Animal-Based, Ketogenic Ultra Runner Crushes 100 Mile World Record · #129 ft. Zach Bitter


– [Announcer] Welcome
to the H.V.M.N. Podcast. What we do with our bodies today becomes the foundation
of who we are tomorrow. This is Health Via Modern Nutrition. (energetic music)
Coming up in this episode, Zach Bitter. – ‘Cause you see this,
sometimes people say, “Well if you’re gonna do a
ketogenic diet and make it work, “you’ve got to be strict, “and you’ve got to be
strict 100% of the time.” And that may be true if you’re using it for what we were chatting
a bit about before, for therapeutic reasons, for something like epileptic seizures, type two diabetes, and
all that sort of stuff. But when we’re talking about athletes who are metabolically healthy, I think there’s some flexibility there, and it becomes less of a black and white, all fat or all carb, and
more of a sliding scale, where how far do you
want to slide that scale over towards fat or how far do you want to slide it over towards carbohydrate? So I like to say, I’m aiming to be as fat adapted as I need to
for the event I’m training for, versus as fad adapted
as I possibly can get. – [Announcer] Geoff, take it away. – Zach, really great to have
you on the H.V.M.N. Podcast and before we get started, I need to congratulate you on setting two world records recently. So you have the fastest
100 miler and you also, I think on that same attempt, basically did the longest
distance ever covered in 12 hours. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe those are
the two accomplishments. Again, very, very insane. This level of performance endurance there. – Yeah, well thanks so
much for having me on, and thanks for the kind words too. But yeah, the world record was
at and where I have it now, it’s kind of in a unique
spot where you can kind of double dip and go for the hundred mile and then if you have any bit of legs left, it behooves you to stay out there and see what you can do for 12 hours. So it’s an interesting kind of set up. – Yeah. And then to give our
listeners a sense of the speed and that distance you were
recovering, you’re averaging, I believe like right
around six minutes a mile, maybe even less than that
over that a hundred mile run. – Yeah, it came out to, I
think, just under 6:48 per mile was the average pace for the
hundred miles side of it. – And I think most people might
be able to run half a mile at a seven minute pace, maybe a mile if you’re relatively fit. And then doing that for
a hundred times in a row, or over 12 hours is
quite an accomplishment. – Yeah, it is kind of interesting. I think people don’t always, at least the general running community, the ultra running community
can kind of run the numbers. They kind of have an idea of what a hundred miles is and stuff. Most people who are running
your traditional distances, they don’t always think, well, what is an 11:19
for a hundred miles? But when you break it down
as kind of the pace per mile, or it was 20 minutes,
some high seconds, 5Ks, 32 of them in a row, or
four marathons at 2:58 that’s when they can kind of start to connect the dots a little bit in terms of kind of what
the effort was I guess. – Yep. I’m especially excited to talk with you because I think you cover
and can speak highly towards a couple of key
topics that we talk about on the program here. One is low carb, high fat nutrition, and what that means in
terms of metabolic health but also in terms of performance. And I would say the other big
topic that we like to cover is a high end human performance. How do we enhance ourselves, and I think from a confident perspective, being the best in the world at something definitely surpasses that mark there. Perhaps the way to get started here is, little bit of your background. I mean, how does one
decide to be the fastest a hundred miler in the world? – It’s funny, ’cause I think you end up in that position at some point. You don’t necessarily plan for it. But for me, I got into running
as early as in middle school. It was my first kind of exposure to endurance events in general. And that was more or less just because I realized fairly quickly that I could be kind of near
the front if I ran distance, or I can be near the
back if I ran sprints. So as a middle school aged
boy you kind of gravitate towards what your interests are, which tend to be what you’re better at. So I had a little bit of maybe a nudge in that direction from those experiences. And then, in high school and
college I started getting more and more interested
in the sport as a whole. And by the end of my college experience I started getting really interested in just kind of the training methodology and the hows and the whys. Rather than just going for a run for the sake of going for a run or doing a workout ’cause the
coach said do this workout, trying to figure out, well, why would we do that workout then, why do we put this here, and where does recovery
fit into that equation? And all that sort of stuff. So one of the biggest takeaways I had during my college running experience was that my favorite workout
of the week was the long run. So after college, when
I kind of was removed from some of that structure
of the team atmosphere, and the coach and all that stuff, I started kind of just gravitating to doing more of the stuff I liked versus what I felt like I had to do to meet peak potential
in a specific event. – So when was your event in college? – I did mostly like 5K and 10K for track, and then 8K for cross country. – [Geoff] So relatively short. So you are not a marathoner in college? – No, in fact, so you can do a marathon in a subset of college sports, but not necessarily in your
traditional division three, division two, division one programs. Typically don’t go past 10 kilometers, at least not yet anyway, but that’s an interesting
discussion point too ’cause I think it kind of sets the stage for where American distance
runners end up in the marathon versus other countries
where they sometimes start much earlier targeting that distance, but yeah, mostly 5K, 10K stuff in college and then after college I
explored longer distance running, longer, longer distance maybe. And it just was a logical,
if you can call it logical, a logical move was to go into
ultra running eventually. So it’s kind of how I got into that. – I presume that you’re
racking up distance, and you realize, okay, I’m
a decent marathon runner. Okay, this is handleable. I want to do a 50K I want to do a 100K. Okay, let’s do a 100 miles. Where were some of the key
benchmarks or checkpoints as you went on to be a
world class ultra runner? – After college, I kind of focused it on just building up my aerobic
base more or less, or my volume. I got intrigued by a high
mileage training plan, if you want to call it a plan. At first, it was just
doing a lot of kind of moderately low intensity
runs at a high volume and just to kind of keep interest, I would jump in marathons or
put marathons on the schedule, but I never really did
what I would consider a well structured marathon buildup, where I went through the full
phases of training in a way that I would be really
faithful in the approach producing my fastest potential time. But I did a few of those before I jumped on my first ultra marathon and that have done them since then, as long hard workouts in preparation for a longer ultra marathons. But I would say relative
to my college experience, the marathon seemed a lot
more interesting to me than say a 5K or the 10K, and that definitely bridged the gap between those traditional
collegiate distances, and then doing my first ultra marathon, which was actually a 50 miler. So, I’ve done some 50Ks as well, but I actually did 50 miler first, and that was somewhat just happenstance. I lived in Wisconsin at the time, and I kind of stumbled upon the fact that there was actually
a 50 miler in the state. I had no clue at the time. And when I saw that it was like, well, I think I was 24 at the time. And my first thought was, I’ll do this one just
to see what it’s like, but then I probably won’t do
another one until I’m like 30. And I’m 33 now, just
so your listeners know. But yeah, so then I did that and I thought that was such
an interesting experience. By that same time next
year I was kind of all in and I was starting to do training for ultra marathon specifically, and being a little more
specific about my training and periodizing things a little more versus just going out
there and running along every day or whenever I
felt good enough to do that. – When did you realize that, hey, I’m not just a serious
amateur pseudo-professional long distance runner, hey,
I could be the world’s best. – It took me a little bit
of time probably to realize the depth that there was
