Running a lot can really take a toll on your body if you have issues with moderation. I’ve been itching to start ramping up running mileage but do not want to do it while I still have unresolved issues. Knees have suffered but I am now incorporating (as prescribed after much research and a visit to my orthopedic doctor and physical therapist) LOTS of single leg squats at a very slight decline (like 5 sets of 20 for each leg before a strength workout). Apparently, the eccentric component of this exercise stresses the patellar tendon enough to increase blood flow which in turn jump starts more effective healing. So far, it’s sort of been miraculous. I haven’t taped up my knees for the running that I am doing and they are not as sore, if at all. After I ran a 50k in October, I was too eager to get back into training and after a quick run felt a twinge and tightness in what appears to be my left gluteus minimus (though I keep 2nd guessing that it may be a strained tfl). The problem manifests itself as tightness near the insertion point to my upper pelvic crest. Nevertheless, it is for this reason that I am not wholeheartedly ramping up the miles. So, scaled back miles, icing after diminished runs, rolling around on the foam roller, and strength training to support running are what I’ve been doing lately so that when I can ramp up, everything is functional and strong. Here is one particularly tough strength workout I’ve been incorporating into my week 2 times (once the day after my long run to get that back to back action) to make up for less mileage. It was inspired by Dr. Metzl’s workout for runners but I’ve modified it to help sort out my own issues. As a side note, I do it fasted (though I do have water and electrolytes). It’s not easy.

Strength Workout (running focus)–

2 sets bodyweight 25-30 reps

4-5 sets single leg squat 20 reps/leg

6-8 sets squat jumps 15 reps

circuit 1 (2-3x)

pull-ups (max)

push-ups (max)

bicycle 25 reps

circuit 2 (2-3x)

walking lunges with weighted vest or jump lunge 10 reps/leg

dumbbell deadlifts 12 reps

circuit 3 (2-3x)

mountain climbers 30 reps

flutter kicks or sit-ups 30 reps

circuit 4 (2-3 x)

squat with weighted vest and dumbbells 15 reps

dumbbell overhead presses 10-15 reps

bicep curls (mimic running arm movement) 10-15 reps

End with:

6-10 sets burpees 10 reps

side/front/other side plank 60-90 seconds each

Pre 50M#1 Part 2

50M Training Plan – American River 50M 2015

Below is the blueprint of the training program I plan to follow to build up to my first 50 miler. It’s a hybrid from many available sources out there. Hal Koerner’s Field Guide to Ultrarunning, Bryon Powell’s Relentless Forward Motion, and online sources like,,, and others, all have had some influence on how I structured this training plan.

First and foremost, it is a flexible blueprint. Mondays and Tuesdays are interchangeable, there are road and trail specific training runs, weeks where I cycle down to recover, some back-to-back long runs (26+10, 28+10, etc.) and a staggered but relentless climb to a 50K a few weeks before the race. I plan to crosstrain (mainly bike) a bit as I wrestle with knee issues, do some full body circuit strength training on hard days with an emphasis on the weaker parts of my legs, and incorporate long hikes with a weighted vest to help train for that inevitable component of most ultras.

H=hard, E=easy, h=hills, s=speed, t=trail

Week Date H/E Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat Sun Total
1 11/17 H 0 6 4h 6 4 0 14 38
2 11/25 H 0 6 4h 6 4 0 16t 40
3 12/1 E 0 4 5h 4 4 0 8 25
4 12/8 H 0 8 5h 6 4 0 18t 41
5 12/15 H 0 10 6h 6 6 0 20 48
6 12/22 E 0 6 4s 4 4 0 10 28
7 12/29 H 0 10 4h 6 6 0 20t 46
8 1/5 H 0 10 6s 8 6 0 22 52
9 1/12 E 0 6 4h 4 6 0 14 34
10 1/19 H 10 0 4s + 2 8 6 0 22t 52
11 1/26 H 10 0 6h 8 6 0 24 54
12 2/2 E 0 8 4s + 2 6 6 0 16 42
13 2/9 H 10 0 4h 10 6 0 26t 56
14 2/16 H 10 0 6s + 2 10 6 0 28 62
15 2/23 E 0 8 4h 8 6 0 16t 42
16 3/2 H 0 12 6s + 2 12 6 0 32t 70
17 3/9 H 0 12 6 12 6 0 24t 60
18 3/16 E 0 8 4 8 6 0 16 42
19 3/23 E 0 0 4 0 6 0 10 20
20 3/30 Race! 0 3 0 3 0 50 rest! 56
Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat Sun
Light bike or OFF Easy


