Welcome to the return of the Primal Endurance podcast! This is your host Brad Kearns, and we are going on a journey towards a kinder, gentler, smarter, more fun, more effective way to train for ambitious endurance goals. You can check out Primalendurance.fit to join the community and also enroll in a free video course! In this premiere episode, I share a bit about my background and athletic career, what I stand for and what I’m all about, and reflect on a lifetime of being an athlete, author, and coach, and the most important things these experiences have taught me.
I am also so excited to be back on the mic after over a 3-year long break from cranking out shows (I also invite you to go back to revisit some of the wonderful shows we have in our catalog, some of which will be airing again with edits and adjustments made to keep it fresh) and working on the Primal Endurance mastery course. I spent a couple years of my life working on this, traveling around North America interviewing many of the world’s experts in so many of these categories that are so important to your endurance training and racing goals—especially reconnecting with my old time athletic friends and hearing them talk about the times they were at the top of their sport and pushing the envelope for human performance. You’re going to get so much value out of these interviews that will not be published anywhere else, and the Primal Endurance mastery course is going to be such an epic journey of discovery, knowledge acquisition, and focus and motivation for all of your endurance goals in all sports. It is by far the most comprehensive online endurance mastery course and I strongly encourage you to sign up, as you will get so much more value out of the podcast as well when you do. You can also check out a free introductory course to see what’s coming in further detail that gives you access to some great eBooks.
I also encourage you to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org with all your questions, comments, and feedback about your training and competitive goals and experiences, especially those that will be interesting and/or relevant to other listeners, as we’re really aiming for making this a community experience. We’re in this together, so let’s do it right!
Brad’s career as an athlete began with not making the football and basketball teams in high school to being a world class professional triathlete. [04:26]
Brad shares what he learned about training and nutrition as he grew in his athletic career. [08:59]
Showing potential is good, but the training is and motivation is what gets you there. The beauty is in the journey. [17:51]
You cannot rush the process of fitness to happen and it’s very unwise to compare yourself to other athletes in terms of your training protocols. [22:16]
Putting his professional competition behind him, Brad focuses on fitness and longevity with age-appropriate goals. [28:58]
Cultivate your internal passion for competition and maintain competitive intensity throughout life in an appropriate manner. [33:09]
We have to prioritize peak performance, protect our health, promote longevity in the process and never fall into that trap of more is better nor allow your ego to drive the narrative. [37:20]
Fantastic endurance sports records are getting broken. [44:55]
The term 80/20 training is often misinterpreted. Take a more sensitive, sensible, enjoyable rewarding approach to endurance training. [46:58]
- Brad Kearns.com
- Brad’s Shopping page
- PrimalEndurance Facebook
- How to Improve Your Triathlon Time
- Brad’s Fastest golf hole
- Primal Endurance book
- Primal Endurance Mastery Course
- “Struggle gives meaning and richness to life.” (Roger Bannister)
Welcome to the return of the Primal endurance podcast. This is your host, Brad Kerns, 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.
Hello, my primal endurance friend. I am so excited to be back on the mic. After over a three year break from cranking out shows, I invite you to go back and listen to the wonderful shows in our catalog. We’re gonna highlight certain ones and republish them to bring them more attention and also deliver you fresh content about that wonderful, exciting, and often frustrating challenge of training for daunting endurance events in the context of hectic high stress modern life. So I can’t wait for you to enjoy fresh content in conjunction with me taking over the hosting of the epic primal endurance mastery course located at primalendurance.fit. Oh my gosh, I spent a couple years of my life traveling around all over North America, interviewing many of the world’s leading experts in all these categories that are so important to your endurance training and racing goals, especially reconnecting with my old time athletic friends and hearing them as they sit back on the rocking chair on the back porch.
Talk about the times when they were at the very, very top of the sport, pushing the envelope of human performance. You’re gonna get so much value out of these interviews that are not published anywhere else. So the Primal Endurance Mastery Course is going to be an epic journey of discovery and knowledge acquisition, and focus and motivation for all of your endurance goals in all sports. It is by far the most comprehensive online endurance mastery course ever known to the planet. And I strongly encourage you to sign up. You’ll get so much more value out of the podcast as well. And you can also check out a free introductory course to know, uh, what’s coming in further detail and it’s a nine video series, short videos of the nine step approach to becoming a Primal Endurance athlete. You also get a free ebook that details detailed overview of the primal endurance approach.
So how can you lose with that offer for a free minicourse and further scrutiny of the full length course over at primalendurance.fit. And as we reestablish this podcast, I welcome you to be part of the effort and the way you do that is to email podcast@Bradventures.com, B R A D V E N T U R E S, podcast@Brad ventures.com with all manner of questions, comments, and feedback, especially questions about your training and competitive goals and experiences, especially those that might be of interest to other listeners. So if your left knee hurts, that’s a bummer. If you wanna ask a general question about how you can strengthen and prevent knee trouble in the context of training for endurance sports, those are better worded questions, but we love that feedback. And we really wanna make this a community experience and generate some great Q and A shows and also suggestions about content, guests, everything we’re in this together. Let’s do it right people, you spend all that time and energy on training, on equipment.
And now we’re going to get the strategy and the philosophy down pat. So we won’t make those mistakes including a lot of do, as I say, not as I did. So I get to reflect here decades after my elite endurance career has ended, but I’m still fighting the battle every single day, especially in my beloved sport of speed golf, which is definitely an endurance challenge because you’re running the course at high speed and trying to hit good shots and sink putts with your heart beating outta your chest. So I thought on this show, uh, especially if you’re a new listener, but Hey, for everyone, even the older listeners, it’s been a few years. So, I wanted to give you a little background where I’m coming from my athletic career and what I, what I stand for, what I’m all about. Uh, we woven into the, uh, the prime endurance approach.