in ultra marathon running, in terms of just the variety
of events you could do. My introduction in was just trails, and I guess my thought,
naively as it may have been, was that ultra marathons
are just more or less done on the trails for the most part. And in North America that’s
a pretty big majority of the ultra marathon running. Which is interesting ’cause
when you look at the history of the sport in North America, it actually was the opposite
if you go back further, the road and the flatter
stuff got a lot of momentum. The trail was this really tiny,
almost unheard of community. – So like the Hard 100? – Yeah, the Western States
and those types of events. – So I think probably, if folks have listened to
David Goggins or Jeff Browning who we work with those trail races, so I guess that might’ve been one route, but it sounded like in
the history of the sport it used to be more flat and track based and there was some resurgence of interests are on the trail and road running? – Yeah. And you can even go back
into, I think, the late 1800s, they would do like six day events and timed events in Madison Square Garden. And I think it actually got
fairly popular for awhile, where they’d have a
lot of people out there and there was a whole lot
of other stuff going on. It was almost like a circus
and there would be betting on runners and things like that. So it was kind of interesting
to see some of that stuff. But yeah for me it was, I kind
of stumbled upon this idea or this principle of
specificity of training. And when you get into distances
as long as a hundred miles, terrain and environment and weather play a huge role for that specificity. Because if you’re better
prepared for a specific weather or a specific terrain,
it just compounds itself over the course of a hundred miles. And you know, I jumped
into some flatter road type ultra marathons near the end of 2013, and upon that kind of
introduced me into this event in Phoenix called the Desert
Solstice Track Invitational. So the race directors for that
actually reached out to me and asked if I wanted to come
do it at the end of 2013, and I was interested,
’cause I’d actually just saw that there’s a guy named John
Olsen who, at that point, had just broke the American
record for a hundred miles. And he was also the first American to go under 12 hours for a hundred miles. So I had just done a road 50
miler a few weeks earlier, and ran five hours and
12 minutes for that one. And my thought was if I can do 50 in 5:12, I can probably go through 50
during a hundred miler in 5:45, and then hold on for dear life and squeak under John Olsen’s time. So, that was kind of my goal on that day. And I ended up running
11 hours and 47 minutes, and it took about 12 minutes off his time. And that’s what kind of got
me really interested in, well how fast can I run a hundred miles when I’m really hyper focused on peaking for that specifically? – So you weren’t even training for world class, record level performance, but you kind of sized
it up and you’re like, hey, this is within my capacity. If I just go for it, I could be close. And you just rolled into it, and then you just started doing it. – Yeah, it was actually funny. I was actually in really
good shape that year because I was training, I had one the Tussey Mountainback 50 mile, which is the road 50 mile championships, the prior year in 2012, so my plan that half of
the year was to go back and try to win it again. And I went back, and I ran a faster time on a slightly more difficult course, but I lost first place and got
second by about four minutes to a guy named Matt Flaherty
who is a solid runner himself. So I kind of had this
mixed emotions about it, where it was like, okay, I ran
faster than I did last year, I went under the previous course record, but I was second place
instead of first place. So I didn’t really know
how to feel about that. But then the race that I ran the 5:12 at was actually like 13 days later, I just kind of jumped into it randomly and that’s when I think I
kind of connected the dots, as to my training had gotten
me very, very prepared for flat road or flat track type stuff, and that if I were really
gonna maximize my performance, it would benefit me to
go to a race like that, so it matched my training. – And some of that happened
just ’cause my roommate at the time was one of my old
college friends and teammates and he was training for a marathon, so we would do some speed
workouts together and stuff. So I got in pretty good
shape just from running a lot with him and doing some of that stuff. And that kind of got
me to that race in 2013 and maybe I accidentally put together a really good training block. – Yeah, interesting. I want to talk about
nutrition a little bit, but perhaps to give folks who have a little bit of amateur
running experience like myself. What does a typical
volume per week look like? I mean, you’re doing like
a hundred miles a week. I have no idea how to
train for a hundred miler. – Yeah, I mean, you see so much variety. You can see people with
what I would consider relatively low volume approaches to it. I personally like a
higher volume approach. So if you look at just my running after I got out of college,
or for the last decade or so, I basically have averaged
about a hundred miles a week. I usually range between
5,000 and 5,500 miles in a year’s time. So it can be a little
above that sometimes, or right at it, or a little below it. But it comes out to about that, a hundred miles a week on average. – And within that, you
have phases of the year where you’re doing less and
phases where you’re ramping up. So when I peaked for this last a hundred mile 12 hour effort, my key training phase
was this four week block where I had three buildup
weeks and a de-load week. And a de-load week’s just where you kind of reduce volume and intensity. And that was like about
130 miles, 150 miles, a 75 mile week and then
another 150 mile week. And that’s kind of what
a peak training block would look like when I’m
really getting in a good spot and training and both
physically and mentally really motivated to go after something. – And internally within that week, are you doing a couple
of long, 20, 30 milers and doing three, four, five, 10 milers? How are you splitting up the volume? – Yeah, I’m usually
backloading it a little bit to that Saturday, Sunday, and doing at least a relatively long run on one of those two days, and then a longer long run on the other. So I had a couple of weekends
where it was like a 20, 30. I had another weekend, I
think, that was 28 and a 27. Yeah and I’m trying to specify it as close to the course too. So being that this last
one was on a track, I was just doing it on this like 400 meter dirt track
near my house. (laughs) And it is interesting, ’cause
I live in Phoenix, Arizona. So you know we were still
in the thick of summer, so a lot of those runs were ending above a hundred degrees and
it’s both good and bad, I think. You’re dealing with
the monotony of running on a 400 meter loop, but when it’s that hot it’s not
the end of the world I think because then you can just
have your cooler sitting there and you can grab more water and cool off. You have ice and stuff
right there for you. So it makes it a little
easier logistically at least. – Well you planted a seed there, which is the mental game of doing such a long endurance sport. And I think that’s something
that I think about a lot. The mental state, the mental game of doing
something like this. So let’s plant a seed
there to talk about that. But before that I want
to talk about nutrition. So we have a good understanding of, okay, your trajectory as a runner, as you’re scaling up the
volume and realizing, hey, I have a potential
to be the world’s best at these types of a
hundred miler range races. But on the nutrition side
it’s quite interesting, because probably as you were
being taught and coached through college, the dogma
is carb load, carb load, you know, shoot sugar
gels and carbohydrate gels as you’re doing these races. And you’re well known
to be primarily fueling with a ketogenic, or a low
carb, high fat protocol. Can you talk us through how, why did you stumble upon some
of the ketogenic principles and how you started experimenting? – My exposure to it was almost accidental but very well timed,
when I look back at it. I first got interested
about eight years ago and one of the reasons I
even found out about it was, when I was doing some of my training, I started feeling a little guilty about how many hours I was
spending out there running. And I thought, well how can
I add to that experience? So I started listening to
podcasts while I was running, so I could at least
learn while I’m doing it, not feel like I was just
