Breathe To Perform
10 min readMay 10, 2021

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Endurance Redefined: Block 3

Every runner knows the pain of injury. It’s far deeper than tissue, nerves, and bone. It’s the pain of a portal closing.

The portal is your access point for flow.

The term flow was coined by the Hungarian-American psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihaly a state of timeless immersion, energized focus, and harmonious engagement with your body, mind, and environment.

In this talk Mihaly describes growing up during World War 2 and seeing the existential crisis that the war caused for many adults who had their lives disrupted entirely.

“I grew up in Europe and World War 2 caught me when I was between 7–10 years old.

I realized how few adults were able to withstand the tragedies that the war visited on them. Few of them could even resemble a normal, contented, satisfied, happy life once their job, their home, their security destroyed by the war.

I became interested in what contributed to a life worth living.”

https://www.ted.com/talks/mihaly_csikszentmihalyi_flow_the_secret_to_happiness?utm_campaign=tedspread&utm_medium=referral&utm_source=tedcomshare

Mihaly’s lifetime of study produced many lessons on how to live. The following is one of the simplest, and most powerful.

Happiness comes down to how much time we spend in flow.

Flow is a great conversation. Flow is making love. Flow is your creative outlets. Flow is quietly watching a child learn and grow. Flow is experienced when we are fully alive in the world as opposed to witnessing ourselves and our environment as a third party commentator. The commentator is too detached to experience the merger between mind, body, and environment that the player in the arena exists within.

The state of flow is an example of transient hypofrontality. This article on the subject provides an overview related to how running alters consciousness. Our course on flow states by expert coach and Physiology First University member Patrick Charron is a phenomenal introduction to this concept.

Transient = temporary. Hypo=less. Frontally=orderly, systematic, decision making. Explore the concept further to unlock a powerful key to understanding our innate desire to run, move, train and access flow as well as the underlying neurobiology that drives us towards addictive tendencies in training. When we only have a hammer every problem is a nail. When we only have one portal for flow, we’ll run a marathon on a broken leg to not go out of our goddamn minds.

https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-edge-peak-performance-psychology/201703/the-transient-hypofrontality-edge%3famp

The goal of the Endurance Redefined program is to help you go the distance for a long, long time. This requires an understanding of which direction you’re running towards and and an exploration of “who” is running. Who am I and where am I going are two of the oldest, timeless questions that humans have grappled with since rising out of the ooze and crawling our way to the 21st century. A great place to tackle these questions without the inner critic and third party analyst barking at us is on a run where answers flow seamlessly. Understanding why that happens-and how to access portals for flow when we can’t run-is the key to a high agency relationship with running as opposed to a neurochemical dependency that drives us out the door each morning in a frantic search for peace of mind.

When I first started running I was searching for something. I was an overnight chain smoker battling a destructive relationship with alcohol and I was searching for a key to escape the prison I’d built for my mind and body. I found this key through training for my first ultramarathon. I fumbled the key and bent the key and almost lost the key by running as addictively as I drank and calling it commitment and dedication. I forced the key into locks that it wasn’t crafted for. I’m lucky to still have it-and to be able to use it as one of many keys to unlock one of many portals for full immersion with own existence. Coaching is a portal for flow. Long walks with Lex where we talk about everything is a portal for flow. Strength training is a portal for flow. In this block we are incorporating the training of an incredible endurance coach by the name of Guy Petrizelli. Guy is collaborating with us at Physiology First University and over the next 3 months he’ll be guiding you through his time tested race training program. The accompanying strength training and injury prevention program that Lex and I have designed borrows principles from training programs and coaches who have influenced us deeply and helped us build an antifragile, high agency approach to endurance training to unlock flow, tap into our own potential as athletes, and learn more about ourselves through each year of athletic development.

Before we start training, here’s an exercise that you can do with no equipment and no running shoes needed. Identify one portal for flow in your life that isn’t athletic. Search your memory bank for experiences that pull you in to a state that Mihaly describes as “a state in which people are so involved in an activity that nothing else seems to matter; the experience is so enjoyable that people will continue to do it even at great cost, for the sheer sake of doing it”

Once you’ve identified this key, let’s get busy honing another…

Endurance Redefined: Training Block 3

From this week forward the run specific training and strength training can be organized into separate sessions or performed together.

