Can you complete/compete at the 140.6 distance w/ only 10 hrs of training per week?

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

The Difference

Those of you who have followed me through the years know NC was home to the Leo's for almost a decade. Our roots were here, my family live there, and we had become established. Being now in MN for almost two years we are slowly beginning to feel like this is home.

This past Sunday reinforced these emotions as I engaged the Twin Cities Marathon (TCM) for the third time. The first year (2002) I ran this beautiful course I helped my dearest to qualify for Boston. Mission was accomplished, but she then missed one step and blew out her knee. No Boston. She was told she would never run again, got microfracture surgery, endured intense rehab, and then by God's grace would go on to race two Ironman (IM) events. God is good...always.

Last year (2012) I decided I needed to jump back in and 'play' as MN was now my new home state. With about one long run under the belt I stared that blasted race clock down and just got under that 3 hr mark. In this year I knew very few Minnesotans and essentially went unnoticed. Drew Hollbrok was the highlight of the day as he nudged me through mile ~23 to keep on fighting. I love Drew.

Enter 2013. I was blown away by the verbal nudges, cheers, and support I received out there on the course. Was it the TEAM Tri kit that made me stand out like a ghoust? Was it that in about a year relationships had become real? I'd say a combination of the two promoted this incredible outpouring of encouragement. Being wired to encourage others and not expect anything in return I was humbled. I was left feeling very blessed, grateful, and at home. I could go on and list the number of people that I stared in the eye (and those I was unable to), but I'd likely miss a name or two. Therefore, I will simply say thank you to all who gave me a much needed nudge when in 'battle'.

That was the key take away from TCM 2013. MN felt more like home to me then never before. Not sure what that "MN Nice" thing is all about by the way.

Quick overview of TCM 2013. In a nutshell, I opted to commit to a very aggressive pace from the onset. In the first 17 or so miles I felt my groove to be at a ~6:15 to 6:25 pace, which would later set the stage for blown legs. I am still standing firm on the use of UCAN and the 160 calorie post from last week. The wheels fell off not because I under fueled, but rather, from pushing a pace my legs were not fully ready to enage. Lesson learned.

My decision to 'dare to fail' produced a lackluster close on that particular day. I will add that I hit a Clif Shot at about 18 miles as I knew where I was and that I needed to get a quick hit of simple sugars. I have come to learn at Ironman one must be willing to alter ones plans on the fly when things go wrong. Things go right and wrong at the IM distance.

I have already begun to plan out 2014 TCM and how I will dissect it. Can't wait to put in 3 to 4 months of training for my new 'IM'. Hoping to recommit to IM in about another decade or so.

In the meantime, I am determined to make MN my home, get the kiddos anchored, buy a house, and create relationships that made NC what it was to Anne and I for so many great years.

Think big, play hard, and dare to fail,
Coach L

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Twin Cities Marathon and 160 calories

This Sunday (Oct 6, 2013) I am poised to engage the Twin Cities Marathon (TCM) here in wonderful city of Minneapolis. In the almost 2 years of living here I have learned much while working at Life Time Fitness - St Louis Park.

Since working here at Life Time I have been challenged many times to rethink how one should fuel the body 'on and off the field'. Yesterday I had the unique privilege to sit down and discuss my fueling methods with Bob Seebohar (, Peter Kaufman (, and Seth Bronheim ( for the TCM. Every time I talk with these guys I am always left a more educated man. A special thanks to each of them for sharing concepts and methods that are still very new and uber promising to the large majority of endurance athletes today.

Before I elaborate on the post heading it is relevant to validate where I once was and where I am now in terms of fueling for game day.

Back in the early 90s I was lead to believe several things:

(1) One must replace what they burn when exercising. If you burn 250 calories an hour you need to replace those expended calories. You burn 400 calories you need to replace those 400. This mindset drove me to jam down gels and solids feverishly to replace what was lost.

