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.
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Oct 23, 2015

Host Brad Kearns welcomes the red-hot author David Epstein to the show, on the heels of his whirlwind global tour to promote his bestselling book, The Sports Gene: Inside the science of extraordinary athletic performance. This is widely regarded as the seminal book on the topic of genetics in sports, and in it Dave dispels many widely held misconceptions and prejudices that people harbor relating to how genetics affects athletic performance.

 In this conversation, Epstein discusses the pop culture of the “10,000 Hour Rule” (first presented by Dr. K. Anders Ericsson, Ph.D, and popularized by Malcolm Gladwell in the book Outliers.) Epstein dispels the accuracy of science behind the concept and the practical application of the concept. Basically, it’s BS! Genetic factors are relevant, as illustrated by the amazing “Tale of Two High Jumpers” featured in Chapter 2 in the book. Besides great physical attributes, there are genetic elements to the all-important athletic success factor of “desire to train.” People (like phenomenal ultra-athlete Pam Reed) have different dopamine response systems.

When it comes to stereotyping, for example, “Jamaicans are fast sprinters,” one must not overlook cultural factors. In Jamaica, youth track and field is king—there is no falling through the cracks or diverting to other sports. Epstein also writes for the progressive journalism nonprofit called, which preserves the tradition of long-form investigative journalism. He had a huge impact with his recent article on the doping suspicions surrounding top track field coach Alberto Salazar. Enjoy the show and grab the book on!

Show Notes:

  • David did some research on the "ten thousand hour "rule that simply says: "If you put in enough time to anything, you'll become a master."   What did he find? [00:03:17]
  • Does repetitive practice help you improve? [00:06:38]
  • What’s the importance of practice variability? [00:10:44]
  • What part does genetics play in the field of high-level athletics? [00:13:05]
  • One surprising thing, when looking at the compulsion to train, involves the dopamine system. [00:18:35]
  • What is the secret of the longevity aspect of training? [00:22:35]
  • What about the belief that athletes from certain cultures are just born that way? [00:25:49]
  • Individualization (peoples' genetic differences) has been the thing to look at regarding training plans. [00:31:24]
  • Brad and David discuss medicines and medical exemptions as regards doping in sports. [00:34:38] 

Selected Links from the Episode:

Usain Bolt

David Epstein

Pam Reed


The Sports Gene

Tale of Two High Jumpers

The Sports Gene: Inside the science of extraordinary athletic performance

Oct 17, 2015

Description: The hosts with the most, Brad and Brock, return for another ridiculously interesting, free-flowing conversation on all matters of endurance training. First, they discuss how physically demanding jobs might impact training for endurance events—like nurses doing shift work or construction workers trying to train alongside the office workers. There are benefits to “moving frequently” in an active job, but the training schedule of highly physically demanding careers must be flexible and dynamic. When it comes to coaching people with busy lives, the transition away from robotic pre-programmed coaching schedules could alter the current business model, with coaches going from workout programmers to strategists.

Brad mentions how both Dr. Maffetone and Dave Scott agree that going relatively hard and going extremely hard have the same training effect. What if you backed off a bit on your high-intensity workouts? Would you lose mental toughness? Or would you recover faster, have less risk of setbacks (injury, illness, burnout) and thus get even faster? Maffetone thinks so in the premise of his book, 1:59 Marathon.

Brock recites “10 Myths About Elite Runners,” published in a Canadian running magazine, and the two banter about the assorted myths in hopes that recreational competitors can take to heart some of the misnomers about elites that compromise good decision making. This show offers an assortment of valuable tidbits to help you balance your training optimally with your important everyday life responsibilities.

