Experimenting with Tom Osler’s Base and Sharpening Training

I previously mentioned reading Sky Waterpeace’s Lazy Man’s Guide to (Ultra)Marathon Running. While obviously not that lazy myself, Kindle Unlimited granted me free access to the Kindle version. The somewhat insightful book got me experimenting with keto, which was fine for the month I actively practiced it.

But Sky also harps on the writing and work of an accomplished marathoner and ultra runner named Tom Osler. Sky’s principles are based considerably on Osler’s principles. As an appendix, Sky included a 28 page booklet written in the late 60’s by Osler about his fundamental training approach called The Conditioning of Distance Runners. You can now find the booklet on Amazon and other sources.

Along with being a precursor to today’s gumroad e-books if you think about it… Osler’s booklet, however esoteric and outdated on the surface, outlines a sound approach that in some form has been both practiced and ignored in the decades since, to this present day.

There are two camps in endurance runner training. One emphasizes a healthy dose of recurring harder workouts alongside your easy and long runs from day one. The idea is that the harder, faster workouts are what makes you faster and fitter, that without regular fast running you cannot possibly get faster, and possibly even get gradually slower. This approach is far and away the most popular of the two, because people generally aren’t patient, and coaches traditionally have learned to always train this way (plus it’s harder to be hands on when all the pupil’s running is easy running).

The other camp argues to initially emphasize a large volume of (often exclusively) easy training, only introducing harder workouts after having built a sizable easy running base over months. The understanding that developing your slow-twitch aerobic mitochondria is what improves your natural fitness and performance over time, and that speed/tempo work should build upon that base fitness after it has been developed.

Let me throw some arbitrary labels on these two camps for ease of discussion. I’ll call the first camp “Speed and Base”, as the two are utilized in tandem each week. I’ll call the second camp “Base then Focus”, as the theme is you spend months running easy at first to build a base, then only utilize harder training when closer to the goal event(s).

Below are some examples of writers or coaches whose approaches fall into each of the camps. Again, it’s worth noting the lion’s share of coaches and writers traditionally fall into the Speed and Base camp. For them I could name dozens of coaches, but I’ll stick to four.

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The Fitness Run and the Real Meaning of an Easy Run

“Easy Run” is one of the most misunderstood and misapplied terms in running, and not for the reasons you’d think.

Yes, people often do go too hard on their “easy” runs. But to me the issue is the broad over-application of the term “easy run” to most training runs.

Most runs beyond 30 minutes aren’t necessarily easy. The effort and intensity desired may be “easy”, but beyond the 30-40 minute mark the body is now being stressed beyond the comfort zone. Your body isn’t going to come down from that effort as easily as, say, hurrying across a street, or doing a simple 20 minute workout that leaves you refreshed. The oxidative stress is higher over a longer period, and markers like your heart rate variability will remain abnormal for some time afterward.

Related: This is a reason the Pete Magills of the world strongly recommend you never go on a recovery run lasting more than 40 minutes. You’re defeating the “shakeout” purpose of such a run.

Some wisely avoid the term for base training runs (referring to them by training zones, e.g. a Zone 1-2 run, for example), or use a different term entirely (as Matt Fitzgerald does when he calls them Foundation Runs).

I consider recovery runs the true Easy Runs. They’re short. They’re not done to stimulate an endurance training effect. Usually, they’re done for circulation or to activate hormone production that will further drive recovery. Or, like a “shakeout run” the day before a marathon, it’s done to expend some energy as it feels better than just resting entirely.

I posit that what coaches call Easy Runs should instead be dubbed Fitness Runs. The difference is that the terminology makes the intention of the workout clear. Any run done at an easy effort, but for longer than 30 minutes, or at more than a 75%-max average heart rate, is by my definition a Fitness Run.

By my definition the recovery runs are the only ones that should be labeled Easy Runs.

And since it will come up, any run longer than 90 minutes, or longer than the longest run I can do during the workweek, is by my definition a Long Run. It’s fairly hard for me to do more than two of these a week, since I work full-time and on those days I can’t by this definition do a long run.