(2) Powerbars, Gatorade, and GI stress are the norm. For years I stuffed my gut with sugary items like Powerbars and Gatorade as I was convinced this was the best option. Unfortunately, most of us reading this can relate to this downward spiral. I continued to push on and think that if I simply diluted this sugary junk I would get by. Again, those who have played this card realized this too was not optimal for long term success. Some can get away with this, but I would argue there is a better and more efficient way.

(3) Carboloading rules. Pre-marathon / Ironman pasta dinners. Loads of dinner rolls, plates worth of pasta, and a gut that looked like the Pilsbury DoughBoy would always be the result. The sad truth was that these pre-race meals extended into every meal, which promoted unnecessary water retention and an ongoing state of 'blah'.

This list could go on, but I won't to get to why I used '160 calories' for part of the post heading. On Sunday I plan to use approximately 160 calories for the duration of the TCM. The goal is to run close to 2:50 for this event, which would crush my marathon PR by 9 min set last year at the TCM. I share that to simply validate how long I plan on being out there and to reinforce how good 'my juice' is. More on that in a moment.

How in the world is that possible to run almost 3 hrs on only ~160 calories? Most subscribe to ingesting some form of carbohydrate rich fuel every 30 to 45 min, which can add up to many gels and ounces of Gatorade / Powerade. I was blown away when I visited PowerBar to see there recommendation on fueling frequency for their PowerGels:

When to eat PowerBar® PowerGel®

Consume 1 PowerGel® (110 calories) every 20-45 minutes during activity, followed by a few sips of water

When I looked to GU and their gels here is what they had to say:

How do I use it?
GU (100 calories) should be consumed 15 minutes before and then every 45 minutes thereafter.
GU Energy Gel Usage
Lastly, I took a look at Clif Gel:

"Generally, performance athletes need to consume 200-400 calories per hour from all sources, such as gels (110 calories), chews, bars, and drinks. We recommend consuming one packet 15 minutes before activity, followed by 1-2 packets per hour during activity to support your needs."
Okay, so from this quick overview of several popular gel options lets calculate the old school way of thinking of how to best fuel for a marathon. Anyone notice the use of old school above? For those throwing down a 4 hr marathon they would be consuming roughly 440 to 840 calories (Clif Gel - 1 to 2 gels / hr assumption) to 550 to 1,320 calories (Power Gel - 1 gel / 45 min to 3 gels / hr assumption).

I have played this kind of russian roulette with race fueling before and have had to either slow down to a slower run pace or simply walk. Both are not options for this Sunday.

Before I finish off this post I wanted to encourage each of you reading this that racing / training with less is certainly possible. Its one thing to see my claim above, but have I ever produced training sessions to support such a '160' mindset?

I will share two recent TCM race simulation workouts that will help validate that one can race / train hard with far less calories IF THEY ARE USING THE RIGHT FUEL.

In the workout below I used NO exogeneous fuels for the 1:30 hr run around the lakes with TEAM Tri. I repeat, no external fuels were used. This was made possible for several reasons. One being that I have come to learn much through super smart folks like Bob, Peter, and Seth noted above. I wish I could say I used UCAN before this workout, but did not. The only reason I was able to run hard for 1:30 hr with NO external fuel was a result of eating more metabolically efficient in the weeks and months prior to this run. More on that to come in the months to come. In a nutshell, one can teach their body to use more fat then stored / external carb sources. Can't wait to share with you the effect of 'eating clean' and 'eating garbage' for 1 week intervals. More to come.

As you can see below, average pace for this 14.32 mile run exceeds goal pacing for the TCM by ~13 sec per mile. Interestingly enough, this pace exceeded my Metabolic Efficiency Point (MEP) by about 10 bpm. This to be expected as this run was run much faster then goal marathon pace. More to come on this as well post the TCM.