So we’re gonna hit on some big picture items like that. As far as my background, you can read a detailed, lively, entertaining presentation on BradKearns.com. I think the link is Brad’s life story, but for now greetings, I have been an athlete, author, and coach in the endurance scene for many decades, dating back to the eighties when I began my career on the professional triathlon circuit and also began coaching athletes. So, a lengthy career coaching athletes, and as far as competing, I had a pretty hard nine year binge on the professional triathlon circuit, traveling all over the world and aftermath coaching athletes for decades, writing books, you can find the primal endurance book that I co-authored with Mark Sisson and also on Amazon right now, a fun, inspiring and philosophical read called How to Improve Your Triathlon Time. I think you’ll love that short read with a lot of personal anecdotes from my training and racing career, but my endurance career started in high school unwittingly.
You could say because I was too small for the football team and I was cut from, in the Los Angeles, big public high schools. They have, they had four basketball teams and I was cut from the last one. It was called the C team. So I couldn’t even make the C team. Forget about the varsity, the JV and the B team. That was a rough one. So I got, uh, kicked out of the gym. My name was not on the list and I took out my frustrations running in circles around the track and running in the mountains on the cross country team. And boy, wasn’t it wonderful to find a place to land as a high school student, especially one passionate about sports. And I took to the endurance community and the, the group there, the grouping of the cross country kids and the long distance running track kids.
And that was really wonderful. Made some close friends, still have them today. But as far as my, my purpose, I really love the quote from the great American miler, Jim Ryan, where he said he was asked, why did he start running? He said, mainly to get attention from the girls and to find his place in the social order of high school. <laugh>. And so for me, I’d say that rang true for sure. And also that competitive intensity and that, that true frustration that I was not going to see my way through a football or basketball career, uh, at this giant LA city public high school that is sent many players to the NFL, the NBA, major league baseball. I mean, this was big time competition and I was a pretty good athlete. So I wasn’t one of those guys that said I had to go running, cuz I was uncoordinated.
I was a superstar quarterback in, in flag football at the park. And I was also on the all star team for the, the park league of basketball. Uh, but when I showed up at Taft high school as a sophomore, that’s when high school started in LA, I was five, five, a hundred fifteen pounds at the way in. And so that wasn’t gonna work against the high level competition in a big city like Los Angeles. So it took me a while to get motivated when I joined the cross country and track teams. Any parents listening, uh, a note of interest, note of warning that in something as difficult and challenging and grueling as endurance training, the motivation has to come from within. And I’ve talked a lot about the over pressured over pressurized youth competitive experience that we see today where everything is escalated. It’s almost like today’s high school athletics is like college used to be and today’s college athletics literally with the new legislation and the changes is like the professionals.
So, everything’s so escalated, so intensified and it was nothing like we experienced way back in the day where, um, the organization, the structure was pretty loose. And my first act when I was on the cross-country team was we would jog a little bit away from the school. And then I would duck into the gas station bathroom and hide there until everyone had gone. And then I would just head home and have a meal and jump on my trampoline and have some fun, uh, but thanks a lot to peer influence and my good friends to this day, Dr. Steven Kobrine, Steven Dietch and Dr. Todd Pearsons, these guys kind of brought me along and motivated and inspired me. And I went from the hide in the gas station guy, uh, about a year and a half later to a very serious and high performing high school runner.
I was a finalist in the national junior Olympics at age 16 ranked 12th in the nation and in the California state high school meet, which is a very competitive meet. I made it to finals in, in the mile and took ninth place. So I was all set up to head off to college and compete at division one level for UC Santa Barbara. And that was an unmitigated disaster in every possible way you could imagine. So I showed up on campus and I actually had a great season, my freshman CrossCountry season coming off of my own rudimentary high school training. But then as I further immersed into the college system, I got destroyed and I was sick or injured five seasons in a row. So it would be track freshman and then cross country and then track again. I never ran a single meet in college and pretty soon, I had had it and it was a really difficult time because I’d formed my identity, my, my social connections.
My purpose as a competitive athlete was such a wonderful experience. And then it was all taken away from me over and over again, as I struggled to, uh, to, to line up and do what was asked and what was required in this regimented system. And that’s when I really, uh, had my first awakening that becoming a skilled endurance athlete was about more than just unleashing your competitive intensity day after day after day, to put in as many mileage as high mileage as you could, or to stay up with the pace of the pack in every single workout. I had an awakening that nutrition was actually an important element of being a successful athlete. So, um, my habits of just chowing down cereal and making my own brownies and eating ’em out of a shoebox all day long when I was in college and all those things I started to realize, Hey, I better, uh, you know, read up on some books study and that’s been a lifelong journey that went all the way back into the eighties when I was in college, injured and thinking that, uh, maybe the nutritional factor was, uh, uh, contributing to this continued breakdown.
I learned about recovery and the importance of disciplining yourself to slow down and regulate that competitive intensity. So then instead of staying up with the pack on every single workout, I would pick and choose my spots and notice, uh, the voice in my own head telling me to slow down, take it easy and all these cool things that get lost in the shuffle, especially when you are a young athlete, really trying hard to, uh, to impress the coaching staff and your peers and whatever else is going on in your head where you, you wanna push yourself hard and, and feel that instant gratification of a workout well performed that might be compromising your long term progress. So I had had it with the college running scene after a while. And luckily I discovered the wonderful burgeoning sport of triathlon. So this is in mid eighties and it was just getting going so you could watch, uh, the iron man on TV.