(In my case, the longest workweek training run I can manage to do is basically 90 minutes. If my workweek limit was 60 minutes, then any weekend run lasting 61 minutes or longer would be in my case a Long Run.)

I decided to label my training runs this way, and it’s way more useful and less confusing for workout tracking than the old Easy/Recovery/Long labels.

Some examples (all of these examples are what most would call an “easy run”):

  • I go on a training run after work that lasts 45 minutes, and my HR averages 71% of max. This is a Fitness Run.
  • I go on a work break run lasting 12 minutes at 74% HR. This is an Easy Run. It lasts less than 30 minutes, and the average heart rate is below 75%. I should bounce back pretty quickly from this.
  • I go on another work break run that lasts 10 minutes at a 79% HR. This is actually a Fitness Run, because my heart rate went beyond the 75% threshold, meaning this run was a bit harder. Though it was very short, the effort will impact my fitness.
  • I go on a training run after work that I have to cut short at 28 minutes, and average a 73% HR. This is an Easy Run, even though I intended it to be a Fitness workout, because the run did not hit the 30 minute threshold.
  • On a Monday holiday, two days after a Saturday 2 hour Long Run, I go out for a lengthy easy run that lasts an hour and 35 minutes (95 minutes). This is also a Long Run, even though I just ran one on Saturday. Many will only label their longest run of the week the long run, but again I have a clear threshold of 90 minutes for long runs, and this one qualified.
  • And of course, if on a subsequent weekend I go for a long run, but I have to to cut it short at 80 minutes, this run is only a Fitness Run, as it did not reach my 90 minute threshold. (Side note: If I run farther than 8.1 miles on this or any other non-long run, Runalyze will classify this as a long run for Marathon Shape calculations, whether or not I label it as such, since that’s their default threshold for long run calculations.)

A couple of added finer points:

  • If I have to drop out of a race, I don’t label this as a race. I’ll give it the appropriate label, whether a Long Run or a Pace Run (I lump all my under-90 minute tempo and marathon-pace runs, or Zone 3+ runs, anything steady and harder than “easy”, in as Pace Runs). For example, when I DNF’d the Vancouver Marathon this year at mile 19, I labeled that a Long Run. Only races I complete are labeled as a Race.
  • If I decide randomly on a Fitness or Easy Run to run hard, whether intervals or a time trial or a fartlek, it gets labeled accordingly to what I ended up doing. Regardless of intent, the run is labeled based on what I ended up doing.

So now I label my regular runs as Fitness Runs and my recovery-type runs as Easy Runs. I like this definition of Easy Run far better than what everyone else uses.

Enough of keto for now

After 30 days of keto, and initial dabbling with restored starchy carb intake, I decided to revert back to my prior lower/slow-carb diet going forward.

Keto worked well for what I needed at the time. It pushed my body to better utilize stored body fat. It helped kickstart fat burning that had stalled in recent months. It helped me hormonally readjust, which helped get my sleep patterns back on track (though the cooling Vegas weather combined with increasing daytime darkness may have also helped with that).

Now that I’ve adjusted to nose breathing and thus improved the quality and efficiency of my aerobic endurance workouts, which was also part of why I went keto, I think the whole project have served its purpose. The Vegas weather has cooled and I can once again easily train outdoors. I ran a 10K easy this weekend and was fairly pleased with the results.

My weight loss did slow after starting keto, though it did stabilize a few pounds below where I had started. Now that I’m ramping up run training again, my overall calorie requirements are going to increase dramatically, and I’m already maxed on how much protein and fat I can reasonably take in per day. Even if I had good reason to stay keto, it wouldn’t make much sense to pound more steak and more coconut oil.

Going forward I’m going to eat carbs without restriction, though again my normal intake was lower than most, in the 100-200g daily range. I still have done a good job of keeping my aerobic heart rate lower than before, even as I’ve reintroduced carbs and even as I’ve began picking up the intensity on some of these base runs.

The growing volume of run and cross training, combined with a greater need for daily overall calories and the predominantly slow-carb diet I generally eat already, will help spur subsequent weight loss.

I’ll probably still have some keto days where I eat low carb, high fat/protein. But now instead of being a mandated habit it can be employed incidentally.

