Science Of Ultra | Ultra Marathon And Trail Running Expertise | World Leading Endurance Science And Coaching

By Shawn Bearden

Listen to a podcast, please open Podcast Republic app. Available on Google Play Store.

Category: Outdoor

Open in iTunes

Open RSS feed

Open Website

Rate for this podcast

Subscribers: 281
Reviews: 1

 Feb 20, 2019


Ultra marathon running physiology brought to you by the world’s leading scientists, coaches, and athletes. Science Of Ultra host, Dr. Shawn Bearden, brings you interviews and more to deliver everything you want to know about all facets of training, nutrition, hydration, environment, psychology, gear, and much more. Become your ultra best!

Episode Date
Too Old To Train Young?

Do older athletes need to train differently compared to their younger selves? Coaches Ian Sharman, David Roche, Krissy Moehl, and Shawn Bearden discuss training as we age in today's Coaches' Corner. Watch the discussion on our YouTube channel:

Each coach can be reached through their respective websites:
Krissy Moehl
David Roche
Ian Sharman
Shawn Bearden


May 30, 2019
Basics of Training Running Economy

Running economy is one of the three key features in performance, along with endurance and stamina. You can develop your running economy through heavy resistance training, sprints, and volume. This episode is a crash course in how do it right.

May 16, 2019
Should You Try To Increase V̇O2max?

V̇O2max is the maximum amount of oxygen your body can use per minute. It's a metabolic rate that can be sustained for 6-10 minutes. Why do you hear so much about it in running, when competitions are so much longer. Maybe your V̇O2max isn't something you should ever focus on.

May 02, 2019
Stamina = Endurance + Economy

What we’re talking about today is stamina. Stamina is your ability to maintain a pace for a long time. Stamina comprises endurance and economy. Endurance is your ability to cover a distance or to persist for a time. Economy is a traditionally quantified as the steady state oxygen consumption at a given running velocity. For our purposes, economy of running is the energy required to run at a given pace. Today’s episode is meant to introduce the key concepts and functional goals of improving endurance and economy so that you can improve stamina. Today, we also explain endurance as a capacity and how to increase endurance within the context of consistency for sufficient and relative weekly volumes. We also outline how to progress training volume of easy running and how to test your bioenergetic and physiological capacity profile with an easy run test. Then we added strides as a salvo into developing economy. Economy will be the next topic in the series on training your body for ultra-marathons.

Apr 19, 2019
Are You Recovering?

Workouts are when you stress your body. The rest of the day is when you improve. That's what we call recovery. Not only recovering to be able to do it again (get back to pre-workout capacity) but also adapt and become stronger (a new baseline capacity). Coaches Ian Sharman, David Roche, Krissy Moehl, and Shawn Bearden discuss recovery in today's Coaches' Corner.

Watch the discussion on our YouTube channel:

Each coach can be reached through their respective websites:

Krissy Moehl

David Roche

Ian Sharman

Shawn Bearden


Apr 03, 2019
Why, What, How

As we begin to dissect the three domains of training - mind, body, craft - start by answering Why and What. Then we can decide How to train. Your answers are unique to you. This episode will give you definitions and guidance on answering Why and What for yourself.

Mar 29, 2019
What's to come from SOUP

The format of SOUP is going to shift a little. Here's what you can expect.

Mar 08, 2019
Get Your Head Right For Your First Ultra

Part 2 of our conversation into the considerations for your first ultra marathon. In today's episode we focus mostly on the mental aspects of getting it right.

Feb 28, 2019
Ellie Greenwood

Today we dive deep into the mind of ultra runner and coach, Ellie Greenwood. We discuss everything from competition vs participation to the benefits of multidirectional sports in the development of a trail runner to how she prescribes intensity in training the athletes she coaches. You can connect with her at Twitter: @eLLiejG Facebook and Instagram: EllieJGreenwood

Feb 06, 2019
Straight to Ultra

Should you run a marathon before signing up for an ultra-marathon? Coaches Ian Sharman, David Roche, Krissy Moehl, and Shawn Bearden discuss that question in today's Coaches' Corner.

Watch the discussion on our YouTube channel:

Each coach can be reached through their respective websites:
Krissy Moehl
David Roche
Ian Sharman
Shawn Bearden

Feb 01, 2019
Amelia Boone: Obstacles To Ultras

Amelia Boone is the most accomplished obstacle course racer on the planet. Now she's running ultra marathons. What does it take to make that transition? What do success and failure look like to someone so dominant in one sport and very good in another? What motivates and drives Amelia's passion for endurance sports? We learn about all these topics and more in today's conversation, which is an in-person interview near her home California.

Jan 09, 2019
Speed Training for Ultras?

Train for speed when you're training for ultra-marathons...wuh? Should ultra runners train for speed? Short answer: yes! And, that's the topic of this edition of Coaches' Corner with David Roche, Ian Sharman, Krissy Moehl, and Shawn Bearden.

Watch the discussion on our YouTube channel:

Each coach can be reached through their respective websites:

Krissy Moehl

David Roche

Ian Sharman

Shawn Bearden


Dec 26, 2018
Matters of the Foot with Missy Thompson, PhD

We've learned about foot strike patterns but never quite like this. What's the role of sensory feedback and shoe cushioning on foot strike and on your running patterns? Today we get deeper insights into these issues so you can make more informed decisions about your shoe choices and running mechanics with Missy Thompson, PhD.

Connect with her:
Instagram: flcexercisescience
Twitter: FLC_Exercise Science
Facebook: FLCExerciseScience

Dec 20, 2018
RISE for Mental Training

How do you handle adversity in the moment? Do you have a mental training practice? You know that ultra-marathon running is as much mental as it is physical. RISE to train your mind as well as you train your body.

Dec 03, 2018
Is Cross-training Essential for Runners?

Runners need to run. Ultra-marathon runner need to run a lot. But could you be more effective spending some of that time cross-training?

If you’re looking for a coach, or just have questions, you can reach:

David Roche at

Ian Sharman at

Krissy Moehl at

Shawn Bearden at

If you want to submit a True/False statement for us to discuss on a future episode of Coaches’ Corner, send it to


Nov 14, 2018
Luke Nelson and Tor de Geants

My guest today is Luke Nelson. He's a physician assistant, race director, husband, father, and public lands activist. He’s been on the podium at many of the top ultras, set course records, and has set numerous FKTs of mountain linkups and traverses. Prior to getting fully into mountain running, in 2012 he was the U.S. Ski Mountaineering National Champion. He’s active on Instargram and you can follow him @slukenelson He’s and ambassador for Patagonia and also runs for La Sportiva, GU, Zeal Optics, Jaybird, Suunto. And, in August of 2018, he placed 8th at the legendary Tor de Geants. Our conversation today is mostly about his preparation and experience in that race but we get into a lot more as well. He’s also a friend and neighbor of mine, so we recorded the episode when he joined me at my house. If you’d like to support the podcast and keep it advertisement-free, go to If you want to take your training to the next level, and you’re interested in hiring me to be your coach, go to

Oct 19, 2018
Are Injuries Preventable?

True or False: Injuries are usually predictable and preventable. Coaches David Roche, Ian Sharman, Krissy Moehl, and Shawn Bearden discuss their answers in our ongoing series, Coaches' Corner.

David Roche

Ian Sharman

Krissy Moehl

Shawn Bearden

Oct 10, 2018
Megan Roche, MD part 2 of 2

Part 2 (of 2) in this extraordinary interview with Dr. Megan Roche. We talk about everything from research to coaching to dysfunctional eating to experiencing joy in a lifestyle of running. Megan Roche is a medical doctor, coach, scientist, book author, and exceptional trail runner.

Oct 05, 2018
Megan Roche, MD

Megan Roche is a medical doctor, extraordinary trail runner, coach, scientist, and book author. This episode is the first in a two-part interview. We talk about everything from research to coaching to joy in running.