Show Notes:

  • Brock talks about coaching his own partner who works irregular 12-hour shifts and how she is able to train for marathons while dealing with her crazy schedule. [00:01:39]
  • What is the most optimal training schedule? [00:06:41]
  • What if you backed off a bit on your high-intensity workouts? [00:11:59]
  • The biggest mistake that endurance athletes make is overtraining in an overstressed pattern. [00:16:43]
  • They talk about an article Brock read in a Canadian publication about the top ten myths about elite runners. One is that they "kill it" every workout. [00:19:10]
  • One of the other myths is: They never take a sip of booze. [00:23:57]
  • Is it true that the elite athletes eat healthy all the time? Can one "undo" years of poor dietary habits? [00:25:21]
  • Can a blood test show you enough to get you to turn around your poor dietary habits? Is there metabolic damage? [00:31:15]
  • Brad talks about how our bodies are constantly rejuvenating themselves to repair damage. [00:32:50]
  • What can we do to live longer? Avoiding stupid mistakes is a good idea. [00:34:21]
  • They talk about some more myths about the elite athlete. Do they give up their social life? [00:38:27]
  • Myth number 5 is that they all head to the US for university. [00:39:49]
  • Do they always get up early to run? [00:42:43]
  • Some of the ideas about how to train have been blown away by some examples that Brad shares. [00:45:35] 
  • Do the elite athletes ignore injuries? [00:48:08]
  • Myth number 9: They never get nervous. [00:56:25]
  • Myth number 10 is that they are never hurting during races. [01:00:10] 

Selected Links from the Episode:

Ageless Body, Timeless Mind
Dr. Deepak Chopra
How Lance Does It
I’m Here to Win
Dr. Phil Maffetone
Dr. Doug McGuff: Primal Prescription
Dave Scott

Oct 9, 2015
Recurring guest Andrew MacNaughton joins host Brad Kearns to get into the technique matters such as:
  • Swimming: Turnover rate vs stroke length
  • Cycling: determining optimal cadence
  • Running: determining optimal technique and stride patterns
As usual, Brad and Andrew go off on interesting and informative tangents. At the end of the show, Andrew drops the most controversial bomb perhaps ever on the podcast: common recovery aids and practices could be counterproductive! That's right, no icing, no massage, no compression! Instead, let the body heal thyself without interference. This provocative concept has gained some traction among today's top triathletes.
Sep 26, 2015

Host Brad Kearns catches up with Host Brock Armstrong -- that's right, the main hosts catch up with each other and hit it hard on an assortment of interesting topics. They debate the pros and cons of various coaching models, stressing the importance of having a wide-ranging personal relationship with athletes to help training sync with other life variables. Brock FIRES clients who refuse to take time off!

The pair gets into one of their favorite subjects, Heart Rate Variability, referencing the Primal Endurance Podcast episode 6 with Sweetbeat Life CEO Ronda Collier. They talk about how monitoring HRV and basing training decisions off of variation from baseline values brings a critical objective element to the challenge of making smart training decisions. For example, when you are running on fight or flight chemicals, it's hard to tell if you are actually stressed because the hectic pace of modern life is so familiar that it seems normal to the brain. Get to know your Primal Endurance Podcast hosts Brad and Brock through this lively and informative show!

Sep 18, 2015

Host Brad Kearns welcomes Aaron Olson, the popular host of the Paleo Runner Podcast, to the show to discuss Aaron’s new book, Low Mileage Running. The book is “a short guide to running faster, injury free.” Aaron details his injury-riddled running career as a high school and college competitor, as he struggled to thrive doing the traditional high mileage programs.



Frustrated with repeated injuries, Aaron tried cutting out junk mileage but keeping high intensity workouts and including extra rest in his schedule. He discovered that his injuries went away and he ran even faster than before. Aaron believes in an intuitive approach instead of following a rigid schedule. Perform those intense workouts when you feel strong and you skip them if other stressors are present in your life or you simply don’t feel your best during the session.



