Is Ultra-Endurance Natural?

If you know me, you know my answer to this question. ;)


30 Day Video Challenge

This is my first video in a 30-day video challenge, in which I am creating and posting a new video each day for 30 days. I started on April 14th, so day 30 will be May 13th. I may not always make a blog post for the videos right away (which has been the case with the first 10!), but you can look to my YouTube channel by the end of each day and see a new video there.

I’m intending for this challenge to help move me in my new intended direction for this website/what I do. As for more concrete matters, I expect this video challenge to improve my ability to explain things clearly and in an organized manner. Additionally, I’ve always had some minor speech problems, like not articulating all my words clearly. I’ve largely cleared up those problems in the last few years but I still have room to improve.

If there are any particular subjects you’d like to see covered in this video series, do let me know. I’ve got 20 more days, so there is plenty of room for all sorts of whimsy.


The Problems People Bring to Running

The basic message of this video is that the ability to endure long, steady-state physical activity comes naturally when we are healthy. What degrades this ability in people is poor health and mistakes made in running.

I believe that it is not running itself that degrades bones and joints, but rather the combination of poor health and exercise-related mistakes that does people in.

Poor health is basically the result of a poor diet and an over-accumulation of toxins in the body.

Mistakes made in running include heel-striking, pushing yourself too hard, breathing through your mouth, and wearing shoes that have a lot of support.

Heel-striking goes hand in hand with wearing clunky shoes. You wouldn’t land on your heels when you jump up and down, so why do people do it while running? That can’t be good for you.


To Go Fast, You Must First Go Slow: Aerobic Threshold Training

I think one reason a lot of people dislike running is that they push too much. The best way I have found to build both speed and endurance is through aerobic threshold training, also known as zone two (Z2). I didn’t discuss this much in the video, so I’ll address it here.

The proper way to do Z2 training is with a heartrate monitor, and never exceeding your target heart rate zone. Because I don’t have a heartrate monitor, I instead go by feel. This means that in a typical run, I don’t allow myself to exceed a certain level of exertion. Basically, if I have to struggle hard, I stop. The main sign of "struggling hard" is breathing heavily, to the point of heaving, and also feeling heavy and weak. 

In the beginning, running this way is a bit frustrating and embarrassing. I first started this form of training after my first year of college. I was pretty much a washed up runner, and I figured I had nothing to lose by trying this. Even so, I actually slowed down when I first started with this form of training. Small hills I used to run up every day, I had to start walking up so as to not exceed the allowed level of exertion. For the first several weeks, I ran really, really slow. My pace remained pretty slow for the first three months, though in that 3rd month I did a 35 mile run and a 50 mile run just a week and a half apart from each other. Both were fairly slow, but I had endurance enough by that point to complete them. The 35 mile run was my first run farther than 20 miles in 8 months.

It wasn’t until the 4-month mark that I started to notice improvements in my speed. I was pretty much caught up to the same speed I was at when I finished track season 5 months earlier (I took a month off after track before starting this training). The difference now, however, was that I didn’t have to struggle to reach this speed—it came to me much more naturally now, and it felt good.

At the 7-month mark I went back to school and started indoor track. Over the next 4 months (which ended near the 11-month mark) my speed continually increased. I fared much better than I had the previous year, especially in the 10K (6.2 miles) and the 3000m steeplechase (1.87 miles with five barriers per lap). My 10K improved by 80 seconds (from 45:38 to 44:18) and my 3K steeplechase improved by 30 seconds (from 14:40 to 14:10).

It has been almost a year since then, and I am now 22 months into aerobic-threshold training. I have not given much attention to shorter distances, though the ease with which I have been running longer distances continues to increase. In March each year I run a 30K (it’s not a race, but it’s organized and always on the same course): my time this year was 20 minutes faster than last year (from 3 hours to 2 hours 40 minutes).

I really want to emphasize that ease. I’m not pushing myself much harder than when I first started training this way—I’ve just naturally gotten faster. I still avoid exceeding that certain level of exertion, save for when I am racing. It’s just that now the same level of exertion provides me with that much more speed. That means that training this way has worked for me.

My point is, if people trained in this more steady and reserved manner, rather than pushing themselves all the time, they might enjoy running more and actually stick with it. It has certainly helped me to enjoy running more: before I started training this way, I was wondering if it was time to quit.

Breathing through your nose, which goes hand-in-hand with aerobic threshold training, is addressed in the video. If you breathe through your nose rather than your mouth when you run, you won’t feel as tired out, and you will recover more easily. You also won't get as much sneezing and nose-running after races and hard workouts.

Breathing through your nose when you run is something you have to train yourself to do over a period of a few months. When you start out you will be able to do it only at a slow pace. Of course, this matches up perfectly with aerobic threshold training since you have to slow down when you start that out, too.

Note: The title of this section is a quote from Rich Roll, a triathlete. I learned about aerobic threshold training through his first appearance on the Joe Rogan Experience.


Now, here’s ya vidya.

As I promised in the video, 20 years down the line when I am 40 years old and nearly 30 years into my running career, I will let you know how all this works out for me. ;)

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