Sep 20, 2018
Coaches' Corner: Performance Metrics

True or False: Performance metrics are important for optimizing outcomes

Sep 11, 2018
Nutrition Basics with Nancy Clark, RD

The title says it all. Everything you should know about the foundations of a good diet from one of today's leading practitioners, nutritionist Nancy Clark, RD.

Aug 16, 2018
Coaches' Corner: Volume or Intensity

This is the first episode of Coaches’ Corner, a new and ongoing series with several of the top trail running coaches in the world, Krissy Moehl, David Roche, Ian Sharman, and me. Each of these episodes is intended to highlight a specific topic relevant to all trail runners. We start in the form of a T/F statement, get a one-word answer from each coach, and then discuss the nuances that make the real answer less clear. Ultimately, the purpose is to provide you with information that you can apply to your own training. These are also published on our YouTube channel at The T/F statement for today's episode is: There’s a minimum volume of running required before adding any structured workouts (such as intervals or hills) becomes more useful than simply adding more volume

Aug 08, 2018
When To Walk And Other Insights with Athlete-Scientist Nicola Giovanelli, PhD

When to walk vs run on inclines, how can poles help, use water in your weighted vest...practical gems from this top athlete and applied scientist.

Jul 26, 2018
Trail Runner Biomechanics

Marlene Giandolini, PhD and Sebastien Pavailler, PhD are biomechanists who work for Salomon. Today, they bring us insights from their research and the applied intersection of biomechanics, trail running, and shoe design. We discuss everything from trail runner kinematics to shoe drop to foot swelling. So much valuable and new information in this one!

Jul 12, 2018
Downhill Running and Field Studies of Ultra Runners with Gianluca Vernillo, PhD

Gianluca Vernillo, PhD is one of the world's leading scientists studying mountain ultra trail runners. Today he brings a vast amount of science and practical insight from his years of studying the uphill, downhill, and other physiologic features of extreme endurance running in the world's toughest mountain courses.

Jun 28, 2018
Intervals Like A Pro with Stephen Seiler PhD

How do the best endurance athletes partition their training? Most of understand what it is to go out for an easy run, but what about intervals. How do the best in the world do it? And, what does the science show about how you should design your interval workouts? What should you do for work duration, rest duration, total work, frequency, and effort level? These are the principle issues we discuss in this episode. And, we wrap up with parting advice from Dr. Seiler that you must hear if you're going to become your ultra best.

May 24, 2018
Athlete Spotlight with Dylan Bowman

Professional runner Dylan Bowman invited me into his home to discuss his running. We cover topics ranging from his development and early years, to his motivations and mindset, to racing strategy and more.

May 10, 2018
Training on Low Glycogen

Interested in training on low glycogen levels? Doing it by running in the morning, without breakfast? If so, you may not be doing what you intend. In this episode, I explain why...and provide an actionable and reliable approach to do it right.

Apr 19, 2018
Avoiding the Mediocrity of the Middle

Have you heard this before…keep your easy days easy and your hard days hard? Well, is there a physiologic basis for not spending much time training in the middle? Is there a downside to training in the middle? Tempo runs are supposed to be important, aren’t they, and they’re in the middle? Exercise bio-energeticists, such as myself, describe three zones or domains of exercise intensity based on the ratio of oxygen consumption to work rate and the sustainability of the intensity. These three domains are termed: moderate, heavy, and severe. In this episode, you’ll learn some of the physiologic bases for why you should train mostly in the moderate domain, some in the severe domain and little to none in the middle (the heavy domain).

Mar 28, 2018
Running Insights with Author Alex Hutchinson

Alex Hutchinson is a prolific science-based writer who covers all facets of running. In this interview, we dig into the insights he's developed over the years and talk about his new book: Endure: Mind, Body, and the Curiously Elastic Limits of Human Performance.

Mar 08, 2018
Amino Acids and Supplements with Philip Atherton PhD

Amino acids, the leucine trigger, and branched chain amino acids. What do you need, should you supplement, do they aid performance...all these question answered and much more.

Feb 22, 2018
Recovery Strategies

An overview of recovery strategies with Dr. Shona Halson, Senior Recovery Physiologist at the Australian Institute of Sport.

Feb 08, 2018
Best Wrap-ups From The First 25

Today’s episode is a special compilation of advice from some of the brightest and most insightful minds in the world of sports physiology. I ask many of my guests for their insight and wisdom into the biggest mistakes and the most grounded advice from their years of experience in respective fields. This special episode of Science Of Ultra is a curation of the practical wisdom in those answers from the first 25 episodes.

Jan 25, 2018
63 SOUP Bites 3

Listener questions answered!

Dec 14, 2017
62 Athlete Spotlight with Andrew Skurka

Backpacking legend, Andrew Skurka, is also an outstanding ultra runner. Today, we learn about the psychology, mindset, and perspectives it takes to become one of the most accomplished adventurers in the world.

Nov 29, 2017
61 Respiratory Muscle Fatigue and Training with Darlene Reid, PhD

So, you've been running for 4...6...10...18...24...hours. Yes, your legs are tired. But, what about your respiratory muscles? Are they suited to breathing heavily for that long? Do they fatigue? Does greater effort to breath in a long ultra translate into higher ratings of perceived exertion? Check out my interview with Darlene Reid, PhD to learn the answers to those questions and how you can train your respiratory muscle to become your ultra best!

Nov 16, 2017
60 Neurological Fatigue in Ultramarathons with Guillaume Millet PhD

Guillaume Millet, Ph.D. is the world's leading expert on neuromuscular fatigue in ultramarathons. We explore the many facets of fatigue and bring his years of field research to you in practical and applied terms that you can use to help become your ultra best.

Nov 01, 2017
59 Neuromuscular control and fatigue with Roger Enoka PhD

Dr. Roger Enoka is the world’s leading expert on the neuromuscular determinants of movement in health and disease. Today we talk about the physiology of controlling muscle force, new paradigms for viewing fatigue, muscle cramps, and aging. He also answers the question, “why is running fast downhill beneficial for a runners development?”.

Oct 13, 2017
58 Tendons and Sinews with Keith Baar, PhD

The structures that transmit force from muscle cells to bone are critical components of your running health and economy in addition to a common site of injury. Today we learn all about tendons and sinews from the world's leading expert on this topic.

Sep 21, 2017
57 SOUP Bites 2

Answers to listener questions.

Aug 31, 2017
56 SOUP Bites 1

In this first installment of the SOUP Bites series, I answer your questions. Today we cover questions on heat acclimatization for altitude performance, veganism, building hiking into training even if you live in a flat area, respiratory discomfort after endurance exercise, foam rolling, weight lifting, mental fogginess after endurance events, body weight, and taking time off for niggling injuries.

Jul 26, 2017
55 Critical Power/Speed with David Poole, PhD

A deep scientific discussion of the concept of critical power/critical speed as the 'fatigue threshold' with an emphasis on how it may apply to ultra-endurance training and performance.

Jul 12, 2017
54 Shoes and Biomechanics with John Mercer PhD

Today we touch on a variety of topics in biomechanics, from shoe cushioning to children's shoes to pool running...and more...

Jun 28, 2017
53 SOUP Bites

Introduction of a new episode category: SOUP Bites. You have specific questions. In SOUP Bites, you'll get specific answers!

Jun 07, 2017
52 Questioning Training Dogma with John Kiely, PhD

A thought-provoking analysis of training dogma, practices, and approaches from one of the world's leading experts on program development.

May 24, 2017
51 Coach's Corner with David Roche

One of the highest profile and most sought after coaches in ultra marathon running, David Roche delivers novel approaches to training athletes that may help you as much as they've helped his runners.

May 10, 2017
50 Performance Predictors with Beat Knechtle MD

An overview of the best predictors of ultra endurance performance from the world's leading expert. The data may surprise you...