spending 20 hours a week sometimes running and
not having anything else to report back about. (laughs) And that kind of gave me
the idea that even existed, a ketogenic diet, or a
high fat low carb diet. Ironically enough around that same time, I noticed that when I was
doing my high level training and racing relatively frequently, it was just very
difficult to manage sleep, manage energy levels over
the course of the day. And those were kind of red flags to me, in the sense that I’m in my mid-20s, I’m supposed to be as
strong as I am in my life. And here I am sleeping worse
than I did when I was younger. I was on a roller coaster
energy-wise when I was at work, and you’re just kind of
tied to that nutrition, you’d be eating basically all day long to sustain a big training load
and work and all that stuff. And it just didn’t seem sustainable to me. So I was in a bit of a crossroads ’cause I knew that the
training had a role in that. I could have probably gotten
away with my nutritional plan had I not been running as much as I was, but I was enjoying that. Like I wasn’t miserable running, and I wasn’t miserable racing. So I was hesitant to kind of give up on that component right away, without exploring some other options. So the other logical option to me was, let’s see if I can
manipulate my diet a bit and deviate away from
what I would consider a very well-formulated
high carbohydrate diet. I wasn’t eating a bunch of junk
food or anything like that. It was very much what you’d expect someone who is interested in nutrition
and reading the literature on sports nutrition
for endurance athletes, that 60, 70% of your intake
coming from carbohydrates, the fruits, vegetables, whole
grains, that sort of stuff. And basically what I did then is when I got to the end
of my season that year, I had a little bit of an
opportunity where I didn’t have any real focused training
for about a month. So I decided I’m gonna try this now and kinda see how I feel
and if worst case scenario it doesn’t work, and I just deviate back, then at least it’s not interrupting a big block of training I’m
doing preparing for a race. So the biggest eye opening thing for me was once I got going into it,
a couple of weeks into it, I started sleeping
through the night again. So instead of waking up three,
four, five times a night to use the bathroom or
waking up wide awake and having to just restlessly
lay there for 30 minutes before I’d fall back asleep. Just like in high school
and college I’d go to bed, and basically sleep through the night, wake up eight, nine hours later. So that was kind of a
really big indicator to me that there’s something to
that or there was something in the way my nutrition
was behaving with my body, before and within the context
of a high fat, low carb diet. – And it sounds like you also pretty rapidly keto adapted, right? ‘Cause I think a lot of
people that are transitioning from more of a
carbohydrate-driven metabolism to more of a fat-driven metabolism, they’ll have the keto flu, or they’ll have some lower
performance or restlessness. But this might be due to the fact that you probably were
dipping into a ketonic state as you’re doing these long races and you’re maybe just a
little bit more fat-adapted from your exercise load. That made it easier transition. I’m just curious in terms
of your transition there. – You can definitely move
your level of fat adaptation just through training. The reason that that’s not an
excuse in my opinion would be, you can move the needle
a little bit with that and there’s probably an ability to other to move the needle
quite a bit with that, but it’s not nearly as much
as you can move the needle when you’re treating your
nutrition with that as well. And we saw that in the FASTER study. The FASTER study, I’m sure you’ve probably heard about it or looked into it. – The Australian study from Louise Burke? – No so that was actually a different one, the FASTER study was Volek. Volek–
– Yes. – In 2014 and what they did, and the reason I find it interesting is, they took a 10 person high-fat cohort and a 10 person high-carb cohort, and they made sure that both of the groups were highly trained athletes. So we could basically assume
that they had maximized their ability to improve fat
oxidation through training. None of these guys were off to college. None of these guys were unfit. So when they did the study, the high-fat go heart was burning well above textbook levels. Before that you’d look in the textbooks, and you’d be like, if you’re a freak, you might burn 0.9 or maybe
1.0 grams per minute of fat. Whereas I think I produced
like 1.56 grams per minute or something like that,
and I wasn’t the highest. There’s guys who are
in the 1.8 range even. So you’re looking at like
a 50% improvement in that. – You were a subject in that study? – Yep. M-hm, yeah.
– That’s super cool. I got confused with the Nova
study versus the FASTER study. But yes, a lot of people cite
that study, so that’s cool. I didn’t know that you were a subject. Very interesting. – At that point I was convinced enough that what I was doing was
working for me at least. So to get kind of the
tangible numbers to say, okay, this is what’s
happening was useful for me. And the other thing that
I found really useful was it also kinda showed me that there is a bit of wiggle room there. It’s not all black and white. You don’t have to be like… You see this, sometimes people say, “Well if you’re gonna do a ketogenic diet “and make it work,
you’ve got to be strict, “and you’ve got to be
strict 100% of the time.” And that may be true if you’re using it for what we were chatting
a bit about before, for therapeutic reasons, for something like epileptic
seizures, type two diabetes, and all that sort of stuff. But when we’re talking about athletes who are metabolically healthy, I think there’s some flexibility there, and it becomes less of a black and white, all fat or all carb, and
more of a sliding scale, where how far do you want to slide that scale over towards fat or how far do you want to slide it over towards carbohydrate? So I like to say, I’m
aiming to be as fat adapted as I need to for the
event I’m training for, versus as fad adapted
as I possibly can get. And the reason I say this,
’cause going into that study, I mean there was a washout period where they wanted us to
make sure we were at 10% or lower carbohydrate intake, which isn’t too difficult
because that’s about what I average over
the course of the year, when you figure in my
lowest carbon intakes and my highest carbon intakes combined. But I knew in the two years before that I was doing phases of
training where I would flex my carbohydrates up to maybe
around 20% or even sometimes a little over that if it
was a really big session. So knowing that I was able to do that and still be fat-adapted to the rate I was was encouraging for me that I
was kind of on the right path and it just gave me a little
bit of info into how I can kind of structure things going forward. So yeah, that kind of highlights I guess the rest of that story a bit. I did that kind of four weeks
of an uninterrupted phase where I was really strict. I did notice a little
bit of a performance dip in those first four weeks, but it was a non-factor
’cause I was just running basically just some off-season
miles, more or less. It was interesting though
’cause I’d go out for a run and I’d be like, okay
this feels like a pace that I would be around
a seven minute mile. Then I would look at the watch at the end, it turns out I was running an 8:30 pace or something like that. But after about a month, and I had some runs in
the middle of that too that were right on point, so it wasn’t even an everyday thing. But after about four weeks,
that basically normalized. So then it just became a
puzzle to solve that was like, okay, now what happens if I
stay that low all the time? When I reintroduce some
real specific sessions that are more short
interval, or VO2 max based, or threshold running type paces. That’s when I started to kind of see where there was maybe a
little bit of wiggle room for someone training as hard as I am or maybe you could say
a lifestyle component where the whole like 30, 50 grams a day is more applicable for
someone who is leading a more traditional lifestyle, or they’re going to the
gym a few times a week, or they’re dealing with
something therapeutic versus someone who’s a highly
trained endurance athlete. I think that window shifts closer to like maybe 100, 150 grams a day. Then you can also… I’ll flex up above that sometimes, too, but I’m usually balancing it out with easier recovery days
where I don’t need it. The way I try to describe to people who are kind of new to it and are trying to wrap their
