Lucho on HR training/racing

  • Uses terms interchangeably –Base, MAF, zone 2 – all kind of the same thing

  • Depends on the type of athlete and if his athlete is using threshold or not

  • Lots of his athletes are just MAF based
  • But Triathletes use zones, ftp, threshold tests


  • Base = zone 1 / zone 2 / threshold -20 (+/- a few BPM)

    • Wide range

    • MAF is well below 50/50 fat/carb burn

    • Very moderate

    • Without an RQ / metabolic efficiency test, it’s a bit of a guess, but you have to assume the MAF formula is good (if doing MAF)

    • (really fit athlete could have MAF = zone 3)


  • Tempo = roughly MAF + 10 or threshold -10; zone 3

    • But this is different based on the type of athlete

    • Ultra-runner vs. Olympic distance triathlete

      • Triathlete should have a wider zone 3

      • Triathlete may have a 15 beats below threshold

      • Ultra may be 5 beats below threshold (b/c threshold is low)

    • If an athlete only does MAF, nothing else at all, then threshold will drop, closer to MAF

      • You’ve closed the zone 3, 4 window – and zone 4 may be eliminated

      • E.g. MAF was 5:50; dropped to 5:40 in marathon and went above threshold, so MAF + 10 was “blow up”

      • Big negative for marathoner and most other athletes like sprint and Olympic distance triathletes, but not so bad for 100 miler…

      • Trying to keep a theoretical space between what you can hold for 1 hour vs. 3 hours

      • Example of elite marathoners dropping 20-30s/mile for a short burst (mile) and being fine, but if you don’t have that window, you can’t do it…

      • Having a high end is important

      • Doesn’t take 6 months of speed work

      • Short periods of vo2max, speed, threshold work will bring it back up

      • E.g. 7 weeks, 1 speed session per week, is adequate

  • Tempo vs. threshold

    • Threshold = 98-103% of LT

    • Tempo = can hold for over an hour, or up to 2

    • A “feel”

    • HR will drift over the hour+

    • (so ignore HR)

  • Lactate threshold/FTP – zone 4, a bit into zone 5

  • Zone 5 – VO2Max

    • Close to mile repeat efforts, but no HRM on mile repeats

    • But if you max mile is 8 minutes – that’s too long

    • VO2Max cut off is 5 – 5:30 minutes


  • Mile

    • Close to vo2max, or just under, depending on actual duration

    • VO2max is 5-5:30 minutes

  • 5k

    • Start at threshold, or just under, or you start to fast

  • Half Marathon – threshold

    • But again depends on speed

    • 2 hours = zone 3/aerobic threshold

    • 1:15 – 1:20 zone 4

  • Marathon speed is zone 3

    • May start at MAF, drifts to z3 by mile 6 or 7, drifts to z4 at 15-20 => no single marathon HR as it changes during the race

    • Marathon pace is “aerobic threshold” (Canova) – 50/50 fat/carb burn

  • 50 miler

    • mostly MAF or lower for most runners

    • but those going really fast (6 hours)  - moderate tempo


  • 100 miles

    • MAF, but with fatigue and cardiac drift, HR isn’t that useful

    • Use for 5-6 hours then don’t bother

  • Notes on terminology

    • If using “zone” based training, it’s not MAF

    • Zones are based off of threshold, MAF is not

    • Can make educated guess

    • E.g. MAF+20 = threshold – just a guide



  • Just need to be close – it’s hand grenades – these are big ranges

  • Take the calculators with a grain of salt – it’s the type of training you do that indicates what you are capable of…

  • Definitely likes athletes to at least use an HRM for a while – coach and athlete need to get on the same page w.r.t. terminology…  Also need to agree on perceived exertion…


Lucho on the marathon

Lucho’s last words to me before the marathon last week:

I guarantee that there is going to come a moment where you do not like the race and you’ll want to slow. This moment will be a moment of choice. You’ll need to choose between slowing down and not running your best or suffering through to your best race. After you cross the finish line you want to be able to look back at the race and be happy with your decision.

So true!  Not that I felt like I had much of a decision at the time when I did slow, but how much of that really was mental, and how much was physical?   How do you work on mental toughness for intensity?  (Not for endurance/duration, which I think I’ve got down… I can always put one foot in front of the other, it’s just a question of pace!)

Tobacco Road Marathon

When I 1st started training for the ATT marathon, I had a goal of 3:15.  (ATT = American Tobacco Trail, which is what I tend to call the marathon, even though that’s not its name!)

I knew 3:15 would be a big stretch for me, but I thought with Lucho coaching me, I might have a chance.  However, throughout training, it seemed like 3:20 was going to be more realistic.  But I never fully gave up on the 1st goal.  Even when, about two weeks out, my legs felt a bit achy and tired on every run, especially when I bumped the speed to under 8:00/mile pace.  And even when, a week out, my lungs started feeling congested and wheezy.  Two days out, and one day out, I was definitely on the upswing.  So what was in store?

