The theme of today’s blog post is “Don’t try this at Home” because, in all sincerity, you don’t want to be doing this. Ever. Leave that to me and my team. This is how innovation works. In a world of online Authorities or Gurus real innovation actually happens by being open to spontaneous events/occurrences, willing to be wrong and make mistakes. This is where you really learn if you are paying attention.
I made a promise to myself of running 60 or more miles around the time I’d completed 60 laps around the sun on December 19, 2019. I fulfilled that promise ten days later on December 28th by running 60 laps for 63 miles / 100+ kilometers at the ‘Across the Years’ multi-day running festival in Glendale, Arizona.
The venue was on a certified 1.0478 Mile/1.6862 Kilometer loop with about 5 feet of elevation gain/loss and consisting of mostly decomposed granite path but with a few sections of asphalt and even a few hundred feet of concrete thrown in for variation.
So, on paper, ‘running’ a 100K/62 miles on a smooth & practically flat loop course in the snowbird winter of suburban Phoenix, Arizona sounds reasonable for somebody who’s completed a couple of hot, tough mountain 100 Milers, right?
As always there is a lot more to the story, enough for a vlog post in which I hope:
Entertains you enough to want to read this in its entirety.
Engages you as much as entertains you.
Provides you the inspiration to get fat adapted & insights into how focusing on optimizing your fat metabolism is crucial to your health & performance.
What precipitated me running this particular event was Marc Sanderson, an OFM coaching client and cancer ‘thriver’. Marc had signed up for the 6 day event. As his coach I wanted to spend the first day or so at the event to address the basic logistics necessary to manage Marc’s needs as the toll on his body increased with the days.
Marc came & conquered. He ran a total of 350 miles over six days and finished 4th Overall. Most importantly, he met another challenge of completing at least 1 mile every hour for the entire 6 days becoming only the second person in the history of the race to accomplish this esoteric yet no less incredible feat!
Congratulations Marc! Like all the athletes I work with, You inspire me!
Marc trained for this event. He was disciplined and consistent. I was anything but trained. I was inconsistent. I ran when I could which literally amounted to once or twice a week in the month leading up to the event and less than 50 miles in the preceding four weeks.
I wasn’t even sure I’d make it because of my schedule and workload.
However, after bludgeoning myself with Christmas dinner and dessert (which, btw, I thoroughly enjoyed), I made the decision and departed Visalia on the evening of the 26th for Phoenix which normally is an 8 hour drive. Little did I know the ultra-endurance event had begun. . .
A cold winter storm had blitzed California with a lot more moisture and freezing temperatures than expected.
In a short span of time several feet of snow fell closing my normal route, I-5 over the Grapevine. Highway 58 east was open with CHP escorts as my only option. It was also the only option for everyone else heading south. So, we crawled up to Tehachapi in stop and go traffic which finally came to a standstill in Tehachapi. What the CHP failed to tell us was they had shut down the Highway 58 so I spent the entire night awake in the event traffic started to move.
Around 10:30 the next morning traffic finally began to make its way across the Tehachapi Plateau and down through a narrow canyon to the Mojave Desert. While finally moving this began a long series of fits & starts crossing the high desert to Interstate 15 (which had also been closed) the Cajon Pass down to Interstate 10 east. The accumulation of Holiday traffic caused by the snow and closures made for slow going until I was east of Palm Springs. Yet with a 45 minute nap and a large cup of Starbucks with steamed heavy cream I was finally able to push onward and arrive at Marc’s hotel at 10:26 pm, work past midnight in the Lobby, then grab roughly 5 hours of sleep before the 9:30 am start.
The event went off with the usual low-key yet exuberant fanfare accompanying an ultra. All of the 10 day and 6 day participants were at the start along with a smattering of 3 day, 2 day, 24 hour, 12 hour and 6 hour participants.
Even after a 48 hour period of relatively high stress and roughly 7 hours of combined sleep I felt fine metabolically the ENTIRE time. I credit this to:
Being OFM fat-adapted
Taking a Vespa roughly every 2 hours
Staying properly hydrated
Eating a little based upon conditions (est.~ 700 calories total)
Having maintained a modicum of aerobic base fitness.
I completed my goal of 60+ miles by completing 60 laps for 63 mile/100 Kilometers just under the 16 hours I had estimated in 15 Hour, 50 minutes, 53 seconds. I did not plan to set a record, just march through it without the high drama and epic struggle often depicted in ultra-endurance. Given my lack of training for the distance I am pleased to say I succeeded and this is a win for everyone because there is a lot to be learned by doing something one is not prepared for. Once again, ‘Don’t do this at home.’
