Mark Lofquist: Paleo Running

welcome to another episode of paleo runner podcast a show helping you find better ways to live run and eat I’m your host Aaron Olson the website for the show is paleo run org follow me on Facebook comm slash run paleo or on Twitter at run paleo the sponsor for the show is three fuel three fuels a sports drink that gives you fat protein and carbohydrates it’s made from coconut grass fed whey protein and a slow releasing starch to get 10% off your order go to three fuel calm and use the promo code three F Olson my guest today is mark Lofquist mark blogs over at paleo runners blog mark it’s great to have you on the show hey Aaron thanks for having me on yeah paleo runners that’s a good name for a blog huh great minds think alike I guess yeah when did you start that blog I believe it was about 2011 okay I I’ve been running for about a year and I thought it’d be good to a document my story of you know going through the effort of trying to become an endurance athlete is in quotes by the way because it’s a recreational activity and a blog also function for me is a is a good like holding place to hold a lot of articles or or just some of my thoughts that I could search and find later yeah yeah that’s a great idea so Kimmy let’s go back to when you started running because you haven’t always been a runner from what I gather from reading your blog tell me how you first got interested in the sport yeah I’m one of those converts that came from the Born to Run book coming out but even before that I showed an interest in running I grew up as a swimmer and into my 30s I worked out you know sort of the bodybuilding muscle-bound kind of guy and but it wasn’t kind of a sport or a competitive aspect to it and I tried running a little bit in college I did a couple 5ks and I noticed that I was horrible at it running something like two or three miles I needed days and days to recover I would get just terrible shin splints I couldn’t even walk or point my toe the next day after running and so I it was a real weakness of mine and I’m the type of guy who likes to attack weaknesses and figure out why am I so bad at this I know people that can you know run for hours I could bike for hours but couldn’t run but you you’re it’s not like you weren’t athletic you were very athletic you were a great swimmer and you from what I gather you were quite competitive so this seemed to be one sport or activity that you couldn’t quite do so you kind of wanted to I guess improve on that and how did you go about doing that yes well I went to the the best running stores in the area I was in a very affluent area in Northern Virginia so I I’d go into these places and they’d evaluate my gait they would look at me with video cameras on treadmills and one thing I noticed later is they only look at you from behind and from the quote behind that you noticed that my feet were landing on the edges of the foot and then rolled over to the surface of the foot and they said that’s an issue and by these orthotics and by these support shoes I did have completely flat feet as well I took everybody’s advice $300 at a shoe store and now I could only run a mile and a half and set up two miles so that it was not the right way to go I did have a friend who was a orthopedic surgeon and I went in and I had explained you know knee pain and shin splints and blah blah blah what is wrong with me and he took x-rays and made measurements with protractors and what have you and he goes well here we go your tibia is your shin bones there they’re bowed in this way they look like right and left parenthesis if you will a little bit eight degrees on one side and 12 degrees on the other so there’s your problem you’re not biomechanically suited to run and I actually took his advice this was back when I was about 32 years old and I said well I guess I’ll buy a nice bicycle and do that instead but um fast forward to 2009 or so um six seven years later Born to Run came out and it was the first time I ever read the concept that humans are endurance athletes we actually are suited to run upright nuchal ligament head posture torso hips swing bipedal mechanisms what-have-you and that really led me in to actually research the idea of wait a minute we are meant to run so I kind of erased everything I’d done in the past took into account the go to a more minimal shoe understand what ground feels like run the way your biomech mechanically supposed to run through the proprioception of either no shoes and very thin shoes and making those adjustments I realized three miles was no problem five miles was no problem seven miles there’s no problem and I I realized I was born to run that’s awesome that’s a great story I love I love that I mean all these doctors and specialists are telling you that you really can’t run you know why would you want to run in the first place you like humans you know I think a lot of people still don’t understand that that concept that you know running played an important part in our evolutionary heritage and it we are endurance athletes and and it’s I think that’s one of the big attractions for me it’s it seems like one of the most primal experiences that I’ve ever had just going on and running now you said that you could you started running in in five seven miles wasn’t a problem what about when you were just first starting now was it like that