Episode 10: Manu Vilaseca, Trail & Ultrarunning, UTMB, Stage Racing, Coaching, Travelling, Language Learning, and more



In this episode of the Art and Science of Running podcast we speak with international trail and ultrarunning superstar, Manu Vilaseca.

In this conversation, long-time coach, Jacob Puzey, chats with Manu about her experiences at UTMB, moving to a new country and learning a new language, cross training, training for a stage race, and how coaching has helped her become a better runner.

They also discuss how Manu’s background as a multi-sport athlete training in Brazil has informed the way that she trains and coaches those she coaches in Catalunya and beyond. They specifically discuss the old school HIIT workouts, Cruz Intervals, named affectionately after Brazilian mid-distance star, Joaquim Cruz that Manu and Jacob suggest for some of their athletes to work on speed, agility, and power – especially when they aren’t able to train on trails.

Manu hails from Rio de Jainero, Brazil, and currently resides in Moiá, Catalunya where she and her partner, Gerard Morales, lead a group of athletes known as Team Peak Run Moiá.

Manu has a background in product design and a gift for learning languages. She loves travelling to races around the world and learning about the people and the places she explores on foot. To date, Manu speaks Catalan, English, French, Portuguese, and Spanish.

Manu has placed top ten at two of the uber competitive UTMB races, UTMB and TDS and has been ranked top ten in the Ultra Trail World Tour for her top performances at internationally competitive ultramarathons around the world. In 2019, Manu placed 5th at TDS in what she describes as one of the most challenging courses she has encountered thus far.

In addition to training together, Manu and Gerard will be teaming up to to tackle the Everest Trail Race in Nepal.  Manu ran it last year and will be returning with her partner to see how they fair against the altitude and the elements.

All of this and more in Episode 10 of the Art and Science of Running Podcast.

Intro and outro music by Dallin PuzeyGOIN 4 A WALK.

Please listen, subscribe and rate this podcast on Apple PodcastsSpotifyStitcherYouTube, or wherever you listen to podcasts.

Please follow us on TwitterInstagram, and Facebook and let us know what you’d like us to discuss in future episodes.


Episode 9: World Marathon Records are Falling, Ineos 1:59, Breaking 2, Nike Vaporfly 4%, Mechanical Doping, and more



In this episode of the Art and Science of Running Podcast, we discuss the history of the Breaking 2 project, the Ineos 1:59 Challenge, collaborative coaching, the evolution of footwear, fuelling, pacer formations, world marathon records, doping, mechanical doping, and more.

The History of Breaking 2

It all started at the 2013 Great North Run (Half Marathon) between the all-time greats, Haile Gebrselassie, Kenenisa Bekele, and Mo Farah.

Yanis Pitsiladis, the foremost expert in genetics in East Africa based at the University of Brighton formulated the sub 2:00 concept. Pitsiladis approached the 2 hour barrier through a collaborative effort at various universities, but his project ultimately stalled and stopped growing.

In 2016 Nike launched its own project. After his marathon debut in 2014, Kenenisa Bekele was headhunted to be one of the athletes to prepare to break 2 hours. Ultimately, it was not Bekele, but rather Kipchoge of Kenya and two others, Zersenay Tadese of Eritrea, and Lelisa Desisa of Ethiopia.

Breaking 2 was truly scientifically motivated. Ultimately Kipchoge ran 2:00:25.

Alex Hutchinson was there and wrote about the experiment in Endure: Mind, Body, and the Curiously Elastic Limits of Human Performance.

After coming within 25 seconds of the 2 hour barrier in Breaking 2, Kipchoge broke the world record in Berlin in 2018 in 2:01:39. After running and winning the London Marathon in 2019 the best option to try to break 2 hours in a controlled setting would be the Fall of 2019 before focussing on the 2020 Olympics.

In episode 4 with Alex Leuchanka, the Senior Applied Innovation Officer for VF Corp we discussed some of the work he and others are doing in the field of data collection in biomechanics. Alex mentioned a key note address at a conference he had attended in the area detailing the extensive data collection Nike had been doing to inform shoe design.

Nike was able to predict with hyper accuracy what Kipchoge was going to run at Berlin based on the models they were able to create from the data collected win training. Leading up to the Ineos 1:59 there was so much data collected over the years that there was little doubt that Kipchoge would not break 2:00.

“If you can take anything out of this, it is that Kipchoge is an absolute role model for any runner in mindset and mind control. . . [He is] amazing at being able to turn up on the day and execute. His ability to get into this flow state / mindset / brain state is insanely good. His ability to stay concentrated and relaxed for two hours, but he could also take direction while on the run. He naturally has this ability to drop in and out of flow state for two hours straight which makes him hyper efficient.”

