The ARXFit Endurance Experiment Pt. 2

I’ve posted previously about my goal to run an ultramarathon on super-low volume training. To do this, I’m leveraging the available technology that most don’t normally have access to for this sort of thing, namely the ARXfit Omni & Alpha. Beyond that, I’m leveraging HIIT work to build the additional physiological capacity to run this race and finish in the top 3rd (or better!) of the field on an hour a week or less of training.

First, an aside

A little over a week ago I ran the Cap 10k barefoot while pushing my sons in a stroller for ~3.5 miles of the course. It functioned as both training (barefoot work = foot strength) but also mental work (75lbs of boy and stroller make the hills just a *bit* difficult). I was running at the pace my wife could run at (6 months post birth of baby boy 2) so we finished in under an hour. I’m certain I could have gone 10-12 minutes faster, if not more, had I not been pushing.

Not a test pilot

First of all, I’m not the first guy on planet Earth to do this. Andrew Magness is an ultra endurance athlete, race director, and entrepreneur who, after having kids, still wanted to compete in races that challenge you to actually finish rather than just finish in X time. He found that he could use HIIT and regular bigger efforts to be very competitive and maintain a very high level of fitness.

This appealed to me from the perspective of what’s at stake in these events: weirdos in the woods aren’t making money from their efforts. Save for a few people, everyone else is doing it to live up to or exceed their own expectations. I’ve always been motivated by doing less than anyone to be better than most. This is actually beyond the 80/20 Pareto principle, the second iteration. Andrew talks about the 64/4, which is that 20 percent of the 20 percent drives 80 percent of the 80 percent. I’ve posted a nice visual before, but you can get 2/3rds of your health outcome potential from exercise from the first hour invested:

Exercise per week

So what I’m trying to leverage is that I feel there’s a “better” 4% that can push you beyond the 64% of potential benefit (the ARX is a great example of this). I also think you can do this with HIIT if you take the event down to integral components.

Separate, Perfect, Integrate

So one of the things I think can help the non-professional athlete get more out of their efforts are to separate skill-intensive work from metabolic-intensive work. Now the athletes who can tolerate such high volume of work are able to do enough of the activity are the egg that can be thrown at the wall and not break, which is to say you can’t know a priori.

Instead, separating the demands within a workout, using the “optimized” 4%, and training it hard would be the prudent solution. Trying to fix your gait while tired is the wrong thing to do. Trying to increase your turnover when you’re trying to drive hard is the wrong thing to do. Instead, training them hard perfectly but separately and then integrating them in longer efforts is, in my opinion, the way to go for the type of athlete I’m talking about.

So in part 3, I’ll discuss how this all hangs together for me and some of the longer efforts (though not “long”) I plan to perform leading up to this race, and some of the hacks I plan to use to help optimize this whole thing.

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4 thoughts on “The ARXFit Endurance Experiment Pt. 2

  1. “Beyond that, I’m leveraging HIIT work to build the additional physiological capacity to run this race and finish in the top 3rd (or better!) of the field on an hour a week or less of training.”

    Isn’t this going to be influenced a lot by the size and quality of the field? If you have a disproportionate number of poorly trained but enthusiastic “bucket list” entrants, then your odds would be much better than if this race was the equivalent of a qualifier for the US Olympic team. Perhaps a better gauge would be a finishing time that is no more than a certain percentage above the record time for the event?

    1. Craig,

      Great points. The record is 3:47:14, which means that if I finished in ~5:30:00 I’d be at record+50% pace. Sounds like a lot, but compare that to marathon (record of just over 2 hours), where someone running just over 3 hours is considered respectable.

      So finishing in the top third, based on last year’s group, would be 6 hours or less. Pretty close to the example above.

  2. Very interesting. I’m currently training only 1x a week full body with the assumption the NEAT that rises authomatically and good sleep should be enough to work for leaning out a bit as well. It works better for muscle mass than more frequent efforts but I’m a bit fat. I need to eat a bit less and a bit better. But I’d love to enhance my training under the efficiency umbrella anyway so I’m curious what you’ll come up with.

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