Jason Koop: On Maximizing Your Ultrarunning Performance and Avoiding These Four Common Mistakes

June 29, 2016


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We are joined by Coach Jason Koop, director of coaching for Carmichael Training Systems living out of Colorado Springs, coach to elite ultrarunners, and an ultrarunner himself. Jason has coached and supported the likes of Dean Karnazes, Dakota Jones, Kaci Lickteig, Dylan Bowman, Timothy Olson, and more.

Jason has a new book titled “Training Essentials for Ultrarunning: How to Train Smarter, Race Faster, and Maximize Your Ultramarathon Performance,” in which he reveals his training approach for ultra success and in this episode we dive into some of those concepts.

Covered in this show with Coach Jason Koop:

  • The four biggest mistakes ultra athletes make, as discussed in book:
  1. Too much focus on volume — Most people realistically have 10-12 hours to train a week, 14 hours at best. You can reach a point of diminishing returns, and how to find that point for you.
  2. Not enough intensity— Ultra athletes need intervals at VO2max for ultra training, not just pounding aerobic miles. How do you gauge readiness for intervals and what kind of intervals?
  3. Lack of specificity — Specifically how does this relate to ultra? Terrain, altitude, weather, nutrition, hiking, uphills, downhills, level running, etc.
  4. The N of 1 — The flaw of using only one’s experience to coach others; ultra is “behind the times” and how this affects progress and training techniques in the sport.
  • Embrace walking (hiking), and train for it—walking is not running and needs to be practiced.
  • Why Jason is NOT a fan of crosstraining—and instead promotes simply running and rest with the limited time available to an athlete.
  • Exceptions on crosstraining and when it may work for an athlete: during time of injury, potentially in offseason, and simple proprioceptive drills for better running.
  • Jason promotes moderate volume, more intensity and avoiding overtraining—so, how does his approach differ from typical marathon programs or short-distance training approaches?
  • Using a systems-based approach.
  • Do the least specific training furthest away, and the most specific training closest to your race.
  • How does Jason like to train athletes for ultras in a way that is sustainable rather than bursting into the scene then quickly burning out?
  • Establishing clear goals for a) a “career” in sport (whether amateur or elite) and b) for each race.
  • “Be invested in the event, and don’t just do a race because it’s there.”
  • “Know your goals and what you’re looking to get out of each race, and/or your sport career.”
  • What sets the elite ultra athletes apart from amateurs besides genetic potential?
  • What’s the key to success if we all have limited time to train and we toe the line with relatively similar fitness levels? A: It’s the mental, psychological and emotional factors that really make the difference.
  • How to help ultra athletes prepare for a long day of, essentially, problem solving.
  • Practice “problem solving” in your training.
  • Get the book here.

One Comment

  • Martinx76 says:

    A very interesting podcast, lots of useful information, I esp. liked the specificity-based approach and I will definitely grab the book. I like that you allow more and more of the ultra topics 🙂

    Now, I am a bit surprised that you did not really bring up MAF or dr. Maffetone's ideas in general as clearly there is some disagreement here on the intensity. Also when it came to diet, Jason said somethig like the Paleo used to be the new thing, now it is LCHF and it will be something different next year, and you just said yeah, as if confirming it does not really matter, they are all fads anyway…

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