And so many people were inspired by that. And interestingly, uh, the campus of UC Santa Barbara was somewhat of a triathlon hotbed, and there were several guys enrolled in school at that time that went on to distinguished professional careers in triathlon. So it’s just random, good luck that I could, uh, make these connections while still a college student. And, uh, get into the mix with some guys that were excelling at a high level. One guy named Jim Brady was ranked number five on the, uh, the U S T S world circuit. And so here’s this guy, uh, that was known to be one of the top cyclists in the entire sport of triathlon right there on campus. Someone told me about him. So I looked him up in the student directory. I called him up and I said, Hey, I’m, uh, Brad, I’m a new triathlete.
I just left the, uh, the running program. And I’m wondering if I can, uh, do some bike riding with you. And he said, no, <laugh>. And I’m like, uh, what are you talking about? No, he goes, I know I always ride alone because no one can keep up with me. And I said, well, can I at least try, like, can I start out? And we can have an agreement that if I’m going too slow, you can take off. And he goes, nah, that’s okay. <laugh>, I’m like, all right, nice to meet you too. And, uh, I’ll see you around campus. But I was able to join the UC Santa Barbara cycling team, which was really cool because these guys were very organized and competitive in a sport that I was completely new to. So I had to learn all the rules of pack riding and get scolded 14 times on the same ride because my gestures or my pace, wasn’t perfect as I pulled through, uh, doing the pace lines and things.
And I remember one epic day, I was so you can tell I’m not too big of a fan of pack cycling and all the pageantry and the pompous behavior that you sometimes see, uh, from people in the cycling packs, all the way down to their perfect apparel all the time. And I’d show up in a t-shirt, uh, looking like a, a real triathlete. And, um, sometimes I didn’t get the love that I was, uh, expecting, but anyway, um, what else is new, right? Is it still going on today? I think so. That’s what I hear anyway. Haven’t been in any cycling packs in a while. But, one day on a long distance group cycling ride with the cycling team, guess who else showed up this dude? Jim Brady, the number five ranked triathlete in America at the time.
And somehow we had a double pace line where both of us reached the front at the same time. And we were, uh, somehow inspired to put the hammer down, like never before. I think people were scolding us and saying, Hey, Hey, Hey, you know, keep the pace steady, whatever, but we just went for it. And we were just flying along at whatever 30 miles an hour for a sustained period instead of pulling off and staying with their workout. And, uh, uh, we, this goes on and on for however long we got to the top of the hill, we look back, there was no one there and he looks over at me and he says, okay, I will let you ride with me, but you have to teach me how to run faster. <laugh>. So we had a deal there where I would meet him out of the track.
We’d do some running workouts together and we’d do some epic, uh, long distance bike rides. Also attending school at the same time was a Emilio DeSoto and Tommy Gallagher, two guys who had great distinguished, uh, careers on the pro triathlon circuit. So that was really fun. And, uh, soon after that, a great tragedy occurred in my life and it was called graduation. Yeah. So I went from this idyllic lifestyle at the beach at UC Santa Barbara, pedaling my bike around the wonderful trails all over town, running in the trails, along the cliffs and looking at the ocean and swimming and enjoying myself and taking classes and wearing shorts and a t-shirt and thongs every day. And I was thrust into, uh, the real world and a career with the, uh, world’s largest accounting firm. They’re now called KPMG. And boy, was that a rude awakening, uh, leaving the beach town and going into rush hour traffic, uh, to downtown Los Angeles high rise building to embark upon my career as an accountant.
And so this lasted, uh, 11 weeks of pain and suffering, and I just couldn’t take it. It just felt like, uh, the worst fit ever, like, uh, my life was, uh, you know, spinning into a spiral down. I couldn’t believe where I was, uh, getting dressed in this suit every single day. And so I spent a lot of time dreaming of becoming a professional triathlete. And back then, at that time, that term was kind of an oxymoron because the sport was so new that there really wasn’t a lot of opportunity, uh, to make a career of it. There were a few guys making some good money cuz they were the very best and everyone had heard of them and they were on TV. And so they could get some endorsements and they’d put up some prize money for the, the top top guys. But again, I was just a recreational triathlete participating at the amateur level while I was going to college.
Um, and uh, I decided to retire from the firm and pursue a professional career as a triathlete. Those guys scoffed when I told them I was leaving, uh, for that opportunity, the, the guys at the accounting firm and they said I could come back anytime, which I thought was really touching and, and generous. But then I realized that they’d spent a lot of those 11 weeks just training me. And so they were down, uh, in investment when I walked outta the building so soon. My parents were really supportive, uh, in, in, uh, so many ways, including letting me crash at home and live a simple lifestyle so I could get out there and train every day. But my dad reminded me one day that, um, professional athletes are freaks. And so I really shouldn’t dream of something that was, uh, out of touch, but I countered with this, uh, this idea of my own that anything could be possible if I, I was able to train hard and spend all day training.
And I had a glimpse of my potential from racing pretty well in these amateur events, despite, uh, drastically, uh, insufficient training compared to a professional athlete. And I wanna make that, uh, distinction because I showed some potential, I was, uh, a pretty good, uh, collegiate level runner. So my running skill was on a par with many of the professionals in the pack. And I was just drastically far behind in the swim, the bike. And so I thought in my mind, Hey, I’m just gonna up my skills in these two events by pedaling my bike all day and getting in the water and swimming back and forth. And so, uh, it was, it was a, a really an ideal mindset to go and pursue this goal that might have been unrealistic in many practical ways as my dad was trying to allude. But at the same time, um, you have to believe in yourself and you have to go for it in life.
