ATC 273: BQ for Noobs, Losing Weight With Keto, When MAF Isn’t Working, Preparing for a Cold 3k Swim and more!

November 9, 2018


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In this episode of Ask the Coaches, Lucho and Brock tackle listener questions about achieving a BQ if you are a noob, losing weight with keto, what to do when MAF stops working, and how to prepare for a cold 3k swimming race. But first, in their intro banter, they talk about:

  • “Shake the meat off the bone approach” to acute muscle cramping. In other words, don’t immediately start stretching it. Shake/massage the area instead.
  • Brock’s experimenting with the stripping approach to weight lifting: continuing an exercise at a lower weight once muscle failure has been achieved at a higher weight.
  • Favorite strength exercises for the coaches this week:
    • Complex overhead squat

    • Cross-body dumbbell snatch

  • Excitement over the crossover between vertical jumps and sprinting (check out Brock’s Get Fit Guy article)

Amanda asks:

I recently started listening to endurance planet and I’m in love. I just finished my 2nd full marathon and I want to keep building off of it. My goal is to run the Boston and I want to learn what are the best resources to use in order to achieve this? For example, what are some of the best training schedules, best ways to learn proper nutrition for me, what strength workouts to incorporate into training, Garmin vs Apple Watch? I’m also excited to purchase a heart rate monitor. I’m 23 years old and turning 24 & I love Neil Young. I really want to keep learning and building my knowledge. I also want to be able to afford it. 🙂

The coaches say:

  • Garmin for Sport, Apple for Productivity and general fitness.
  • Wrist HR monitors in the watch are more comfortable, but the accuracy of a chest strap is way superior.
  • We both agree Daniels is a good place to start for training.
  • Small critique of Daniels’ program: it’s a little harsh. Check out Brad Hudson’s book for a more gentle progression and more running by feel.
  • Proper nutrition is a big “depends” type of question. Don’t overthink it. Basically, eat more leafy greens and veggies, don’t feel the need to “carb up,” and eat real food. Keep it simple and sustainable.
  • James Dunne at Kinetic Revolution for strength exercises.
  • Kelly Starrett’s book Ready to Run, and Jill Miller’s The Roll Model for mobility.
  • Keep up that enthusiasm and enjoy the process, because it’s a long one! Be patient. Don’t fixated on the destination (Boston). Enjoy the day-to-day grind.

Scott asks:

I am 53. I am a lifelong runner and have been a triathlete since 2000. I ran a 3:02 Marathon when I was 18 but didn’t run another until I was 41. I have whittled my time down from 4:01 to 3:09. Since turning 50, I haven’t been able to run any faster than 3:16.

I ran across one of your podcasts and started to wonder if I use the MAF Method and learn how to follow a ketogenic diet, can I reverse things and enjoy a few more years in the sub 3:16 range? More info: 2011 – 3:11, 2012 – 3:09, 2013 – 3:14, 2014 – 3:21, 2015 – 3:16.

I have really struggled with my weight since turning 50 so wonder if I start the ketogenic diet, can I get down to a proper race weight. I am 5’8″ and feel that my best racing was done at the 155-160 pound range.

I am signed up for the Modesto Marathon which takes place on 3/31/19. I would like to use this to establish a base Marathon time for Ironman Arizona 2019. Should I start MAF now prior to starting my train up on 1/1/19?

The coaches say:

  • There are many more ways to lose weight than Keto.
  • Keto is a great trick to jumpstart weight loss and strengthen metabolic efficiency, but it’s not sustainable in the long term.
  • Nutrition Diva podcast about low carb and high carb.
  • If you have been struggling with your weight for a while now, doing something restrictive (like keto) isn’t going to help you with your relationship with food.
  • Assess your current diet and see where things are going wrong right now. Focus on breaking bad habits and reinforcing good habits.
  • Carb timing is important (best to refuel after an intense workout).
  • It’s important to maintain lean muscle mass, especially at your age, by lifting and eating protein. Don’t sacrifice this muscle for weight loss.
  • Start MAF as soon as possible to build your base.

Timothy asks:

This is my third and most dedicated Low HR block in the past 4 years. I am 6 months into a strict MAF training block at a HR of 138 to 142 (39 years old) always walking at 144 to 145 HR. I really wanted to quit the first two months, but have finally seen some positive results. I can now run much farther before my HR creeps up, there are many hills that I can run up (slowly) now, and MAF tests are the best ever, but I am still slow. I really feel like I have become a better slow runner! Not exactly what I want.