The Mechanics and Mindset of the 3 Day Cycle

Within the 21 Day Cycle is a series of 3 day cycles. More than anything the best approach to each 3 day cycle is an approach, a mindset, towards each of the individual days.

At its core, the 3 day cycle is this:

Day 1 involves strength training and easy aerobic training.
Day 2 involves easy, slightly more demanding aerobic training.
Day 3 involves a longer and/or tougher aerobic training session.

Day 1

Of the three days, this day’s aerobic training should be easiest. If it needs to be a day off from aerobic training, then it should be a rest day from aerobic training, with only strength training.

Your primary focus on Day 1 is two things:

1) Get your strength training session done. Strength training can constitute whatever you individually need it to, though during base and race training I wouldn’t make it too tough. I do the Full Fourteen, which with efficient sets and 60 second rest breaks (longer as needed for transitions) takes me about 25 minutes.

You could can do a 20 minute strength routine, and rotate between different blocks of workouts. Since you’d strength train every three days, you could hit every muscle group in every single workout if desired.

2) This should be the easiest, shortest aerobic training of the next three days. I often take a rest day from running on these days. If marathon training, I probably do short easy recovery runs to build training volume. Generally, I often cross train on these days, though on weekends I’ll just strength train and rest completely from aerobic training on these days, since I typically train heavily during the workweek.

If you’re a workaholic, I’d recommend setting a Day 1 cap of 45 minutes on any aerobic training. This workout is setting the bar for Days 2 and 3, and if you set it too high you’re either not going to hit it or burn yourself out doing it. The idea of the 3 day cycle is to moderate your workload so you ebb and flow between challenging training and allowing for recovery.

Day 2

While this is also an ‘easy day’, Day 2’s aerobic training should be longer, more demanding than Day 1’s training. Three important points:

1) Keep this aerobic session to no more than 60-65 minutes. I saw that so if you’re cross training or running on a gym machine, it’s okay to get to 60 minutes and do the full 5 minute cooldown. Also, I don’t want anyone to freak out if e.g. they’re running outside and see their run has gone 1:00:23.

2) If you rested totally from aerobic training on Day 1, then any easy training on Day 2 will suffice. As a minimum, I recommend you train on Day 2 at least one minute longer than it took for you to strength train on Day 1. If I only strength trained 25 minutes on Day 1, I want to run or cross train for at least 26 minutes.

3) You however want to not train too much on Day 2, because Day 3’s training should be longer or tougher than Day 2’s. So you don’t want to set the bar so high that exceeding it on Day 3 is too difficult.

If you did aerobically train on Day 1, then you want Day 2’s training to last at least one minute longer than your aerobic training. So if I decided on Day 1 to do a super easy 20 minute run with my strength training, I’ll want to run or cross train no less than 21 minutes on Day 2.

If you want to do speedwork (tempo runs, track stuff, fartleks, a regular run with any sort of fast segments, etc.), or even a run on unfamiliar harder terrain like mountain trails, I’d pick either Day 2 or Day 3 for that.

But no matter what you do for Day 2 training, again keep it below 60-65 minutes. As I mentioned with Day 1, your mindset is to keep Day 1 short. Again, I’d recommend setting a Day 1 cap of 45 minutes on any aerobic training, so that this Day 2 workout builds on and proves tougher than Day 1.

Day 3

This is of course the longest of the three aerobic training days. On Day 3 you go longer, or you go harder, than Day 2.

When I originally wrote up the 21 Day Cycle, I recommended this aerobic workout be 60-90 minutes. That is generally true, and if you’re training for a race that will last longer than 90 minutes, you want your weekend Day 3 workouts to be sufficiently longer. Half marathoners should aim for closer to 2-3 hours. Marathons should build towards at least 2-3 hours, probably towards 4 hours if your goal time is that long or longer.

Otherwise, midweek, cap these workouts at 90 minutes. While you should aim for at least 60 minutes, if Days 1 and 2 were shorter, and anyting below 60 minutes would be longer than those two days, then you can go less than 60 minutes… e.g. Day 1 you rested from aerobic anything, Day 2 you went 30 minutes, Day 3 you could go as little as 30-35 minutes if desired or needed.