Apr 26, 2017
49 Recovery Science with Jonathan Peake, PhD

Soup to nuts on our current understanding of recovery from one of the scientific leaders in the field. Dr. Peake is a colleague of Dr. Neubauer, who was on last episode (#48), discussing the immune system in recovery. Today we broaden the discussion and talk about the other knowns and unknowns on the topic.

Apr 12, 2017
48 Recovery and the immune system with Oliver Neubauer PhD

Think the immune system just helps to keep us from getting sick or recover from illness? Think again...

Mar 29, 2017
47 Healthy Running with Doc Andrew Murray

Dr. Andrew Murray is a Scottish ultra-distance runner, family medicine practitioner, and author of 'Running Your Best: Some Science and Medicine' and 'Running Beyond Limits: The Adventures of an Ultra Marathon Runner'. Today we sit down for a chat about best practices in staying healthy and making physical activity part of your life for better training gains.

Mar 15, 2017
46 Genetics with Claude Bouchard PhD

Legendary geneticist Claude Bouchard, PhD joined me for a pragmatic discussion. In discussion of genetics, the focus is often on the genetic outliers and extremes of potential. While that's always fun, today's discussion is focused on what we know that is relevant to you. Dr. Bouchard is THE living legend in the field of the genetic underpinnings of responses to exercise; his group literally invented the field that seeks to understand variability in exercise responses to training at the genetic level.

Mar 01, 2017
45 Ultra Mindset with Travis Macy

Author of 'The Ultra Mindset', Travis Macy, sits down with us to discuss the book and share his insights into mental side of our sport.

Feb 15, 2017
44 Developing Your Hydration Strategy with Bob Kenefick PhD

This week I interviewed Bob Kenefick PhD and we outline a strategy for you to develop your approach to staying properly hydrated - actionable info! And - I'm running the World Marathon Challenge, 7 marathons 7 continents 7 days, with your partnership. I'm running to raise awareness and end the stigma around depression. Beyond the expenses of the challenge, all funds raised go to the International Foundation for Research and Education on Depression ( Help give me a voice and send me around the world spreading the message to bring depression into the light!

Feb 01, 2017
43 Athlete Spotlight with Mike Wardian

In this week’s episode, I sat down with Mike Wardian. He's one of the most prolific runners on planet Earth. As this episode airs, he’s traveling the world to complete seven marathons on seven continents in seven days. He’s a font of information on how to be successful while making running a lifestyle. And, yes, he actually has a ‘regular job’. How does he do it? Listen and learn.

Jan 18, 2017
42 Optimizing Protein Intake with Luc van Loon, PhD

Everything you need to know for optimal protein nutrition to maximize your training and adaption. Dr. van Loon joins us from the Netherlands where he leads a large and outstanding research group. He's the world's leading expert on this topic. How much, when, what about sex differences, what about aging, right after training, what about over night...we cover it all!

Dec 06, 2016
41 Biomechanics and Injury with Richard Willy PhD PT

Everything you need to know about the fundamentals of biomechanics as they relate to injury in runners. Lots of actionable info in this one!

Nov 22, 2016
40 Biomechanics and Energetics with Rodger Kram, PhD

We dive into Dr. Kram's research on biomechanics and energy utilization, running economy, and the things you need to pay attention to as well as what you don't.

Nov 08, 2016
39 Athlete Spotlight: Stephanie Howe Violett, PhD

A comprehensive conversation with elite ultra runner Stephanie Howe Violett, PhD where we talk about her year of injuries, her approaches to injury recovery and to training, and her expertise (PhD) in sports nutrition.

Oct 25, 2016
38 What is training?

What do you mean when you use the word 'training'? Today, we start a project, together, to create a training framework.

Oct 11, 2016
37 GI Distress at the Western States 100 with Kristin Stuempfle, PhD

Recent research findings from research at the Western States Endurance Run on gastrointestinal distress.

Sep 27, 2016
36 Event Recovery with Natalie Badowski Wu, MD

Findings from recent research on recovery practices and their effectiveness for ultra marathon finishers.

Sep 13, 2016
35 Adrenal Fatigue, Really?

The myth of adrenal fatigue.

Aug 30, 2016
34 Athlete Spotlight with Magdalena Boulet

Western States champion (2015), Magdalena Boulet, joins me for an amazing episode. Learn all the ins and outs of her training, racing approaches, nutrition strategies, and much more!

Aug 16, 2016
33 Coach's Corner: Coaching Roundtable

Roundtable discussion with three coaches (Paul Lind, Andrew Simmons, Ty Draney) recorded on location, including audience questions.

Aug 02, 2016
32 Coach's Corner with Ian Torrence

Ian Torrence has complete nearly 200 ultra distance events and has won approximately 25% of them. He has important advice to give regarding longevity in the sport and approaches to DNFing that you need to hear if you want to be successful in this sport for years to come.

Jul 19, 2016
31 High Intensity Interval Training with Martin Gibala, PhD

You are an endurance runner. So, what's the point in doing high intensity interval training (HIIT)? Whether you are new to endurance running or a seasoned veteran, you will benefit from HIIT. We explore how, what, when, and why in this episode.

Jul 05, 2016
30 Heat Acclimation with Chris Minson, PhD

Learn how to prepare for performance in the heat and how heat acclimation can actually improve your performance in moderate temperatures.

Jun 21, 2016
29 Altitude Physiology with Ben Levine, MD

Ben Levine, MD is among the legends of exercise cardiology and altitude physiology in sport performance. It is an honor to have him join the Ultra Clan for this amazing interview, packed with heaps of evidence-based, applicable, relevant, and actionable knowledge.

Jun 07, 2016
28 Athlete Spotlight with Mathew Laye, PhD

Today, I shine the spotlight on Mathew Laye, PhD. He is a scientist, coach, and athlete. As winner of the Rocky Raccoon 100 miler, along with his scientific and coaching background, he brings a rare mix of all three areas of expertise in ultra marathon training and racing to the show.

May 24, 2016
27 Heart Health with Larry Creswell, MD and Aaron Baggish, MD

A double episode. Interviews with cardiologists Larry Creswell M.D. and Aaron Baggish M.D. They are at the forefront of heart health in endurance athletes. Is ultra marathon running okay for your heart? Listen and learn.

May 10, 2016
26 Athlete Spotlight: Terri Schneider

My guest today has had a life of endurance, persistence, adventure and exploration that we can all learn from. My guest is Terri Schneider. She was a professional triathlete for nine years, has raced multi-day eco-adventures around the planet, and is an ultra marathon veteran. We explore her life of endurance pursuits through the lens of her recent book, Dirty Inspirations: Lessons from the trenches of extreme endurance sports.

Apr 26, 2016
25 Running Economy with Andrew Kilding, PhD and Kyle Barnes, PhD

This week, we explore the ins and outs of economical running. Learn what you can do to improve yours and to what extent it will make a difference in your performance.

Apr 12, 2016
24 High Pressure Psychology with Michael Gervais, PhD

My guest today is Michael Gervais, PhD. He has been described as an industry visionary. Dr. Gervais is a licensed psychologist who focuses most of his time on people at the "top of their game", including the NFL's Seattle Seahawks, NBA players, Olympians, military personnel and corporate leaders. While spending years in the trenches of high-stakes circumstances, he has developed clarity for the tools that allow people to pursue their potential.

Mar 29, 2016
23 Foot Care with John VonHof

My guest today is John VonHof. He literally wrote the book on foot care for the athlete, Fixing Your Feet. You can learn more from him on his website,

Today we dig into all the essential components of good foot care, from shoe fitting to blister care. We wrap up by defining the essential features of a good minimalist foot care kit for your next run or adventure.

Mar 15, 2016
22 Athlete Spotlight: Max King

My guest this week is Max King. He won the 2011 World Mountain Running Championships and the 2014 IAU 100 km World Championship. He’s won numerous national titles at distances ranging from half marathons to ultra marathons and he was named U.S. national mountain runner of the year in 2011. He is a back-to-back winner of the Warrior Dash world championship, winning in 2014 and 2015. Also, in 2014 he tackled his first 100 mile race, the legendary and extremely competitive Western States 100 mile Endurance Run where he finished 4th.