Malc Kent

Coach / Athlete Relationship

The coach / athlete relationship between Kipchoge and Patrick Sang is more collaborative and athlete guided than some might suspect.

The goal of a coach is to help our athletes not need us. Ultimately, the goal of both coach and athlete is to trust the process with the goal of long term-development.

As we discussed in Episode 2 of the Art and Science of Running Podcast, Eliud is the patriarch of the group.

“What is amazing is how incredibly anchored and stable he is. He could have looked things up on the Internet and second guessed what he was doing, but he didn’t. He accepted the process, the simplicity.”

Malc Kent

Introducing the Nike Vaporfly 4%

The Nike Vaporflies were worn in competition for the first time at 2016 US Olympic Marathon Trials.

With some metabolic data studies it was determined that the original Vaporflys gave an average of 4% increase in running economy and as much as 6%.

As discussed in Episode 4 of the Art and Science of Running Podcast, the distinguishing feature of these shoes is the Pebax foam with carbon fibre plate.

Latest available model in this line is called the Nike Zoom Vaporfly Next %.

Kipchoge wore the “Alphaflys” in the Ineos 1:59 Challenge. These shoes are believed to also include pebax foam, forefoot pods, and multiple carbon fiber plates.

Although these shoes were not shared with the general public until just before the Ineos 1:59 Challenge, Nike filed a patent application in US in November 2018 for the concept of the shoe worn at the Ineos 1:59 Challenge.

So without taking away from all that Kipchoge and others have accomplished in these new Nike technologies, it begs the question:

Is it the shoes?

Would Kipchoge have been able to break 2 without the shoes?

Would Bekele have been able to do what he did by almost besting Kipchoge’s mark in the marathon without the shoes?

Would others have been able to do what they have done without the shoes? (See lists of top marathon times of all time).

Rodger Cram’s study of the original Nike Vaporfly prototype showed an improvement of 4%.

And it is rumoured that the Next % gives even more back.

For comparison of the Nike Vaporfly models and how / why their return varies from model to model:

Stack heights – height of mid sole.

  • Vaporfly 4% return, 31 mm
  • Next % – 5% return, 36 mm
  • Alphafly – 6% – possibly more, 41 mm

But this isn’t just about metabolic tests in a lab. Times are dropping at an unprecedented rate.

See list of all time fastest marathon times and courses: https://www.runnersworld.com/races-places/a20823734/these-are-the-worlds-fastest-marathoners-and-marathon-courses/

Eight out of ten of the ten times of all time have been run since 2016 and the advent of the Nike Vaporflys.*

“It is not unreasonable to suggest that the shoe that we are looking with pebax foam has about twice the energy return of comparable foams.”

Malc Kent

There is no question that the shoes helped Kipchoge run sub 2:00 in Vienna.

What could Kipchoge do if he wore the Nike Zoom Streak 6?

Malc mentions a trend that the heavier the runner the more return they get from these new Nike Vaporflies.

According to the data Malc has recorded and analyzed, trends in the data indicate that the heavier the runner the greater the advantage that they get.

Supply and Demand

Pebax is a naturally occurring crop. The demand is greater than the supply. Nike has already monopolized the available Pebax in the world (China).

A number of formerly sponsored athletes by non-Nike brands elected to wear Nike Next % at the Canadian Marathon Trails and saw big improvements at the Toronto Waterfront Marathon.

Read more at Inside the Race that Changed Canadian Marathoning.

Rather than wearing the Vaporflies, Jacob is currently working with Alex to try to develop the best shoe that they can before CIM.

Doping vs. Mechanical Doping

Those who use EPO as a performance enhancer hope to get 4-5% of an improvement gain. Recent improvements over the marathon distance indicate that those who use the Vaporflies are getting at least as much of a boost from the shoes as they would if they were using synthetic EPO.

Relative to history, how do recent performances in the Vaporflies stack up?

See list of all time fastest marathon times and courses: https://www.runnersworld.com/races-places/a20823734/these-are-the-worlds-fastest-marathoners-and-marathon-courses/

Let’s Run Founders suggest that the results of the 2016 Olympic Marathon should be overturned. This would include the results of the 2016 US Marathon Trails because those who qualified and medaled were wearing Vaporflies which were not available to the general public which technically is against IAAF rules. https://podcasts.apple.com/ca/podcast/letsrun-coms-track-talk/id383631335?i=1000453816857

One argument against banning the Nike Vaporflies that Alex Hutchinson makes in the Clean Sport Collective and House of Run podcasts is that Adidas and Fila each had shoes with carbon fiber plates including the shoes that Haile Gebrselassie wore to set a new marathon world record. Clean Sport Collective Podcast & House of Run Podcast.