Aaron’s Paleo Runner podcast expertly blends the worlds of endurance running and paleo eating and living. Aaron became a convert to paleo after a lifelong struggle with IBS that subsided almost as soon as he started to ditch toxic modern foods and adopt a paleo eating strategy. Check out his podcast on iTunes or through his blog


Show notes:


  • The book Low-Mileage Running came about after Aaron sustained some injuries. [00:01:31] 


  • Most often we read that injuries come from intensity. Is this true?  [00:02:41] 


  • How does the intuitive approach after workouts help in recovery? [00:07:05] 


  • Aaron, who has had years of experience as a runner, has talked about his own training. What about the novice runner? [00:08:05] 


  • How does one decide what kind of workout to do? [00:12:57] 


  • What’s the focus of Aaron’s podcast? [00:16:32] 


  • How are the endurance and paleo communities blending together? [00:18:03] 


  • What about body composition? [00:21:20] 


  • What are safe starches? How do you determine which carbs are okay? [00:22:55] 


  • How do you select guests for your podcasts? [00:24:13] 


  • What is Brad and Mark's solution to doing too much training or not enough? [00:26:59] 


  • What happens to one’s training schedule during the off-season? [00:28:49] 



Selected Links from the Episode:


Low-Mileage Running Book 



Tim Noakes



Paleo Runner Podcast 



Primal Endurance Approach 


Sep 11, 2015

Host Brad Kearns records this fast paced essay on the importance of adequate sleep (especially for endurance athletes), in response to a recent episode of the Freakonomics  Podcast.

Brad has always maintained a busy lifestyle balancing roles as a father, writer, and former triathlete, and discovered long ago that “sleep is everything.” Tune into today’s show for some quick tips and a personal sleep success story.

Sep 4, 2015

Host Brad Kearns welcomes popular guest Dr. Phil Maffetone to the show for the third time. Dr. Maffetone brings along both his insightful commentary and his ultimate endurance wisdom about balancing stress and rest while emphasizing aerobically-paced training. In this conversation, Phil talks about his incredible new smartphone app—called the MAF App—that does an assortment of evaluations to help you track health, fitness, disease risk factors, and stress levels.



Brad also challenges Phil on his profound assertion that endurance athletes need not ever exceed 90 percent of their maximum heart rate. Phil explains that the additional stress of going up to a maximum level does not deliver a sufficient return on investment. A healthy athlete can dig deep on race day and give a respectable 100 percent effort. Phil details the metabolic and endocrine effects of the stress response, and how to guard against the overtraining syndrome. “The game is how to moderate stress while training hard enough to perform your best,” Phil explains. Phil mentions how, for tracking aerobic improvement, time trials and other performance trackers are inferior to using a sub-maximal MAF test on a regular basis. Enjoy another lovely and informative show with Dr. Maffetone!


Show Notes:


  • Phil describes his exciting new app (MAF App) that can monitor amazing things about your health and fitness. [00:00:55]
  • How does this app work and what does it track? [00:04:22]
  • One of the big red flags is the reduced desire to train. [00:07:07]
  • What is the best way to evaluate an athlete? [00:09:42]
  • When doing an anaerobic workout, how much should you exceed your maximum heart rate? [00:14:05]
  • What is the cost of training too hard? [00:22:10]
  • Can you rely on performance to gauge where you are by doing time trials? [00:24:32]
  • Even if you have been training at a slow rate, don't worry about not knowing what to do when you go to a race. You'll be surprised at your performance. [00:28:08] 
  • In Maffetone 's book, 1:59, he speculates that the ability to run a marathon under two minutes will not come from more training miles, nor from more intensity, but a reduction in both. [00:31:48]
  • From a health standpoint, are there some athletes who would have been better off staying couch potatoes? [00:35:46]
  • There are more overweight athletes these days. Is the main reason they are in poor health because of their dietary habits? [00:40:15]
  • What is the two-week test? What role does diet play? [00:41:56] 



Selected Links from the Episode:


Phil Maffetone

Maffetone Music


1:59 (Book)



Aug 28, 2015

In today’s show, Brock Armstrong sits down with Graeme Turner, a nationally accredited triathlon coach, qualified sports nutritionist, and strength and conditioning coach. To boot, Graeme is a Retül Certified Bike Fitter, a fourth-degree black belt in karate, and WKA certified coach for kickboxers and MMA fighters. Graeme, a former IT wiz who left the tech world to pursue his passion for helping individuals reach their fitness goals, talks about his race history, including his qualifications for the New York and Boston Marathons along with an Ironman 70.3 he conducted without fuel. 