So it was a folly in many ways, but I was also extremely passionate about getting out there and challenging myself and pursuing, uh, a compelling goal and striving to get better every single day. So I had what I call a pure motivation, and I believe this is the single most important takeaway that I can share with you from my experience of nine years on the professional triathlon circuit, is that the results come naturally when your motivation is pure and by pure, I mean that I was completely, uh, involved and enrolled in the process and appreciating the process so much that I got to wake up every day. And instead of put on that suit and tie and get in rush hour traffic, I was able to pedal my bike away and go explore the mountains in the beautiful countryside, uh, surrounding Los Angeles. And when you have that pure motivation, when you’re not so fixated on results, and you’re not succumbing to the measuring judging forces of the outside world where your happiness and self-esteem are determined by whether you succeed or fail.
And guess what? That was kind of how I was in college as a runner where my identity was connected to, uh, being, uh, this fast guy running around the track or running on the course and all of a sudden it’s taken away. And I’m the injured guy clapping from the sideline. That was pretty tough emotionally. So having gone through that and, and grown a little bit, even though it was only a 21 year old kid still, I realized that the, the beauty was in the, the journey. And so I was fortunate. I was lucky I was filled with gratitude as they might say today, although we didn’t talk like that back then, <laugh>, um, I was just pursuing self-improvement and boy, it was so great to be joined by Andrew MacNaughton on this journey. So we came along at the very same time. We were both training in the San Fernando Valley and of course we met up and he ended up, uh, to be one of the greatest triathletes of all time with a wonderfully distinguished career on the pro circuit.
And so we would talk all the time about all the little nuances of getting better in the three sports and the equipment, and we just couldn’t get enough of it and we’d go to the races and have a great time, but we were so far behind the pace set by the top guys. And so when I’d have a good race, uh, with a elite field, you know, I’d come in there in 18th and feel positive about that or 21st or 24th, uh, or if we’d go to a smaller race where there wasn’t, uh, many of the, the world level guys, you know, I’d get a seventh or a ninth or a fourth, and I’d be ecstatic. I remember when I got my first paycheck, I think it was, um, $200 for placing fourth in a local race. And so now I could really, and truly call myself a professional athlete.
I remember, uh, you know, uh, I didn’t even want to cash the check. I think my, my dad wanted to, uh, take a picture of it or put it in a permaplaque frame. So I was having a ton of fun. I was also very serious and very competitive, uh, but in the background and looking over my shoulder was reality. And, uh, one could easily contend that this was not a career that was going anywhere, uh, picking up $200 checks, uh, after whatever six months of, uh, nonstop, uh, full-time training. Meanwhile, my peers were headed off to, uh, literally, uh, Wharton MBA program, Harvard law school, medical students, PhD students. And so the reality checks were ever present for this. Um, it was, so I guess you could call it a, uh, a surfer dude lifestyle with a little, uh, torture pain and suffering added from the hard training.
And so I was going along enjoying the moment, right. But with, uh, the beast breathing down my back very gently. And then a funny thing happened at the end of my first year, my rookie year on the professional triathlon circuit. And I went to this big race at the end of the year in Palm Springs, California. And I upset the, uh, the, the two number one ranked triathlete. And the number one ranked duo athlete in the world who were going to this showdown, this big event where the two number one guys would face each other. Uh, but rather than either of them winning, uh, I upset everyone in the pack and came across the line in first place. I, it was so unknown that, um, the, the media, you know, swarmed me after I crossed the finish line and they had two questions for me first, did you complete the entire course?
<laugh> yes, I did. Thank you very much. And second, what’s your name? And so, uh, that was a big, uh, turning point in my, my, my triathlon folly because I was suddenly on the map overnight. Right. And literally, and I realized that this could, uh, represent a career path with continued progress, especially because there was a rematch race six weeks later. So now instead of being in nobody and having to pay, uh, $45 for the super eight motel, I’m getting the, uh, the V I P treatment. They gave me the race bib, number one, um, people whispering as I walk by all that kind of thing as I’m roaming around the, the event site down in Palm Springs. And on the second event, uh, rather than these guys, you know, taking that target off my back, uh, I literally won the race by a mile.
I was five minutes ahead of a pack of the, the best athletes in the world. And this has been described by, uh, many in the sport as the greatest upset in the history of multi-sport competition and will probably never be equaled+ because the sport is so much more sophisticated. Now there’s not going to be a guy coming outta the woodwork, uh, with no shirt on, cause I didn’t have any sponsors. So I didn’t have a little racing top. I just had skin, uh, and that guy will not beat, uh, the Olympic gold medalist and the top rank guys ever again. So, uh, guess what, this is a cute little story. I love relating it to you. Of course. Uh, it’s a fond memory, but you might guess what happened after that ensuing victory where now I really blew up and on the cover of magazines and, uh, getting interviewed and getting sponsor attention and all those things.
Yeah. Guess what? Now it was time for the, uh, folly of the, the Brad path to get more serious, more focused, uh, increase my motivation, uh, time, my workouts more accurately, uh, compete with my training partners, cuz of course they’re competing with me now, everyone who’s training with me is looking at me as like, uh, the benchmark, right? And so as you can imagine, I struggled from the incredible success that was thrust upon me in a very short time frame. And I left behind all the things that had gotten me to the, the top of the sport and in tremendous escalation in a performance and improvement over a short time. And when you start getting, uh, measuring and judging your results and feeling that tension, that anxiety, that nervousness of upcoming races, because now everyone’s paying attention to me, they expect me to win or they expect me to do well.
Now I’m signing contracts with sponsors. So people are paying me to race. So I have all kinds of outside pressures that I wasn’t, you know, strongly adapted to cope with as the easy breezy, uh, guy who went through his, uh, his rookie year anonymously. And so when I forced things to happen unnaturally in pursuit of fitness progress, that’s when I struggled and really, uh, had to learn the hardest lessons of getting my ass kicked after I had gotten all this attention. And so, uh, the reason I’m sharing these things with you, there’s takeaway points, right? <laugh> and, and those are that you, you cannot force, you cannot rush the process of fitness to happen. Uh, it’s very unwise to compare yourself to other athletes in terms of your training protocols, because people, uh, vary so much and what’s appropriate for one athlete might not work at all for another athlete.