-alternate speed/hills

400 (4-10)

1600 (2-4)

-strength workout



Walk/Hike w/35lbs.vest

and/or bike


-strength circuit

Pre 50M#1 Part 1

Over the last 4 days my legs have been very sore. I’ve been walking down stairs backwards, using my arms to prop myself up, and stretching the muscles of my legs a bit more each day. On the advice of my long time friend, Western States finisher, Rolfer, and go to guy for fixing my legs, Art Riggs, I’ve been walking and this morning placed my bike on the trainer and went for an hour. Things are starting to feel normal again.

The physical idleness has not kept me from thinking about the American River 50M ultramarathon in April, how the next training cycle will look, and, of course, what I could improve both in training and on race day. I’m still interested in existing on that fine line between keeping my body from falling apart and training intensely enough to perhaps reach a higher personal peak in physical performance.

So, how am I going to adapt/evolve for the next training cycle? First, I am pretty sure my diet is going to stay close to Ben Greenfield’s Low Carbohydrate Diet for Traitheles and Vespa’s OFM protocol. Second, I am going to incorporate more speed work, cross-training, hiking with a weighted vest, and trail running into the fold. While I did do some cross-training in the form of strength and HIIT, I did not do speed work or too much trail running in my last cycle. And, third, in addition to doing a lot of fasted runs, I am going to “practice” different nutritional approaches during the long ones (16-30 milers): one where I am fueling with UCAN Super Starch, one where I am using Tailwind’s carbohydrate/electrolyte drink, and one where I am eating real food – nuts, bananas, chia, coconut oil, potato, etc… as I prepare for the 50 miler. I’d like to see what life without gels is like and how slow a trickle of carbohydrate intake keeps the fat burning and the energy constant.

Next Post: 50M Training Schedule.


50K#1 Fat-Adapted Fueling

On Saturday, I finally ran my first ultramarathon. The Skyline to Sea Marathon and 50K was organized by Pacific Trail Runs. The sense of camaraderie throughout the race was palpable and inspiring. It’s important to note that road marathons and trail marathons are not the same animal. And, road marathons and trail ultramarathons are definitely not the same animal. Hills and more hills: long, short, steep, rolling, and everything in between. Forget pacing strategy, forget predictability. Everyone was advised beforehand to run flats, to walk the uphills, and to negotiate the downhills. And, as the race director put it, “Run the uphills if you must but start walking when it just feels stupid.”

Almost six hours from the start of the race, after three near falls and one good dirty one, a serious cramping on my inner right thigh (oddly, this is where I had a cramp at mile 21 of the Napa Valley Marathon), and plenty of time to enjoy the forest and surrounding redwoods, I ran through the finish line. I have never felt more exhilarated to finish a run.

Skyline to Sea 50K

Skyline to Sea 50K Finish

This was the first endurance event I’ve done after trying to become “fat-fueled”. I followed Vespa’s OFM protocol. Because of this, I’ll post how I specifically implemented it, pre-, peri-, and post. The two most noticeable differences were that my reliance for fuel was curtailed due to the increased reliance on plentiful body fat for fuel and the fact that I never experienced a bonk or an energy low. In fact, there were several stretches where I felt like the energy flow was just about perfect. The question, always, is whether that perfect energy flow is something that I can generate more consistently throughout my next event.


The night before I added 6 oz. of steamed butternut squash covered in coconut oil and butter to a meal of chicken breast and greens and followed this fueling plan for the day:

70 minutes before: 2 big glasses of water, coffee, 1.5 Tbsp. Artisana raw organic virgin coconut oil, 1 Tbsp. Organic Valley‘s Pastured Butter, 1 Vespa CV-25, 10 Sunfoods chlorella tablets, and 1 8 oz. container of Pacific Foods Vegetable Stock.

10 minutes before: 16 oz. water and 1 Vespa Junior


I wanted to make it through by relying on aid stations to replenish my water. I did not eat anything from the aid stations.

