Honoring Easy Workouts And Rest Days (Inspired by Kipchoge)

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In this show, we’re focusing on what easy workouts and rest days really mean for us mere mortals trying to improve our performance—not only in endurance sports, but in all manner of athletic endeavors.

Tune in to hear me discuss the great Eluid Kipchoge and some stunning revelations that have come forth from detailed analysis of his training logs that he has published for all to scrutinize. If you want to hear some fantastic tips based on the meticulously detailed training logs and most effective methods utilized by the greatest marathoner of all time, this is the episode for you!


Eluid Kipchoge has published detailed training logs for the public to learn his proven methods. [00:24]

For example, Kipchoge performs at 80% capacity on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday and then at 50% capacity on the other days, week in and week out. [02:39]

This may sound crazy, but if you are trying to condition your body for marathon, your overall training program should include walking for a huge chunk of your weekly running mileage. [06:59]

The harder you train, the more you desperately need rest time. [10:16]


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Brad (00:00):
Welcome to the Return of the Primal Endurance Podcast. This is your host, Brad Kearns, and we are going on a journey to a kinder, gentler, smarter, more fun, more effective way to train for ambitious endurance goals. Visit primal endurance.fit to join the community, and enroll in our free video course.

Brad (00:24):
Now, as I elevate the sophistication of my high intensity training and my track and field goals, I require more downtime and more rest, such that. Hey, let’s talk about what easy workouts and rest days really mean for us, mere mortals trying to improve our performance, not only in endurance sports, but in all manner of a athletic endeavors. I want to talk about the great Eluid Kipchoge and some stunning revelations that have come forth from detailed analysis of his training logs that he has published for all to scrutinize and the exercise physiologists and the coaches have reveled in this fantastic information about how the greatest marathoner of all time trains in tremendous detail.So they’re breaking down, um, his, uh, percentage of maximum heart rate and, calculating all these things based on his race performance time, so that all of us can learn the proper way to develop aerobic conditioning base and, uh, peak performance in the endurance events.

Brad (01:32):
So, with the insights, uh, calculated from Kipchoge’s detailed meticulous training logs from the guy who runs a marathon in an hour and 59 minutes, check this out. He trains 82 to 84% of his total workout hours are conducted at what is considered an easy or light intensity. 82 to 84% of the time he’s taking it easy. Nine to 10% of his training load is at moderate intensity and only seven to 8% at high intensity. The vast majority of kKpchoge’s training is performed at four to five minutes per kilometer pace. That’s 6:26 to 8:03 pace per mile. Now, 6:26 to 8:03 is pretty crispy so if you saw him jogging in Central Park on the day before the NYC marathon, you’d say there goes one of the greatest endurance athletes of all time, the incredible Kipchoge from Kenya, and look how fast he’s running.

Brad (02:39):
Wow, what an amazing athlete. But we have to understand the relativity of, um, these, this training pace where, to him, it’s extremely easy. This 6:26 to 8:03 pace per mile is 29 to 43% slower than his world record marathon race pace. When he ran that 1:59, his average pace was 4:34 per mile. Absolutely mind-blowing. And if you have no reference point, head out to your nearest local high school running track 400 meters and try to run, uh, a single lap or even a half a lap at 4:34 per mile pace. That’s 68.5 seconds for 400 meters. It is a dead sprint for 99% of the runners out there in the world. You just can’t even fathom how someone can keep going for 26 miles at 4:34 pace. But when he’s training, vastly slower than that, that’s how he is improving his aerobic conditioning.

Brad (03:42):
Without those stress mechanisms getting overtaxed. Kipchoge describes his big picture training philosophy Accordingly, I perform at 80% capacity on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday, and then at 50% capacity Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday. He’s very consistent with his training patterns. He logs between 124 and 136 miles each week, week in, week out. He doesn’t even taper that much prior to major competitions. He’s just a machine out there working his body with the vast majority being at a comfortable pace, um, between 50% and 80% capacity, but 80% capacity. Uh, you can go out there and calculate how that feels with your own training. It’s not that difficult, but it’s, it’s cruising along 50% is really, really taking it easy. So let’s kind of, uh, extrapolate this for us mere mortals. And here’s the, the mind blowing insight. You might not like hearing this, but again, we’re, uh, referencing the greatest athlete in the world and we’re using these insights to help optimize our own training.