And that was, uh, a rough one because I was a little more, a lot more sensitive and fragile to training stress than many of the people that I encountered, especially at the elite level. You’re gonna find as my dad reminded me, there’s some freaks out there that could train all day every day for hours and hours and not get tired and not suffer from the breakdown, burnout, illness, and injury. That was so familiar to me, starting back in college when I couldn’t even handle a very mediocre division one college running team. So as we kind of get through the story advanced through the story, uh, that ended up to be nine years on the professional circuit. It really was a roller coaster ride of highs and lows. And of course like everybody reminds us, you learn so much from your failures, but I also learned a lot from my successes and everything was a wonderful learning experience.
And at my best, I was two time national champion. I reached number three ranking in the world. I won seven races in a row at one point in 1991-92, I was specializing in the Olympic distance races, which is the, uh, 1.5 kilometer swim, 40 K bike, 10 K run, the distance that you see contested in the Olympic games. Now we didn’t have the Olympics back then. We were just striving to get in there. And it finally got in, in 2000, that was after my time. But I also did some good long distance racing. I got fifth in the world, long course championships in Nice, France, and I’ve had the American record in the Hawaii iron man for the 24 and under age group for 33 years and counting now, cuz I did an 08 57, uh, at the age of 24, early on in my, in my career on the circuit.
So that ended at the tender age of 30 and I really felt beat up and chewed up and spit out and I’d given it everything I had and I was past my prime. And so boy, when you have that awakening, when you’re out there doing a workout and your times are much slower than they were two years before, um, it’s kind of a graceful way to exit the sport. I do not have any unfinished business or any itches to scratch on the triathlon circuit by the time I left because it was just so grueling and so tiring. I did the best I could. I got the most outta my body and it was definitely time to go. So in the years after that, I did some crazy endurance stuff. I completed a 50 mile trail run. Um, and I also became the first person to cross the Sierra Nevada on a mountain bike after three failed attempts at discovering a route.
I finally, uh, succeeded at going from the Sierra foothills in my former home of Auburn, California, uh, riding over remote logging roads, foot trails and Jeep trails, 84 miles uphill, uh, all the way to Lake Tahoe, 13,000 feet of climbing taken all day. I later produced an event and helped some other people do this epic crossing of the Sierra. So these, uh, endurance excursions were fun. And I was getting on with my life, pursuing a career, raising kids, normal life. And I thought that by occasionally getting out there and doing some, uh, a big endurance performance or heading out to jog a few days a week for an hour on the trail and, uh, get on the bike for a couple hours on the weekend. Uh, I figured that I was preserving, uh, this incredibly high level of fitness in my mind, right?
This ex-pro triathlete. Uh, the ageless wonder, I thought would keep me bulletproof for life, but I very quickly, uh, had an awakening that I was only competent in a very small sliver of what can represent total functional health, lifestyle, longevity, fitness. And, uh, that was, um, a nice awakening because, uh, the rest of my life has been all about that. Broadening my scope of fitness and pursuing new different age appropriate goals that protect my health and promote longevity rather than that time on the professional circuit. I think in any sport, you have to make the sacrifices for those incremental improvements that will indeed challenge and typically compromise your health. And so, uh, there’s a time and a place for everything. And I think it’s a wonderful experience to be able to go for it and push the very edges of human endurance and what your body is capable of.
But then, um, spending the rest of my life kind of unwinding that and staying away from that extreme approach that challenge my health and looking to things like high jumping and speed golf that are, uh, sensible and require all kinds of different fitness competencies. And I think the real awakening was, um, going out there and, uh, coaching my kids’ sports teams, uh, starting when they were five years old. So that was a, a decade there from, uh, up into high school. And so when I’m, uh, coaching little kids playing soccer, basketball, and track, uh, my goal was to dominate them from start to finish every practice. So they would learn how to be competitors themselves. And I could set an example as a participatory coach, uh, but it was kind of rough because I’d, uh, get sore and tired after soccer practice with eight year olds.
And that’s when I realized boy, maybe I could bring some other fitness attributes into focus and, and broaden my perspective. So that’s the full disclosure. My days on the starting line of extreme endurance events have long since passed, but now I’m focused on my precious speed golf goals, trying to get around the, that five miles typically, uh, golf course, as fast as possible. I’ve placed in the, uh, world championships in the professional division five times I’ve placed in the top 20. So I’m right around the, the 20th guy. There’s a ton of guys that are faster than me. I used to be one of the faster guys when I played speed golf, uh, years ago. Uh, so now I’m just trying to hang on, keep a respectable pace and hit those shots straight. But I’m also fond of this offshoot that I discovered of the Guinness world record for the fastest single hole of golf ever played.
And I trained with great passion and intensity to try to break that record in 2018. And that was a wonderful journey. I’m gonna put in the show notes, a link to a podcast where I described that process in detail on the B.rad podcast and also link to the YouTube video, not too much to ask because it took me a minute and 38 seconds. So it’s a quick video, people, of me playing a par five and sprinting full speed between shots. So today I’m a speed golfer and a sprinter and a high jumper. And I have so much passion for these competitive goals that when I clear the high jump bar in an empty high school stadium, that I often have to climb the fence, uh, to get into and bring my own high jump standards and throw those over the fence and set ’em up.