I’ve not got a lot of pictures — only the ones Kelly and the kids took of me at mile 19 or so, and at the finish.  But here I am at 19, still looking happy!

mile 19

I came up on Tom, who has an amazing story as a brain cancer survivor.  I was really surprised to see him, as I figured he’d be under 3:15, but there he was.  We didn’t run together long as he was struggling a bit with too fast of a start, but still finished in a BQ time of 3:22.


So, what happened to me?  The splits tell the story…  I put the mile splits from my GPS next to the perfectly even splits of a 3:15, and show the time difference…

Now this isn’t quite fair — the mile splits are from my GPS, which was slightly off.  It showed a total of 26.44 at the end, not 26.2.  But this shows I had a conservative start (negative difference for the 1st few miles).  In fact, I jumped in behind the 1:40 half marathon pace group for the 1st couple of miles — until they split off south on the ATT and the marathoners headed north.    And then the differences pick up, where I’m fairly far ahead of a 3:15 as much as 2.5 minutes!

At the point the half marathoners turn south and the marathoners turn north, it’s a slight downhill — if you can call any rise or fall on the ATT a hill!  As an old railroad bed, it’s never more than 1 or 2% grade max.  But I let gravity pull me along, and even tried to hold back a bit.  I wasn’t wearing a heart rate monitor, but just ran by feel.  And the pace felt solid, but good.  I know come mile 18 or 19 or 20, that pace would no longer feel so good, but it’s at that point when you have to rise and hold it..

I did have the GPS on so I could use that as a pacer, and I steadily saw my average pace go down, down, down.  All the way until about mile 21, when it was 7:18/mile.  And I thought “I’ve got 3:15!  Unless I have an epic collapse!”

I even thought briefly at that time that 3:10 was within reach, but I wisely decided not to push it at all.  In fact, I thought I’d back off a touch, to preserve the 3:15.  But little did I know that the “climb” at mile 22 – 25 would do me in…  It got really hard to hold the pace, but I was doing it!

And then we left the ATT and hit the roads.  And there was this little hill, but this killer head wind. And I had to walk.  Twice!  You can see it in the elevation profile and pace graph below the splits.  And you can see in my splits… I began to really suffer, and the buffer I had built faded oh so quickly…

Mile Split Cumulative 3:15 Marathon Splits Difference
1 0:07:45 0:07:45 0:07:26 -0:00:19
2 0:07:27 0:15:12 0:14:52 -0:00:20
3 0:07:17 0:22:29 0:22:18 -0:00:11
4 0:07:15 0:29:44 0:29:44 0:00:00
5 0:07:04 0:36:48 0:37:11 0:00:23
6 0:07:23 0:44:11 0:44:37 0:00:26
7 0:07:05 0:51:16 0:52:03 0:00:47
8 0:07:16 0:58:32 0:59:29 0:00:57
9 0:07:01 1:05:33 1:06:56 0:01:23
10 0:07:09 1:12:42 1:14:22 0:01:40
11 0:07:12 1:19:54 1:21:48 0:01:54
12 0:07:16 1:27:10 1:29:14 0:02:04
13 0:07:29 1:34:39 1:36:41 0:02:02
14 0:07:28 1:42:07 1:44:07 0:02:00
15 0:07:18 1:49:25 1:51:33 0:02:08
16 0:07:03 1:56:28 1:58:59 0:02:31
17 0:07:20 2:03:48 2:06:26 0:02:38
18 0:07:31 2:11:19 2:13:52 0:02:33
19 0:07:06 2:18:25 2:21:18 0:02:53
20 0:07:42 2:26:07 2:28:44 0:02:37
21 0:07:19 2:33:26 2:36:11 0:02:45
22 0:07:37 2:41:03 2:43:37 0:02:34
23 0:08:04 2:49:07 2:51:03 0:01:56
24 0:08:08 2:57:15 2:58:29 0:01:14
25 0:07:52 3:05:07 3:05:56 0:00:49
26 0:08:31 3:13:38 3:13:22 -0:00:16
27 0:03:07 3:16:45 3:15:03 -0:01:42 26.44 vs 26.2

That last line shows the unfairness of using the Garmin mile splits, which were steadily increasing past exact mileage.  Otherwise it would imply I lost 90s on the last 0.2 miles!

See those two jumps on the blue line?  Just a few seconds of walking…  You can see after I stopped kicking myself for walking I did pick up the pace back to sub 7:30, at least on the downhill, but it was too late…


Ah, it was so good to be done.  The last 2-3 miles, I was hurting.  Not a bonk — nutrition was solid, but I was so tired.