right away or did you did you have to gradually work up to that spot well there was an adjustment period a little self-experimentation you know my first little baby steps if you will was taking a hot knife and cutting the heel off of my very expensive support shoes and that added a little length to my achilles tendon which is this wonderful spring that you can take advantage of ground reaction forces by extending and contracting it so cutting off the heels of my shoe and then going and doing a long run with a friend it was a sort of a trail half marathon I realized quickly that that wasn’t quite the way to do it I needed to ramp up a little bit better but at about six months of self-experimentation I even completed a marathon not very you know sort of a middle of the pack kind of a completer and then I realized training was a component that I hadn’t considered so the biomechanics and the foot landing and increased cadence all that stuff I was able to do by myself but training if I wanted to compete so I hired an online coach because of a you know let thinking inside the box there the Born to Run book the author was trained by coach Eric Orton in somebody you can find online I did the same thing found him online and paid him a monthly fee to you know teach me how to train now so that was a Bure 2010 39 years old I trained with him for four or five months after about six months of self trial and error right and I ran my first ultra marathon in March of 2010 the marathon go for you it was uh it was painful I didn’t have quite the trail experience that I should have everything’s so new I had such baby muscles you know especially all those uh where you call in the frontal plane when you’re on a trail you’ve got all those additional forces so so I limped through a 25% of it ran real hard through the rest of it again it was sort of a middle of the pack to top one-third finish for my first ultra I was just happy I completed it yeah mm-hmm and what was that experience like working with Eric Orton he’s actually was one of my first guests on the show I think he’s in maybe episode 7 or 8 but yeah we tell me about what that was like well it was funny I I actually had met another friend in Northern Virginia area where I lived who was using Eric as an online coach for probably about a year by the time I called him up and Eric sends me a training plan he wanted to know a lot about my history and I said I’m like a baby I have no idea what I’m doing and he goes well you’ll probably have a lot of questions but the first thing I want you to do is get a heart rate monitor and I want you to run kind of slower so I I’ve been kind of a 7 mile an hour runner that’s 8 and a half minute pace I think and he told me to go by these heart rate zones which all the sudden I’m back to being a 1213 minute mile er at a hundred and forty hundred and fifty beats per minute so I was a little frustrating I was thinking hey I spent six months you know getting way down to eight minute mile pace which incidentally is the fastest I’ve ever ran in my life at the time and and so here I am back at 12 minute mile pace forcing me to slow down and learning to have an economy increase so getting more work done and running through the same intensity or hard beats if you will it was a great lesson and soon at the same heart rate I’m back down to that eight that have been at my own pace I’m down to seven minute mile pace I’m completing races shorter races a six-minute mile pace and I’d never felt the wind you know going past my ears like that before awesome yeah so you know so you started working with Eric you saw some definite improvements in your training now I think I might have skipped over a little bit about you you really weren’t able to run initially as much as you wanted to your doctor said that you you were bowlegged so what was that process like of transitioning to a more minimalist or barefoot type of running style well the first thing I did is I went but V from Five Fingers that was a sort of summer of 2009 by the beginning of myself experimentations you know I’d cut the heels off one pair of shoes and tried to run long distance in there then I bought so I did kind of throw money at the problem you know they always say bought a pair of Newton’s which have lugs on the forefoot and quote force you to land on your forefoot then I bought Vibram FiveFingers and then I just kicked shoes off completely and first sidewalks and you know known controlled surfaces if you will I would run no shoes on the local track had a nice bouncy surface and so I thought that was a preferred at the time and I realized I could run more miles of my veeram five fingers than I couldn’t any about those other shoe insole what-have-you combinations ever so those first few runs where I picked up you know some distance and was able to run the next day I couldn’t believe it was it wasn’t the the thinner the better is what I learned mm-hmm so it sounds like right away it was a pretty quick transition for you did I have you seen that as you’ve talked to other people and heard from other people I mean how many miles did you start out with in the Vibrams and barefoot because I well I’ve gotten barefoot Ronnie and on asphalt in it it’s it I have to admit it was a little bit painful how was that what was that like for you well I kind of grew up doing that I you know it’s funny this sort