In this last example I had the privilege of running with Mike Buenting and Peter Miller at the Capitol Run. Both accomplished runners who are much stronger then I. As I tell my athletes, however, if you want to run faster you need to run with faster folks. In this 2:23 (hr:min) run I used only ~5 oz of Cran Raz UCAN at 11 miles in. That equates to about 50 calories. Yes, 50 calories. This run proved to me that my metabolic efficiency was fine tuned and that my body was able to spare my stored muscle and liver glycogen and tap into the almost UNLIMITED fat stores we all have. In this run I ran 5 beats higher then my MEP. It is vital for athletes to take lab based data that you can derive from an Active Metabolic Assessment (AMA) and apply them to the real world conditions outside. 

Lastly, prior to this run I had two servings of plain UCAN (220 calories) with 1/2 scoop of DaVinci Chocolate Whey Protein (70 calories) with about 20 oz of water. This was consumed 30 min prior to the start of the Capitol Run. My breakfast was 4 eggs, ~2 tb of Olive Oil, ~1 tb of butter, and crushed red pepper to taste - I go heavy. 4 cups of dark coffee as a legit chaser. This breakfast was consumed about 2 hrs prior to start time. 

It is also important to note that I kept electrolytes steady throughout this run by using Endurolytes and ingested Anti-Fatigue caps every 30 to 45 minutes. Both are Hammer Nutrition products.

I hope this post has encouraged and challenged you to think a bit outside the box. Please take note that it takes time to modify your eating behaviors to promote metabolic efficiency. I am far from perfect and still partake in ice cream and homeade cookies, but 90% of my calories are 'clean'. I have my wife to thank for that. 

I urge each of you to read Metabolic Efficiency Training - Teaching the Body to Burn More Fat  by Bob Seebhohar and also trying UCAN. These two arrows in your quiver will be sure to take your game to the next level. 

Poised to play hard Sunday! Looking forward to sharing my findings from the 2013 TCM with you all. 

Enjoy the process, 
Coach Lance

Friday, January 25, 2013

What is your potential?

That is the question that we all want answered. What is our ceiling? Top 3 AG finish at the local tri? Kona slot in 2016? 4:45 at the marathon distance? For me I am trying to push the limit for 2013 at the marathon distance. I have never trained for an open marathon, but want to this year. Running 26 off the bike has been the sole focus.

So, how fast can I go? How fast can you go?

For 2013 I am setting my mind on going 2:50 at Twin Cities. I'd like to go faster, but I know many variables will need to happen for that to materialize. Is a 2:50 in my legs? More importantly, is my mind strong enough?

For this post I am going to pin point the metabolic side of things. Is my body physiologically able to hold a 6:30 pace for that distance? It is critically important to validate a baseline and so I did just that this week. Poised with my LactatePro and strips I set the treadmill at 9.3 MPH and 1% grade. Every 15 min I'd record HR response and lactate accumulation. Below are my results:

The logic behind this test is to validate lactate accumulation and HR trending against a fixed workload. From this very simple test I can see that I am months away from toeing the line at Twin Cities Marathon and pushing a 6:30 pace. Why? Please take note that HR drift certainly took place, but did stabilize at 45 min. Lactate began to drive high, but also stabilized. My goal is to continue to develop my energy systems so as to rely more and more on fat stores, which would produce less lacate (less reliance on CHO stores [carbohydrate stores - finite]). Moreover, I want to see HR trending that goes more like 152 , 154, and 153 vs. the trending seen above. Lactate trending that went 3.0, 2.9, 2.5 would leave me feeling far more confident in a 6:30 pacing goal as well. More quality training is required. The good news is I have 6+ months before go time.

The key is to create a method of assessing your current fitness level that allows you to validate where you are physiologically and to also refine your goals. I hope this simple baseline test will help you design tests that will help steer you in the right direction.

In the months to come I will be returning to this same protocol to see where my training is taking me.

Think big friends, train smart, and have fun.
Coach L

Wednesday, January 16, 2013


Like a kid in a candy store I am jittery with excitement as I am poised to share the next block of data for your perusal. Today I engaged the treadmill at Life Time Fitness - St Louis Park, MN with HEED in my tummy and an appetite to tackle the same protocol from Jan 10, 2013. Working through the 8.9 to 10.9 MPH progression works the mind and body for sure.