The general intention on Day 3 is to work on your aerobic endurance. But if you went 60 easy aerobic minutes on Day 2, you could on Day 3 work on speedwork. In this case, it’s okay to also do 60 minutes on Day 3, e.g. you ran easy for 60 minutes on Day 2, so on Day 3 you spent 60 minutes running repeats, or do a 60 minute tempo run, or an easy 60 minute run with a 15 minute fast finish, etc.

Otherwise, during midweek you can go up to 90 minutes on Day 3. This is where various research (that I won’t cite for now) shows your workout hits the peak of the bell curve on aerobic development. The only reason to go longer is to work on developing endurance for a longer race, and given the body’s recovery needs you generally want to avoid doing that more than once every 6-8 days. The sweet spot for aerobic fitness development in an easy workout is 60-90 minutes.


My original 21 Day Cycle recommends two long workouts within 6 days of each other, followed by two weeks off from any workouts longer than 90 minutes.

While this allows ample recovery from the long workouts, some may find this doesn’t allow them to sufficiently build up their long run in marathon training.

It also reduces one’s margin for error in marathon training, that if they have to miss one of their scheduled long runs, they’re now facing at least 3 weeks between long runs, which could lead to a loss or setback in fitness.

So maybe you want to schedule a long run every week, and want to schedule one during that odd 2nd weekend where Day 1 falls on a Saturday and Day 2 falls on a Sunday, leaving the longer Day 3 on a Monday. (And yes, the occasional Monday holiday makes a long run work there, but 95% of the time it doesn’t.)

If you want to run long every weekend, I propose an alternate 3 day cycle for those odd weekends:

Day 1: You strength train, and either take off from aerobic training or do an easy aerobic workout, as usual.

Day 2: Do your long run here.

Day 3: Either take this day completely off, or do the same sort of easy aerobic workout you would do on day 1 (but no more than 45 minutes).

Then the following day you go back to Day 1 as before and resume the normal cycle.

If your long run isn’t any longer than 2 hours, I would say this is not at all necessary, that you could follow the original 21 Day Cycle as usual. This Pivot is largely for marathoners and similar long distance athletes who find the scheduled weekend off from long training more concerning than rewarding, or otherwise feel they must be able to train long every weekend.

And of course, if you do need an easy weekend, you can always go back to the original 2nd weekend schedule as needed.


I often cross train each morning throughout the week regardless of what other running or strength training I have scheduled each given day or week. I’ll do super easy, zone 1, 50-60% of max heart rate “wake me up” cross training a lot of mornings or afternoons on the spin bike or similar. I also take a lot of walks during breaks at work.

You will want to be careful not to overdo any of this, especially as you build serious training volume, but if comfortable for you it’s totally fine.

I often take it easy on the weekends. If I don’t have a strength session or long run on a given day, I’ll often take a total rest day.


You wake up on your Day 3 and you feel sick as a dog, or something hurts more than it should, etc? Just take the day off. Take a whole 3 day cycle off if you want.

None of this is legally binding! The cycle does make it easy to get back in the swing of things should you need to take a day off or an extended break. Obviously, if you need a long break during a trianing block, you still need to reconsider your race goal as usual. But live your life and make adjustments as needed.

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Updating max heart rate with a random time trial

After taking basically the whole weekend off from training, I had planned on an easy Monday. But after losing morning training to stomach issues (that went away once I got to work, go figure), and having no big training plans tonight, I decided on a whim at my 10am break at work to try a Hadd HR-max test:

  • You run 800 meters as hard as you can manage. Your time isn’t relevant.
  • You rest for 90 seconds to 2 minutes.
  • You run 400 meters as hard as you can manage. Your time isn’t relevant.
  • Your max heart rate out of the whole thing is probably your actual current max heart rate.

Not a bad way to start out year 45, I guess.

Though I got it done without wishing death, let’s just say breathing was hard for a little while afterward, and even now (breathing better and able to function) I still feel like I’m recovering from the experience. I’ll probably need a good night’s sleep before I feel totally fine.

Also important, my max heart rate was 180, a couple ticks below my prior estimates. This makes sense as I haven’t been training like I was in Chicago, where my max frequently exceeded estimates.