of journey my late in the middle age sort of took me back to childhood I was the type of guy who lived at the pool the moment school went out for the summer I prided myself on wearing the same bathing suit for three months and went back into jeans when school reconvened and in September so the first thing was put on the bathing suit and kick off the shoes and I can remember you know jogging running biking whatever to the pool playing around the pool all day at swim practice in the mornings when meets at night and hang out at the pool in-between and those first couple of days when it was summertime my feet would be pulsating in bed at night with heat as if I had to reach uh Fionn them up at the beginning of every pool season if you will so I would remember scuffing my feet on the asphalt as much as I could to sort of speed up that transition time that I experienced every year every summer break so when I kicked off shoes completely and ran on sidewalks in my late 30s it really reminded me of that I would purposely kind of scuff my feet to sort of wake them up and toughen them up and it really works and and soon you can you can take pebbles and you know tree branches or whatever and you don’t really notice them very much and it’s not a toughening up that’s not the right word it’s just sort of getting used to it hmm so you are you out in Colorado right now yeah that’s right we moved here almost two years ago and so finally acclimated to the altitude difference sure yeah so what are you doing for wearing for shoes nowadays out on the trails in Colorado or are you wearing shoes at all yeah I do I wear shoes more than than not now I’m sort of a I’m back to control surfaces and at the end of a speed workout I’ll do the last few intervals with no shoes but for the most part I do I have sandals I like to wear word achos if you will and other very thin sold shoes either moccasins I have what he called the skoura course anything with the leather upper has been real helpful because I’ll find I’ll scrape the top of my foot on rocks step over them and there’s trails I do where each step is it’s 30 inches high to get over these boulders and it’s really easy to quote scuff the top of one’s foot or stub a toe or whatever so I do have some protection for those but I’m it’s definitely not knobby trail shoes if you will yeah in mark would you say that this process is something that anyone could go through or do or do you think that this that running in a barefoot way is something that really needs to be taught because it sounds like you kind of just listen to your body and did this on your own I did and and it’s a really good question because I’m not sure everybody’s capable of that you know as I said I had a lot of quota experience in my childhood and and you did ask if you know what what what a transition schedule or plan look like for other people and I do have a Facebook group with a few thousand members where those questions are posited all the time and I’ve seen mixed results they say in life or in my weightlifting or CrossFit coaching experience muscles grow pretty quickly in a few months you can see muscle gains but soft and connective tissue that adheres muscle to muscle and muscle to bone that takes a couple of years to advance and even longer than that your bones actually get thicker and respond all these things grow we only think of muscles gaining strength but everything else does on the body too just in a slightly different schedule so it depends sort of where you’re coming from hey are your foot bones you know as skinny as toothpicks and you’re a 200-pound man and then so it depends it really does depend and starting out slowly and walk running is a recommended transition period you’ve got to know your body and know what’s sore or what’s been damaged really well I found myself using ice foot baths and all kinds of massage on the tops and bottoms of my feet were necessary after every run and I was thinking this adds 15 minutes to every workout I do this is a pain but then I noticed later and later I three months six months later I didn’t need those sort of maintenance if you will so it will be like for everybody you’ve got to start out slow start by walking where minimal shoes to work every day I recommend that to a lot of people and it’s funny some of the feedback I’ve gotten where you know by some of those Merrell trail gloves or they make some that look more like casual footwear where those two work and I’ve heard people say you know halfway through the day I’ve got to put my loafers back on because my feet are sore they’re burning and so you know live the way you compete or train this is what I try to recommend to people as well mm-hmm and Mark you’re you’re also interested in CrossFit and strength training tell me a little bit about how you got into that sure when I dove into running I found myself sort of hanging up the barbells if you will you know didn’t renew my gold’s gym membership where I worked on one muscle at a time and I I found that I really sort of missed that and I was afraid that I would lose some of those just overall body strength I didn’t care about you know competing in a in a bikini kind of food bodybuilding competition but I did feel that you know I’m sort of missing the strength component probably and diving into running completely was a little foreign to me so it was actually my