So, was I mentally weak?  Or was the body really done?  I feel I’m strong mentally — when it’s just about keeping going.  Paddle for 38 hours straight?  Sure.  Run 24 hours around a 5k loop? Sure.  But hitting that last 800 on an 10×800 interval session?  That is hard!   Or fighting through the pain and fatigue on mile 25 of a marathon at sub 7:30?  Ugh.  So I will be working on that aspect of my running!

Here are the official numbers.  I’m quite happy with all the placings!official results 2

And official splits:official splits 2

Now I am in no way disappointed with a 3:17.  3:15 was always a big stretch for me.  And yeah, to almost get it, only to fade so quickly — bummer.  But I am happy with 3:17!  An 11 minute PR!  And such a great run for the 1st 2:50 or so.  :-)

(I really did want the cool BQ shirt, though!)

kelly kids

My feet are (apparently) broken…



Went to the VivoBarefoot in London, like I normally do when I am there.  They were a bit slow, so I jumped on the pressure pad, and what did we see?  No toes!IMG_2921


Next is a one legged balance – there are some of my toes!



Vivo says this means my feet are broken.  :-)  I don’t disagree — my feet still get sore and tired after 40 or 50 miles of tough trail, even in shoes, while other folks I know do not have that problem.  They gave me some exercises to do, so I’ll give them a whirl.

They also had me run on the treadmill, and said I run from the hip flexors, and barely use my hamstrings to lift…  It looks a bit like a pendulum.   I hope to get a copy of that video and if so I’ll update this post…  They slapped the bottom of my feet while I was running, and it really makes you lift the foot off quickly.  The before and after videos were quite distinct!



2013 Book shelf

Better late than never, and sorry I’ve stopped writing about each book I read.  Been a little busy.

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No Better Time is the fantastic story of Daniel Lewin, and brings back memories of the early days of Akamai…

Yes, I admit it — I got sucked into the Warriors series of cat books because my 11 year old daughter was reading it!  I started and couldn’t put them down.  But there are something like 40 more, and I will not be reading those.

Read The Hunger Games again after watching the 1st movie a 2nd time, before the 2nd movie was released, and then watching the 2nd movie.  Really wanted to go back and compare. Started re-reading the 2nd book, but never finished it.

The Hundred Dresses and Mr. Popppers Penguines are 5th grade reading at HRCA, and I’m reading all of those books along with Riley.

Had to read Life of Pi before watching the movie.

Paleo Manifesto is excellent and is not a typical paleo book in anyway.

I still can’t believe the Holy or the Broken — an entire book about Leonard Cohen’s song “Hallelujah.”

I am Malala is great.

Once a Runner was a re-read, but the “pre-quel” (by 20 years!) to Once Again to Carthage, and I wanted to read the 1st as a refresher before starting the 2nd.

There were a bunch of other books I started but did not finish, or that I’m still working through.




Year in review from DailyMile

Screen Shot 2014-01-07 at 8.13.11 AM

There was a bit of biking and hiking in there — about 70 miles on a quick scan.  So that is 1600+ miles of running, by far my biggest year for running.  (But I may have put more time in in prior years when I was bigger into Adventure Racing…)

Highlights were:

February:  Uhwarrie 40 miler (for the 4th straight year, did not get in in 2014)

March:  Umstead Marathon

May:  North Face 50 miler in NY

June:  Black Mountain Monster 24 hour

July:  Leadville 100

For 2014 it’s looking like:

March:   American Tobacco Trail Marathon

May:  Black Mountain Monster 24 hour (hopefully!)

August:  World Rogaine Championships

September:  Hinson Lake 24 hour

And maybe a 100k or 100m for a WS100 qualifier — but there aren’t many to choose from!




Leadville – My Thoughts

Ok, I better write something before too much time passes… But with Kelly having written the race from her perspective, there’s not much for me to say about the race itself.  Her account was much more interesting, as I just ate and ran.  :-)


First, I have to give huge thanks out to Kelly, Riley, Reece, Dad, and Gordo, for spending 30+ hours allowing me to achieve my goal of running (finishing!) Leadville.  Without them, it would not have been nearly as fun and perhaps not possible.  (I would have had to run unsupported using drop bags with no pacers…)   And not just 30 hours, but the time surrounding the time in Leadville too.

And beyond race day, Kelly, Riley, and Reece put up with a lot of training for me over the past 6 months.  While I did my best to keep up with all family commitments, and scheduled my long runs to be as least impactful as possible, I was still off running an awful lot.  (BTW, this account of “why do you run so much” is a fantastic read.)

Pb in the future – breaking 25 hours?