As for HR training zones, I had historically warned against conventional 50-60-70-80-90% HRmax training zones (e.g. Zone 1 is 50-60% of HRmax, Zone 2 60-70%, etc). Those 50-60-70-80-90 zones were originally meant to be used with the Karvonen formula, which were based on a percentage of heart rate reserve (the difference between your resting HR and HR max), not a percentage of HR max itself!

As most people run, the zones are far too low for running, even if they work fine for other cross training. Most of us running naturally quickly exceed 70-75% without trying. With those zones, most wouldn’t be able to run at all! (For other cross training, they’re fine, as most don’t go hard enough to exceed 70-80% of max.)

Since reading Douillard and starting serious nose breathing, however, I’ve been able to jog at 60-65% for the first time ever (albeit very slowly). I still think for most the zones I recommended (65-70-80-85ish-90ish% of max, or using 50-60-70-80-90 of heart rate reserve) are the best ones to use.

Right now 60-70% is 108-126 bpm. If I get on a treadmill and go super slow, I can probably hang there for a good while, at least 30-45min. The pace is obviously not much of a problem. That’s not a bad starting point for building volume.

This past week, between any running, cross training, walking, I logged over 12 hours training, the most I’ve done since Vancouver this year. And it was probably the least stressful block of training I’ve done in a while. Sure, it still tired me out, but I didn’t feel run ragged after any of it like… well, after this time trial! This is sustainable.

Meanwhile, now I’m approaching a block of Saturday races, three in a row starting this weekend (the first two are 10K, the last is currently a Half Marathon, though I’m open to dropping down to that event’s 10K if not ready).

So now’s not the time to pile on volume. In fact, not being able to go this morning helped a bit with tapering for this Saturday’s 10K. But the trial did give me a bit of hard running stimulus ahead of the race, plus gave me an idea of what intensity I can do this weekend.

More to come as I start putting pieces together on training, but the real meat and potatoes probably won’t come before November, when this race block is done.

Forty Four.

Today is birthday number 44. Trip #45 around the sun begins today.

Let’s do this a little differently this year. Usually on my birthday I write about what I’d done and where I think I’m going.

This time around, I incidentally just went through a month or so where in training I learned and changed a LOT. Basically, I’m doing things a lot differently right now than I was a month ago, decidedly for the better I think. The light bulb went on for a lot of things all at once.


I started doing keto… though to say ‘started’ is a bit of a misnomer, as my diet generally has been somewhat high fat, high protein, low-moderate carb. I’ve had days in the past where I went real low carb, and it wasn’t a big deal.

But after reading Sky Waterpeace’s Lazy Man’s Guide to Marathoning, where he detailed that keto was a key factor in his being able to run well for distance, I decided in late September to go all in for a bit, see how well it worked, and if working well stick with it for as long as it worked well.

Each day on pure keto I rapidly lost weight without feeling worse for wear, outside of being a bit generally sluggish (which happens time to time anyway), and my running slowing down a lot, though I now could comfortably maintain much lower heart rates than ever before and felt like I could go on forever.

The weight loss did stall out over a week ago, and as I began adding more training (offseason’s over, folks! In fact, I have a 10K next weekend!)… I started feeling more peckish, more often.

So without fanfare I just re-added carbs again. I had a big bad starch-rich meal here or there. But mostly I just added peas/carrots/etc back into a couple meals, and stayed keto otherwise.

What was 10-20g net carbs per day is now more like 30-60g, and a day or two back at the old 125-150g. I had been eating eggs or a steak for breakfast a lot of mornings since I’m going to the gym most mornings now, but now some mornings I’m just fasting like before. A couple of pounds came back on since getting away from pure keto, but weight’s mostly steady.

So now, I’m mostly keto or slow carb. I don’t really worry going back or forth between either. If my weight starts creeping up again, I can just go pure keto for a bit and there’s a good chance the weight comes back down.


I joined the gym near my work on a good one-year-paid deal, which makes working out before work a lot easier and more practical (I’m still keeping my Planet Fitness membership, but going on days off from work). I wanted to cut down on my coffee intake anyway (I was going to coffee every morning before work, and while work has coffee it’s in decidedly smaller quantities).