who’s now my wife a nice lady I was dating bought me a foundations class to her CrossFit gym foundations is sort of where you learned the basic movement test for a lot of CrossFit boxes call it this was a after I’ve been running for about a year I ended up mixing the running in CrossFit together and I liked it so much check out my coaching certification for CrossFit training and CrossFit endurance which is their sort of system for use a lot of high intensity training instead of these long slow runs to increase your endurance athleticism and heavy fun to be helpful as far as performance I tried exclusively CrossFit endurance for about a year and I saw some some pretty good games um I ran an ultra marathon a month that year that was 2012 and I did a lot of short everything was high intense in the training monthly 5ks to track my progress to see if my legs are moving faster and then some sort of endurance event and I definitely got better and better but the arguments still stood even as a coach and I’m supposed to represent the brand a little bit right now I noticed well I had these games because I had this foundation what if somebody just dove into only exclusively CrossFit endurance or what if I just continued my quote long slow distance running training what would the difference be and I think the verdict is still out on that there’s it it’s good periodicity the changing in the way one trains is always good advice whether it’s for performance or just you know getting stronger and so I think using the crossfit endurance training plans if you will they do a bunch of burpees between every mile and then do heavy squats and then do a hard interval workout mixing those things up with the training plants is probably where it’s at combinations how many miles a week will you be running when you’re doing that uh my training went way back at that point to about thirty five miles a week was a typical day and then I’d mix it in with weeks where I did sixty eighty hundred miles okay yeah I have such a range in my answer because now as I ascend fifteen thousand feet a week when I do my runs forty sixty miles it seems to be a good good training week and I get my intensity and now by doing these crazy climbs if you will mm-hmm mark I’d also like to talk about nutrition a little from reading your blog it sounds like you kind of got on board on board with the Paleo style of diet tell me a little bit about how you found that out I’ve always been open to quote alternative diets or going to different extremes when when I was a in college and in my early 30s even I was pretty and I dated vegetarians in college which makes you a vegetarian right I tried vegan lifestyle for about a year and a half and I thought I was doing the right thing I’m sort of a vegan strength athlete kind of guy but I did have a lot of pain I thought this was normal just getting older you know hitting my early 30s I had cortisone shots in my lower back I’m like maybe too many squats too much working on cars my arthritis and my SI joint just thought it was normal part of Aging and I would have to go to pain and clinics forever I also had a historically pretty high blood pressure I’ve been through every blood test known to man and that all the doctors basically said it seems genetic the more I started running or endurance training I saw my blood pressure go down but sort of plateau out and then on a whim after reading Paleo solution Rob Wolf’s book all of loren cordain’s research just kind of getting into it a little bit cutting out bread made my blood pressure drop another 20 points and now it’s the blood pressure of a healthy athlete if you will hmm so exercise helped diet helped more so that person you mention that you kind of bread was that is that the major change that you’ve made or are there other modifications you’ve done so I did ramp up I’d gotten back into sort of lean meats and fat is bad for you after my vegetarian vegan lifestyle and I actually started to feel a little better I realized that the vegan lifestyle wasn’t for me endurance training is helping me be a healthier person so didn’t change a lot of things at once so it’s hard to isolate what had the most impact but the more I did reading and the more you know competing in endurance type ventures I realized I need to become fat adapted that’s gonna be a good way for me to have fuel while I’m running in order to be more fat adapted I’m gonna have to consume more fats I’m gonna have to run in a fasted State I’m gonna have to so all these things built onto each other and I developed sort of a low carb paleo lifestyle for myself so it is bacon and eggs in the morning and yeah oh yeah go ahead I’d love to hear what are you what are you eating and what what have you had to eat today so far almost every day starts out the same with four soft-boiled eggs I get this little microwave egg cooker thing and after a few dozen eggs of experimentation I found with the perfect soft boil time in the microwave is and so porous soft-boiled eggs and my bag butter and my coffee I do drink a lot of coffee by the way and a couple couple times a week couple strips of baking that if I think I need to eat lunch which I have to remind myself to eat because four soft-boiled eggs I’m usually good until about 5 p.m. or so I don’t i’ve lost the sense of hunger if you will like I used to be ravenous if I went three hours