glycogen stores. Ideally, then, a prospective marathoner will train to increase his or her aerobic threshold (we’ll save the ANaerobic threshold discussions for another day). That way, you can save the glycogen for the finish line, when it really matters.

One way to start out is to simply keep your heart rate at or below 65% of your max on longer runs (and this might eventually become 70-75% of max as your training benefits accumulate). To determine a person’s aerobic threshold, I find the most intuitive way is to have them run “long” (6-12 miles after a few weeks of sufficient low level training) runs on back-to-back days on fewer than 150 grams carbs per day. If you can complete both runs, both days, without adding back extra carbs, you’ll know you haven’t been dipping too deeply into your glycogen stores. If so, that’s your aerobic threshold pace. Remember it.

As for a specific training prescription, here’s what I’d do every week, beginning at least 12 weeks before the event and generalized for the widest possible audience:

1. Two to three slow aerobic threshold runs.These should be easy runs performed just below or at your aerobic threshold at the type of pace you can easily maintain. If you are just starting out from little run training, these sessions can be long hikes with easy jogs thrown in. These are great opportunities to just log mileage and improve fat oxidation efficiency without too much stress, where you can actually think about stuff other than the run (hey, maybe even work through some personal issues). For improving mitochondrial efficiency and stimulating mitochondrial biogenesis, these aerobic threshold runs (and your Primal Blueprint eating strategy) will be your bread and butter – the kind of low-level training I referenced in the post on improving mitochondrial efficiency through exercise.

To really promote fat oxidation, limit your carbs or even go into these runs in a slightly fasted state. When you begin dipping into glycogen, or hitting the wall (which might come soon-ish since you’re fasted or slightly carb depleted), back off. You want to stay away from the anaerobic pathway. The length of these runs will depend on your baseline endurance, and you’ll soon be able to stay under the aerobic threshold for longer (which is the whole point!). I would add a mile each week to the longest of these runs.

2. One interval session, followed by an active recovery day.Run intervals one day a week – alternating repeat 400 m one week, 800 m the next. Walk or jog for two minutes in between. For the 400s, start with as many as you can comfortably do the first week and add one each week until you are at 12 intervals for the workout; for the 800s, work your way up to 10. On a scale of 1-20 with 20 being the most intense, keep the intensity at about a 14-16. It’s not an all-out sprint, because, well, good luck sprinting 800 meters multiple times, but this is at faster than your intended marathon race pace for sure. The next day, go for a walk or hike or go bike somewhere. Don’t go climb Half Dome or anything. Keep it pretty light.

For the intervals, you’ll definitely want to carb-load the day before. Slam the sweet potatoes and yams, about 400 carb grams worth, since you’ll purposely be blasting through your glycogen that next day.

3. One race-pace run.Here, you’re trying to emulate the race pace without going the actual distance. It’s necessarily higher intensity than your regular runs, just at or slightly above your aerobic threshold. It’s going to be tougher, too, with some glycogen depletion. Don’t expect to pull out your iPhone and check Facebook in the middle of it.

Start with at least two or three miles, or a bit more than whatever length your threshold runs are, and add a mile each week (minimum).

If you plan on doing this barefoot or in minimalist running shoes, be absolutely certain your lower body is acclimated to it. A marathon is a long way for someone whose feet, calves, knees, and hips (with all the connective tissues that go along with said joints and body parts) have only been spending cursory time exercising without protective footwear. Review my post on making the barefoot transition and confirm that your ship is in shape.

Well, that’s what I’ve got. Remember, this is just general advice for the wider public. If you were my client, I’d tailor the training to you, but you’re not. For what it’s worth, this is how I’d train myself I were crazy enough to get back into running marathons, because it’s effective, it’s low-cost, and it’s actually a fairly healthy way to go about training for one. I mean who doesn’t want rockstar mitochondria?

Any runners out there? Any marathoners? How do you train?

Next time, I’ll discuss how to fuel a marathon while staying Primal. And yes, it’s very possible.

Whew, and I didn’t even mention the phrase “Chronic Cardio” once. I’m pretty proud of myself. Thanks for reading.

Mark Sisson

Friday, December 2, 2011

Kelly Slater confirmed in the Quiksilver in Memory of Eddie Aikau

Kelly Slater has been confirmed in the 27th edition of the Quiksilver in Memory of Eddie Aikau. The 10-time world surfing champion was one of the invited riders and will paddle out, if a big swell hits Waimea Bay, in Hawaii, between December 1st and February 29, 2012.

The opening ceremony has already taken place and the elite surfers gave their hands to praise the gods. It’s a rare international sporting event that can have no set date, be held just eight times in a span of 27 years, and still gain strength.

But the lifeblood of the big wave Quiksilver In Memory of Eddie Aikau lies in what one man’s life represented: the best that surfing and Hawaii have to offer the world.

The story of Eddie Aikau, a Hawaiian hero who saved and inspired lives as Waimea Bay’s resident lifeguard and big wave charger, continues to touch generations. It’s a story that is told anew each December, when the opening ceremony for the event in his honor takes place on Oahu’s North Shore, as it did yesterday.

The Quiksilver In Memory of Eddie Aikau is a one-day big wave surfing event that only runs when, and if, waves at Waimea Bay reach a minimum height of 20 feet. It was last held in December of 2009.

It is a tribute to Aikau, who rode the mountainous waves of Waimea Bay in the late ’60s and early ’70s and saved lives as its first full-time lifeguard. He was lost at sea in 1978, west of the Hawaiian Islands during a voyage of the Polynesian sailing canoe, Hokule’a.

Hokule’a capsized in heavy seas, stranding her crew. Eddie insisted upon paddling for land to get help, but was never seen again.

“There will be waves,” said Hawaiian kahu (priest) Billy Mitchell, in a voice that traveled to the far reaches of the bay. “But those of you here today know that this is about much more than that.

“Eddie had a passion. He had a passion about living and loving the ocean. Whether you surf or you don’t surf, you are drawn to people like Eddie in life. People with big mana (spirit). We have to remember, and we cannot forget, someone who lived this way. Eddie never left people behind. It was his way. We need that in this life, especially now. It’s a way to surf; it’s a way to live.

“This event is Eddie’s story, and it is a ripple in the ocean to travel around the world.” The defending champion is California’s Greg Long. Past champions are Denton Miyamura (Hawaii), Keone Downing (Hawaii), Clyde Aikau (Hawaii), Noah Johnson (Hawaii), Ross Clarke-Jones (Australia), Kelly Slater (USA), and Bruce Irons (Hawaii).