Brad (04:53):
Unless you’re super fit, you probably shouldn’t be running very much. Instead, you should be walking. Here’s this. The average marathon finishing pace, uh, across the world in recent years when they, uh, measured this for I think, 2 million marathon finishers. The average marathoner finishes today in four hours and 30 minutes, pretty respectable time. That’s an average pace of 10 minutes and 22 seconds per mile for the marathon. So if you want to be like Kipchoge and run 43% slower than your marathon race pace, remember he’s performing 82 to 84% of his total workout volume at comfortable pace. And three days a week, no, four days a week. As he said, he’s performing at 50% capacity on Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday. So four days of the week, he is running somewhere around 43% slower than his marathon race pace. So let’s take the average marathoner running a 10: 22 per mile when they’re doing a all out performance, the fastest marathon they can do.

Brad (06:00):
And we’re gonna calculate 43% slower than that. If you’re following along with a pad and paper, here we go. You’re going to figure out how many seconds, 10 minutes 22 is. So that’s 10 times 60 to 600. It’s 622 seconds per mile. What’s 43% slower than that? You go 6:22 times 1.43. That equals 889 seconds per mile divided by 60, and we have 14.8 minutes per mile. To be accurate, 0.82 times 60 seconds is 49 seconds. So what we have for the average marathon runner, and again, someone who finishes a marathon pretty fit specimen, vastly fitter than someone who just does, uh, jogging and doesn’t go more than three or four or five miles. So we’re talking about the vast majority of recreational runners that we see in the parks and on the trails and on the treadmills of America and across the world.

Brad (06:59):
Let’s say they’re, uh, maybe can do a 10:22 marathon, but probably not maybe slower than that. But for the average marathon finisher, they’re training pace for a huge chunk of their mileage is 14 minutes and 49 seconds per mile. Now, we will go to the exercise physiology labs and the gait analysis, that has been performed. These studies reveal that the human gait transitions from walking to jogging when you go faster than 4.3 miles per hour, which is a 13:57 minute pace per mile. So if you are going slower than 14 minute miles, you have switched from a jog to a walk. So you are instructed if you wanna honor Kipchoge and the great work of the coaches and trainers and Dr. Seiler, what you’re trying to do here is condition your body appropriately minimizing the stress impact of the overall training program by walking for a huge chunk of your weekly running mileage.

Brad (08:14):
Let me quote Seiler again. Quote, what we are trying to achieve is a polarization of the stress of the daily training sessions. Kipchoge is going, Kipchoge is going four days a week at 50% capacity. And so at a bare minimum, the average marathon runner should be walking four days a week and maybe on those other three days, very carefully monitoring the heart rate. So they do not exceed fat max pace. And in fact, your marathon race pace is calculated by Maffetone to be around 15 seconds per mile faster than your fat max pace. So the average marathoner, the average 4:30 marathoner running 10:22, add 15 seconds to that 10 37 is their approximate fat max pace for a one mile test. Meaning if they’re gonna go out for three or four or five or eight miles on their typical training session, they’re going to be running quite a bit slower than 10:37 because they have more miles to do.

Brad (09:17):
So they’re gonna be doing the vast majority of their running at 11 minutes per mile or slower. And then probably, half of that or more in, in the walking pace of slower than, uh, 14 minutes, in fact, 14 minutes and 49 seconds. Now, if you’re not a strictly endurance athlete and you’re just trying to train for more disparate goals, such as a CrossFit or an overall hybrid athlete or like me training for track and field events that are high intensity and involve entirely different training parameters, you still want to honor this concept of polarizing your stress and rest overall in a general life. So of course, we are going to sleep every night. The ultimate example of polarization of the 24-hour cycle, where we’re gonna be up and about up in a boat for in my case, I would say 16 hours awake and eight hours of sleep.

Brad (10:16):
But I’m more like nine hours of sleep. So I got my 15 hours to do what I’m gonna do and then sleep every night. But also it’s important to have periods of time where you are resting from the training load. And the harder you train, the more you desperately need off time and downtime from all forms of training stress. And the more explosive your training, the more it warrants recovery time, because in my case, my goals are anaerobic in nature. My main goal is high jump in 400 meters. So my, my events last from a minute or down to four seconds in the case of the high jump. So what I need is appropriately inducted workouts that are within my capacity and then lots of downtime to rest the organism from the explosive efforts that I delivered when I took, uh, 15 or 20 high jump approaches or did interval workouts to prepare for sprinting track and field.

