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

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