I scream with delight and it feels to me just as significant as winning a big race on the pro circuit, uh, and having the ESPN cameras there and the excitement of the cheering crowd and all that great stuff. So I think we have to bring it back to, uh, cultivating this internal passion for competition and maintaining competitive intensity throughout life in an appropriate manner and having that edge and something that really gets you going in the morning and you’re excited and you’re motivated. And the emphasis is on the journey and your personal pursuit of peak performance. I remember getting a lot of questionnaires back from, uh, coaching clients where they’d write something about, I wanna finish an Ironman someday, so I can be an inspiration to my children, ages eight and 10. And I’m like, you know what? Eight and 10, they do not give a crap about their parent going around for 14 and a half hours while they’re, uh, dragged around and compelled to watch the end of the bike in the start of the run.
So it’s not about being inspiration to your children. You can do that in many other ways. And I think the, again, all about the journey, if you’re leaving a leading a healthy fit lifestyle and heading out, uh, on, on training sessions and coming back and, and feeling, uh, energized and exuberant, that is the, the best role modeling you can do. Uh, but to try to keep things in perspective and, um, get over yourself. As I like to say, uh, when we see the overly, um, a pressurized, overly intense approach to, uh, athletic goals, uh, here in normal adult life. Okay. So that was a longish journey through my athletic career, but I think the points that I tried to make are really important and relevant to what all of us, the challenges we face every day, particularly that we still are at heightened risk of our strengths becoming our worst enemy, because generally in the endurance scene, we are talking about a subsection of the population that has those type a attributes, uh, the high competitive drive, focus, discipline, work ethic, all those wonderful attributes that can easily turn on you if they get outta hand and you don’t regulate them properly.
So it’s really important to get clear about our purpose for training and competing in endurance sports. That’s why I made that clip about the eight and 10 year old. Don’t give a crap what your time is and the iron man <laugh>, it’s, it’s all about using your endurance outlet, uh, as, as a vehicle for personal growth, rather than an outlet for obsessive compulsive behavior or a way to punish yourself in sub subconscious manner that you need to go out there and suffer. Uh, so when you can formulate an enlightened perspective and a strategic approach where it’s not just about struggling and suffering to balance how comfortable and easy modern life is, but it’s more of a, a peak performance journey that is when we are getting into the sweet spot. Um, and so what do we need to, to qualify here?
Well, we need to prioritize peak performance, of course, rather than being a finisher or a participant or the guy who never misses the Tuesday night workout, even when his knees sore. So we need to, uh, prioritize peak performance. We need to protect our health in the process. So an athletic goal that you’re pursuing that is compromising your health, uh, you better be getting paid a lot of money as a pro because otherwise that just, it doesn’t make any sense. I don’t see any rationale for that. And then also it would be really, really nice if our athletic pursuits promoted longevity rather than compressed our lifespan, which they can literally do when you get out of hand and out of balance of stress rest balance. I mention often that that 10 year period of time that I spent on the professional circuit, I very likely aged from a scientific cellular perspective.
I probably aged 15 to 17 years. That’s how that’s how difficult it was flying around on jets all over the world and putting in that kind of training volume and putting my body under that kind of stress. It was an accelerated aging process for that period of time. And now what I’m trying to do is unwind it. So here at 57 years old, I’d like to think that I have the, uh, the competitive attributes to let’s say, uh, qualify for a spot on the varsity track team. Uh, if they need someone for the mile relay or other markers of, uh, delayed, uh, aging process. My high jump height, I just cleared five one, uh, early this year at the age of 57. And you can guess what my PR was in high school. I was a casual high jumper. I go over there after doing the, um, the grueling endurance workouts.
And I was this skinny little runner guy who didn’t have much power or, or, you know, technique. And I cleared five feet. So I’m better than I was in high school in the high jump. Uh, but certainly not the mile <laugh> and that’s okay. Cuz that’s, uh, a lot of pain and suffering and probably would be a very difficult, inappropriate goal for me to go out there and hit the big miles and the hard workouts that you need to run a really fast mile, although power to the guys in the master’s track that are putting up some amazing times, even in the older age groups. Okay. So we have to prioritize peak performance, protect our health, promote longevity in the process and never fall into that trap of more is better nor allow your ego to, uh, drive the narrative, the storyline of your endurance athletic career.
We want to understand that the greatest rewards come not from purely enduring, something difficult, although there are rewards and it’s a great way to balance comfortable, decadent, indulgent, modern life, consumerism, all that stuff. However, when you approach a challenge with the correct mindset, with the correct preparation and discipline applied, not just in the direction of being able to get outta bed and work hard, but in all directions, including the discipline to rest and proceed with a kinder, gentler approach, that’s when you experience the greatest rewards. And you know what? I’ve been talking about this for decades and it frustrates me to no end that we have lost sight of this ideal, continue to get this ideal lost in the shuffle that the greatest rewards are not just from struggling and suffering and enduring and getting a finisher medal, but checking all those boxes that you did it right, you balanced it carefully and expertly with all the other life responsibilities, instead of letting things get outta balance and being one of those people that jokes about getting out on the bike.
So you can get away from the, the stress and tension in your house. You know, that kind of stuff. Let’s put that to bed and, um, uh, uh, uh, move on and progress and try to break through to a more enlightened mindset and philosophy. The reason I’m so frustrated is we’ve made so much progress, uh, with, uh, society technology. We have all this high tech measuring and wearables and sophisticated equipment. And, uh, boy, you know, now we can, uh, upload our workouts onto the, uh, the Strava website and see that you’re, uh, the, the 17th fastest guy going up the hill in your town. You can see what your wattage output corresponding to your heart rate and all this great stuff that can serve to inform good training decisions for sure can serve to motivate you and excite you for sure. But we still make the same simple mistakes of allowing our ego to take over and, uh, succumb our least impressive attributes, frailties peculiarities.