Next, I’d have to say that right now Pb is not high on my list to run again (but that’s not to say it won’t creep back up there!).   It’s a beautiful course, a great atmosphere, has great history and tradition, and is tremendously challenging.  But I think the race has gotten too big/crowded, and the resulting issues need to be addressed before I’d consider going back.  (I won’t address those issues here, they have been addressed in many other places.)

What would draw me back?  Well, assuming the issues are resolved, the lure of a sub 25:00:00 Pb would definitely do it!  It’s sort of like a sub 20:00 5k, a sub 40:00 10k, a sub 3 hour marathon (or just a BQ).  It’s some arbitrary line in the sand between the “good” and the rest of the field.  And yeah, that challenge is of interest to me.  :-)

BUT, look at the splits below:

(Note MQ2 is not correct…)   I was nearly on a “Peterson pace” for 25 hours up to TL2, which is not quite even splits, but much closer splits than most people are able to manage.  I ran to TL1 in under 8 hours, and had just over 9 hours to run from TL2 to the the finish, to break 25 hours.  What’s an extra hour on the last 40?  :-)  Even if I’d been able to run more than the 3-5 miles I was capable of that last 40, I could have easily taken off an hour to get to 27:00.  Two hours is still a long ways from 25, so what would it take?  (And yeah, you read that right — I power hiked most of the last 40. And the last 3-5 were more of a slog than a power hike!)

Training – not sure I could find more time to run, or if I’d want to.  But all I did the last 6 months was run.  I had a few 60 mile weeks, which is not a lot for ultra runners, but is a lot for me!  No weight lifting, no biking, etc.   Lots more work on the legs — lunges, squats, etc., would have helped.  More downhill running would help (my legs were shaking coming into TL1 at 40 miles, and the 2nd climb up Hope on the return took a lot out of me…)  Here are my weekly running miles the weeks leading into Pb…  The 65 in week 18 was the week of the NF50 in NY and the 96 on week 22 was the week of the 24 hour where I ran 87 (and stopped just over 19 hours in, in order to be able to continue Pb training…).

Acclimating — more time at elevation would also help, but again, not sure I could find the time.  I spent 7 days in June in the NC mountains at 4500 feet, another 10 days in late July at the same place, and arrived in Highlands Ranch (6100′) on 8/5.  We then went to Twin Lakes (9200′) on 8/13.  Training was a bit limited those last 12 days as I needed to taper, and it takes a lot longer to recover at altitude.  I did get a couple of 60-90 minute hike/runs in at 7500-8500 the 1st week, as well as two 14′ers.  But I think that was about all my body could handle.

Some random photo I found on another blog — with me in it!  :-)

What worked:

Shoes – Suacony Virrata (road shoe) the 1st 40, Alta superior the next 20, Hoka Stinson the last 40.  This was all fine.  My feet were about done in the road shoe around mile 38-39, and I was ready for the Stinson at mile 50 but my crew was not able to get into Winfield (assuming Gordo would have carried another shoe across Hope for the river crossing).  But this was all fine.  The only thing I might consider in the future is to *start* in the Hoka, but I’d still change shoes at TL1 and TL2 to ensure dry shoes the rest of the race.

Nutrition – base of vfuel and diluted grape juice (1/3 juice, 2/3 water).  Mixed in some perpetuem.  The hard boiled eggs and nut butters, while they worked in training, were not great in Pb.  I think it was the fact that the 1st hard boiled egg I almost choked on, and the 1st nut butter I had was plain almond butter and was very dry.  The almond butter + honey, or the hazelnut + chocolate, worked better.  I also used the broths and noodles at the aid stations, ate some ptotatoe chips here and there, a couple of small boiled potatoes, half a hamburger at inbound/hatchery, etc.   Nutrition was pretty good throughout the race — there were times I just didn’t want to eat, mostly on the climbs up Hope and Powerline, but I was always able to force a vfuel down and those seem to sit very well in my stomach.

Gear:  Love the new Ultimate Direction AK pack!  Used under armor compression shorts under go lite shorts the entire race, and a 200 weight short sleeve ice breaker body fit T.   Had arm warmers and a hat.  I did get chilly after midnight, even with a 320 weight icebreaker “sweater” on, and had to borrow Gordo’s down jacket a bit.  Started in injinj toe socks for the 1st 60, then switched to a dry pair of thin smart wools.  Lights – might consider a new set up in the future — mine are now a few years old and it shows — lights have come a long long ways!  Used bodyglide and runners guard for chaffing, which was fairly minimal.  (A lot less sweat in CO than I’m used to on the East Coast!)

What didn’t work:

Nothing really jumps out as not working.  Even the wood sticks I picked up to help me over Hope Pass were mostly ok, though I’d consider trekking poles in the future, at least for the big climbs.