30 minutes in (and subsequently repeated each hour from then): 1 SaltStick Cap (at 4 hours and 30 minutes in I took 1 SaltStickPlus Cap because I needed it)

45 minutes in (and subsequently repeated each hour from then): 1 VFuel gel and one Vespa CR-25

60 minutes in (and subsequently repeated each hour from then): 1 Hammer Anti-Fatigue Cap and 2 BlueBonnet BCAA pills.

Almost six hours from the start of the race, after three near falls and one good one, a serious cramping on my inner right thigh (oddly, this is where I had a cramp at mile 21 of the Napa Valley Marathon), I ran through the finish line.


Afterwards, I had an orange and some watermelon, an organic active greens bar, and lots of water. Hobbled over to the ocean and stood in the freezing Pacific for 15 minutes.

Next post: gear and lessons learned!


I am now in week 15 of a 16 week training plan for my first 50K ultramarathon. After two marathons and reading Christopher McDougall’s Born to Run, I was intrigued and inspired to discover what psychological and physiological events occur after 26.2. On the recommendation of another runner, I thought I would use a 50K as a stepping stone to the American River 50 Mile ultramarathon in April. The blueprint for the training plan was from Competitor Magazine. I followed it pretty closely but added minor adjustments for preventative insurance. Running W, Th (hills), F, Su (long), M, with active rest on T and Sa (walking, biking, yoga). I complemented the training with preventative strength and core routines twice a week. The training plan peaked around 65-70 miles before tapering.

During week 7, I read about Zack Bitter‘s use of the OFM protocol to set an endurance running record and this led me down one of my many nutritional rabbit holes. After a week of reading all I could find on OFM and keto-adaptation as it related to endurance training, I decided to pull the plug on sugar and grains. I lowered my intake of carbohydrate to achieve nutritional ketosis in the attempt to become “fat-adapted”. Using your own fat stores for the bulk of your endurance training has several benefits but the two that interested me the most were the clean-burning aspect of fat when compared to the biobyproduct of burning sugar and the thought that if I did indeed train my body to favor fat as fuel I could run longer with more consistent energy.

I did my first training run without gels, without an oatmeal breakfast, and without a post-workout whey and fruit frenzy, up near Lake Tahoe on one serving of UCAN and one Vespa CV-25. It was slow. About 2 minutes slower than my marathon pace. My goal was to stay in my target aerobic heart rate throughout the adaptation (following Phil Maffetone‘s target calculator). At altitude, with no fuel, and with nagging knee issues, I had a fairly good justification for plodding along the Truckee river for 18 miles at a rate that would encourage a slug to feel competitive.

Over the course of the following weeks, I made sure I was doing everything I possibly could nutritionally to not compromise the transition. I went as far as having a blood lipid panel done and all markers came back well above or below where they should have been.

And, coming off of bone edema induced from too much hill running a year ago, I wanted to make sure that on the physical side, I was treating all possible issues either preventatively or at least in a manner that insured the degradation and wear rate on my body would have a reversibility component in it during recovery.

I have now done most long runs (20-26 milers) on a cup of coffee with coconut oil and occasionally some butter from grass-fed cows, water, and electrolytes (sodium heavy). Manageable but no upper gear. However, after the third week, it was easier. I had one 16 miler where I tested the OFM protocol: at mile 4 I had a vespa junior and a VFuel gel and then another hit at mile 10. Gel felt like rocket fuel. Upper gear back.

So am I fat-adapted? Closer, for sure. My blood ketone levels on most days around noon measure at .7 – 1.3 mM. I feel great but know that if I can get them closer to 2 mM there will be additional benefits. As it stands, I’m pretty confident that I am burning a much higher percentage of fat for fuel during runs.

Here are a list of sources that have helped. I plan to review/comment on each over the course of the blog.

Ben Greenfield
Peter Attia’s Eating Academy blog
Jeff Volek and Stephen Phinney

Transitional Aids:
-thyroid support
-sodium intake through broth and saltstick
greens perfect food
cultured organics
organic girl
-ginger, turmeric, dandelion root, green tea (traditional medicinals and tao of tea)
extreme endurance (or Hammer’s Anti-Fatigue Caps)
natural calm

Physical Therapy:
-foam rollers
rock tape
-patellar straps/supports
ice baths and cold showers

All the time:
-guided meditation (Bodhipaksa)

More on each of these to follow.