Mar 01, 2016
21 Psychological Fatigue with Sam Marcora, PhD and Alister McCormick, PhD

An incredible episode on psychological fatigue. Is fatigue in ultra endurance performance mostly in your mind? What can you do to stay psychologically motivated to keep going? Listen and learn on today's episode with the pioneering experts on this topic.

Feb 16, 2016
20 Barefoot Running with Daniel Lieberman, PhD
My guest today is Daniel Lieberman, PhD
Dr. Lieberman is Professor and Chair of the Department of Human Evolutionary Biology, and the Edwin M. Lerner II Professor of Biological Sciences at Harvard University. He was educated at Harvard and Cambridge. He studies how and why the human body is the way it is, and the relevance of human evolution to contemporary health. His major research foci include the evolution of long distance walking and running abilities as well as the effects of shoes on locomotor biomechanics and injury; he also studies the evolution of the highly unusual human head. His work has been funded by the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, and many other groups and foundations. He has ongoing fieldwork projects in Kenya and Mexico. In addition to over 130 peer-reviewed research articles, he’s published several books including "The Evolution of the Human Head (Harvard University Press, 2011), and “The Story of the Human Body” (Pantheon, 2013). If you’ve read the book “Born to Run”, then you’re already familiar with his work because that title was actually the title of a cover in the journal Nature that featured his research well before the book of the same title; and my guest is a major figure in the book itself.
In this episode, we explore the evolution of running, the biomechanics of barefoot running, and what shoe cushioning is and does for (and to) us. We make the distinction among barefoot, minimalist, and cushioned shoes and learn about the interesting effect of barefoot running, and possibly minimalist shoe running, on normalizing foot arches.
As always, we wrap up with some actionable answers to fundamental questions in barefoot running when I ask Dr. Lieberman,
  1. What are the most common misconceptions you see in the running community with respect to barefoot vs shod running?
  2. Based on all your research, are their compelling reasons to consider barefoot or minimalist running from an endurance performance standpoint?
  3. Is there any reason to think that someone running ultra marathons would perform better or be less injury prone by switching to barefoot or minimalist running if fully and properly adapted.
  4. Should runners pay attention to their foot strike or should they just let their bodies do what’s comfortable and allow natural biomechanical adjustments to develop without conscious input?
Feb 02, 2016
19 Fat Adaptation with Louise Burke, PhD
My guest today is Louise Burke, PhD
Dr. Burke is Head of Discipline in Sports Nutrition for the Australian Institute of Sport. She is also Chair in Sports Nutrition, Mary MacKillop Institute for Health Research, Australian Catholic University. She served as Team dietitian for the Australian Olympic team for the past 5 Olympics ( specifacally in: 1996, 2000, 2004, 2008 and 2012). Her long list of peer-reviewed publications have been cited nearly 4,000 times. She is the author of the books Practical Sports Nutrition and Clinical Sports Nutrition. She is one of the top sports nutrition experts on the planet and she is a world leading expert on today’s topic of fat adaptation in endurance sport training and performance.
How much hype and hyperbole have you heard on the topic of fat adaptation in endurance performance? How often have you wanted the rigorous answers to specific questions on whether the science truly bears out this approach? Within the ultra marathon community, the idea of adapting substrate sources to prefer fat is a very popular topic. The idea is that a higher percentage use of fat will spare glycogen and thereby improve performance in an endurance event. Basically, the intent is to delay running out of internal stores of carbohydrate because it may be challenging to ingest and absorb carbohydrates at a rate that can keep up with use in an ultra marathon.
Today, Dr. Burke helps us understand the history of this topic and cuts straight to the unbiased exploration of the currently available data. Note that this idea has been around for a long time and it’s current popularity is a renaissance of previous waves of enthusiasm. What’s the real skinny on fat adaptation? This episode covers it all, including best practice guidelines for your top performance.
Our wrap-up action items today are the answers to:
  1. What are the most common mistakes Dr. Burke sees ultra endurance athletes making with their overall nutrition? And, what should you be doing?
  2. What would she say to an ultra endurance athlete interested in training and performing at their best today, regarding fat adapting diets?
Jan 19, 2016
18 Fatigue with Michael Joyner, MD
My guest today is Michael Joyner, MD. He would need no introduction in the field of exercise physiology. Dr. Joyner is an integrative physiologist, scientist, and evidence-based Anesthesiologist at the Mayo Clinic. His specific areas of expertise include autonomic control of circulation, muscle and skin blood flow, exercise, oxygen transport and metabolic regulation in humans. Additionally, much of his lab’s work in these areas includes the study of aging. This work has been continuously funded by the NIH since the early 1990s. The list of his awards and honors is lengthy; suffice it to say that he has received many of the highest awards in the fields of physiology, medicine, and exercise. Most scientists would feel they had a worthy career with 2 or 3 seminal papers on a subject. My guest today has a list of seminal publications longer than many scientists complete lists. Dr. Joyner published over 350 scientific papers, and many books and book chapters; with many thousands of citations. Simply put, Dr. Joyner is one of the most influential figures in modern exercise science, from molecules & mechanisms to health advocacy. He is also an avid runner.
Later in the interview, you get a glimpse into his knowledge base in the history of running and runners. He rattles off runners and other elite athletes, their ages, and times of performance over many decades. This breadth and depth of knowledge allows him to bring to you amazing insights and many thoughtful ideas….including a haiku!
You can connect with Dr. Joyner at:
Twitter: @DrMJoyner
Dr. Joyner answers many questions, including:
  1. What are the definition(s) of fatigue?
  2. How does ‘fatigue’ differ from ‘tired’ and where do they overlap physiologically.
  3. What are the causes of fatigue in extreme cases or high intensity: occlusion of blood flow, max sprint, constant effort at ~maximal lactate steady state (fatigue in about an hour or two)?
  4. When we talk about VO2max, we generally consider the cardiovascular system - delivery of oxygen-rich blood - as the major limiting factor based on the knowledge that isolated muscle (like in single leg lifts) can consume more oxygen per 100 grams than that same tissue does at whole body VO2max. Is there a role of the cardiovascular system in exhaustion if we maintain fluid and electrolyte homeostasis?
  5. Muscle micro-trauma is likely to be a major cause of fatigue in ultras. First, what exactly is the muscle trauma and damage that is occurring during ultra marathons? Second, is this likely to be a major source of fatigue?
  6. What is the physiological basis of cardiac drift and does it have a role in fatigue or exhaustion?
  7. Fatigue is very complicated when we consider running ultra marathons. What can we say are likely contributors? Are there any factors that might be contributors in higher intensity effort that are not likely to contribute to fatigue in an ultra marathon?
  8. What do we know about aging an endurance performance relevant to fatigue?
  9. In longer events, we are likely to become relatively depleted of stored glycogen before the end of the race. If our event lasts hours…perhaps many hours…longer, and we can consume and absorb 60-90 g of carbohydrates per hour - will substrate availability contribute to fatigue even if we slow down enough to match energy intake with utilization? In other words, is there anything about being in the depleted state for a long period of time (muscle cells contracting with little internal carbohydrate) that shifts efficiency so as to contribute to fatigue?
  10. What do we know about the nature of systemic feedback signals to the brain that may contribute to fatigue/exhaustion in ultras?
  11. What do we know about the brain and motivational fatigue in events that require moderate effort for many hours, over night, and some times even multi-day?
  12. What role does sleep deprivation play in fatigue/exhaustion?
We develop a list of the expected common or primary predicted sources of fatigue/exhaustion in ultra events.
We wrap up with two action questions.
  1. What are the most common misunderstandings for misconceptions about fatigue and exhaustion in ultra endurance performance?
  2. What are the 3-4 most important actions we can take to stave off fatigue or exhaustion in an ultra endurance event (what can we do about the most common causes)?
Jan 05, 2016
17 Athlete Spotlight: Jennifer Pharr Davis

My guest today is Jennifer Pharr Davis. She is an author, speaker, and a National Geographic Adventurer of the Year.