heads around the whole thing is I say like, “Just think
of the normal food pyramid, “like the macronutrient
ratios you’re likely gonna get “from something like that, “and then just kind of
flip it on its head.” So I wouldn’t follow a high carb diet and eliminate fat altogether, but if I’m following a high carb diet, by default I’m gonna have to be eating relatively low amounts of fat and relatively modest or
low amounts of protein. I mean, relatively modest
amounts of carbohydrates, modest amounts of protein, and then that foundation is in fat. I think that makes a ton
of sense when we’re talking about events that are a
hundred miles in duration, because your race pace
intensity is very low relative to some of those faster
workouts that are gonna be maybe more specific to
like a 3K or a 5K distance. – Or you’re not throwing up weights, they’re not doing like a CrossFit, a high intensity interval training type of an exercise for competition. But I think you articulate
the nuance quite well. Something that’s referenced, something that I want to just
clarify within the community ’cause I think within the
nutrition Twitter space, I think people are very dogmatic, like, okay, we think carbs are evil. Don’t eat anything, or like, fat is evil. You’re gonna get a heart attack if you just eat a lot of fat. I think you put it quite nicely. For folks with metabolic syndrome, they are actually quite
metabolically inflexible, so they likely do need to be more strict with their macro ratios. Okay, you want to constrain more tightly. But as you are going
towards a healthier side and have metabolic flexibility, your system literally can
handle different substrates just as efficiently. Then for certain types of
performance attributes, you want availability of all
the different pros and cons of each substrate for what you’re doing. I think essentially
for a sporting context, well, sometimes you do want a little bit higher carbohydrate, you do want to maximize
your glycogen repletion after a long workout. That’s where you might want to consider adding a little bit more carbohydrate. – Yeah, one of the things
I find really interesting that I’ve kind of learned
along the way, too, is it seems like there’s no more nuance or more thought in kind of
the time between sessions. So if I go intense enough
that my body essentially fails before my fuel substrate fails, then I just can’t drive
energy demand high enough to deplete my muscle glycogens or my muscle glycogen and liver glycogen. So in a scenario like
that where you’re likely not gonna come back and do
another session like that until the next day or maybe even further, there’s plenty of time to
replenish the relatively smaller amounts of lost glycogen
through fats and proteins. Versus a training plan like mine where I might go out in the morning and in two hours with like
30 minutes at threshold, and then four or five
hours later go to the gym and do some strength work and maybe an easy second
jog or something like that. So that window is so
tight between sessions, that volume is so high, you’re just not giving
yourself quite enough time. It’s this weird balance
where the intensity is just high enough that
you can start dipping into your glycogen stores
in a significant way, but just low enough that you
can do loads and loads of it. It’s really kind of a gray area I think, and it’s an area where
sometimes I question, are humans really
supposed to be doing this? (both laughing) – But I think what you’re describing is really the future of sport performance. You have to think about the
actual physical training and the technique in conjunction
with your nutrition load. That’s the one, two punch. You’re exerting energy through exercise, you’re intaking energy
through your consumption. I think I would say in the
previous paradigm of sport, you think about nutrition off to the side and you think about your
training off to the side. You might cycle your training, and maybe if you’re not sophisticated, you only cycle your nutrition. But I think where more and
more sophisticated athletes, and it sounds like
you’re very much sort of the cutting edge here, you very much integrate how you think about your energy intake
against your training load and your periodize both synergistically. – Yeah. It makes sense when you kind of just scale it down to what it is, where my lifestyle as an
extreme endurance athlete varies significantly
depending on where I am during the season or the year. So for me to plug and play
a very exact nutrition plan day in and day out every day of the year wouldn’t make as much sense
as having it kind of flow, like you said, with the plan itself. So if you’re doing periodized training and you’re doing significant buildups and then significant recovery
phases and things like that, I think there’s a lot more you can do from a variability
standpoint when it comes to both the macro nutrients as well as just the general energy intake. – So maybe I think my
conclusion from this thread here is that I understand why
some people on Twitter or social media are pretty
dogmatic around keto is good, and I think you probably
need that counter swing to pull people away from
the current FDA food, or USDA food pyramid where it’s like, eat 70% of your calories from carbs. I think there’s good reason why you’re seeing obesity
metabolic syndrome rise, ’cause you’re feeding a lot of people processed, refined carbohydrates. So I think there is some kind
of balance needed to say, hey, no, fats could be useful. Carbs are not necessarily great, but I think once you pass
that initial, let’s say, hard reshift in thinking, then I think you can potentially start
reintroducing some nuance. So folks who are listening to the program that are considering low carb, high fat, or ketogenic diet for
therapeutic, or weight management, or body composition, or
metabolic syndrome use cases, you probably need to be strict, ’cause you need a hard shift
and reset your metabolism. But as you get back on the healthier track and start looking at doing things like what Zach is doing here trying to win a hundred mile races, then you can get a
little bit more nuanced, reintroducing carbs strategically. Which I think is important
just to say that there’s a couple different levels
of the conversation. We each are at different
stages of where we are in our metabolic health
and we need to engage at the right level before saying, hey, I want to do what Zach’s doing, but I’m not training
like what Zach’s doing. – It’s kind of funny,
because you see that type of almost mentality in a lot of
different areas in life, too. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, it’s just something I think
people need to be aware of. When I look in endurance training, too, you do something that generates
a little bit of awareness, whether that’s something like what I did or even just in your local community. Maybe you have a group of friends and you just ran a 5K
or you lost 20 pounds that you needed to lose, and
you see your friends see that, and they’re like, okay, well,
what they’re doing is working. I need to do exactly what they’re doing. Really it’s like, well,
maybe you need to backup and look at what were they
doing to get to where they are and make sure you’re doing
all those initial steps, too, along the way. Even for me when I’m working with folks who are interested in a
kind of a high fat, low carb or ketogenic style diet, we’re looking at a lot
of different variables even as far down as to well, how important is optimal
race performance to you versus just your general wellbeing? and things like that, and
your general interests, and what you want to be eating. A lot of times even
with the people looking for pure performance, we’re
gonna spend a good month or four to six weeks even
going pretty strict keto in the beginning to kind of reset that metabolic switch a little bit, so it’s just a little bit faster maybe to kind of turn that switch over. Then we can always bring the carbs back. The body seems to be very
efficient at turning back to carbohydrates if you do
decide to reintroduce them. So to me that’s a lot less of an issue. – Yeah, I think that’s where I think we should all
should be optimistic. Doing N equals one
experiments with myself, looking at fasting
insulin, fasting glucose, you don’t need to be
doing a ketogenic diet for a year to see pretty
profound biomarker changes. It sounds like, I don’t know
in terms of fat oxidation how quickly can you ramp
from 0.5 grams per minute to something to your rate
of like 1.5 grams from it. Maybe you do need to be
keto and training a lot to get to that kind of
level of fat oxidation, but I’m sure you can go from
0.5 to 0.7 relatively quickly if you just do a little