Uh, I’m also seeing this in the mainstream fitness community in general, not just the endurance communities where I’m thinking that a lot of us are nodding our heads. It’s so obvious, uh, but look at the sensation of CrossFit and how many cool things about the whole explosion of this, uh, alternative fitness community and the great philosophy that they are promoting, where you’re building, uh, broad based functional fitness with these creative workouts. Uh, but when you get deeper into the community and see what’s going on, uh, there’s this excess, this approach of struggling and suffering as the priority rather than sensibility. And when people make these same mistakes for decades with an over exuberant, overly competitive approach to training, uh, based on suffering, that’s what I’m, uh, here to stand against and fight hard to help, uh, promote this, uh, awakening. And boy, we’re fighting against the marketing machine, right?
Because pain and suffering are glamorized. And that’s kind of the essence of mainstream fitness programming and why, uh, they wanna get, they, they want you to get value for the money that you spend. So they really wanna push your body. I’m talking to a lot of personal trainers. Now I’m talking to a lot of group exercise at the gyms. I’m talking to the home based group workouts, uh, like Peloton, which has become so popular. And isn’t that exciting to get a rah workout from a great teacher and crank the music and see how you rank, uh, against all other writers. Uh, but in general terms, uh, there is a high risk here of tipping over the balance point and making it be more about pain and suffering rather than sensibility. Now I’ve taken a few pot shots there, so I don’t want you to misunderstand me.
And I wanna emphasize how beautiful it is to see the fitness movement grow. The endurance movement grow in popularity. More people are out there, getting out on the trails, challenging themselves with ultra distance events and seeing beautiful countryside and scenery and connecting in a way that’s probably vastly superior than, uh, going to the, the, the bars and the nightclubs. You can make social connections out on the trail. So it’s so beautiful, so many aspects of it. So I’m really trying to focus in on the most optimal approach rather than, uh, put a big paint brush swath saying that people should, uh, stay home and watch more TV. We know that that’s not true. And we know that there’s a compulsion and absolute necessity to strive to balance this overly comfortable, overly indulgent, modern life with opportunities to put ourselves under struggle, difficulty and challenge.
I love the quote from sir, Roger Banister, the late sir, Roger Bannister, the first human to break four minutes in the mile. And he said, struggle gives meaning and richness to life. He said that in 1955, writing this beautiful book full of insightful quotes when he was only 24, 25 years old, and actually retired at the top of his game from running to pursue a career as a physician. But when Roger Bannister says struggle gives meaning richness to life, he is referring to the struggle against the clock and his, uh, calling card of being the first human to break four minutes in a mile at a time when the leading scientific experts contended that that was the absolute human limit and that the human heart might explode. If it ran faster than a four minute mile, this was actually what was going on, uh, while he was training and trying to, to, to break through this daunting goal, it was actually stalled.
The world record in the mile was stalled for like nine years at 4 0 1 until Roger banister ran 3 59 in 1954. He was not talking about struggling through inappropriate training patterns, over training patterns, pushing the body too hard and getting out of balance in life. So I see some unfortunate attributes today. I called out a couple brand names, uh, but I also see, uh, a lot of things are getting better, especially noticing the performance breakthroughs of the elite athletes in the endurance sports records. Fantastic records are getting broken left and right track and field, uh, triathlon. Dudes going way under eight hours in triathlon Ironman distance. Um, all the records of the great runners Kipchoge running a marathon in under two hours, uh, it’s astonishing. And so they are clearly doing many things, right? And I think a lot of those things are coming outside of the workouts because the guys, uh, decades ago trained really hard as well.
But now we are taking advantage of, uh, advanced recovery methods, uh, nutrition, all that great stuff, uh, rehabilitation prehabilitation right, prehab doing the mobility flexibility exercises that help, uh, prevent injuries and make one more resilient for the hard workouts that help you get world records. Um, and so it’s nice to look to the elites for guidance and inspiration, but we often, uh, grab the wrong message. And, um, what’s important is to understand the philosophical approach and the strategies that they implement rather than looking at the particulars of their workouts and trying to approximate that in training, uh, someone who’s dedicating their entire life to elite peak performance and is also genetically gifted, um, is not a really a good model or sample to, to base your own training decisions on.
And one example I wanna point out is this, um, popularity of the term, uh, polarized training or 80 20 training. And what that means is that, um, there’s some valid and respected science, uh, with elite athletes in numerous endurance sports. Uh, Dr. David Siler based in Norway is one of the leading promoters of this, where he studied the training patterns of many elite athletes and presented this idea that around 80% of their training is, uh, what could be considered very comfortable and only 20% is what could be considered high intensity. But I think people are misappropriating this idea like crazy and you can’t, uh, easily quantify what 80 20 means. So the, the 20% of your training being at high intensity, uh, what does that really mean? Uh, when you’re going and doing a interval workout? Uh, a lot of that time of that workout, you’re at a comfortable intensity, cuz you’re warming up, you’re taking, uh, jogging breaks between the hard effort.
And so if the intervals only add up to, let’s say seven minutes of total hard work, right, let’s say you did, you did five quarters or something and, and you jogged a lot and you walked a lot. However, that workout is still, uh, very, very difficult and has a high score on the perceived exertion scale requiring recovery time after you did a lot to your body there. But if you’re trying to count by training hours of time, training hours spent training, uh, the seven minutes accounts for what, you know, one or two or 3% of your, uh, total weekly training volume. And so this 80 20, uh, is, is, is misappropriated in that way, not even understanding, um, what that means. Um, so think about this in another example, when you go out there and do a workout like an interval workout and you come back and it reports your average heart rate on your fancy smart watch.