And it still allows me to avoid the rush hour commute by working out before and after work (I cross train easy after work most days).

So now most mornings I commute to the gym, work out, change clothes and go to work afterward. It’s worked out great, it’s felt great, I get to work feeling really good (if not a bit physically worn from the training). It clearly fits me a lot better. And it’s considerably cheaper than going for coffee every morning.


The book’s been around forever but after multiple recommendations I finally caved in and read John Douillard’s Body Mind and Sport.

Douillard’s a bit out there, classifying people into three season-based body types (Winter, Summer, Spring) based on their lifestyle, body type and tendencies (you take a lengthy quiz, and it indicates I’m a Winter-Summer type).

Based on this seasonal mindset and typing, Douillard believes you should pick certain modes of training, eat certain foods, even train and eat at certain times of the day over others. I’m understandably skeptical, especially because I’ve had positive results and experience doing quite a few of his no-no’s out of season. It seems akin to basing your training on numerology or astrology, or condemning yourself to one of the somaotypes (e.g. mesomorph, endopmorph).

Douillard appears to be an avid vegetarian, and like many doesn’t believe anyone should eat much meat or protein, or eat big dinners, or egg yolks. So, grain of salt with that.

But Douillard’s recommendations on nose breathing, dialing back your training to a much lower intensity than most recommend (50-60% max heart rate), and warming up or cooling down with a balancing practice like yoga, do seem sound none the less.

So on his recommendation I test-drove doing some brief runs with my mouth closed, breathing only through my nose. It worked very well! It even worked beyond the effects of keto on my heart rate and ease of running. This is the first time I’ve ever been able to maintain anything like a 60-65% max heart rate on a training run. Even in my best Chicago days I couldn’t get it lower than 70% on an easy run.

And unlike prior runs, where my heart rate would climb and just keep gradually increasing, my heart rate would rise a bit but then come back down several beats per minute and stay. I was able to recover from spikes, instead of the increases just staying.

I used to finish my brief work break runs hot, breathing a bit hard, struggling. Even though these new work break runs had to go a lot slower because of the limited nose breathing, I came back feeling calmer, refreshed, and none of the run was a huge struggle. In fact, the biggest concern I had on these runs was my heart rate actually creeping towards the 70% range in the warmer conditions towards the end of the runs.

So I’ve once again made peace with running really slow for now, as I train myself to get comfortable with the nose breathing for steadily longer runs. I think this plus my lower/slow-carb diet approach will do wonders for building my aerobic capacity. And as he mentions, eventually I should naturally speed up as I get used to training like this.

That said, I’ll probably open my mouth and run somewhat harder in my upcoming races. I have some ideas to how to incorporate the nose breathing and harder efforts. We’ll see how they go. Worst case scenario, I’m just slow in these races, and I learn a few things, albeit with less strain than before.


Thanks to this, I was able to get on the treadmill at the gym (which thanks to my new portable thermometers I now know is typically 73-75°F with 37-40% humidity), and comfortably run slow at 60-70% of max heart rate for over 20-30 minutes, without too much of a heart rate climb. My spin bike workouts are also more comfortable, though those weren’t super harsh to begin with.

Runalyze tells me the TRIMP (stress) on these workouts is now about 20% lower. What this means is I can probably handle a large volume of these workouts without wearing myself out as much. I certainly don’t feel sore or worse than generally tired the day after these workout days.

This week I’m still taking days easy and off from training, especially ahead of upcoming races. But now I feel very confident that I can handle high volumes of easy running that previously would tire and burn me out.

I have three race weekends in a row. Once the last of this series of race weeks ends I’ll train mornings and sample a full marathon training week ahead of Thanksgiving (nothing crazy, more like the lighter first week of a training plan) and see how that feels, how much more volume I can capably take on, how many easy days I need, how many double days during the week I can do, etc.

I also notice that my sleep is better if I don’t run in the evening. Apparently the stress of running is now inhibiting my body’s ability to fully relax overnight. It’s a bummer to not be able to run outdoors during winter after work, and because parks I run at open at 7am, it’s not practical to run there in the mornings. It makes the most sense to train in the mornings on the treadmill.