bit of fasted training and reduce carbohydrate intake. – Yeah, and I think, because you mentioned
a Louise Burke study, ’cause she did that three week study with 50 kilometer race walkers. I want to say the folks
doing the high fat on that, they were actually putting
up pretty high numbers by that three week point in time. So the interesting thing about that is I would look at that from
a performance standpoint. I’m not really sure what
that study would indicate, because I’ll tell you this, it’s pretty common knowledge
within endurance sport and sport in general that
you don’t overhaul your diet three weeks before your peak performance. If I were an Olympic athlete and I had the five
kilometers in the Olympics three weeks from now, the last thing I would be doing is flipping my diet
completely on its head. So I’m not sure, I’d have
to look at that study to see more nuance out of it. My guess is it’s saying
what it intended to say, and a lot of people just
maybe extrapolate out from it more than what it’s intended to say or do. – Yeah, to give context to the listeners, I think Volek and Phinney are kind of the key
thoughtleaders around in academia around ketogenic performance. I would say that Louise Burke’s, I think the Nova study was like, hey, maybe it might
increase fat oxidation, but it doesn’t increase
actual end performance. I think the counter argument, I think the point that
you bring up as a student, which is that you’re
not expecting to match your previous PRs if you
change your diet completely and try to shift your
metabolic state completely from glycolysis driven to ketosis or lipolysis driven in three weeks. – Even if we do look down
the road and say like, okay, this person’s following
that for a year or two, I would suspect a lot of them would have the same experience I did, which is the strict keto
isn’t necessarily ideal for peak performance, but that doesn’t mean that you have to go right back to high carb. You can kind of do something
more similar to what I do with that periodized kind
of carbs sneak in there. That’s where I’m interested in, I’m interested in kind
of that middle ground between the two. Hopefully some funding goes
towards some of that stuff down the road and we
see some more research and some studies done, but either way you can do your
own N equals one experiment if you’re interested enough. – Someone’s got to make some
sort of catchy name for that, ’cause I think what you’re describing is similar to what I implement personally, which is I would say that I
have a low carb ketogenic base, but I will add in carbohydrates ahead of certain types of high
intensity weight lifting workouts. Or if I’m doing like a long
bike ride for an afternoon, I will use carbs if I want
to be maximizing performance, but also do some fasted training as well and just blend it together. – Yeah, and it’s interesting, too, ’cause I think when you
look at what I’m eating, I hardly see it as restrictive. ‘Cause of the knock on
a strict ketogenic diet or if you’re gonna be
like a zero carb diet is people will look at that and be like, well, I can’t sustain that. Then the numbers probably
reflect that, too, in terms of people starting and stopping, or falling out and
feeling like they failed, versus staying the course. When you get into that high fat, low carb where you’re flipping it on its head but not going quite as low as those therapeutic
ketogenic levels would be at, you have a little more wiggle room there so it doesn’t feel as restrictive. I always get a little bit
of a kick out of that, ’cause every once in awhile
someone, they’ll say like, “Well, I could never do it, “’cause I wouldn’t
really eat this anymore,” and they’ll send me a
picture of this meal. I’ll look at the meal and it’s like, “You know, I could actually eat that. “It wouldn’t ruin my plan, “I would just be maybe
a little more strategic “about when and where I ate it.” – [Geoff] Exactly. – So it’s all individualized
anyway at that point anyway. People assuming that
other people are gonna (audio cutting) foods that they’re eating
versus the ones that they are. – Exactly. One thing that I think is interesting that I would say is a popular sub-thread from the low carb community is carnivore. I know that you do a podcast
with Sean Baker who’s been on our program who is quite
the carnivore proponent. Curious to get your thoughts. How heavily animal based are you? How do you sort of take all the recent N equals one anecdotal
stories from carnivore? – I think it’s really, really fascinating, especially when you start to look into where it’s being more heavily researched versus just the anecdotes
we see on Twitter and we see online. ‘Cause I think the first
thoughts to most people is just, well, this is just a bunch of crazy people that decided for whatever reason, maybe it’s because they got mad enough that the vocal vegans that they’re gonna go completely opposite. Versus like there’s a
group out of Hungary, the Paleomedicina group, I’m not sure you’re familiar with them, but it’s a guy, Dr. Csaba
Toth and Dr. Zsofia Clemens. They’re doing a ton of
fascinating research with animal-based diets to help people with just really, really
bad metabolic syndrome and digestive issues. They get way more technical,
but for simplicity’s sake it’s basically leaky gut where people, they’ve destroyed their digestive system for whatever reason, and they’re seeing some just
really mind boggling results when they’re putting people on this like 82%, 18%
fat to protein ratio, essentially zero carb diet
on animal-based products. It’s pretty regimental, but
these are people who are, they’re suffering. It’s amazing what people are willing to do when they’re up against it to that level. – It’s like Mikhaila
Peterson’s autoimmune issues. You’re depressed and want
to kill yourself level and you’d try anything. – Yeah. One thing I find interesting, too, is just when we look
at some of this stuff, you can kind of look at
like, well, what am I eating? What am I trying to do? Where am I at? Where do I want to be? I don’t think it always has to be a like, this is what I’m gonna do now, I’m gonna do it forever. I think with a lot of
the carnivore movement, what we’ll see is we’ll see
people kind of get healthy doing it almost as a
real strict hard reset or a real strict elimination diet, and as they do kind of start to heal they give their body a
chance to kind of recover, they’ll start reintroducing some things. I find it really
interesting when you look at some of the ways indigenous
tribes prepare their food, whether they’re closer to plant base or closer to animal product
base or somewhere in between. What we don’t see is we
don’t see these tribes eating things in the state that we see them in the grocery store. One guy said it really well, I think it was Ben Greenfield
who said, “It’s smart food.” You can look at something like bread. Well, you can have white Wonder bread or you can have a really
well-formulated sourdough bread. The way your body reacts to that and the way we break
down some of this stuff is different depending
on how we prepare it. So sometimes going back to some
of these ancient traditions and looking at what they’re
doing to prepare the foods or to liberate the foods to
make them more digestible for humans is really interesting to me. So I think we’ll see some
of that too where people start reintroducing some things in maybe a more traditional sense, that they don’t stick to
like a strict carnivore diet. But I think we’re learning
a lot from that group and I think it’s smart to
keep an open mind about it. Ultimately I think it also
opens up the conversation of, where are we getting these products from and how are we raising these animals? I like to think that it
will open up a conversation towards if we’re gonna be relying on meat as a staple in human nutrition, well let’s look at what the way to do that would be that’s regenerative
or that’s holistic versus something that’s maybe detrimental. And start kinda introducing
people to that so that people are a little closer to their food systems versus kind of 100% just
separated from them. – Yep, have you personally
implemented 100% carnivores? So for background, I
did a couple of cycles of four to six weeks of carnivore diet. I thought it was quite
nice, quite palatable, and that has informed my day-to-day to not be afraid of
having higher meat content as part of my overall meals. But I think just on a practical basis, it’s somewhat hard to eat only meat 24/7, but I think that over the
last year, year and a half, I think that really opened my eyes around, hey, one shouldn’t be immediately scared of all the headlines around red meats and associations with
cardiovascular disease and all cause mortality,
