Running The Spine: Peter Mortimer’s OFM Approach for a Podium Finish in spite of Jet Lag

In this podcast episode, long-time OFM Athlete, Peter Mortimer, is welcomed as a guest to share his insights . Although not a professional ultrarunner, Peter competes at a high level and has won some big races. His  ‘day job’ is a career in orthopedics for a medical device company, assisting and advising surgeons in operations for hip, knee, or shoulder replacements. His work schedule is erratic because it revolves around  being present at the actual surgeries. Like most of us Peter has a life partner, adolescent children and a couple of Basset Hounds. On top of it all he has even started coaching others in ultras.

Today’s podcast centers around Peter’s big race of the year, The 268 Mile Spine Race, which was held this past June and is billed as Britain’s toughest race. Not only does the course and distance present significant challenges to any runner but Peter had the added challenge of starting the race in a seriously jet-lagged state. 

In spite of all these challenges Peter found himself finishing second overall covering the 268 miles in 93 hours, 12 minutes and 27 seconds. This included a lot of racing, ultra style, during the late stages of the race between Peter and others contending for second, third, fourth, fifth, and sixth place when this group were all within a few hours of each other. And this is where the advantages of being OFM adapted played into Peter’s success. 

Our collaboration with athletes like Peter who are pushing themselves at the outer edge of Human Performance yields valuable insights we can share with you to reach your potential of “Higher Health & Peak Performance”.  So let’s dive in. 

Peter faced a considerable challenge from the onset due to the demands of international travel from Arizona to the UK without time to adjust. So, from the start of his odyssey, Peter was jet-lagged. Add to this, upon arrival Peter met with family (he’s originally from the UK) whom he had not seen in years. This set him up to arrive at the start line in a state of serious sleep deprivation and jet lag. 

Naturally, the physical and mental fatigue set in early, with the sleep deprivation presenting severe obstacles like sleepwalking and falling asleep unintentionally in unexpected places, including a bathroom.

Throughout the discussion, the theme is clear: the race's physical challenge is paired with a substantial mental one. From navigating unfamiliar trails and landscapes, dealing with fatigue and sleep deprivation, and experiencing hallucinations, the race is as much a mental battle as a physical one.

One specific challenge he recalled was reaching the same signpost repeatedly, despite taking different paths, which made him question his mental state. Moreover, he vividly remembers hallucinating an eerie, albino man dressed in white, on a white bicycle, beckoning to him, which startled him greatly!

However, as the runners went deeper into the race, Peter’s resilience from optimizing his fat metabolism, along with the support of a LOT of Vespa Ultra-Concentrates and real food, shone through allowing Peter to pull ahead of the other runners to finish second overall. 

They delve into Peter's journey with the Optimized Fat Metabolism (OFM) approach since starting in 2017. Prior to adopting OFM, he was a regular middle-of-the-pack runner who faced the energy swings and GI issues as he tackled longer distances. His nutrition was heavily carbohydrate and processed food-based, leaving him feeling drained. After hearing about fat adaptation and seeing other runners' success with it, he decided to start using Vespa and change his dietary approach. Shortly after meeting with Peter (Defty) in 2017 where they dialed Peter in,  his performance significantly improved, the energy and GI issues disappeared and Peter was able to consistently race stronger and stronger, often finishing on the podium and even winning races like the prestigious HURT 100 in 2022.

Peter's general eating philosophy centers on whole fresh foods like meats and vegetables. While he occasionally indulges, he feels the negative effects when he deviates from his usual diet. The conversation delves into the variability and individuality of the OFM approach, noting that while some, like Jeff Browning,  consume more protein and fruits, others find using more starches as their “Strategic Carb” yield better results. 

Also discussed is the importance of gut health, especially on the development of a diverse biome for food tolerance, immune system health and overall well-being. 

The conversation also touches on the post race emotional and mental aftermath, describing feelings of depression, which is more pronounced after longer races. The contrasting experiences between intense, prolonged endurance activity and the daily grind of life, including a sense of disconnect when returning to daily life.

Circadian Rhythm and Sleep

The podcast discussion revolves around the importance of the circadian rhythm and how it impacts health, performance and well-being. Podcast Host, Peter Defty, emphasizes aligning wake-up time with sunrise, noting the significant benefits it has on entraining circadian rhythm. Peter’s experience of completely upsetting his Circadian Rhythm at the Spine Race makes this abundantly clear. 

The Benefits of a Optimizing Your Fat Metabolism

The dialogue transitions into discussing the more nuanced aspects of the OFM (Optimized Fat Metabolism) approach. While many associate OFM with a low-carb diet, it's clarified that the approach is more nuanced, taking into account aspects like chronic stressors, circadian rhythm, and vitamin D.

The focus then shifts to the benefits of the OFM approach in ultra-running. The approach has enabled some runners to achieve unprecedented fat-burning rates, allowing them to run longer distances more efficiently. 

Peter's upcoming race, the Mogollon Monster, is this weekend (September 9&10th). After his race we plan to have him back to talk about the Lifestyle benefits he’s seen through optimizing his fat metabolism. Stay tuned!