The three strength training days are focused on simple movement patterns performed extremely well.

The next four weeks are stripped down to 5 foundational movements. Squat, deadlift, bench, row, single leg squat.

Think of these movements as patterns, not exercises. Find a version of each pattern that works for you.

Examples:

Squat: Bodyweight squat, goblet squat, barbell front squat, heels elevated goblet squat-pick what works and stick with it for the next 4 weeks to make the most progress.

Deadlift: Kettlebell deadlift, barbell deadlift, Romanian deadlift, sumo deadlift.

Bench: Floor press, bench press, incline bench.

Row: Dumbbell row, barbell row, seated row machine (think gym machine with cables, weights, and pins.)

Single leg squat: Front foot elevated split squat. Rear foot supported split squat. Bulgarian split squat.

The best choice will be the one that you feel is “right.” You feel the muscles that you are working to target. You feel the exercise in muscles-not joints. You can get excited about adding a few reps or a few pounds each week.

Adaptation is hard. Getting the body to change requires applying the same stimulus over and over again. Novelty programs that sacrifice rhyme or reason for the shock effect of randomness can be legitimately fun-but this is a training program. Focus on getting better at these 5 patterns and progressively overloading them for the next four weeks and you can’t help but get stronger over 12 exposures to the same short, effective, full body workout.

1.) Breathing

2.) Warmup

3.) Antifragile Calf Matrix

4.) Strength

To a 30 second timer for 3 rounds:

As many quality reps in 30 seconds as possible. Rest for 30 seconds between exercises.

Mark down the weight that you used and how many reps you achieved.

Each week we will be working to add the smallest increase in weight or an additional 1-2 reps. (If you’re able to add weight, choose that option. If you’re limited by weight selection work to get an additional 1–2 reps on each exercise while prioritizing form over the additional rep increase.)

Exercise order:

Squat

(Optimal rep range: 12–15)

Bench

(Optimal rep range: 12–15)

Deadlift

(Optimal rep range: 10–12)

Row

(Optimal rep range: 12–15)

Single leg squat (R)

(Optimal rep range: 10–15)

Single leg squat (L)

(Optimal rep range: 10–15)

5.) Core Tabata

Alternate between the movements in the block 1 and 2 and add the following to your repertoire. Don’t be afraid to spice new movements into this dedicated core portion!

Tabata Option 3:

Alternate between the following three movements: Bear plank with reach, bear plank, bear side plank (ea side)

For the bear plank with reach set up as you would for the bear plank with feet placed against the wall behind you. Reach your right hand to the left ankle while inhaling, exhale as you come back to all fours. Repeat on the right side and alternate for the full 20 second rounds.

(You should feel abs-not quads. Exhale the ribs down and breathe into your upper back, expanding through this area. If you aren’t drawing the ribs towards the pelvis you may feel your quads doing all the work!)

6.) Breathing

Race training by Guy Petruzelli

5k and 10k athletes

Week 1 -

Day 1 — 30 min Fartlek run — 10 min easy, 5 min building to 85% of max effort, or of max HR, then — 6 x 30 sec FAST running, with 2–3 min of easy running — 75%, between each. Remainder of time is at 75%.

(Half Marathon, marathon, and Ultra athletes, this is a 40 minute run, using the same breakdown)

Day 2 — The Negative split — 45 min total. Warm up with 10 min of easy running, 5 minutes of building to 85% of max effort. Then, 5 x 30 sec fast, with great form, 30 sec easy jog. Then on an out and back course, run 11 min in one direction, and return, covering that same distance in 10 minutes. Effort for the first 11 minutes, 85%, effort on the 10 minutes, 90–95%. Remainder of run is easy.

(Half marathon, marathon, and Ultra athletes perform the same run.)

Day 3 — Hill intervals. On a rolling course, 15 min of warm up run to a hill that is fairly free of traffic and stop signs, perform 6 x 30 sec efforts up the hill, stepping up your effort each time. Jog 30 sec back down the hill to recover. Then perform 4 x 90 sec efforts, at your current 5k pace, with 1 minute jog between each. (These are not on the same hill). Jog an additional 6 minutes, then perform 5 x 1 min efforts at your 5k pace, 1 min jog between each. Remainder of run is easy.