He and Brock go in depth about his specialized coaching philosophy, which is based on a minimalist program emphasizing power and strength over long distance. They also discuss Graeme’s techniques for fasting and how to schedule training sessions for optimal benefit.

Aug 21, 2015

Host Brad Kearns talks to old friend Tyler Curley, one of the famous caveman Curley twins who have had a legendary role at PrimalCon over the years. Tyler is a huge devotee of primal living and has pushed the edges of peak performance in ultra distance running, CrossFit, and power lifting. Tyler offers some interesting commentary about how his disparate athletic goals have made him an all around primal athlete. He mentions possible benefits to endurance performance from strength training, and how to do it correctly instead of getting exhausted and injured.

Tyler is a world traveler who has done everything from cutting trails in high mountain camps for the forest service, to leading tourists on mountain bike adventures in Turkey, to bolting civilized life for extended excursions like surfing in Costa Rica, trekking in Thailand, or studying art in Europe with MacKenzie.

Spend a little time with a real primal guy and get the straight scoop from Tyler Curley. 


Aug 14, 2015

Host Brad Kearns talks with Tim DiFrancesco, PT, DPT, ATC, CSCS, the Head Strength & Conditioning Coach for the Los Angeles Lakers and President of TD Athletes Edge, where he provides fitness, recovery and nutrition guidance to aspiring and professional athletes. Tim is a primal enthusiast and a progressive minded expert in all aspects of athletic peak performance. His role with the Lakers is to do everything possible to have players performing at their peak, minimizing injury risk, and also optimizing their health while they’re at it.

Tim supports Dr. Cate Shanahan’s effort to plan nutritious meals for the players, and encourages players in a sensitive and inspiring manner to adopt healthy lifestyle habits like; minimizing screen use at night and getting quality afternoon naps to account for their grueling travel and game schedule. Tim talks about the importance of a well-balanced strength and mobility program for all athletes, not just basketball players. Tim is constantly seeking new and innovative health information and training techniques to up his game and that of his players. Check out his informative blog at and follow him on Twitter: @tdathletesedge.

Aug 7, 2015

Host Brad Kearns speaks with the fastest golfer in the world, Rob Hogan, who’s from Galway, Ireland. Rob is the 2013 Speedgolf World Champion and 2014 runner-up. He covers a championship caliber course in under 40 minutes while shooting in the 70s! Rob is a professional athlete dedicated full-time to Speedgolf and running at an elite level. (01:00)

Rob details the fascinating flow-state elements of this sport that make it a truly Primal activity. Indeed, Speedgolf is a far cry from the time consuming, over-analytical, non-exertive game (which uses carts for transportation) that most are familiar with. (06:20)

Rob tells an engaging story about how he had powerful visions of a Fanta orange soda during a 17-mile training run, which he endured without added calories or hydration. Because he pushed on despite “bonking” (depleting blood glucose levels), he possibly rewired his appetite hormone, called ghrelin, which led his body to prefer fat and ketones instead of glucose. Remarkably, Rob reports that his sugar cravings ceased following that episode. (11:50)

Dr. Cate Shanahan weighs in with some commentary about the scientific aspects of this incredible anecdote from Rob’s run. (17.10)

Today, Rob’s dietary patterns are not strictly defined, but he avoids sugar and chooses his carbs carefully, emphasizing potatoes and sweet potatoes like a good Irishman. (18:00)

Brad asks, “How do we choose which carbohydrates to keep in our diet?” (21:30)

Rob talks about his daily training regimen for golf and long distance running. He says that a slow paced run is the best way to train in all sports that require running and stopping. (22:26)

Check out the interesting sport of Speedgolf by watching Rob do his thing on YouTube. You can also follow Rob on Twitter.

Jul 31, 2015

Brad Kearns talks to British Olympic 400 meter runner Andrew Steele of DNAFit offers cutting edge genetic testing to identify your athletic and dietary attributes, enabling you to develop a strategy honoring your genetic particulars.