Jennifer is among the most well known of American long distance hikers. She holds the record for the women’s FKT for a thru-hike of the Appalachian trail; a record which was the overall outright record for several years and fell by only 3 hrs 12 minutes in the summer of 2015. She has hiked over 12,000 miles on six different continents, including thru-hikes on the Pacific Crest Trail, the Appalachian Trail (three times), the Colorado Trail, the Long Trail in Vermont, the Bibbulmun Track in Australia, and numerous trails in Europe and South America, including the Tour du Mont Blanc, which ultra marathon runners will be familiar with.

Connect with Jennifer:
1) On the trail!
2) Facebook: Jennifer Pharr Davis
3) Twitter and Instagram: JenPharrDavis
4) Her company:
5) Books: Becoming Odyssa and Called Again: A Story of Love and Triumph

She answered many questions on this in depth interview, including:

You hiked that AT in 2005, 2008, and the overall record setting year 2011. Your first women’s record of the trail in 2008 was a bit over 57 days; in 2011 you destroyed that record and did the trail in a bit over 46 days. How did that enormous improvement come about?

Would you describe the demands of a long-distance thru-hike? Granted that weather can have a big impact, what does a ‘typical’ day look like for a long distance thru hiker?

Are you ever running/jogging during a thru-hike or is it all hiking?

Tell us about your training for a thru-hike. In your experience, would a 3-4+ week thru-hike be good training for ultra marathons of 100 miles or longer?

How do you handle sleep deprivation, or functioning on little sleep, for weeks on end? Tell us about your nutrition for a thru-hike.

Tell us about your foot care on a thru-hike.

You wrote an article recently for the New York Times for which you explored the topic of sex differences, or lack thereof, in ultra distance events. Tell us about that.

Tell us about the psychological demands of a major thru-hike.

As an exceptional, experienced, and accomplished ultra-endurance athlete, you have surely had some very dark moments (mentally).
Would you take us to back to your darkest experience, tell us that story and how you handled it?

We wrapped up with some advice for ultra marathon runners interested in tackling a thru-hike.

Dec 29, 2015
16 GI Distress with Patrick Wilson, PhD
My guest today is Patrick Wilson, PhD and RD. He is Assistant Professor of exercise science in the Human Movement Sciences Department at Old Dominion University, in Norfolk, VA, where he also directs the Human Performance Laboratory. He earned a Ph.D. in Kinesiology from the University of Minnesota, where he also received training in the areas of public health and epidemiology. He completed his post-doctoral research training at the Nebraska Athletic Performance Laboratory, specializing in sport nutrition applications for collegiate athletes. And, he is also credentialed as a registered dietitian. 
He has authored numerous peer-reviewed publications covering a wide variety of sport nutrition-related topics. He has conducted both laboratory- and field-based research examining the effects of nutrition on endurance exercise performance, including the effects of carbohydrate composition on gastrointestinal distress and performance during prolonged running. His studies have included marathon runners, ultra-endurance runners, and Ironman competitors.
In this episode, we cover all the angles on gastrointestinal (GI) distress as it applies to ultra runners. You learn the major factors that influence GI distress and how to maximize your chances of keeping your GI tract happy.
In the wrap-up, he answers two key questions.
1. What is the biggest mistake athletes make regarding food/drink intake and GI distress?
2. What take-home recommendation would you give for athletes to reduce their chances of developing GI distress in ultra events?
Dec 22, 2015
15 Athlete Spotlight: William Sichel

William is a 62 year old British and Scottish international athlete and has set 160 ultra distance running records (from 30 miles on the track to 3100 miles/ 5000 kms on the road) at World, British and Scottish level including age-group records.

Connect with William:;  Twitter: @williamsichel;  Facebook:

Since 1994 William has competed in 92 ultra marathons at home and abroad – winning 16 of them. He has also represented Great Britain 11 times and Scotland 7 times.

William has three grandchildren and has been self-employed all his life.

Since 1982 William has lived in the remote Orkney Islands, off the north coast of Scotland, 750 miles north of London.

In this episode we learn all about the training William follows to compete and succeed in extreme ultra endurance events.

Dec 15, 2015
13 Carbohydrate for Ultra Athletes with Asker Jeukendrup, PhD
Science of Ultra   Episode 13   Carbohydrates for ultra marathon training and racing
My guest today is Asker Jeukendrup, PhD. He is a leading sports nutritionist and exercise physiologist who spent most of his career at the University of Birmingham (UK), where he was a Professor of Exercise Metabolism and Director of Research. He worked the last 4 years for PepsiCo as Global Senior Director of the Gatorade Sports Science Institute Based in Barrington IL (US). He is currently running a consulting business “Mysportscience” and is a visiting professor at Loughborough University. During his career he authored over 200 research papers and book chapters, many of which have helped to change the sports nutrition landscape. He is also the author of 8 books. He is the former editor of the European Journal of Sport Science and Associate editor of the Journal of Sports Sciences. During his career he worked with many elite athletes and teams including several World and Olympic champions. He also practices what he preaches and is competing in Ironman distance triathlons as well as other endurance events. To date he has completed 21 Ironman races including 6 times at the Ironman world Championship in Hawaii. 
You can connect with Dr. Jeukendrup:
Twitter @jeukendrup
Here are some of the questions Dr. Jeukendrup answers:
  1. On a daily basis, what are the carbohydrate needs of an ultra endurance athlete?
  2. How many calories can most people digest and absorb per hour when running?
  3. What is the fate of consumed carbohydrate relative to stores while exercising?
  4. What are the key factors to be considered with respect to the carbohydrates during a long event that may last 24 hrs?
  5. Can we predict when relative glycogen depletion might occur in an ultra marathon?
  6. What should we consider when we are choosing specific high-carbohydrate foods?
  7. What are the key issues to consider relative to the timing of carbohydrate intake prior to, during, and following training workouts?
  8. What about timing of carbohydrate consumption for a race event?
  9. Is glycemic index of a given food different when running vs at rest?
  10. For those who don’t like sweet tastes while exercising or late in races, what are the sources of simple carbs that don’t taste sweet?
  11. Are there data, or any good reason to expect, that any aspect of carbohydrate digestion/optimal sources/etc. will change over the course of an ultra marathon? Does carbohydrate physiology change when we go way beyond the better understood distance of marathon? 
  12. Is consumption of foods that contain protein, fat, or fiber a concern in light of effects on gastric emptying?
  13. When we consume carbohydrate during a run but prior to reaching very low levels of glycogen in muscle and liver, are those calories used more/less/equally to stored muscle glycogen?
  14. Can carbohydrate consumption keep us from reaching a muscle and/or liver glycogen depleted state?
  15. What is the relation between carbohydrates (type, source, complexity?) and likelihood of GI distress?
  16. Tell us about the topic of ‘fat adaptation’ to spare glycogen. From my reading and understanding, there is no good evidence that fat adaptation provides any benefit to endurance performance and it may even impair higher intensity performance (like going uphill) by not ‘sparing’ glycogen but rather by ‘impairing’ glycogen utilization…that apparent sparing may actually be a side effect of impaired utilization.
  17. How does caffeine ingestion interact with endogenous and exogenous substrate utilization?
  18. GI distress late in a race makes it difficult for some people to retain any calories they might swallow. Tell us about this interesting topic of ‘mouth sensing’ and what it might do for us in that situation.
We wrap up with a couple of focused action items:
1) What are the 2-3 biggest mistakes or misconceptions that you see endurance athletes make regarding carbohydrate and fueling for performance? 
2) What advice do you have for runners wanting to dial in their carbohydrate strategies (maximizing calories, best sources for them, etc.) for training and racing? 
Dec 01, 2015
12 Athlete Spotlight: Cody Lind

My guest today is Cody Lind. He's sponsored by Scott and, at age 20, is a rising start in the ultra marathon community. He set five course records and placed second in the U.S. Sky Running Series.