Total time 50–55 minutes

(Half marathon, marathon and ultra athletes to perform the same workout)

WEEK 2

Day 1 — Fartlek with a kick — 15 minutes of running, building your pace every 5 minutes, so by the end of the 15 minutes, you are at 85% max effort. Then, perform 8 x 45 sec efforts, with the last 15 seconds of each effort at close to all out effort pace. Recover with 3–4 minutes of easy running between each.

Total time — 40 minutes (Half marathon, marathon, and Ultra athletes will extend this to 45 minutes)

Day 2 — Negative split. Warm up 15 minutes, building pace every 5 minutes. Then perform, 5 x 30 sec fast but controlled efforts, with 30 sec very easy jog between each. On an out and back course, run 12 minutes in one direction return on the same route in 11 minutes. Effort on part 1 — 85%. Effort on part 2, between 90–95%. Remainder of run is easy.

Total time — 50 minutes. To be performed by all athletes.

Day 3 — On a rolling course, 15 minutes of running, building pace every 5 minutes. Then perform 6 x 30 sec efforts, fast but controlled with 30 sec easy jog between each. Then, 6 x 90 sec efforts at your current 5k pace, 1 min easy jog between each. Jog an additional. minutes, then 6 x 1 min efforts at your 5k pace, 1 min easy jog between each. Remainder of run is easy.

Day 4 — 5k test. If possible, consider entering a local 5k. Otherwise, warm up well, 1.5 miles easy, 6 x 30 sec fast but controlled efforts. If not an actual race, perform in an area that is fairly uninterrupted, low traffic, no stops. Perform a 5k and record time. Cool down 1 mile easy or 8 minutes of easy running. To be performed by all athletes.

WEEK 3

Day 1 — Fartlek run. 15 minutes of running, building at the 7:30 mark to 85% of your 5k pace. (Example, if your average mile pace for the 5k was 7 min, then this would be a 7:30–7:35 pace). Perform 6 x 1 min efforts, last 15 seconds of each effort is all out. Recover with running at 85% for 3–4 minutes between each effort. Total time — 40 minutes. For Half marathon, marathon and ultra athletes, this is 45 minutes.

Day 2 — Warm up with 15 minutes of running, building each 5 minutes to 85% of your 5k pace. Then perform 2 minutes at 5k pace, 2 minutes easy running, 90 seconds at 5 seconds faster than your 5k pace, 90 sec easy running, 1 minute at 10–15 seconds faster than your 5k pace, 1 minute easy jog between each. Repeat 3 times. Rest of run is no faster than 85% of 5k pace.

Total time — 45–48 minutes.

(Half marathon, marathon and ultra athletes repeat the above intervals 4 times. Total work time is 55 minutes)

Day 3 — Hill repeats. Map out a hill that takes 15–20 minutes to get to by running. The hill should be long enough to do 90 sec repeats. Run to the hill, building your pace every 5 minutes. Once at the hill, 6 x 30 sec hill repeats, at 85% of 5k pace, so controlled, sustainable, 30 sec jog down recovery. Then 6 x 90 sec hill repeats at 5k pace, recovery is jogging back to start. Cool down the remainder of the run.

Total time — 55 minutes for all athletes

WEEK 4

Day 1 — 15 minutes building to 85% of 5k pace, 15 minutes at 85% of 5k pace, 5 minutes at 90% of 5k pace, 5 min at 95% of 5k pace. 5 min cool down.

Total time — 45 minutes

(HM, Marathon, and Ultra athletes to increase cool down by 5 minutes. Total time is 50 minutes)

Day 2 — Warm up 15 minutes building each 5 minutes, to 90% of 5k pace. Then perform, 2 min at 5k pace, 90 sec at 10 sec faster than 5k pace, 90 sec easy, 1 min 15 sec faster than 5k pace, 1 min easy. Repeat 4 times. Remainder of run is easy.

Total time for all athletes — 50 minutes.

Day 3 — shake out run — 30–40 minute run, with 6 x 30 sec efforts that are fast but controlled.

Day 4- 5k Re-test

Same protocol as Test 1.

Thank you so much for being part of A Race for the Future and we look forward to seeing you on 7/24 at Snowfields Farm or virtually!

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