Brad (11:15):
And this is requiring a change in mentality, uh, into my thick skull because I still harbor this endurance mentality from my past where I feel like every day is an opportunity to go out there and put in more training and build and build and build. Um, but I’m being very careful on my off days and easy days to even reduce the stress load further than it has been historically. And I boasted and, and crowed about how I had a streak of six years going where I did my quite ambitious morning exercise routine, uh, that lasted for about 40 minutes. I have the entire online course at bradkearns.com where you can learn how to custom design your own morning exercise routine. And this worked really well for me to just build up my overall fitness capacity, flexibility, mobility by, uh, routinely and committing to this morning regimen every day to get some exercise.

Brad (12:15):
But now, as I elevate the sophistication of my high intensity training and my track and field goals, I require more downtime and more rest such that I have deliberately broken my streak and traded it for more purposeful exercise sessions. Either a devoted high intensity focused track training session or something that’s even easier and lower stress than the morning routine baseline. So that might be a really, really easy aerobic pedaling session on the bike where I’m fond of grabbing the phone and filming some reels for Instagram. So a lot of times you see me talking on Instagram while I’m biking along at 10 miles an hour or something ridiculously slow. So I consider that a rest day because the stress load is so low, but my pal and, um, someone I’m taking a lot of coaching advice from lately, Cynthia Monteleone, Metabolic Analytics Maui. She’s a world champion in masters track and field, so she knows what she’s talking about.

Brad (13:17):
She won the worlds in the 400 meters, my favorite event in the female 45 division, running a 57, faster than she did as a collegiate athlete decades prior. And she’s also a coach to numerous Olympic level athletes and world champion level masters athletes. And she’s urging me to take three days off per week. And when she says off, she means off, and I’m like, off, you mean like an easy aerobic bike ride? And she goes, no, I mean, resting those tendons by doing nothing, not even stretching, getting in the cold tub, things of that nature, but just de training and not exercising. Um, and it’s a hard concept for me to grasp, but it makes a lot of sense. The harder you train, the more you warrant that time off. And we’re talking about the NBA athletes with their grueling schedule.

Brad (14:10):
They are no longer going out and having a hard practice session in between their mini games. What they’re doing is watching film and doing walkthroughs and things that are not stressful because they desperately require time off the court to manage the incredible load of making it through 82 game NBA season. So I’m not telling most people that they need to do nothing all day long because most of us spend too much time in sedentary position and walking and moving. It’s gonna be an excellent foundation for aerobic conditioning, for all your athletic goals, even if you have high intensity peak performance goals. So we need to, uh, strive to increase general everyday movement, but serious athletes need to really focus on polarizing the stress of their daily training sessions. So I’m a work in progress, trading my baseline foundation of the morning exercise routine for some really, really easy days. And then in return also for continuing to escalate the degree of difficulty and improve my performances when I’m pushing my body hard. Thanks for listening, watching. Let me know what you think about easy days off days and kind of balancing that concept of consistency every day with the concept of making sure that you get enough rest and recovery.

Brad (15:36):
I hope you enjoyed this episode and encourage you to check out the Primal Endurance Mastery course at primalendurance.fit. This is the ultimate online educational experience where you can learn from the world’s great coaches and trainers diet, peak performance and recovery experts, as well as lengthy one-on-one interviews from several of the greatest endurance athletes of all time, not published anywhere else. It’s a major educational experience with hundreds of videos, but you can get free access to a mini-course with an ebook summary of the Primal Endurance Approach and nine Step-by-step videos on how to become a primal endurance athlete. This mini-course will help you develop a strong, basic understanding of this all-encompassing approach to endurance training that includes primal-aligned eating to escape carbohydrate dependency, and enhance fat metabolism. Building an aerobic base with comfortably paced workouts, strategically introducing high intensity strength and sprint workouts, emphasizing rest, recovery, and annual periodization, and finally, cultivating an intuitive approach to training. Instead of the usual robotic approach of fixed weekly workout schedules, just head over to primalendurance.fit and learn all about the course and how we can help you go faster and preserve your health while you’re at it.

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