We talk about his training, racing, and his perspectives on running. From big weekly mileage to big weekly vertical, Cody trains hard. Learn about his special connection to the Western States 100 mile Endurance Run and what it takes for even a gifted runner to do well in Sky Running in the U.S.

Nov 24, 2015
11 Protein for Endurance Athletes with Stuart Phillips, PhD
My guest today is Stuart Phillips, Ph.D. He obtained his Ph.D. from the University of Waterloo in Human Physiology. He joined McMaster University in 1999 as an Assistant Professor and is currently a full Professor in the Department of Kinesiology and Medicine. He is also the inaugural Director of the McMaster Centre for Nutrition, Exercise, and Health Research. His research is focused on the impact of nutrition and exercise on human protein turnover, specifically in muscle. He is also interested in how exercise and protein impact body composition, strength, and function in aging. His research is funded by the Canadian Institutes for Health Research, the National Science and Engineering Council of Canada, the US Department of Agriculture, and the Canadian Foundation for Innovation. He has authored more than 190 research papers and several newspaper and magazine articles.
In this episode, we learn:
  1. What are the overall (daily) protein needs of endurance athletes, and will this differ for ultra marathon runners?
  2. Does it matter if we get it throughout the day vs mostly at one or two meals?
  3. Does our daily average need to be daily or can it average over days?  
  4. Is there a protein hunger, per se, that is reliable and will we self regulate sufficiently?
  5. What is protein used for in an endurance athlete? How much protein is used for energy /ATP?
  6. What do we know, or can we expect about protein needs and use during and following an ultra?
  7. Is protein immediately before, during, or immediately after training handled differently?
  8. Is it beneficial to consume protein immediately after a training bout?
  9. Are there adverse effects of excess protein?
  10. Are all proteins equal?
And, as always, we what up with an advice question:
  • What advice might he give to an ultra marathon runner concerned with their protein intake?
Nov 17, 2015
10 Lactate with Bruce Gladden, PhD
It is defensible to say that no molecule has as much controversy and misunderstanding in all of exercise physiology and sports than lactate.
We start with the basics:
  1. Where do lactate and lactic acid come from - how is it produced?
  2. What happens to lactate / lactic acid once it is produced - what is it’s fate?
  3. We go through some common statements and talk about what’s correct and what is not:
    • "Lactic acid build up is what causes muscle burn."
    • "Lactic acid stays in muscle and causes soreness."
    • "Doing some sort of stretching, massage, or exercise will ‘wash out’ lactic acid from a prior training session."
    • "Now the big one: lactic acid build up causes fatigue."
  4. The ‘lactate threshold’ has had many definitions. These are as disparate as the onset of blood lactic acidosis to the maximal lactate steady state - very different exercise intensities with regard to endurance performance. Dr. Gladden gives us a brief history and explanation.
  5. Gas exchange is a different topic but many attempts have been made to correlate gas exchange thresholds with lactate thresholds and, ultimately, performance capacity thresholds. This is a big topic area, but Dr. Gladden briefly relates gas exchange concepts/thresholds to definitions of lactate thresholds.
  6. We learn the answer to: Is it necessary to exercise at or above the lactate threshold (whichever definition one uses) to increase it or can sub-LT exercise improve the LT?
  7. There is controversy over the source of H+ (hydrogen ions; protons) in exercise ‘acidosis’. Does it come from lactic acid, splitting of ATP, or some other source?
  8. While the maximal lactate steady state is at least a rough idea of the work load that can be sustained for a ‘long time’, ultra marathons last 4-5 hours on the short side and 24-36 hours in the longer events. How long can the workload of MLSS really be sustained even if every other aspect of performance (hydration, core temp, etc.) could be maintained perfectly?
  9. If lactate / lactic acid doesn’t cause fatigue and the MLSS is not sustainable for ultra marathon distances, to what extent is lactate / lactic acid relevant for ultra marathon training or performance?
We wrap up with two questions as take-home points:
1. What is the biggest misunderstanding that endurance athletes have about lactate / lactic acid? And, what is correct?
2. What advice does Dr. Gladden give to an ultra marathon athlete interested in their LT to apply to their training for ultra marathons?
Nov 10, 2015
9 Athlete Spotlight: Luke Nelson
My guest today is Luke Nelson. This episode was recorded on location at the Pocatello Running Co. in Pocatello, Idaho, USA. Luke is the race director for the Scout Mountain Ultra Trail race in Pocatello (held in early June each year). He is a Physician Assistant with a full time job. He is the 2012 US Ski Mountaineering Champion. He won El Vaquero Loco seven years in a row and he is a winner of the Big Horn 100. He’s an Ambassador for La Sportive, Patagonia, and Ultraspire. He’s sponsored by First Endurance and Smith.
Luke tells us all about his training, his experiences over the past year, his approach and experience to the mental side of our sport, and what 2016 has in store. He is a phenomenal athlete and an exceptionally kind and generous person, committed to promoting and preserving wild places. You’re going to love this episode.
Nov 03, 2015
8 Coach's Corner with Jason Koop
My guest today is Jason Koop
  • Director of coaching for Carmichael Training Systems
  • His list of athletes includes some of the biggest names in ultra running but also people like you and me.
  • And, as an accomplished ultra runner himself, he knows first hand all that goes into performing in our sport.
Jason Koop is back…and he answers some very direct questions, like:
  1. In our last episode with Jason, episode 3, he explained his overall approach to training as transitioning from the least race-specific workouts to the most race-specific. A listener might question then, what is the reason for training short interval high intensity far out from a race at all? How does THAT benefit the overall plan and training?
  2. There are proponents of always training below LT, basically training at race pace or lower year 'round. What are Jason's thoughts on that and what are the physiological mistakes in that approach? 
  3. In the fall, many people are thinking about planning the following year. What should we consider as we question which races we sign up for, especially considering necessary recover time between races?
  4. How does he monitor athletes for signs of over-fatigue on a short time frame and over the course of a season?
  5. What is the physiological basis for doing recovery runs (rather than just taking the day off), and how should recovery runs be implemented in the course of a weekly plan?
  6. How does Jason monitor for progress and improvements during a training plan and how does he know it’s time to move on to the next phase of training?
  7. How long is the final phase (‘aerobic’) of training, optimally?
  8. In that final phase, where we are most race specific, what would we expect to be a weekly volume (distance or time) relative to the goal race and how should that volume be distributed throughout a week?
  9. Physiologically, why not divide the desired weekly volume evenly over 6 days, with one day off…what is the distinct benefit of more and less on different days in this final phase?
  10. The big race is now a few weeks away. How do we balance loss of preparedness from tapering with race readiness - what is an effective tapering strategy for shorter ultras like 50k to longer events, like 100 miler?
Plus, Jason answers two  high impact questions…are you ready?
  1. What are the 2 most common mistakes that you see in athletes prior training when they first hire you?
  2. What are the 3-4 key action items that we can put into practice right away to improve our training?
Oct 27, 2015
7 Hydration Physiology: Application
My guests today are veterans of Science of Ultra; they joined me in Episode 4.LISTEN TO THAT EPISODE (#4) FIRST IF YOU HAVEN’T ALREADY. Today we continue our series with them on all things sweating, hydration, electrolytes, and fluid balance. 
Up first is Team Leader of the Thermal and Mountain Medicine Division at the US. Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine (aka USARIEM). In addition to his doctorate in exercise physiology, he is also a registered dietician. My first guest is Dr. Sam Cheuvront. My second guest is Principal Investigator in the Thermal and Mountain Medicine Division at USARIEM. He served as the president of the New England Chapter of the American College of Sports Medicine. And, he is an ultra marathon runner himself. So, he knows first hand what it takes to achieve in our sport. My second guest is Dr. Robert Kenefick. Collectively, my guests have published over 200 peer-reviewed papers, book chapters, and reviews. They are two of the world’s leading scientists in hydration and fluid homeostasis, especially during exercise. 
They work for the U.S. Army. So, we must provide the disclaimer that "The views and/or opinions of Dr.'s Kenefick and Cheuvront are theirs personally and do not reflect the views or opinions of the U.S. Army or DoD."
In the first part of this series, episode 4, we focused on the physiology of fluid and electrolyte balance. That episode is packed with fundamental physiology and what we talk about in this episode builds on what we covered in episode 4. So, you’ll benefit most from this episode if you’ve listened to that episode.
Quick background: We sweat to put water on the surface of our skin, which evaporates to the environment. The transition from liquid to gas requires a large amount of energy; sweating cools us because that energy comes in the form of heat, which is drawn from our skin. Sweat that drips off of us, does not provide that cooling benefit. Either way, that fluid loss eventually impacts all three body fluid compartments, which are 1) blood plasma, 2) intracellular (inside cells), and 3) interstitial (outside cells but not including blood).
Listen and learn the answers to these questions:
  1. We start with a scenario: I go for a long run and during the run my urine is dark; after the run I try to replace fluids by drinking plenty the rest of the day and by bedtime, my urine is a much lighter color. But, when I wake up in the morning, it’s dark again…what’s going on?
  2. What is the time-frame for fluid/electrolyte shifts among body compartments?
  3. As we sweat, the fluid and electrolytes initially come from the interstitial compartment, specifically around the glands near the surface of our skin. As we run and sweat…what do we know about fluid shifts and electrolyte shifts across the three body compartments during prolonged exercise.