Before, there was almost no way I could mange training mornings on a gym treadmill. Now? It should be a lot more manageable because my nose breathing should improve my oxygen intake and heart rate management.

Plus, as much of a bummer as morning treadmill runs might be, it’s not only better for pace/effort management, but it’s way better for heat/humidity acclimation for Vancouver 2023. One factor that might have added to my Vancouver difficulty over the years is training all winter in ideal cold conditions, then running a marathon in 60°F+ and 80% humidity. My body’s not heat acclimated.

But if I’m training indoors in 72-75°F with 35-40% humidity, that closes the gap a great deal. In fact, the Perceived Heat Index for 60° and 80% is lower than 73° and 40%! I’d be acclimated for the conditions!


I’ve been mostly strict about game-planning around avoiding high training monotony. But if I follow all of the above, it’s going to push my monotony over the 1.50 threshold.

That said, much of the research around Monotony is predicated around conventional training methodology, and a lot of what I’m doing is based on work from John Hadd Walsh, Mark Sisson and Brad Kearns, Phil Maffetone, and the aforementioned John Doulliard, which violates a lot of that conventional wisdom and has you training day over day at a far easier intensity than most.

So along with working with the nose breathing to maintain lower intensity, I’m going to ignore training monotony stats going forward. I’ll listen to my body, and intuitively cut workouts as needed if I’m feeling run down.

As for Workload Ratio, however, I’m still going to avoid exceeding that 1.50 threshold. But the plan I have as written does a great job building gradually and won’t come close to exceeding that threshold.


Amidst all of this, I am sleeping substantially better, more consistently. I don’t get more than 6-7 hours but they’re better hours now.

Even if I wake up during the night, I’m way more effective at getting back to sleep most nights. I’m not waking up with short sleep too often anymore.

The diet’s a factor. The training changes are a factor. Better focus on my micro-nutrient intake (making sure I hit requirements with everything) is a factor. Improving my overall health profile and losing a bit of weight is probably a factor. Keto’s effect on brain activity and recovery is a factor. It was all working before I cut down on my coffee intake but I’m sure that’s a factor too.

In fact, I undertook a lot of this recent stuff with the primary intent of improving my sleep. Improving my fitness and losing some weight were other intents, but none above getting better sleep. Sleep in fact is a key factor in improving all of the above, and I’m glad it’s starting to work better.


I’m going to roll with all this going forward, and see how the races go. These are basically glorified workouts at this point. The big focus will be expanding my training base and building on the improvements from the nose breathing, the keto/slow carb diet, and the better gym setup.

I made a point this past year to just work on myself, training, diet, finding consistent and repeatable habits. I like to think I’ve gotten better and smarter with running, even after having lost so much of the fitness I had in Chicago. Sure, a bunch of that was Covid in 2020, but that period was a break I probably needed across the board.

I’ve spent the last year or so beating my head against the wall to figure out how to train sustainably, and all of a sudden I figured a lot of things out, for the better.



The Treadmill-ARC Aerobic Crossover Workout

Since ramping my training volume back up I’ve had an ongoing problem with staying in an aerobic, zone-2 type of heart rate zone during my “easy” runs.

The general rule is always to run as slow and as easy as you need to in order to stay in zone 1-2 (up to 75% max heart rate). When you’re undertrained and you go to run easy, what often happens is your heart rate steadily climbs at the same effort, until finally there is no pace slow enough for you to continue running.

From experience, I definitely have the aerobic endurance to go for hours, but I often get into 75-80% of max HR after a while, and then it’s no longer an easy workout. It’s more of a moderate, or what Jack T. Daniels would call an M Pace workout. Different stimulus, different training result, than I’m seeking. Even if I walk for a bit, when I run again it just spikes right back past zone 2. Walk breaks do no good. I’ve redlined my cardiovascular system for that workout, and there’s no going back.

Lately my 45 minute easy training runs, while I can complete them, are rather arduous. Whether the gym is well air conditioned or not, I was struggling and my heart rate would typically get into zone 3 before I was done. I actually got to the point where I was dreading the idea of doing another one. That’s not good. I’m not going to just beat my head against that wall again.

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