Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Eco-Training - close . . . but not perfect yet!

If you are one of the 10s of people that actually take valuable time out of your day to read this blog, you may remember the new training program I have in development I am calling 'Eco-Training'.  Essentially, with Eco-Training, you keep your long runs to an absolute minimum and back off your mid-week runs to eliminate trash miles.  The motto is basically 'Low and Slow'.

Well, after this last weekend I have come to realize . . . 'Eco-Training' isn't perfect!    There are still a few, what I believe to be, minor 'tweaks' needed for perfection.

Realistically, few true innovations are perfect when first conceived and put into practice.  Even Albert Einstein's theory of relativity wasn't perfect to start with.  Few people realize that his original formula was E=m^2c.  But things were just not working out for him using this formula.  Quite frankly, it was just a big dud!  Nothing!  Perfection came for 'Al' (as us friends like to call him) only when he realized he needed to just move the '^2' to the far right!   Then . . . magically . . . BANG!!!  Perfection!

So 'Eco-Training' isn't perfect yet.  A few minor adjustments still do need to be made.

My first test to the Eco-Training experiment was at Hinson Lake 24 hour Endurance Classic this last weekend and it was here where a few of the weaknesses of the original plan started coming to light. 

First, 'Eco-Training' doesn't seem to help one build blazing speed. 

I was disappointed that my lap times increased to a small degree.  So I'm really not sure at this point what adjustments are needed to the Eco-Training plan to correct this.  I have determined three possible hypothesis to investigate . . .
  1. Long runs and mid-week runs need to reduce even more to allow more time for those 'fast-twitch' muscles to be fully prepared, or 
  2. Training needs to be increased to better prepare those 'fast-twitch' muscles to get up to speed with the rest of your body, or
  3. My lack of speed at Hinson Lake was actually within the normal range of performance fluctuation and no Eco-Training plan adjustment is really needed.
I have trouble believing it could even possibly be #2, but as a highly-trained scientist I need to keep my mind open here!

Secondly, my endurance could have been better.

Originally I had established 75 miles within the 24 hour period as a goal and would have considered 100k as an acceptable minimum.  At Hinson Lake I completed 27 miles - falling just short of this minimum goal.  True . . . 27 miles is VERY, VERY close to 62.5 miles (when you consider intergalactic distances) but a miss is still a miss!

Again, the same two possibilities exist and perhaps additional adjustments to the plan will be necessary.

Other Runner Input

Additionally, along with excited runner support from across the world, I have received suggestions for a few additional factors to consider in the Eco-Training plan.
  • Psyche Wimberly, the world renown ultra runnerette from the Asheville area suggested I begin testing the addition of mid-run naps into both the training and the target event itself.  All I can say is "BRILLIANT!"  Since I didn't want to spoil the scientific integrity of work I had already done, I chose NOT to incorporate Psyche's addition into the Hinson Lake run.  But I do plan to add this to all future development and testing.
  • Diet and it's possible effects on performance was suggested as an addition by 'Dr.' Jim Plant, an innovative dietitian known around the world for his unique perspective on food and drink.  I plan to have a number of special 'diet sessions' with 'Dr.' Plant (aka 'Jimbo') in order to get a fuller understanding of all the principals involved.  Right now, I've only heard a few of his theories surrounding beer (specifically Yeungling beer), Spam, Vienna Sausages, jerky, bacon, cheeseburgers and a specific variety of cupcake know as a 'Shimmel cake' developed by Amy Schimmel another well-known ultra runner.  (Incidentally, Amy just set the new World Record for mileage with a full leg brace . . . . and yes, she was fueled with her special cupcakes!)  These foods and other 'Plantings' (as I like to call 'Dr.' Plant's suggestions) will be included in the grueling sessions we are  planning.  I have full confidence that with Jimbo's help there may be some very positive outcomes coming soon.
  • And I am thinking I should include rest during periods of 'non-exercise'.  As we all know, training involves both the running 'work' as well as rest and recovery.  So, to bolster the rest period effectiveness, I am planning to experiment with the use of crutches during the periods between running sessions.  This should give one's body additional time to prepare for the next exercise-intensive running session.
All in all, I'm pretty sure we're on the right track.  These 'tweaks' should provide us with additional data for analysis.  As with all scientific endeavors, progress will be slow and careful . . . but the results should be well worth the wait.


  1. LOL... This entire post is hilarious!

    DR. JIM PLANT... hehe... Dr. Plant and I have to complete our experiment regarding how many oz of
    beverage he can consume per hour... He is convinced it is quite high... i am convinced his memory may be impaired ;)

    Schimmel cake! too funny! and "Plantings"... my eyes are tearing! oh boy!

    Speaking of 27 miles....Did I ever tell you about the time I found a 12 hour night race in Asheville, convinced my apparently extremely bored parents to drive me over 10 hours there.. called Dr. Plant and Ray on the way and we meet in the night to run a grand total of 27 miles! It was completely worth it to see my parents try to sleep in a two man tent and to learn of Jimbo's famous Pope Snuggy...

    Congrats by the way! If you had just a bit more time, you would have clearly made your goal!

    Maybe I will see you implement the new plan at Crooked Road?

    - Shannon :)

  2. Frank... just brilliant! If you really need to know about dieting, it's all here:

  3. Frank, you are on the right track to training perfection, but there is one thing missing. A well known nutrition company has this new product out that I can't remember its name, but it is like a tins machine (electrical stimulus to help heal injuries). From what I have read it goes way beyond the tins machine and the word is out that all professional athletes use this machine when they want a tough training session without the time and fatigue that comes with a normal training session. The only thing you have to do is be sure to have a comfortable place to recline then hook these electrodes up to your muscles, turn the machine on and lie there while your muscles think they are running. The experts say this non-active training session has no equal. Just think how many miles you can run while laying back in your recliner!

  4. Don't forget to add a control with no training at all, you need to test the lower limits of eco-training! Actually, I can help out with that part if you'd like.

    I love your posts. I've said it before, and I'll say it again- you rock.

  5. You may want to consider "resting" more instead of "working" also - the mental taxation of a job is undeniable.


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Littleton, North Carolina
World's Slowest Runner . . . well, at least in contention for the honor. Just your average "below average" runner.