Some of these shoes were conceptualized in Calgary at the University of Calgary. For more information on the extensive biomechanical work done in this department, listen to this podcast with head of department at the University of Calgary, Benno Nigg, with Malc Kent: https://runfisix.com/blogs/podcasts/benno-nigg

Geoffrey Burns argues that we can and should embrace innovation and technology, but there should be limits in order to preserve the integrity and ethos of the sport. Burns suggests a restriction of stack height to regulate artificial advantage.

https://blogs.bmj.com/bjsm/2019/10/14/shoes-and-sub-2-hr-marathon/ 

Burns also suggests that in order to maintain the tradition of fair play in the sport and the ability to compare records from generation to generation there should be some restrictions to technological advancements:

https://www.geoffreyburns.com/stream/trading-souls-for-soles

Malc thinks that perhaps a lower profile shoe like the one worn by Gebrselassie or the Nike Zoom Streak would be truer to the ethos of fair sport, whereas Burns is allowing the original Vaporflies to be counted.

Doping is not just about performance on race day, but recovery in training so that greater gains can be made before race day.

“If the shoes are allowing you to do two more reps per session or add a few more quality training sessions without as great a need for recovery between long runs and workouts that is giving the athlete an advantage comparable to the advantages given by using EPO or other banned substances.”

Jacob Puzey

In the year 2000 only one American male had run the Olympic qualifier, yet in 2019 at the Chicago Marathon 10 American men ran under 2:12 – all wearing either the Nike Vaporflies or Hoka and Saucony equivalents (or attempts to compete with the Vapoflies, etc.)

Read more on the results and the impact of the shoes: https://www.runnersworld.com/news/a29452570/chicago-marathon-american-men-results-2019/

Malc challenges listeners to watch the last five minutes of the Ineos 1:59 and decide how powerful the shoes are. Propulsion is one thing and reduction of fatigue is another thing. That’s the power of shoe technology right there.

https://youtu.be/Y9QRnkgngc0

All of this and more in Episode 9 of the Art and Science of Running Podcast.

Intro and outro music by Dallin PuzeyGOIN 4 A WALK.

Please listen, subscribe and rate this podcast on Apple PodcastsSpotifyStitcherYouTube, or wherever you listen to podcasts.

Please follow us on TwitterInstagram, and Facebook and let us know what you’d like us to discuss in future episodes.

For more discussion on theses topics, please read:

https://www.podiumrunner.com/yes-those-nike-shoes-are-too-fast-but-should-we-ban-them_178824

https://amp.theguardian.com/sport/blog/2019/oct/21/shoes-nike-world-records-technology

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/10/18/sports/marathon-running-nike-vaporfly-shoes.html

https://www.runnersworld.com/uk/gear/shoes/a29455211/eliud-kipchoge-nike-shoes/

https://www.runnersworld.com/uk/gear/shoes/a29558499/ban-kipchoge-nike-shoes-vaporfly/

https://www.amazon.com/Kicksology-Science-Culture-Running-Shoes/dp/1937715914

https://guinnessworldrecords.com/news/2019/10/brigid-kosgei-sets-new-record-for-womens-fastest-marathon-595061/

Or listen to these podcasts:

Magness and Marcus On Coaching Podcast:

https://podcasts.apple.com/ca/podcast/magness-marcus-on-coaching/id961516002?i=1000454001855

Citius Mag Podcast with Chris Chaves:

https://podcasts.apple.com/ca/podcast/citius-mag-podcast-with-chris-chavez/id1204506559?i=1000453278752

Additional resources to read and review:

Sandy Bodecker https://runningmagazine.ca/the-scene/nike-breaking2s-sandy-bodecker-dies/  

4% shoe study https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s40279-017-0811-2 

Ineos challenge info https://www.ineos159challenge.com

Alphafly shoe info https://www.believeintherun.com/2019/10/09/a-breakdown-of-the-nike-kipchoge-prototype/

Original sub 2 project https://www.sub2hrs.com/

Breaking2 info https://www.nike.com/ca/en_gb/c/running/breaking2

Brad Wilkins info https://w124.co/about/

NN Running info https://www.nnrunningteam.com/


Episode 8: Sanjay Sachdev talks World Champs, Training through Cancer, Positivity, Perspective, Perseverance and more



Imagine being in the best shape of your life and qualifying to represent your county at the next world championships. And then imagine discovering a malignant mass while still recovering from the national championships.

In this episode of the Art and Science of Running Podcast we speak with Sanjay Sachdev shortly after he competed at the 50K Road World Championships in Romania and just over a year after being diagnosed with testicular cancer. He shares what he learned through the process, how he stayed positive through treatment, and how the past year of cancer treatment led to a new appreciation for life, family, running and led to a new perspective on training that resulted in lifetime best for 50K at the world championships!