Well, an average heart rate is virtually meaningless. It’s kind of like, uh, driving, uh, down the road and, uh, going a hundred on the surface streets going 40 on the freeway and, uh, speeding up to 120, uh, for the last part of your journey. And so your average speed on your trip down to your friend’s house, uh, 20 miles away was 30 miles an hour, who cares? Okay. So that’s my first warning, uh, at reducing, uh, the training, uh, a question, the training challenge to ratios like 80 20, however, from the fantastic work of Dr. Siler and others, uh, deep in the exercise physiology scene, we can have this wonderful takeaway point that polarized training is practiced by the vast majority of elite athletes so that they are not spending much time at all in this, in between no man’s land zone.
And we talk about this a lot in the, uh, the Primal Endurance book where you’re going kind to hard. And I had Dave Scott on the podcast, um, talking about he, he, he that’s his term that he, uh, coined kind to hard. We don’t want to be going kind to hard on a typical workout, uh, perhaps ever. So we’re going mostly comfortable in the aerobic zone building that aerobic base, where you get the greatest return on investment. And then once in a while, you’re going hard instead of kind to hard. Uh, and if you screw up on either end of the scale, if you, uh, go a little too difficult on your typical, uh, training session, uh, rather than extremely comfortable and aerobic, or if you go not hard enough on your hard workouts, you’re not gonna reach your potential either. Why didn’t you go hard enough cuz you weren’t well rested enough because you’re not going easy enough.
And so that is the important philosophical takeaway from polarized training. Also the individuality is so critical here. Um, and someone who’s, uh, had some setbacks and some, uh, inappropriate training methods, uh, in recent years might need a sort of detox period to slow down and rebuild the body and rebuild one’s aerobic conditioning without any anaerobic stimulation to interfere with that. And that’s what periodization is all about is spending a certain period of time just working on your aerobic base. But sometimes that might have to extend out. And so for this athlete, uh, the <laugh>, the ratio would be 100 to zero. This is something that Dr. Phil Maffetone has asserted for decades that you do not even want to introduce any anaerobic training until you are having all these thumbs up good scores on the, uh, aerobic development, uh, Mike Pigg, one of the greatest triathletes of all time dominating the Olympic distance circuit for many years.
Um, he ran into some big problems with his digestive system and basically overstress, uh, burnout patterns from an extreme racing schedule for years and years. And so under Maffetone’s guidance, he didn’t do any speed workouts in training, I believe for two years. There’s some detail on this in the book, uh, but he just simply, uh, trained at an aerobic heart rate, got better and better and fitter and fitter and more and more competent aerobically. And then he would fly off to a race, win the race and come back home and keep his heart rate in the aerobic zone. That’s the 180 minus your age Maffetone formula for all workouts for the entire competitive season. So his speed workouts were paid sessions, winning money on the pro circuit. Uh, in fact, I know the one year that he really had to dedicate to this as he was trying to heal from his digestive illness, uh, was 1991.
He became trialed a year. He won almost every race. Uh, some guy upset him in Israel on the last race of the year, and then we had a good time traveling around afterward, but he had a great season where he was stronger and more better performing than ever before, without any speed workouts and training. Um, the same thing, uh, was a great awakening for me because halfway through my career, I was falling apart. I was training as hard as I possibly could doing everything I could to recover, sleeping, trying to eat the right foods. And I was still, uh, seeing guys ahead of me on the race course. And it was really frustrating that I wasn’t winning every single race because I was training so hard. Come on. What’s the problem here. And that’s when I finally had to learn to slow down.
And that was what was going to unlock further peak performance potential was to slow down, uh, the basic training pace of my routine workouts and kind of go more toward a polarized approach where I did more impressive, uh, key workouts or breakthrough workouts as Mark Sisson called them. He was my coach at that time. And that was a real awakening to realize that, uh, when you can regulate your competitive intensity every single day and unleash properly at the appropriate times, that is far superior to being Mr. Tough guy or Ms. Tough gal at every single workout. Are you listening CrossFit people if you jumped on this channel? <laugh> I hope so. And for me, because the, the competition level was so high and there were so many people racing at a high level, slowing down, represented the difference between coming in sixth or seventh and coming in first place.
And I mentioned earlier that I won seven races in a row, and that’s when things were finally really clicking for me. I had built, built, built up a high fitness level. And then of course I wasn’t gonna screw that up in training by doing a workout that was too difficult. I was gonna wait and see what happened on the race course and take it easy a lot more than I had in years past. Okay. Well, I hope you are convinced by now, or you have seen a glimpse of a more sensitive, uh, sensible, enjoyable and rewarding approach to endurance training when you do it correctly. And if you need any more convincing, oh my gosh. The interviews that you’re gonna see on the Primal Endurance Mastery Course with guys like Zach Bitter, the world record holder at 100 miles, uh, Tim DeBoom, the two time Hawaii Ironman champion, Olympic gold and Olympic silver medalist, McKinley Jones from Australia and Olympic gold and Olympic silver medalist, Simon Whitfield from Canada.
Some of those interviews, I think, are the most thoughtful stuff that I’ve ever heard from any athlete. And we were sitting on the rocks, uh, looking over the, uh, the ocean at his home in Victoria, BC. We talk for a long time out there and it was absolutely solid gold it’s life changing advice from someone who has been to the very top of his sport. I had so many great recordings with my longtime training partner, Andrew MacNaughton. So sensible some sound bites that you’ll never forget. And that’s all in the Primal Endurance Mastery Course. So I hope you can go there and make that part of your overall experience along with listening to the podcast. I so much appreciate your questions, comments, feedback. Thank you so much for joining me and email me at email@example.com and look forward to connecting. Thanks so much for listening, da, da.
I hope you enjoy 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 enhanced 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 primal endurance.fit and learn all about the course and how we can help you go faster and preserve your health while you’re at it.