in that it caused me to really dive into the
research and the studies and exactly what was there and what might be potentially
confounding conclusions. – I think that’s probably the point that I’m most interested about it, too. So then some of it we
just don’t know, right? We don’t know necessarily
outside of anecdotes what happens when you
go on an all meat diet or a meat heavy diet. So when we get more people doing this and reporting their anecdotes, that kind of forces us into the next step. Now we’re gonna start having case studies, and then we start looking
into the epidemiology of it, and then we eventually start to get some random control trials and really look into see what’s going on and kind of find out what is
working and what’s not working. – The one cool way to look at
some of this stuff in general is it seems like there’s always gonna be a pro and a con to what you’re eating. So you can look at
someone who has a history of a certain disease in their family or they’ve had a disease
or something like that. For them, they may want to turn to a different type of nutritional plan, because they want to mitigate the risks for that particular thing that
their highest at risk for. They may have a very low
risk of some other things, so they can maybe incorporate things that would potentially
increase the risk of that, because they’re just balancing kind of that equation a little bit. When we’re looking at things like that, I think it behooves us to have options as opposed to here’s one
definitive mono way of eating that the government’s gonna say is the right way to do it. If you’re doing anything different, you’re risking yourself. Give us five options so we
can kind of pick and choose and find what’s gonna work for us from both a sustainability
standpoint that we can stick to and also to mitigate whatever things that are potentially risk
factors for us as individuals. – It’s just obvious if you
look at it from a genetics and baseline perspective
and what your goals are. Zach Bitter has this genetic baseline and he wants to win 100 mile races, you should have a thoughtful diet and exercise protocol
to help optimize that. For me, if I’m trying
to optimize cognition and not get Alzheimer’s
and not get disease and this genetic baseline, it probably seems sensible that you have maybe a little different
nutritional protocol for that. I think it’s silly to say that, hey, every human needs the same diet, even though we have quite
a bit of genetic diversity and we all have different individual goals that we want to optimize for. Again, trying to win a gold medal, that activity is probably
pretty orthogonal to what you’d want to
do to prevent disease or try to live as long as possible. You’re just trying to optimize for very different end points. – Yeah. Nowadays, too, when we have availability to be able to see and
follow basically anyone who’s willing to put it out there now, you see these different goals and these different areas of focus, so there’s no shortage of seeing where those differences
kind of come into play. – So one topic that I want to move towards is the mental discipline, the mental game of what it takes to do these hundred mile
ultra endurance events. Again, I’m a very, very amateur, dabbles in these types
of endurance events. The longest run I did was a 30 mile run. Training up towards that, the initial entry to that
is I would say pretty stark for most modern people
where we’re very much used to having some stimulus from our phones or devices every 10 minutes. And if you are properly
training for these longer runs and doing a hundred mile run, you are by yourself for like 12 hours. I’m curious to get a sneak
peek into your brain, what do you think about? Do you focus on anything? Do you just let your mind drift? What is it like at hour five
into an effort like this? – When I talk about
endurance sport in general, I think the training, both physical and then the
mental components are all there, no matter what distance you’re doing. It just comes down to where you place them and where you focus more
emphasis or less emphasis. So as you start pushing up in distance into some of these longer events like the hundred mile stuff, I think that mental component
just gets a little different, where instead of being
able to force yourself through an acute pain for a
relatively short period of time like you’d get in a five kilometer race, now you’re asking yourself
to push yourself through the monotony and the self-doubt and the boredom and the gradual fatigue and the slow aching pain type of a thing. – [Geoff] Yeah. – And it’s almost like you
have this mental reservoir that you’re pulling from,
so you need to be careful about when and how you’re doing that. And you definitely want to go into a race with that reservoir as full as possible, because that’s just gonna
give you more potential to push through some of those low points or those negative thought processes. So you highlighted it
perfectly when you said the four or five hour part, because on my last particular event, that’s a point in the race
where I’ve been out there long enough where I’m starting to feel it a little bit physically, five hours of running is five of running, no matter how you skin it. – Most people can’t even
stand for five hours. Right? Just think about that. When’s the last time most
of us have stood on our feet for five hours straight? You get tired from just standing, it’s like, okay, you’re
covering some big ground. – Yeah, so you get to that point and then if you think about
it then too, you’re like, okay, I’m feeling a little bit worn down. I feel like I’ve been
running for five hours, but I got six or seven hours to go. So that’s difficult in the
sense that it’s really tough to start wrapping your head
around what you have left to do. So I think that point in the
race you do find yourself, or at least I do find myself having to fight back a little more doubt. And then as I get closer and closer to something I can wrap my head around, you get a little more optimistic, it gets maybe a little easier, assuming the day’s going well. If the day’s coming off the rails, then sometimes the further in you get, the harder it gets ’cause
then you’re just questioning why you’re out there on a constant basis. So for me, when I was at mid-40s, I was at that point where I looked at… The unique thing about
the event I just did is it’s on a 400 four to three meter loop, so I can see my split
basically more frequent than every two minutes. So to go back to what I was saying before about that mental energy
or that reservoir, if I choose to watch my splits every lap, I’m probably gonna exhaust
my mental reservoir a little too quick. So some of it’s just
doing little mental tricks where I’m acutely aware of
my pace and effort enough where if I give myself a
few laps in the beginning to dial in the pace range I want, I can just cruise for a while
and avoid looking at that and just get a rhythm going and let my mind wander a little bit. But I’m spot checking ’cause
if I notice I’m drifting out either too fast or too slow, I’m gonna want to
recalculate or recalibrate that intensity and that effort to make sure I’m still in that range. And I got to that point around the mid-40s where I had been slipping
out of my pace a little bit, going a little too slow. The thoughts start
crossing your mind like, well, maybe I just don’t have PR or a world record performance in me today, maybe I should just settle
down and take what I can get. You start thinking, well,
11 hours and 50 minutes would still be a solid day and then I can be fresher
for a race down the road. And you almost have to
say, well, wait a second. Think of how many hours and
how many training sessions you went through to get ready for this particular opportunity. Don’t let it slip away right now. Let’s start to zoom in a little bit, and say, okay, in the next two miles, I’m gonna get back into the pace range. I’m gonna see how I feel at two miles before I make any rational decisions. And then you can start to
slowly turn things back from that negative self-talk
to that positive self-talk. So I got myself into that position where I was back into my split range and then once I was in that, it became a little easier to say, okay, now let’s just do a few more miles. And you start getting closer
and closer to that point that I was explaining before where, okay, now I’m far enough into
this race where I’m within the distance that I
did my longest long run or I’m within the distance where my average of my
long runs ended up at. And then you can shift
your mind from I’m out here trying to run a hundred
miles as fast as I can to I’m just doing something
I do on a weekly basis now. – [Geoff] Yeah. – It’s that momentum, spiraling