For this test I took on 1 scoop of HEED within 24 oz of water. Within 10 min I was on the tread and working the belt. For what its worth, my gut was not as settled as it was when rolling with UCAN. I have used HEED previously in training, but was never able to validate substrate (fat vs carbohydrate utilization) preference until working at Life Time Fitness.

Below you will see that there was a stark difference between the two tests:

Please take a few minutes to see the significant difference between substrate use between the UCAN and HEED tests. For purposes of this post I want to zero in solely on the Training Phase (TP). First the similarities. You will note that HR response was actually pretty similar for both. That is where the similarities stop friends. By stage 3 (9.7 MPH) my body began to shift towards carbohydrates over fat for fuel. This can be seen by the RQ value of .84 (for more on RQ please refer to my previous post). By stage 4 (10.1 MPH) my body was happy to sink its teeth in carbs vs. fat to fuel the intensity I was driving. From that point forward there was no turning back. You will note that by the final stage I was only pulling 12.7% from fat. The rest was from carbohydrates, which are finite in supply.

Shift focus for a moment to the UCAN test and you will see that my body never went beyond an RQ of .84. That is remarkable. Please take note that at the same HR (minus a beat) my body was using 54% fat for energy and only ~13% fat while using HEED.

Please keep in mind that this is only two data points on one guy. The validity of these findings would be strengthened if I had 500+ more samples to pull from. I lack the funding and time to support such research ;). In the weeks to come I will continue to consume other brands and see what happens against the variables noted above.

Hope this post makes you question your fueling preferences. One last thought friends. The reason I am pushing a pace and protocol like the one above is to make one think how powerful this product would be at Ironman and Half Ironman intensity (~50 to 75% max VO2). I can't wait to start testing this product at low end Ironman intensity. Can you imagine delving into 75% fat stores while pushing 200 watts? Or at 7:30 pace? By the numbers I am seeing I am left to imagine 85% fat use and the remaining coming from carbohydrates. Gitty up to that! This is the stuff that makes me envision setting an IM PR of 9 flat some day. LETS ROLL!

Train smart, think big,
Coach L

Friday, January 11, 2013

Generation UCAN

For years I have experimented with various energy/fueling sources. Everything from Gatorade to CarboPro to Hammer have worked through my gut at one time. I have also tried Infinit, GU, Endurox, PowerBar, Clif, Sharkies, Stinger Waffles, Gummy Bears, packs of honey, Sport Beans, etc. Oh, oatmeal creme pies too. Thanks for the reminder Old Bull! ;)  My stomach lining has engaged almost everything out there. I have suffered from all forms of gastric shut down and have survived to talk about it.

In the last two or so years I have started to play with Generation UCAN. I have not raced with it, but several of my athletes have and done very well with it.

Since moving to MN and landing at Life Time Fitness in St. Louis Park I have been given the unique opp to really dive in with this stuff. For those of you who have not tried UCAN I want to make sure I explain WHY I am committing to this product. Below is a quick overview of the positives (taken directly from their website -

Generation UCAN, powered by SuperStarch, stabilizes blood sugar and minimizes insulin response, delivering several scientifically validated benefits:
•   Optimized performance with steady energy when you need it, without the spike and       crash of sugar and maltodextrin based products. 
•   Sustained energy with time-released delivery of glucose, keeping you above baseline       longer. 
•   Enhanced fat burn allowing you to improve body composition as you burn fat for fuel     during your workout and keep burning fat while you recover due to suppressed insulin       response. 
•  Speedier recovery as your body is able to use protein to repair and restore your       muscles rather than for energy, since blood sugar is stable.
•   No gastric distress, because SuperStarch is a large molecule that passes through the       stomach quickly and is digested slowly in the intestines.

