Running comes naturally to humans however there are some key running secrets used to optimise a natural running ability. Since our early hunter-gatherer days, we’ve had to run in order to capture food or get away from being food. We are built extremely well for long distance running with the ability to go long durations without ever stopping. The Greek’s have many stories of athletes and warriors that ran for days, the marathon is even named after Pheidippides who ran from Marathon to Athens to announce the defeat of the Persian’s. With the advance of sports science, we’ve taken running and endurance to the next level with ultramarathons and multiday runs covering hundreds of kilometers.
Getting to this point takes a lot of training and knowledge of some running secrets. Let’s look at how some of the worlds best do it.
In the early days of endurance sports science, the mantra was that the body needed copious amounts of carbohydrates to fuel the body to run for such long durations.This lead to an industry of sugar-filled drinks and people stuffing themselves with starchy foods leading up to a race. Although this goes against the basic science of our metabolism, many people followed this protocol for years – this is one of the key running secrets to take note of. Then one day, a man by the name Phillip Maffetone entered the endurance world and starting turning the whole thing on its head. He began taking athletes and converting their diets to high fat so that their bodies could better utilize this energy source and drastically lowering their target heart rates during training.
The switch from carbohydrates to fat confused many, but his athletes quickly saw a change in their performance and their wellbeing in a matter of weeks. Fat is considered to be the slow burner, as we use aerobic metabolism to breakdown fats for energy. This goes hand in hand with slow endurance exercise which is primarily aerobic. The more fat the athletes consumed along with a reduction in carbohydrates, the more their bodies adapted and became better at utilizing fat for energy. Since fat can produce many times the amount of ATP than carbohydrates, the athletes progressively gained more and more distance in training without feeling the need for a pick me up of sugar in a tube.
Although many athletes were annoyed by having to take a step down in their training capacity, Maffetone’s technique of working within a lower heart rate also showed to have profound positive effects on endurance capacity in the long run. He eventually summarized much of his testing and research into a very simple equation for a target heart rate during endurance training: 180-Age. This has since been known as the 180 formula. Maffetone suggests that to build your aerobic (endurance) capacity, you should not train over a heart rate of 180 minus your age. This keeps you in the aerobic fat burning zone and prevents you going into the anaerobic carbohydrate zone. Following this guideline, you progressively increase your mileage and speed as your body adapts and is able to push longer and faster without raising your heart rate. This adaptation allows the body to extend endurance exercise far longer before ever feeling fatigue, and without needed mass amounts of carbohydrates pre and peri-workout.
The other benefits to this method is that many athletes have reported reduced injuries, better sense of wellbeing, improved hormone status, improved blood glucose control, reduced inflammation and of course better performance. Keep in mind, this is just one of many methods that professional athletes have used. It’s up to you to find what works best for you. For the average endurance enthusiast looking to put down some decent mileage and maintain their weight and health, the Maffetone Method is a great place to start. Learn the running secrets from the best in their field
For more information on endurance training and Phil Maffetone’s methods, get his book The Endurance Handbook here.
Richard Game – BKin(Hons), Nutritionist, Holistic Health Coach, Strength & Conditioning Coach. Founder of The Primal Way