The other half of the learning curve is the not so pretty. Every muscle below my hip had a very different trajectory than my metabolic one. My training up to the event consisted of a few 6 mile speed workouts, one 15 mile run, one 15 mile hike, and a 6 mile Christmas morning run. I was clearly very undertrained going into this. The lap splits clearly corroborate my fitness level and how I felt that day. Here are the takeaways:
I was able to maintain a running pace through 22 miles, 7 miles longer than my longest long run in the previous 6 weeks. Proper periodized training would have slated me for a 20-22 mile run not a 63 mile one.
After 22 miles my pace (adjusted for any stops) gradually crept up over 15 minutes/lap and increased to under 20 minutes/lap. I took 3 stops that were around 10 minutes long and 1 which was about 20 minutes. There was changing into warmer clothes, checking in with Marc and/or Marc’s wife, Jessica and eating some warm food. For the 20 minute stop I was helping Marc’s wife with nighttime logistics for Marc. I was active the entire time as it was too cold to stop. This dictated I was walking at a decent pace and not constantly stopping to rest.
The data supports the experience. This is how to harness data rather than be ‘data-driven’. Your anecdotal experience counts way more than our modern world would want to have you believe and the data should be aligned with your experience rather than you having to align yourself with the data.
Training and training effect are critical factors. Duh. Being dietarily fat adapted is not a golden ticket, it is part of a complex matrix that makes up you, the individual. Don’t train and you will be short-changing yourself.
When I finished at 1 am on Sunday morning I got some hot chicken soup, went to the medical tent where it was warm, got warmed up and took an hour nap. A few hours later I collected myself and walked out to my minivan, inflated the air mattress, made up my bedding and bagged another 3-4 hours of sleep.
Upon waking I made my way back to Marc’s tent to check in with his wife and caught up with Marc for brief moments. He was not only on track with his mile per hour goal but had managed to log over 100 miles in the first 24 hours of his 6 day journey. He was still moving well. Jessica and I made a Walmart Run to grab them supplies before I left. We returned to Camelback Park, sorted the supplies, crewed Marc and went over strategies. Though a bit stiff and fatigued I felt fine and was easily able to move around including all the walking around Walmart (my Gawd, they’re huge!). In fact, the more I moved the better I felt! This continued to be the pattern for the next 2 days. By Tuesday, New Year’s Eve, I felt pretty much back to normal and worked a very full day and enjoyed a wonderful evening with my friend, Jeff Pierce.
Fast forward 4 days to the unofficial New Year’s Day Run on the Cal Loop section of the Western States Trail. This is a wonderful way to celebrate as well as start the New Year and I’ve only missed a few years in the last 16 years.
It’s composed of ‘The Usual Suspects’ of local trail runners including some Western States Legends. This was the real test.
With only 3 days of recovery time I was going to run 19 miles of technical trails with several thousand feet of elevation gain/loss. Cal Loop to Driver’s Flat has both big descents and climbs yet is very runnable so would I be able to run most of it?
I was pleasantly surprised to find my legs felt quite strong with a touch of fatigue. More so they wanted to run. They wanted to move and the more they did the better they felt. I was able to run uphill and glide the downhills. Most of all I was able to enjoy a beautiful day and wonderful friends in an environment truly conducive to optimal health and performance. I stopped to take pictures and videos, catch-up with friends so I clocked 4 hours 15 minutes to finish but ran well and with no soreness or tightness.
This empirical experiment of intentionally pushing beyond the limits with no preparation nor training illustrates how well OFM works. If anything it works for the unexpected of everyday life.
Marc Sanderson shows us what is possible with OFM and dedicated guidance and training. He is one of many who are enjoying the benefits of our experience including deep dives like these into the outer boundaries of human performance.
And Vespa . . . I cannot say enough about this natural catalyst. The more I work with it both personal use and working with athletes of all ages, abilities and genders the more impressed I am with how it ‘works’ to drive natural performance level fat metabolism. And performance is only the beginning. The performance benefit of shifting to more fat as fuel actually accentuates what athletes experience as faster ‘recovery’ . . . the actual truth is the recovery benefits of Vespa have very little to do with recovering faster but really that you have not done the damage in the first place!
Sure, I have a Financial Interest, a very big one in fact, because I have invested time and money to bring this product to the market so it can benefit you, the athlete. I have yet to turn a profit so I am putting my money where my mouth is. If you are a Vespa user you know this. Like me, you are putting your money where your mouth is.
And even the researchers who have recently tested Vespa have come away literally saying, “We need to re-write the textbooks.” That is the paradigm-shift of Vespa and OFM.
So don’t do this at home. . . Your time and health are just too valuable. Leave that to us; the pioneers and innovators in fat-adapted performance. We have developed the products and methodologies that work in the real world.
With decades of fat-adaptation experience & knowledge pre-dating the current trendiness of Keto, LC and Paleo we know how to get results and avoid the pitfalls because, in our innovation driven environment, we’ve made them. We’ll push the boundaries, make the mistakes and develop the evolutionary science based solutions so you don’t have to.
If you want to work 1 on 1 with one of our coaches check out the details here.