Primal Endurance Podcast

Welcome to The Primal Endurance Podcast, where we challenge the ineffective, overly stressful conventional approach to endurance training and provide a refreshing, sensible, healthy, fun alternative. Going primal frees you from carbohydrate dependency and turns you into a fat burning beast! Enjoy interviews from elite athletes, coaches, authors and scientists on the cutting edge of endurance training and performance.
RSS Feed Subscribe in Apple Podcasts
Primal Endurance Podcast




All Episodes
Now displaying: 2015
Jun 12, 2015

In this episode, Mark Sisson has a discussion with Dr. Timothy Noakes of South Africa, who is an author and well-known expert in exercise physiology and human performance. As a physician, former longtime marathon runner, and co-founder of the Sports Science Institute of South Africa, Dr. Noakes has spearheaded efforts to advocate a low carb/high fat diet despite opposition in the mainstream medical community.

Jun 5, 2015

Host Brad Kearns talks to legendary old school pro triathlete Andrew MacNaughton. Andrew, a Canadian, was based in Los Angeles during his career on the circuit from 1986-1993. He and Kearns were training partners who both burst onto the scene in the late 1980s to compete at the highest level from seemingly nowhere. Andrew kicked off his 1987 season with seven consecutive victories, including taking down reigning Triathlete of the Year, Mike Pigg.

Known for his cycling prowess, many historians designate Andrew as arguably the finest pure climber the sport of triathlon has ever seen. Andrew amassed leads of over 10 minutes off the bike at Wildflower on a couple of occasions, led the brutally hilly 75-mile Nice World Championships bike ride by 7 minutes in T2, and torched many other bike courses—especially hilly ones—all over the globe.

After his career, Andrew became a sought-after coach with a unique, eminently  sensible, and highly practical approach to the sport. Never one to mince words, Andrew is an extremely interesting interview with numerous memorable insights offered up in this show. He has agreed to be a regular guest on the Primal Endurance podcast.

In this episode, Andrew and Brad reminisce about the old days and the many changes, including the high tech influences, that have come to the sport over the years. They also talk a bit about Tim Noakes’ Central Governor Theory—how the brain is actually the ultimate limiter of performance rather than the muscles. Enjoy the show!

May 29, 2015

Mark discusses the role of doping in professional and Olympic sport. Far from a black and white issue, Mark explains that inconsistencies in the testing procedures and random demarcation lines for what constitutes a performance enhancing substance (e.g., Gatorade enhances performance when you are thirsty!). Also discussed is how the public perception that certain athletes cheat to gain an advantage is actually a more complex cultural issue than a true morality weakness. For example, in pro cycling, recent controversies have affirmed that an athlete was virtually compelled to boost blood with doping products to have a chance at being competitive. Furthermore, the highly selective and competitive nature of elite sports compels athletes to search for every possible recovery advantage, including those that cross the line into doping offenses.

Mark explains that we might view modern pro sports as theater, where athletes are performing for the pleasure of fans, with big money on the line, and hence we will always be fighting a battle - perhaps a losing battle - against dopers who might remain a step ahead of the testing efforts. And how there is a bit of hypocrisy with society at large, where use of "performance enhancing" substances (such as caffeine or prescription drugs to treat ADHD for example) is viewed differently than an athlete trying to recover faster.

May 21, 2015

Host Brad Kearns talks with Brock Armstrong (the voice of the MDA blog podcasts and a Sweetbeat ambassador/product tester) and Ronda Collier, CEO of Sweetwater Health, makers of the Sweetbeat Life iOS application. Sweetbeat Life allows for convenient Heart Rate Variability (HRV) measuring and information storage. This discussion will acquaint listeners with the basics of HRV, and proceed quickly to discuss some of the finer points of HRV’s effectiveness in monitoring stress and recovery. Heart Rate Variability is a measurement of the variation in intervals between heartbeats. More variation indicates better cardiovascular fitness and stress management, and is represented in a higher HRV number on a 1-100 scale.

Finer details of this show’s discussion include: how Low Frequency (LF) and High Frequency (HF) values correlate with sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system activity; techniques for how to moderate your stress response and improve your recovery through breathing exercises, yoga, meditation, and extra sleep; and a step-by-step process for how to get started in HRV monitoring (buying the proper equipment, operating the Sweetbeat Life app smoothly, and understanding how to best use the informational graphs generated by the app). This is a fantastic show to help you jump head first into the amazing health technology of Heart Rate Variability!