  4. Another example, I run and take water = regular urination and clear; drink electrolyte solution = less urination and darker…we talked about the physiology of this in episode 4 but now, putting a real world example to the physiology, what’s happening to me in those cases?
Then we move into specific preparation for performance
Dr. Kenefick is an ultra runner and a leading expert on this topic, plus he has access to all resources for measurement and testing. He must never have any problem with fluid and hydration...right?
  1. Once in a while, we hear advocates of ‘bonk’ runs where one would purposefully dehydrate or go out without water. Clearly, this can be very very dangerous and we recommend against doing bonk runs. Out of curiosity, thought, is there any evidence that we can train in a way that will help us to perform better in a dehydrated or low volume state?
  2. Keeping ALL ELSE EQUAL, what are the practical, relative effects of each of the following on sweating: long clothing vs short vs nothing (same material - just different coverage), tightness of clothing, type of material, color of material?
  3. What are the definitions of adaptation, acclimation, acclimatization?
  4. What does it mean to be acclimatized to a hot environment with respect to body fluids, hydration, and sweating?
  5. What are best practices for preparing to race in warmer environments? Exercise, sauna,…?
  6. What is the recommended protocol for acclimation to heat in preparation for an event?
  7. What is the time-course of gain and loss of heat acclimation?
  8. When we plan for thermal stress from the environment, we must consider not only temperature but other factors such as wind, sun exposure, and humidity. Let’s say that we have gone through the acclimation protocol. Is there a cut off temperature/thermal stress range, below which, there is no benefit to performance. How can we gauge whether going through the protocol will be of benefit?
  9. Specifically thinking about what’s going on during running: at what body temperature do we begin to sweat and where on the body do we sweat first, most, etc.?
  10. Should we be concerned about gear placement (e.g., hydration pack vs waste belt) with regard to efficient sweating and cooling? E.g., would we expect any appreciable difference in fluid loss or cooling over time for someone wearing a hydration pack vs waist belt vs none or handheld bottles.
  11. To what extent does carrying extra weight affect sweat loss due to the extra work of carrying it; e.g., as much as 5 lbs for some full hydration packs vs 1 lb or so for a full handheld. 
Many people have the idea that, while running, ‘if they are continuing to urinate and it isn’t very dark, then they are probably OK’. We’ve established that watching urine color - DURING exercise - is not a reliable method for monitoring hydration status. So, “How can I monitor myself for appropriate fluid replacement and maintenance during an ultra marathon (or during a long training)?”   
Our wrap up, big money question today...WHAT’S THE ANSWER?
Oct 20, 2015
6 Tapering with Scott Trappe, PhD
My guest today is Scott Trappe, PhD
Dr. Trappe is the Director of the Human Performance Laboratory and John and Janice Fisher Endowed Chair in Exercise Science at Ball State University. He received his undergraduate training at the University of Northern Iowa where he was captain of the swim team. He worked for US Swimming at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs while obtaining his  M.S. at the University of Colorado. His PhD training was with Dr. David Costill at Ball State University followed by post-doctoral training in muscle physiology with Dr. Robert Fitts at Marquette University. For the past 20 years, he has been working with NASA to help optimize the exercise prescription for astronauts.  His work has also been supported by the NIH. Concurrent to the work with NASA, he’s conducted exercise training studies in older adults, aging athletes and various college and elite athletes. Using a whole body to gene approach, he and his colleagues have gained a better understanding of muscle plasticity. He is an expert in the area of adaptations to training and to disuse - or detraining. And, he joins us today to talk about that plasticity, specifically in the area of balancing training with detraining as it may apply to tapering.
In today’s episode Dr. Trappe and I talk about training adaptations, then detraining, then put those together to come to some conclusions about the tapering period where we try to balance these.
The questions I posed to Dr. Trappe include:
  1. Genetics. There was a belief that genetics provide each person with a particular range of possibility and that there is a limit set by those genetics for each person such that one person’s maximal potential may be below another’s lower spectrum. Is that correct and to what degree do genetics compare with training for our endurance capacity.
  2. What is the time-course for the various adaptations: capillarity, mitochondrial capacity, power, neuromuscular control, etc.? [for clarity, capillarity is the density of capillary blood vessels within skeletal muscle - which is important for oxygen and nutrient delivery ; mitochondrial capacity is the sum of the tools a cell uses for generating ATP while utilizing oxygen] - it will vary based on the volume and intensity but we talk generally about the components.
  3. What components continue to develop over years of training and what components of adaptation to endurance are maximized, if any, relatively early (like in the first year or so of regular serious training) - e.g., we don’t continue increasing capillarity indefinitely.
  4. Training prescriptions are often designed so that a given hard day of training is maximized while still low enough in density so that the next training day (perhaps 2 days later) can be completed with equivalent volume/intensity. How do we optimize this - there is a spectrum - steady runs every day vs very hard one day that takes many days to recover from…how do we plan for the balance so that we are making the fastest, steady gains in endurance capacity?
  5. Some prescription plans cycle three weeks increasing in density (volume or intensity or combination), then back off for a week, then start over with a little increase. Graphically this might look like three steps up and one down, repeat. How does this approach compare to backing off slightly in those three weeks and not stepping down in the fourth week - evening out the 4 weeks so that there is a persistent increase in training density over time. Any benefit of one approach over the other?
  6. Cross-training: physiologically useful or can we get more out of staying 100% sport specific and tailoring the workouts carefully (to avoid injury and boredom)?
  7. When we evaluate training, the goal is to maximize adaptable stimulus and provide sufficient environment for adaptation. To what extent do easy days (recovery runs) layer onto the stimulus for adaptation: is there a stoking effect that keeps the stimulus maintained until the next tough workout OR do recovery runs somehow promote a more beneficial adaptation environment - where do recovery runs sit in the balance equation of stimulate/adapt? …what do we know about the specific mechanisms of the benefits of easy days (recovery runs) between hard workouts?
  1. For an endurance runner with capacity X or Y, what is the minimum stimulus required to maintain what they’ve developed; surely this varies for the different components from neuromuscular coordination and control, through muscle bioenergetics…but what do we know about maintaining capacity?
  2. Trail running, and many or most ultra marathons are on trails, require both endurance and an endurance in power - due to the elevation changes, both up and down hills. Are these capacities different from a muscle tissue perspective…flat ground endurance vs mountain hills endurance? Do those capacities detrain differently?
Balancing Training Adaptation with Detraining
  1. Promoting recovery while resisting losses is the fundamental issue at play in the period called tapering. Whatever you call it, it is the final days or maybe weeks as we approach a key race or event. What are the best practices for tapering for endurance events - what works, what doesn’t?
  2. Recovery required from races - 50k-100mile+ all can take a substantial toll on muscle tissue both structurally and functionally. When muscle is trashed - not a lot has been studied in the specific context of ultra marathons but we do know about repeated eccentric loading [eccentric is contraction while a muscle is lengthening - as is required of the quadriceps while running downhill] - what elements of muscle function recover the fastest and what takes the longest to recover?
  3. Considerations for races in quick succession (e.g., 100k-100mile 4-6 weeks apart, or 50k 2-3 weeks apart)?
We wrap up with two specific questions:
  1. What are the biggest mistakes that Dr. Trappe sees distance runners make in their tapering plans?
  2. What three key messages of advice does Dr. Trappe have for ultra marathon runners with regard to tapering?
Should ultra runners use standup desks at work?
Oct 13, 2015
5 Variety & Avoid Injury, Coach's Corner with Ian Sharman
My guest today Ian Sharman
He is part of a small group in the ultra community - he is both a successful coach with his own coaching company and he’s an elite ultra marathon runner. In 2013 he set the record holder for the fastest Grand Slam of Ultra Running. Since Jan 2014 he has won 6 ultra marathons. AND, he has also earned a top-10 finish all 6 times he has run the Western States 100. So far, in 2015, he has won both Rocky Racoon (which he also won in 2011) and the Leadville 100 (which he also won in 2013). 
I dig into Ian’s approaches and philosophies in coaching to learn:
  1. About his current athlete load and how he trains.
  2. His overall framework of training prescription - the macro-view (philosophy) to training for ultra marathons.
He also answers questions like:
  1. How and when, in a season, do you focus on long runs?
  2. How and when, in a season, do you prescribe high intensity workouts - what is the benefit relative to ultra performance?
  3. When, if ever, is cross training appropriate? What’s the benefit?
  4. There are many terms for training features, like ‘speed work’, tempo, striders, fartleks, 2 per day, back-to-back, etc. Do these play a roll in your training prescriptions - how/why/why not?
  5. What might a week of training look like 10 months from a key event (e.g., Leadville 100) vs 1 month out?
  6. Do you use a HR monitor with your athletes?
  7. What is your approach to monitoring or ensuring that training is balanced with the right amount of recovery; monitoring for over-fatigue or over-training? Recovery runs vs days off?
  8. Tapering; how do you approach tapering with your athletes?
We wrap up with two specific questions for the Ultra Clan
  1. What are the two most common mistakes that Ian sees in prior training plans when an athlete first comes to hire him as a coach?
  2. What three specific action items of advice would he give to us that we can make sure we have in place to optimize our training or racing today?
Oct 06, 2015
4 Hydration Physiology: The Basics