that momentum back positive. And then for me, on this particular event, I’m pulling from past experiences too. There’s things I did at this last race that I wouldn’t have been able
to do earlier in my career just ’cause I didn’t have
the point of experience. And one of the biggest
ones was I made an attempt at the world record back
in 2015 at a event called the Desert Solstice Track Invitational and I ended up breaking the
American record that day but at mile 80, I was on pace
to break the world record. And I remember the race director told me, “Well, these are the
splits you need to run “at the last 20 miles in
order to break the record.” And I just couldn’t do it. So when I think back of how many days between then and that race
that that crossed my mind where I thought, you know,
I had this opportunity, I was at mile 80, I could
have done it but I didn’t. When you think about that enough times, when you get yourself
back into that position, you go to a mode of, okay, I’m not gonna let that happen again. And you learn from that experience. You pull from that. I wouldn’t say it was
a failure at the time. I broke an American record, I had my fastest hundred mile time ever so there was definitely positives to pull from that event too, but there was also things I
could point to that are like, well, there’s a spot there that I need to make an improvement. That’s where I can grow in the sport. So then, getting yourself
to where I was at at this last race, I’m just thinking about that
a lot and just thinking about, okay, how much time did I
spend getting ready for this? How much time did I spend
learning from my previous stuff? The incentive to take
advantage of the opportunity, I think, gets greater and that helps out when you can spin it in
a positive direction. – I wouldn’t say that the 2015
race was a failure per se, but it sounds like you took some of that learning experience, that sense that you thought that you could have done better
as a way to push yourself. And I think it just
reflects on a conversation that I had with Pete Jacobs who
is a Ironman World Champion, who is now shifting more
towards a carnivore diet and coming back on his comeback. And he had an interesting
comment around having a mantra of love, positivity, and
it sounds like for you, you’ve pulled on different
parts of negative and positive energy through
different aspects of the race. So that’s part of one of the questions, some clarification on it. Is that the way you think about it? Or sometimes you wanna have like, okay, I don’t want to fail. This person said a mean thing to me. I want to prove that person
wrong, screw that person. And then sometimes you think
about all the positive things. That was part one of the question. And then part two was, this is something that I’ve come to think
about more is that, I’m just curious in terms of your world record breaking performance, would you describe yourself
in a state of flow? Would you almost compare yourself to be in a meditative trance or state where if you had a brain
scan of you during that race, would that brain scan look like a Zen monk who is just meditating? And I think that’s an interesting thing I want to just maybe plant in the ground to talk about after
talking about part one. – It’s a balance, for sure. You want to go in with gratitude and you want to go on
there being appreciative of the opportunity you have as opposed to being fueled purely by
hate or purely by anger, but that’s something you can leverage. – But hate’s powerful, right? It’s like the dark side of the force, light side of the force, I mean, I think definitely there’s
some work that’s from like, yo, this person made fun of me. I want to put that aggression into the exercise or into the event. – Yeah, you think about stuff like that. I think you can use it if
you use it at the right time, I think it can be very powerful. From my experience, I
think if you start the race thinking like that, it
gets a little difficult. But if you keep it in your back pocket and lean on it a bit when you
get into the later stages, it gets a little more useful,
at least for me anyway. And I wouldn’t say I get
a whole lot of negativity thrown my way for any reason
really, but you still see it. People like to think and
people like to speculate and I think that’s one of
the fun things about sports is people wondering about
what if or that sort of thing. So when you have a race like I did in 2015 and then you make another attempt later and that one doesn’t work out well, you do see sometimes
people saying things like, well, maybe 11:40 is
the fastest he can go. Or maybe if he would have had
a little more carbohydrate, he would have run 20 minutes. (both laughing)
– Yeah. – So that sort of stuff but
it’s not necessarily a thing where it’s trying to
push someone else back as much as it is, thanks for that little bit
of fuel, I’m gonna use that. And most of the time
I think it’s harmless, but you hit it on the head there where I think when you
can have that duality of being grateful to be
there, being positive, trusting your process,
believing you can do it and then also thinking, okay, I’m gonna prove
something here today. – Yeah, that generally rings true to me in terms of keeping it positive and using some of the
hate fuel in the pocket when you need some extra aggression. But I agree with you, I
think if you start out angry, I just don’t think you can
sustain being angry for 12 hours. – 12 hours is a long time to be mad, yeah. – It’s a long time. And then the second point,
I think one of the things I’ve appreciated with
endurance activities is that’s, I think it’s a more effective
version of meditation. And I think it’s increasing
in popularity that meditation, mindfulness is a big buzz word, but I think most of it’s performance. I think if you’re just sitting in a room for five, 10 minutes, I
don’t think it’s enough. I don’t think that’s true meditation or what the goal of meditation is, which is clarity of
focus or clarity of mind. And I feel like with
endurance sport as the medium, it almost forces you to
have that clarity of mind. So I think it’s a much
more efficient vehicle for me to get mental
clarity and mindfulness. I’m just curious in terms of, especially for endurance sport, I feel like it’s just as much
mental as it is physical. Or at least that mental
component is very, very strong. Do you meditate? How do you think about building
up your mental discipline, your mental reservoir? Do you think about it in terms of reaching the enlightened Zen state that you see the monks talking about? – I think you’re right. It’s one of those things
where it’s hard to quantify and it’s one of those
things where you’re like, yeah, I do wish that some machine hooked up to me during that race. You could see exactly what was going on. – [Geoff] Yeah. – But you definitely get into these states and I actually practice them
when I’m doing my long runs and it’s like a visualization
type of a practice as much as it is anything where, when I’m doing, let’s say I
have a 30 mile training run scheduled for Sunday and I’m preparing for a hundred mile race, I go out there and I put
myself in my mind at mile 70 and be like, well, what
am I gonna do at mile 70 if I’m given this opportunity? So you’ve almost done a
dress rehearsal in your head and you get these experiences that you can pull from during the race, so then when you get to the race, it’s less about learning it on the fly and you can go into that state of flow and just reflect back on,
okay, I know what to do here. And then just center that and just let it happen as
opposed to try to force it. And it’s one of those things where I think it almost makes
describing the event difficult because you get into those states and you don’t really
remember being in them so in the back of your mind, you know, well I was definitely
thinking about something but I just can’t recall it anymore. And then someone asks, “Well, what did you think
about the whole time?” And you’re like, “Uh,
I don’t know.” (laughs) ‘Cause you think of some
things you do remember and you’re like, well,
was I thinking about that the whole time or was
there stuff I forgot? – Yeah, when I just started out it’s like, yeah, what do you think about it? It’s such a long time you’re by yourself. But then as you get more experienced, it’s like, I don’t know. You get into these flow states
where you’ve just done it and it’s like, “I’m not trying to…” It’s interesting, maybe it
sounds super woo-woo to people that haven’t done endurance
activities but I think, for people that have experienced or tapped into some levels of this, it’s a very real mental
state that you are in that I think more people