May 20, 2015

Listen in as Brad Kearns and Dr. Phil Maffetone have a casual chat about an assortment of interesting topics related to endurance training and general health. Brad complains about his crash and burn patterns, where he feels great for a while and then has down periods of diminished energy and training output. Dr. Maffetone speculates that the cause could be an inappropriate maximum aerobic heart rate value, and urges a conservative approach when calculating your number. He also mentions low vitamin D as a common cause of fluctuating energy levels, and that athletes should strive to get up around 60 or 70 ng/mL. This is way above the mainstream recommendations and a very interesting insight for many sun-starved athletes to consider.

Regarding sleep, Dr. Maffetone urges everyone to get at least 7-9 hours of uninterrupted sleep each night. If you find yourself awakening in the middle of the night, it’s a sign of elevated cortisol levels and an overly stressful lifestyle. With high quality sleep each night, napping should be minimally necessary, but a nap of 30 minutes and no longer than an hour can be restorative.

Dr. Maffetone’s book, 1:59, discusses the possibility of a human running a sub-2-hour marathon and how it will happen. Maffetone suggests that a smart athlete backing off of the ultra-high volume of today’s elites (and running barefoot!) might gain some performance benefits. Maffetone also discusses the difference between the desirable overreaching in training to improve fitness, versus the undesirable state of overtraining (fatigue, depression, hormone imbalance). Brad and Phil discuss the interesting and confusing phenomenon that occurs in the first stage of overtraining. Here, sympathetic (fight or flight) activity is elevated, the athlete feels energized and aggressive, and PRs can even happen. Without a reasonable and intuitive approach, the athlete is headed for a crash when stress hormone production becomes exhausted. Enjoy this informative discussion with Dr. Phil Maffetone, including his own music framing the show! Learn more at

Show notes:

  • Brad asks: when I have been able to perform great athletic feats, why do I feel a crash and burn afterward? [03:27]
  • Brad talks about his stress while playing Speed Golf and how he found his heart rate higher than normal. [08:19] 
  • The importance of Vitamin D testing and the vitamin’s optimal levels. [13:04] 
  • How important is measuring heart rate variability for attending to your heart health and ability for recovery? [15:51] 
  • A big part of recovery is getting a good night's sleep, meaning 7 to 9 hours of uninterrupted sleep. [18:21] 
  • Dr. Phil talks about departing from extreme overtraining, as mentioned in his book, The 1:59 Marathon. [22:26] 
  • What is the difference between overreaching and the undesirable state of overtraining? [27:42] 
  • Brad talks about his own experience with crashing and burning. [29:43] 
  • Is recovery and rest more important than the training? [34:23] 
  • We have to look at diet, rest, circadian rhythm, Vitamin D, and stress all together. The Kenyans are a good example. [38:42] 
  • Even shoes are a problem for slowing your pace. [40:06] 

Selected Links from this Episode:

1:59 Marathon
The Healthy Golfer
Phil Maffetone


May 19, 2015

Host Brad Kearns talks to one of the true legends of endurance athletics, Dr. Phil Maffetone. Dr. Maffetone has advised some of the greatest endurance athletes in history, like triathlon champions Mike Pigg and Mark Allen. For decades, Dr. Maffetone has been promoting the benefits of aerobic development and how to protect and nourish health in pursuit of ambitious endurance goals. In this episode, Dr. Maffetone details how to get started with the Maffetone method of endurance training, something that will be of particular interest to any endurance athlete who has experienced fatigue, injury, recurring minor illness, regression or stagnation in performance and especially inability to reduce excess body fat.

Dr. Maffetone says to first start with a self-assessment of your body, performance, and stress levels. Take into account all stress factors, such as consuming refined carbs, drinking too much caffeine, not getting enough sleep, doing too much training and maintaining an elevated heart rate. The second step is identify your maximum aerobic heart rate (the 180 minus age formula detailed in his book, The Big Book of Endurance Training and Racing) and commence a strict base building period. Third is to eliminate sugar and other refined carbs from your diet. Fourth, conduct a Maximum Aerobic Function test once a month to ensure that you are making steady progress in your aerobic development. Enjoy this informative discussion with Dr. Phil Maffetone, including his own music framing the show! Learn more at

Show Notes:


  • Being fit does not necessarily mean that you are healthy. [00:45]
  • The difficulty of putting on events like triathlons and music concerts. [02:48]
  • How it’s hard to coach a hard driving athlete to have patience and
  • slow down their training. [05:46]
  • The problem of an incorrectly developed aerobic system. [08:15]
  • The dangers of looking for a fight or flight reflex for satisfaction. [11:02]
  • What can we do to balance stress, rest better and be healthier? [12:02]
  • What are the first steps to eliminating excess body fat? Diet or exercise? [13:45]
  • If people build a really good aerobic base and want to fine tune their speed, how can they do that? [18:54]
  • Stress is something that needs to be addressed. There is physical, chemical (dietary), and mental/emotional stress. [21:21]
  • How to tell if you don’t have a good aerobic heart rate. [23:23]
  • Why you should get off sugar. [24:55]
  • The concept of "cheat days" is leading you on the wrong path. [31:40]
  • Get rid of your stresses.  When you have a healthier aerobic system, the body is meant to deal with stress. [33:01]
  • How do you build a better aerobic system? [33:52]
  • Dr. Maffetone spent years coming up with a heart rate formula (180 minus your age). What does this number represent? [41:12]
  • With a heart monitor you will be able to get a good idea of how your body is progressing.  [45:01]What is this test? You strap on the heart rate monitor and establish a fixed course that you repeat. [51:29]
  • The important thing relating to competitive success is simply slowing down the average pace in workouts. [56:49] 



Selected Links from the Episode:


Mark Allen
The Big Book of Endurance Training and Racing

Dr. Phil Maffetone

In Fitness and in Health

May 15, 2015

Host Brad Kearns talks to ultra runner Timothy Olson of Boulder, CO—the “Conscious Mountain Ultra Runner.” Timothy, a two-time champion of the prestigious Western States 100-mile Endurance Run, is known for his evolved, mindful approach to ultra distance running and also for being one of the most prominent adopters of primal-style eating habits among elite endurance athletes.
This show details how Timothy’s dietary choices help him optimize fat metabolism during long workouts, improve his recovery time and improve his overall enjoyment of life. He credits avoiding his former All-American grain-based diet for eliminating his former long-term recurrent stomach distress. Amazingly, he reports that his wife Krista has been able to put her decades-long condition of Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis (JRA) into remission by following a primal eating strategy.
Timothy also discusses his unique motivations for competing at the highest level and pushing his body to the edge of human endurance—things like his appreciation for nature, the connection he feels with other ultra runners, and how running strengthens his ability to be more mindful and appreciative of all elements of daily life. This guy is onto something special with his mindset, his healthy whole foods diet, and his awesome athletic feats. Enjoy his commentary and follow him on social media by visiting

Show notes:

Timothy and Brad talk about running the Western States 100 Mile Run. [00:39]
  • How the endurance ultra sport community is growing rapidly. [03:11]
  • Tim talks about mindfulness, love, believing in yourself, and balancing your competitiveness.  [04:52]
  • Tim puts on "Run Mindful Retreats," which are places to enjoy time with other trail enthusiasts and bring meditation into your running and daily life. [08:37]
  • What could you say to listeners who haven't captured the secret of being present and one with nature? [12:55]
  • Tim has an avid social media presence and can be found on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram [15:44]
  • After years of poor diet, how did Tim’s transition to a paleo/primal diet affect his endurance running and his wife's Rheumatoid Arthritis? [17:33]
  • How can you learn to listen to your body and find what is best for it? [30:48]
  • As an ultra runner, have there been periods when Tim pushed it too hard, which required longer recovery times? [34:03]
  • What coaches or schedules have helped Tim’s career? [36:04]
  • Do you need to train with the same distance as the race you’re preparing for? [37:45]
  • Is keeping glycogen stores full a primary goal? [43:20]
  • Are other elite ultra runners into the paleo/primal lifestyle? [44:57]
  • What’s happening in the ultra runner scene right now? [48:49]

Selected Links from the Episode:

Timothy’s Facebook

Timothy’s Twitter

Timothy’s Instagram

Run Mindful Retreats

Timothy Allen Olson



May 14, 2015

Enjoy the inaugural Primal Endurance Podcast with Brad Kearns and Mark Sisson. Brad and Mark discuss an assortment of topics relating to a Primal approach to endurance training, offering somewhat of a sneak preview of the topics covered in their long-awaited book, Primal Endurance.

Mark talks about reconciling his longtime passion for endurance training and elite competition with his Primal living path, where the chronic nature of serious endurance training conflicts sharply with the Primal philosophy and the three Primal Blueprint exercise laws of moving frequently at a slow pace, lifting heavy things and sprinting once in a while. 
Mark is super enthusiastic about recent breakthroughs in endurance training philosophy, such as a renewed emphasis on preserving health while training intently, as well as the incredible breakthroughs offered by ketogenic endurance training. He talks about the benefits of being fat adapted and the drawbacks of training in an inflammatory, oxidative carbohydrate dependency pattern. Mark describes how an endurance athlete who needs to restock glycogen to recover from training can dial in carb intake to enjoy Primal living benefits and still perform.

This show really sets the tone for the provocative and sometimes controversial topics covered on the Primal Endurance Podcast. Be sure to subscribe, shows are published on a weekly basis!

« Previous 1 2