My guests today are Dr. Sam Cheuvront and Dr. Robert Kenefick

  • Two of the world’s leading scientists in hydration and fluid homeostasis
  • Going in alphabetical order, 
    1. My first guest is Research Physiologist and Team Leader of the Thermal and Mountain Medicine Division at the US. Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine (also known as USARIEM). His research includes the study of environmental and nutritional factors influencing human work performance. He is a leader in the fields of human fluid needs, dehydration assessment, heat stress mitigation, and exercise thermoregulation. He’s published over 100 -peer-reviewed papers and book chapters. Our first guest is Sam Cheuvront, PhD, RD
    2. My second guest is Principal Investigator in the Thermal and Mountain Medicine Division at USARIEM. He has published over 90 peer-reviewed manuscripts, book chapters AND reviews on fluid homeostasis and the physiological responses to environmental stress. He served as the president of the New England Chapter of the American College of Sports Medicine and received their Honor Award in 2012. He is also part of the Ultra Clan as an ultra marathon runner himself. Our second guest is Robert Kenefick, PhD.

My guests work for the U.S. Army. So, we must provide the disclaimer that "The views and/or opinions of Dr.'s Kenefick and Cheuvront are theirs personally and do not reflect the views or opinions of the U.S. Army or DoD."


This episode is the first in a two part series on fluids, hydration, and electrolyte physiology pertaining to ultra marathon running. We’re starting with the basics and progressing to specific application.

In this episode, you'll learn the answers to:

  1. What are the major body fluid and compartments and definitions the major relevant terms (de/eu/hyperhydration, hyper/hypovolemia)?
  2. What are the mechanisms/routes and quantities of water loss?
  3. How much water does a person need each day?
  4. Drinking to thirst - is it sufficient, like you hear commonly? (spoiler: NO!)
  5. How much salt is lost in sweat - only sodium? To what extent does this change throughout the time-course of an ultra marathon?
  6. What’s in sweat and what are ranges of rates and composition in running?
  7. During exercise, the majority of water gained is in the form of what we drink. But we have heard about getting water also from the breakdown of stored glycogen. Is this accurate?
  8. How can we expand our plasma volume?
  9. When do we need (and not need) an electrolyte-containing drink either during or after exercise?
  10. What is needed in an electrolyte drink beyond sodium?
  11. Hyponatremia; should it be a concern for most ultra marathon runners? 
  12. When does a runner need to consciously add sodium, beyond just following cravings?



Sep 29, 2015
3 Intervals and more intervals, coach’s corner with Jason Koop
My guest today is Jason Koop
  • Director of coaching for Carmichael Training Systems
  • He’s training everyone from the most famous in ultra running to people in your neighborhood
  • And…he’s an accomplished ultra runner himself…among many others, his finishing list includes Wasatch, Western States, Leadville, and Badwater.
In this episode we learn about
  1. Jason’s overall framework of prescriptions which emphasizes a progression from least event specific to most specific
  2. The optimal time frame to implement a full program
  3. Intervals to raise VO2max
  4. Setting pace and effort
  5. Total interval time of work for raising VO2max and for improving midrange performance
  6. Three broad phases of training and how much work/effort for workouts in those phases
  7. How many workouts per week?
  8. Factoring terrain (and elevation gain) to the workouts
  9. Does Koop use heart rate monitors?
  10. Detraining of VO2max closer to event with Koop’s approach?
  11. Approaches to choosing the number and spacing of races.
  12. Overtraining; over-fatigued/under-rested 
Plus, Jason gives you four pieces of advice that you can implement TODAY to improve your training and racing!
Sep 24, 2015
2 Research At The Western States Endurance Runs with Marty Hoffman, M.D.
My guest today is Marty Hoffman, M.D.
  • Chief of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, VA Northern California Health Care System
  • Professor of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, University of California Davis
  • Research Director, Western States Endurance Run
  • Chief Medical Officer, Ultra Medical Team
  • Serves on several editorial boards, and is Editor-in-Chief, Wilderness & Environmental Medicine
  • Has published well over 100 peer reviewed research studies and 11 books or book chapters.
  • He is an accomplished ultra runner himself - He’s the 2008 Grand Master (50-59 age group) National Champion, USATF 100 Mile Trail Championship, Tahoe Rim Trail
In today’s episode:
  1. All about the history and current topics of research at Western States Endurance Runs (WSER).
  2. Hyponatremia at WSER
  3. Learn the answer to, "Is sodium supplementation necessary to avoid dehydration during prolonged exercise in the heat?”.
  4. What do we know today about the long term health of ultra-endurance runners? Is ultra marathon running bad for us AND WHY IT MAY NOT EVEN MATTER?
  5. Learn the most important take-home action items from research at WSER that you can put into practice TODAY!
  6. Find out how you can get involved in research at WSER.
Sep 24, 2015
1 Introduction And Genesis Of Science Of Ultra
This is the introduction episode, where I tell you about myself and the origin of Science of Ultra, a podcast for ultra marathon runners.
Sep 23, 2015