should try to tap into ’cause I think it’s an
interesting human experience. – Yeah, you know, when
people ask me the question, “What do you think about during it?” My mind always goofily goes
back to the movie “Office Space” when they asked the guy in there, Peter, they were like, “So what do you want to do
with the rest of your life?” He says, “Nothing.” (laughs) Said, “What do you think about
during a hundred mile race “or what do you want to think about?” “Nothing.” – [Geoff] Yeah. – So it is kind of interesting, you get into that state of mind
where you’re just out there and you know you’re moving but you’re not necessarily
feeling everything you think you should be feeling. And it’s weird because
you come in and out of it, you’re never in it the whole time. So mile 60, I might be very
aware of what I might be doing. I might be thinking very
much and I’m feeling like, okay, my left leg hurts a little bit, my right quad’s a little
more sore than my left one. Am I drinking enough? Do I feel thirsty? Or just thinking about a lot of stuff. And then all of a sudden, you
get into one of those states and all of a sudden you’re there and then when you come
out of it you wonder, well, why did that last eight miles did my ankle not hurt? And my right quad not hurt
more than my left one? I didn’t feel as thirsty. So you know you’re kind of in it, but you don’t always know about
it until you’re out of it. – I think that’s the key
thing that, at least, it’s refreshing for me to hear, given that it’s hard to maintain. Even the world’s best person at doing this is not holding perfect Zen
state for 12 hours straight, which is probably refreshing
for amateurs like myself. Like, okay, no one is
God-mode level mental 24/7 on. Is that something that you aspire to or do you even think that’s approachable? Is that trainable or do you think that that’s just human nature that there’s gonna be just a little bit of mental variation as
you’re doing something over such an extended period of time? – Yeah, I think maybe there’s
a process to improve it or to maximize it, I guess, is
maybe a better way to say it, but I also think there’s
some times where sometimes it just works better than
others and those are probably the times where you’re gonna outperform. And if you think about
it in other sports too, like in basketball, you have someone who is just on one night and they’re just hitting
every shot they take, they get in that flow state. And then there’s another
night where they want to be in that same position every night, but then there’s a night where they’re not and they’re missing every shot they take. – [Geoff] Yeah. – So I think there is a
element of just having it at the right place at the
right time to a degree, but I think you improve your
chances of having that happen if you do those dress
rehearsals that I talked about in training where you
know where you should be and how you should be
doing at certain points and you’ve processed it in your brain, even though you haven’t done it yet, over and over again during practice. – That rings true to how
I think about it as well. It’s too complicated to understand exactly what triggers a flow state or not, but to maximize the probability
of consistently doing it, you probably just need to do the event again and again and again and just have a template in
your mind of autopiloting. Then you just take a very
comfortable state for you. Awesome. What’s next? Maybe you haven’t thought
about what’s next, but knowing folks like
yourself and myself, once you get the one thing done, you’re probably thinking about, all right, relax for a little bit and what’s the next world record? What’s the next thing I can do? Is there something in
your mind that’s exciting, post a couple of world records here? – Yeah, so the irony of
the whole situation is, when I started the training block for the second half of the year, I typically divide my
year into two halves, at least now that I’m out in Phoenix and I have access to such a variety of different trails to train in. One half of the year, I’ll
do more trail climbing, descending type stuff. The other half, I’ll do
more flat, fast stuff. And the first half of the year, I was training for the San Diego 100. So when I finished that, I was like, okay, I’m gonna start doing my buildup for the flat part of the year. And I picked a race that met
my timeline really nicely, which is the Spartathlon in Greece. Then, after I had already put
all those pieces together, I found out about the
event I had just done and it was such a unique opportunity, I didn’t want to pass up on it. So I thought, going
into the training block, worst case scenario is I can just use this as a tune-up run for the Spartathlon. As I got through the training,
the flat fitness came back so fast and I had such good workouts that my mindset going into
that race I just did was, if I feel good, I’m gonna go forward. If not, then it is what it is and I’ll be ready for
Spartathlon at least. – So things went as well
as I could have expected, but I still have this race on the schedule to do over in Greece, which I’m actually
leaving for this Saturday. It’s in about a little less than a week, or a little more than a week. It’s 153 mile race. It goes from Athens to
Sparta on a rolling hill, paved and gravel road. So we’ll see how that goes. Five weeks recovery is a little tight for something like that in my opinion, but the Spartathlon is
also a race I feel like I’m probably gonna do a couple, if not a few times in my career, so if nothing else, I’ll at least be able to get to do a repetition
of the experience out there and figure out what the
course is really like and put together a more
solid, more prepared plan for the next time out there. But with that said, I do
feel pretty well recovered. I’m gonna lean on some fitness that I had before the last race,
hopefully, and see what happens. – Awesome. Yeah, good luck next week. And then one of the
questions I always like to wrap these conversations up with, and I’m curious to get your take ’cause I think you have so many different interests here is that, what is some of the most
interesting scientific questions that you’d like answered? If you had infinite resources,
Guinea pig populations, whether you wanted to
look at ultramarathoners or just average Americans, you can put them in a metabolic ward, you can make them do thousand miles runs. What would you study? What would you structure it? Maybe a couple of questions. – I would want maybe a more specific, like what’s the best nutrition plan, or maybe not the best, but what would be the
primary nutrition plan for the varying distances as opposed to, well, this is what works for endurance or this is what works for power lifting. This is what works for sprinting. Can we figure out what’s the difference between the 50 kilometer
and the hundred mile or then the six-day or
something like that, which I think opens up a ton of windows. – Yeah, they’re pretty
damn different things. – Yeah, yeah. – A 5K is like a freaking sprint to you, but at this point, right,
versus a hundred miler? I mean, that’s a
completely different thing. It’s like a one rep max deadlift versus, okay, do a hundred deadlifts in a row. – [Zach] Yeah. – Those are very different
types of performances. – Yeah, completely different
systems so it is interesting. – Okay, so you’d want to get more fidelity and nuance around the
different lengths of race, where I think, right now,
and I would agree with you, it’s just like sprint
and then long distance and long distance is anything
from 5K to 500 miles. – Yeah, yeah.
– Cool. Well, thanks so much, and then good luck with the Spartathlon I guess next week, or in a couple of weeks. Really good conversation. I’m excited to follow your progress as you keep exploring the
limits of human forms here. – Yeah, well, thank you
so much for having me on. It’s been a lot of fun. – Cheers. – Take care.
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Reader Comments

  1. John Lewis

    Zero carbs is the best diet ever for most people, about 30% of the population can eat anything with little to no affect,not me I,m allergic to everything but meat,meat saved my life!!!

  2. Fake news, Fake food, Fake world

    Oh, this diet is sooo boring. I only eat bacon wrapped salmon or chicken, steak and shrimp, clams, eggs and bacon, bacon wrapped burgers ,mushrooms cheese omelet , avocados, wild berries, oh and everyday coconut kefir full fat! Deer sausages in the morning. Really all I did was take that wheat out and went low carb. Oh the pain and suffering , i can't have Halloween candy. NOT! I lost 40lbs and reverse my diabetes and all joints feel new again. Carnivoreish for life !

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