I am actually in a very dedicated training block for nothing. Some loose goals have been met:
One – run more 8 to 12-mile weekday runs (rather than 3 to 5 miles).
Two – upping my weekly mileage to roughly 50 miles per week, I used to do 25 to 35 miles peaking for a 50k at 45 to 50 miles per week.
Three – I am essentially training to be able to train for a 50k or 50 miler next year, maybe a marathon this year.

After all these months I am now scared to run at HRs over 141-142 and don’t know what to do next. So my questions:

1. What next? Do I just continue at low HR and see where it goes? I would like to run with my friends again. Maybe another 6 months of MAF and I can.
2. Do you think there be a difference in training results f I run flat at 141 HR or walk hills at 141 HR? A race goal is to get to the pack in front of me at local trail races. This pack runs away from me at mile 3ish of a 7 miler! Usually after a hill!
3. I walk ALL hills during training, but walking a hill, even flat ones, raises my HR to 150 (sad). Do you think this is ok? Alternatively, I must stand to get down to HR-141.

PS – Low HR training is beautifully simple but so annoying!

The coaches say:

  • After this long training at low intensity, you are safe to add in some higher intensity work – especially if it is fun running with your friends.
  • Don’t jeopardize the joy of running just to adhere to a program… Unless you are a pro.
  • Check out your HRV. We recommend using Sweetwater Health’s app – (here’s a podcast about how to use HRV).You might be overtaxing yourself, not necessarily from training, but from other life factors.
  • Resting HR first thing in the morning might also give you insight into possible overtraining, but the coaches don’t think this is likely the problem, given your MAF training.
  • If you’re drinking a lot of caffeine, dial wayyy back. This could be increasing your HR.
  • Because you’re so comfortable, shake things up with intensity. It will be good for you!
  • Takeaway: Get out there and enjoying running again! Leave that HR monitor at home once in while and have fun running hard with your friends.

Sasa asks:

I am looking forward to competing in an open water (river) wetsuit swimming race (OSW) next July here in Finland. Here is a short race description by the organizer:

3000 meters
Night swimming in the bright Nordic summer night. Starting from the Finnish beach right after midnight, Finnish time. You will not only swim over the border between Sweden and Finland, but also cross the Arctic Circle and the time zone. Contestants that is able to swim the distance in less than 60 minutes will actually cross the finish line before the day the competition began.

Start after midnight 15th of July 00:05 (Finnish time).

I’d say I have a solid background in swimming, I am not a pro, but not the slowest either. My current 1k pool record is a tad under 17 min which I swam with a pull buoy on Sept. 22. So I’m rather confident that I’ll make the race in less than 55 mins. In 2015 I swam the 3.8k of a full distance triathlon in 1:10h.

Now the problem I am facing is I am not sure how to structure my swim training in order to comfortably swim 3k next July. How do I get from 1k to 3k? How do I structure my training so it makes sense? What kind of training does that require?

I started adding structure to my swimming sessions at the beginning of August, after some 500m drill based warm up I did 3x400m. With the same warm up I am now at 500m, 600m, 800m, 600m – so totalling roughly 3k, in between sets I go and dip in a 6 Degree Celsius pool to accustom to the still floating ice in the river. Nah, just joking there is no more ice by then =) but I do dip. And finish off with a 100m and 50m sprint.

I should say that I am hitting the pool only once a week, I am desperately trying to squeeze in a second session, but it’s tough. Well, you know family, social life, work etc.

I am male, 44 y, 179 cm and 75 kg. I have been:
-playing football (soccer) for 17 years (ages 5-22)
-17 years hapkido martial arts (ages 22-39), gained the 2nd-degree black belt
-4 years triathlon (covered all distances) 2012-2015
-then swim run and except for 2012-2018 worked the gym and done CrossFit.
-now I am back in the gym since August.
-now once a week I swim, run three times (avg. 25k) and go to the gym twice and instruct a fitness boxing class.

The coaches say:

  • You are going to need to swim more during the week. I would want you to hit at least 3 times per week.
  • You are on track – don’t overthink it.
  • Short sessions are adequate and in some ways better, because they increase your contact time with the water.
  • Do some dry land work with resistance bands, vasa trainer (if possible) twice a week.
  • Consider playing around with over-speed work.

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