For the next few months I will be experimenting with UCAN using various protocols. Below you will find the data I collected from the test I did today. Before we look at the data I want to make a few things clear:

1. I am taking in the UCAN (1 serving - Plain) 10 to 15 min prior to the tests.

2. I am engaging each of these tests in a semi-fasted state; 5 to 12 hrs w/ no food.

3. I ate too many Christmas cookies in 2012. I am suggesting that I could be eating a bit cleaner and will be to see how this will further enhance the UCAN effects.

4. My training regimen has been fairly inconsistent for the last 8 months. I state this solely to show how UCAN can make a serious impact on substrate utilization. Combine cleaner eating and a more structured training program and results will increase accordingly.

5. I am using new testing protocols that Life Time Fitness (LTF) has created in the past 5 or so months. I have had the unique privilege to play a role in developing these with Jeff Burkhart, Dan Hubley, Jeff Burkhart, Jen Keskey, Paul Kriegler, and Sean Sutter. I am also using new methods we will be incorporating in Performance Testing at Life Time Fitness in the months to come.

Below you will see the data I collected from todays test. You will see the "Warm Up Phase" (WP) and the "Testing Phase" (TP) w/ RQ, Fat Utilization (% of fat being used), and HR response. Before I dig into this I want to address some basic exercise science. When one exercises at a very low intensity they will be more likely to use more fat then stored liver glycogen, blood glucose, and muscle glycogen. This intensity will present an RQ (Respiratory Quotient - ratio of oxygen consumed against carbon dioxide expired) ranging from .50 to .84. The lower the RQ the more your body is using fat to fuel the exercise you are engaging at the moment.

When one increases his/her intensity the reverse will be seen. A shift will take place that will rely upon carbohydrates as noted previously; blood glucose, muscle glycogen, and liver glycogen. In this case one will see RQ values that lean toward .85 to 1.01+.

Here comes the fun part. Below you will see the data from my Jan 10, 2013 test. Please take note that at LTF we have adopted a 5 min recovery post the warm up phase and we have found that clients will be more able to tap into fat stores as a result. This has proven effective at also driving the sympathetic nervous system, which clears out some readily available blood glucose. So, below between the WP and TP I took about a 5 minute rest before jumping head long into the Testing Phase.

The purpose of this post is not to glorify myself, but rather to point to how a product like UCAN can take your potential to a completely NEW level. As you can see below my RQ values are significantly lower despite HIGHER HR values within the TP compared to the WP. That is crazy friends and defies what  one would expect to see! Let me clarify. Look at the final stage of 10.9 MPH (1% grade). In the WP I posted an RQ of .88 and an HR of 170 (37.7% fat use). In the TP I posted a lower RQ (.84) despite an HR that was 9 beats higher! Gitty up! The battle axe here is that I am still not at the the .85 mark even. For those new to this talk the RQ value of .85 reflects a 50/50 burn. The body is burning 50% fat and 50% carbs! You will take note that my body was STILL DERIVING 53% OF THE ENERGY FROM FAT STORES AND THE REMAINING 47 FROM CARBS. This is the stuff that gets me all fired up as a coach and athlete. So, one can hypothesize that IF I build my legs to be stronger and MORE fatique resistent I could theoretically push a pace of 5:30/mile for 5, 10, and 20+ miles. We all know it is process to build BOTH the legs and the metabolic system to support such intensity. If that does not get your gears churning in your cranium I am not sure what will. Twin Cities marathon 2013 is so calling my name right now.

I posted incorrectly on Facebook this week that I was limited by my cardiovascular system. I meant to say that my 'tap out' point was tired or weak legs. So, please commit to strength training too friends. Don't get caught in the 'more cardio' strangle hold.

Hope some of you are encouraged by this data. I will be doing this test again in the weeks to come using other fuel sources to see what happens. My hope is to find that UCAN trumps the rest, but we will need to wait and see. 

Next week I will be trying out Infinit. Will post again by Wednesday.

Train smart and think big!
Coach L