Andrew is the athletics specialist for the operation and is still an active professional runner pointing for the 2016 Olympic Games. He shares his own remarkable story of reaching the highest level of world performance. This British national champion ran a 44.96 and made the Olympic semi-finals in Beijing. Unfortunately he succombed to serious injuries and illness in preparation for the London Olympics in 2012. By chance, he was exposed to DNAFit's genetic testing and his information revealed exactly how his training methods had failed him. In a quest to improve another half-second and contest for an Olympic medal, he had transitioned from what his body naturally thrived on to an overly stressful program that caused an Achilles blowout and an 18-month battle with mono.

The company is stacked with PhD's in biochemistry, molecular genetics, and nutrigenomics, as well as fellow Olympian Craig Pickering, a Summer Games 100-meter runner and Winter Games bobsledder for the UK. This stuff is the real deal! The algorithms that calculate your results are based on highly respected scientific studies. Your DNA Fit test is a road map to help you choose the optimal training, dietary and lifestyle habits for peak performance. Learn more at and enjoy the show!

Jul 24, 2015

Host Brad Kearns welcomes Tawnee Prazak to discuss endurance training, racing, and coaching. Tawnee is the host of the popular Endurance Planet podcast and is a personal coach to triathletes and distance runners. Tawnee comments on many of the hot topics in the endurance scene today, including:

  • An optimal coach/athlete relationship that focuses on big picture elements instead of just workout programming.
  • How her fervent pursuit of triathlon goals compromised her health, and how her journey back gave her a fresh perspective on the importance of balancing stress and rest in training.
  • The role of diet for endurance athletes, particularly the pros and cons of the low carb strategies now becoming popular and her own winning dietary practices.
  • How the diet and training habits of the pros might not be the best example to follow for the average enthusiast.
  • Why 70.3 is her favorite triathlon distance, and the importance of balancing goal events with real-life circumstances, like how much time you have to train.
  • Her association and influence from Dr. Phil Maffetone, author of the Big Book of Endurance Training and Racing; and much more. Tawny has distinct and well-informed opinions on endurance training and racing that you will appreciate.
Jul 17, 2015

Mark Sisson follows up his essay reading last week with an engaging discussion with host Brad Kearns about the dangers of chronic cardio, and some tips to help avoid the drawbacks of chronic exercise patterns. Brad and Mark discuss numerous real-life case studies of elite athletes in endurance sports such as ironman triathlon and long distance running, who have suffered serious heart problems. Mark and Brad mention the tragic deaths of multisport athlete Steve Larsen at age 39 (heart attack while running), and Ryan Shay (heart attack while racing the US Olympic trials marathon), along with an assortment of other high profile athletes and their ordeals.

Mark presents a compelling solution in essay form, pulling highlights from some popular follow-up blog posts on the subject. Mark mentions eating Primally, downscaling the "filler" workouts that happen between challenging "breakthrough" sessions, and realizing that interval and sprint workouts can deliver a training effect superior to long-duration workouts, while also alleviating the risks of drifting into a chronic pattern. For a good takeaway sound bite, Mark reiterates a message from a popular post about burning a total of only around 4,000 calories per week during structured exercise sessions. This is a general rule of thumb that correlates with an impressive assortment of different types of workouts that develop broad-based functional fitness, and helps protect against the excesses of chronic exercise.

Jul 10, 2015

Mark Sisson tries something new with this podcast episode, as he reads an essay based on one of his most popular posts ever on “A Case Against Cardio.” The original post, published in June 2007, helped shed light on the concept that extreme endurance training can actually compromise health and increase disease risk. Mark published several follow up posts over the years on the topic of chronic exercise and the ways to avoid the stress and damage caused when exercise patterns drift away from optimal stress/rest balance and into the extreme category.

Mark’s essay covers the original landmark post, along with assorted commentary from follow up posts. For devoted fitness enthusiasts with passions for Crossfit, marathons, triathlons, heavy gym class participation, or even high-energy weekend warriors who are balancing exercise goals with hectic daily life, this is a very important podcast to absorb and ponder carefully how your own exercise and stress management patterns are looking these days.