without eating in the past and so I really know wouldn’t notice when it’s gone lunch time varies it’s usually leftover dinners so it’s dinners are crock pot type or ground-up bison cooked in coconut oil things like that with our couple vegetables on the side I stay away from the real simple monosaccharides of disaccharide form edible carbohydrates the Bryce’s and potatoes and things like that I’ll eat them every once in a while sweet potatoes are preferred because of the longer chain carbohydrates but uh so lots of oils non veg the oils high in omega-3 six ratio type oils on my meats vegetables with grass-fed butter on them and that’s really it’s very simple ingredients and usually just two meals a day and leftovers for for lunch at those meals and have you been able to convince your wife to try out this style of diet – yeah she’s in and out of it and we just had a our second child in September of this year Oh Congrats okay thank you and so we have a two-year-old at home now now the new point so as she’s going through either pregnancy or breastfeeding she can sometimes you just have to eat whatever’s around you know whatever she’s craving she had a pretty hard pregnancy she’s on board 75% of the time we definitely share the same dinners and what have you so I do think it’s important to have some some buy-in at home and it just we don’t stock snacks and the cupboards there’s no boxes of donuts waiting by the breadbox we don’t have a bed actually it’s a yeah some buying at home is helpful for sure so making that transition from vegan which I’m assuming was probably pretty high in carbohydrates to a more paleo style that’s very low how long did that take you well it was um I think was a slow process because I didn’t quite know what I was doing or know what to buy into I did have this in-between time where lean meats and chickens and fishes are okay and in between there but you know half of the vitamins that a human essential vitamins for human life are water-soluble and the other half are fat soluble so saying eating a low fat diet for vitamin and mineral absorption is the same thing as saying eat a low water diet so I hadn’t put that together so I was still a quote low fat person for a while even though maybe higher protein and in an in-between phase so apart from that it took it was pretty much cold turkey not literally because turkeys too low in fat but so I after I was convinced with the research with the perfect health diet by Paul jam and a the Chris crushers podcast and book I said you know what I’m I’m just changing it up and and very little chicken the fish I try to eat is salmon which is fatty and so I did it pretty abruptly and you mentioned there that you read the perfect health diet and Paul’s been on the show a couple of times he actually recommends things like potatoes and white rice what causes you to avoid those things I get hungry and I get tired when I consume those things when I take them out I find I have more energy and I think this is purely this is my hypothesis and I’m taking a class on it right now at the local university that this is a total gut biome issue so Paul in his book and on your podcast he notice he’s mentioned that he has a hard time producing mucous membranes and things like that when he cuts out too many carbs and I don’t have that issue I’ve tried I’ve been cognizant and I’ve been looking for the quote symptoms so for my genetic makeup my epigenetic expression and my current state of gut biome this works really well for me and I always give people that have advice I said if you have the same parents as me in the same background you should do what I do and expect the same results if not it might be different well mark we’re coming up to the end of the show here and the last question that I’ve been asking people lately it’s a segment called the magic mile and my question for you is if you had three months to Train and you didn’t have to worry about your bills or going to work all you all you had to do is train how fast you think you could run one mile three months huh so I’m limited with the connective tissue and bone mineral density that I have right now we talked about that’s a great question it would all be strength training for me the fastest mile I’ve ever ran unofficially you know timed as a split and a workout it’s just under six minutes and I think I could get that very low five I don’t have leg speed but I would basically be jumping out of strength so 505 alright great well mark it was it’s been great talking with you today and and it’s been fun hearing your story and I’m sure the listeners will gain a lot of info from all you’ve shared with us so thanks so much for being part of the show Thank You Aaron for having me it’s always nice to talk to a fellow paleo runner thanks for listening to another paleo runner podcast if you like podcasts you’re also gonna like audible has over a hundred thousand titles to choose from for your iPhone Kindle Android or mp3 player you can even burn a CD of the audiobook if you like it’s a great way to learn while you’re driving the car cleaning up around the house one of the great things about audible is that if you decide that you don’t like the book you’ve downloaded you can actually exchange it for another one they want you to be happy with your order if you’d like to get a 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