ATC 291: Digging Into Poop of Elite Runners, Are You Ready For the 20 x 20 Miler, Heat and Hydration, and More!

July 19, 2019


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  • Other Updates:
    • Tawnee has a beautiful, healthy baby girl: Coralee Mar!
    • Tawnee wanted to let people out there know that traumatic events have a physiological effect. After losing Whitney, Tawnee had a very hard time running at MAF; her heart rate skyrocketed uncontrollably. Now, as she slowly eases back into running postpartum with Cora, Tawnee is having a much easier time controlling her heart rate. She attributes this to her happier mental state and less physiological stressors (Cora is sleeping like a champ). The takeaway is that emotional trauma is physiologically disruptive, so if you notice that in your own MAF journey, be gentle with yourself and recognize that it’s normal!
    • Lucho’s taking a break from track competition to support his kids at their baseball games and give himself a break from the type-A, hyper-focus on racing , which was beginning to impede his overall health/strength goals.

Gut Microbiome and A Connection To Elite Running?

Mike Capka


There was a recent study that looked at the gut microbiome by looking at poo of successful athletes.  I was wondering if you think this is legit despite the conflicts of interest. With all we are finding out about the gut microbiome, I guess we shouldn’t be surprised that some species may aid performance if the results are to be believed.

I was initially going to ask other questions but the answers were just going to supposition.

Recent articles on this:




 The coaches say:

  • Tawnee doesn’t see this as a game changer for boosting performance.
  • Most runners have to think about the gut in much broader terms, especially dealing with conditions like leaky gut. It’s more important to take efforts to have a healthy gut, rather than focus on having one special strain of bacteria.
    • Tawnee promotes SoundProbiotics because this company has actually done research to develop a blend of probiotics that promotes overall gut health for athletes that will aid immunity, not just boost performance.
  • The fact is, your GI tract is so severely blunted during exercise that it’s unlikely that your microbes could reduce overall lactic acid.
  • The major difference between professional and amateur athletes is training, not a gut microbiome.
  • A lot more research is necessary before we should invest heavily in this probiotic.
  • Also,  for the record, lactic acid is not the bad guy when it comes to performance.

20×20 Mile Marathon training

Emily Babay


Hi and thanks for the great the podcast! My question is about the 20 long runs of 20 miles prior to a marathon that Lucho’s mentioned on a few previous episodes. I am working to hit 20×20 miles while training for a November marathon, and am having a blast. I look forward to planning my route each week, and enjoy having a process goal as the focus of my training block. So I was wondering if you had any guidance for the actual execution of this? I have been doing a mix of easy miles, progression runs, workouts within the long run, etc, to keep things fresh. But is there any recommended intensity? Also, is it necessary/desirable to do runs of more than 20 miles (in previous marathon buildups, I’ve done several 21-24 mile runs)? Thanks for the training inspiration and any recommendations!

The coaches say:

  • The type of intensity you’re doing is more contingent on where this 20×20 appears in your training. If you’re doing this now for a November marathon, you probably shouldn’t do any intensity above tempo.
    • Then, closer to the race, you can reduce your long runs to 16-18 miles with more speed intervals (even getting to VO2 max).
  • 20×20 is an arbitrary number. You can continue the 20-milers if you have time in your training and your body isn’t breaking down. You could also run a little more than 20-miles if your body is feeling good.
    • Watch for steady decreases in your pace in the final miles. This is a sign of too much stress and you should bail!
  • Lucho’s primary rationale for doing this 20×20 is mental. It creates a fearlessness around running 20 miles, which makes 26.2 much less daunting. Also, the ability to run 20×20 increases durability.
  • The 20×20 is a very advanced approach. If you’re a 10-min/mile marathoner, this protocol isn’t for you. Lucho sees it as fitting for a 2:40 marathoner who wants to PR.
  • Even if you’re not an advanced runner, Lucho still sees the value of running as many 20-milers as you can in training (while staying healthy and injury-free). It’s all about the long run, not speedwork!

Hydration Needs While Training

Robert Young


This is Robert Young. We worked together back in the days of Mud & Obstacle magazine. I still edit the other magazine (Black Belt) that I did back then, but now I live in Sedona.

First, congrats on the birth of your baby! You must be so happy. Now, my question for the podcast:

I used to live at 1,200 feet in Southern California, where I would trail-run and mountain-bike even when it was in the low 90s. Not surprisingly, I drank a lot of water on the trails. Now I live at 4,500 feet in Arizona, which means it’s about 10 degrees cooler. Here, I find myself going without water on the trails. I usually go 2-3 hours on foot or on the bike, and I don’t really get thirsty. Is it a bad idea to do this? In other words, is there any potentially beneficial adaptation that takes place, or is it just stupid to dehydrate the body? Thanks!

The coaches say:

  • You can’t adapt to dehydration, but you can train yourself not to suffer as much from the effects of dehydration.
  • 4500’ is not considered altitude. You only have to take elevation seriously about 6500’.
  • Robert is dealing with dry air, which parallels effects of altitude.
  • 2-3 hours without water also isn’t excessive if you’re fit and hydrated going into the activity.
  • If you’re not feeling terrible, you’re not dehydrated.
  • If you want to be conservative, take in 400-800ml of water per hour and see how you feel/perform.
  • You can also weigh yourself before and after exercise to see how much weight you loose and determine dehydration from that data.

Overheating During a Marathon (But It Wasn’t Hot Outside)

Kev Burton


Love the podcast! always great company for my long runs

I managed a good PB at the marathon distance at the weekend, but at around miles 20-24 i felt like i was overheating, with my skin being bright red and had to whip off the vest and dose myself with plenty of water on my front and back. it was a cloudy day with no wind and about 13 degrees C (55F) i did have caffeine bullets (100mg each) ( at mile 14 and 18, with fueling throughout from tailwind & Clif Bloks (no caffeine in the tailwind or Bloks).

From the start the pace felt good, had to keep slowing myself down and breathing was not labored at all

i’m 45, 5ft9″ and around 172lbs. do you think the overheating was from the caffeine, the faster pace or am i just too heavy for the pace please?

The coaches say:

  • The caffeine probably didn’t cause you to overheat. More likely, you got tired (totally natural after 20 miles) so your body stopped shunting blood to the surface of your skin and redirected it to your muscles. Result: you got hot! Very normal.
  • How do you overcome this? More training will make your body more efficient at dissipating heat at this intensity.
  • Tawnee also looked at your Strava and it looks like you had a lot of hills in the final 6 miles, which would definitely have increased your body temperature.
  • At the end of the day, you PR-ed… amazing!


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