Next week, Mark will continue the theme with a Chronic Cardio Part 2 podcast where he and host Brad Kearns talk about some of the real-life cases of elite athletes being stricken with serious heart problems, some of the science behind what happens to the body when it’s pushed too hard with insufficient rest, and how you can avoid these negative consequences.

Jul 3, 2015

Brad Kearns joins popular guest Andrew MacNaughton, founder and head coach of On his third podcast appearance, he does not disappoint, and offers an assortment of memorable tips and insights for how to train in a healthy, balanced manner.

Andrew describes how The Athletes Potential approach differs from conventional cookie cutter coaching based on workout programming and how he prefers to focus on total health and optimal lifestyle with his clients. He discusses his focus on how it’s possible to be too motivated and too driven to succeed, when patience is preferred.

Andrew and Brad agree that a major mistake endurance athletes make is to go too moderate too often. Consequently, when it’s time to actually go hard, people perform poorly because they have no reserve and insufficient fitness.

The two talk about how to overcome the excessive, obsessive training regimens that overrun the endurance world by focusing on performing well as a form of fun. He talks about his early career successes and encourages athletes to approach the sport in the right way: with an eye toward peak racing performance instead of filling logbooks, downscaling goal event distances to sync with life responsibilities, and trying to go fast instead of just surviving.

He also details a step-by-step plan to essentially take over the sport, but the microphone malfunctioned so his plans remain top secret…until perhaps the next show!

Jun 26, 2015

Host Brad Kearns talks with Gordo Byrn, ultra-endurance athlete, coach, and prolific writer who cranks out a current series of incredibly insightful blog posts. On his blog, he covers the prominent topics in his amazing life’s journey while emphasizing Fitness, Family & Finances. After a decade in a highly intense and successful career as a partner in a private equity firm, Gordo walked away from a seat at the “Big Boy's Table” to pursue his calling as an endurance athlete. 

Soon after his arrival onto the ultra scene, Gordo established himself as a world champion competitor, writer, popular coach, and performer of mighty endurance feats with the likes of sidekick-in-suffering Scott "The Terminator" Molina. Gordo's Ultraman World Champion title was earned in a 3-day competition consisting of a 10k swim, 90-mile bike ride on day one, 173-mile bike ride on day two, and 52-mile run on day three. He also took second at Ironman Canada at 8:29 and wrote the bestselling book, Going Long (with Joe Friel), considered by many to be the most comprehensive guide to preparing for Ironman distance events. 

Gordo goes all-in with everything he does, and today he has settled into family life in Boulder, Colorado with his wife Monica and their three young children. He writes over 100 brief and extremely thoughtful posts on his blog every year, which you can visit at Or, you can follow him on Twitter @gordo_68. Whoever you are, and whatever your goals, Gordo's insights will inspire you and get you thinking about the big picture. 

Jun 19, 2015

Host Brad Kearns talks to Andrew MacNaughton about some heavy issues, including the influence of doping in endurance sports and the moral dilemma it presents for athletes. Andrew talks about his own career, and discusses whether he would have made the choice to dope if he were a young pro in an era where doping was necessary to be competitive. The two also discuss how, oddly enough, taking performance enhancing substances in elite sports might actually be more protective, than destructive, to long-term health by considering examples like NFL player taking weekly beatings, or endurance athletes inflicting massive oxidative damage to theirs bodies during routine daily training.

Andrew and Brad talk about how old school values like intuitive training decisions might be getting snuffed out by the obsession of technology, scientific systems, and Internet coaching today. Andrew was a close confidante to Canadian Simon Whitfield, who won the very first triathlon Olympic gold (Sydney 2000) and then a silver in Beijing in 2008. He talks about Simon’s incredible gold medal performance, the ups and downs he faced over the ensuing years, and the amazing ability to peak again eight years later. More thoughts are offered about the constant debate between volume versus intensity. You will be entertained and intrigued by the lively banter of these old friends who competed together on the pro circuit from ’86 to ‘93—enjoy the show!

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



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