Just weeks after qualifying for the World 50K Road Championships in May 2018, Sanjay found a mass on his testicle. Over the next few weeks, he had the mass surgically removed, was diagnosed with embryonal carcinoma testicular cancer, and then started the process of trying to find and eliminate the cancer.

Throughout this time, Sanjay exercised 83/84 days while undergoing treatment for cancer both to maintain health and to provide purpose to each day.

Prior to cancer, running was always a means of dealing with stress from work and life so Sanjay pushed most runs.

“This past year has forced me to slow down. I look at the overall benefit and the overall time difference and the numerical values and I have to ask myself, ‘Holy smokes, what was I doing before?”

Sanjay has a demanding, stressful, dangerous job. He could choose to see life or the world through a very negative lens, but instead he is one of the most positive, optimistic people that Malc and Jacob have ever encountered.

“To stay positive, I think you have to be around positive people.”

“Are you going to let adversity define you or are you going to define yourself through the adversity?”

“You’re a lot of things before you’re a cancer patient. Stay true to the things you are before, and you’re going to come out on top. For me, I looked in the mirror and went through the list and made sure I did something each day as a husband, father, athlete  . . . and then you get to the part where it’s like, ok, you have cancer. Make sure you do what you have to do to get through this.”

Sanjay’s optimism extends beyond day to day life to his running. Rather than freaking out when things don’t go as planned, Sanjay adapts on the fly and makes the most of each situation. This has led him to have positive results, even when conditions or circumstances are less than ideal.

For more on Sanjay, please read: https://globalnews.ca/news/6041732/calgary-cancer-cycling-chemo/

All of this and more in Episode 8 of the Art and Science of Running Podcast.

Intro and outro music by Dallin PuzeyGOIN 4 A WALK.

Please listen, subscribe and rate this podcast on Apple PodcastsSpotifyStitcherYouTube, or wherever you listen to podcasts.

Please follow us on TwitterInstagram, and Facebook and let us know what you’d like us to discuss in future episodes.


Episode 7: Speed vs. Stamina, Race Specificity, Bowerman Track Club, Exhibition 5K, and more.



In this episode we discuss the pros and cons, risks and rewards of speed and stamina work.

We discuss how the Bowerman Track Club athletes train together for different events from the mile to the marathon, but do much of their stamina training together. We specifically discuss a recent 5K time trial they did as a team at the Nike World Headquarters in Beaverton, Oregon, USA, in which three team members (Woody Kincaid, Lopez Lamong, and Matt Centrowitz paced by Moh Ahmed) ran under 13:00 for 5K.

Woody Kincaid breaks down the exhibition 5K on the Citius Mag Podcast.

Jacob shares more insight on the topic of speed vs. stamina training in SPEED vs. STAMINA

Jacob also suggests additional reading of You: Only Faster by Greg McMillan to learn how to best tailor training to yourself and Running to the Edge by Matthew Futterman to learn more about training at the threshold.

All of this and more in Episode 7 of the Art and Science of Running Podcast.

Intro and outro music by Dallin PuzeyGOIN 4 A WALK.

Please listen, subscribe and rate this podcast on Apple PodcastsSpotifyStitcherYouTube, or wherever you listen to podcasts.

Please follow us on TwitterInstagram, and Facebook and let us know what you’d like us to discuss in future episodes.


Episode 6: Heart Rate Training and Racing, Training Zones, Geoffrey Kamworor & RunScribe, Coaching and Racing at same event, etc.



In episode 6 of the Art and Science or Running, Coaches Malc Kent and Jacob Puzey discuss the pros and cons of training and racing by heart rate.

Malc explains the two fundamental ways to measure heart rate:

  • The classical mode – with a chest strap has two key parts or electrodes on the back of the device to pick up an electrical signal of the heart pumping. In theory, it’s a very simple algorithm of how many peaks were measured in one minute (BPM). However, the simple algorithm depends on the person’s heart. Not all hearts are created equal. Algorithms can be refined to better isolate peak signal of the heart, but that requires knowledge of how the algorithms work.
    • One tip for improving signal pickup with a classical heart rate chest strap is to wet the sensors with saliva or water prior to adhering to the body.
  • Since 2013 there are now optical wrist heart rate sensors which measure different colours of oxygenated blood. This way of measuring heart rate sends out light which in turn is disturbed by a wave of energy in the blood vessel of oxygenated blood. However, this means of measurement is still not as accurate as the traditional electrocardio (chest strap) method.
  • We often hear from our athletes that their optical heart rate data is either off by 5-10 beats per minute or goes in and out in the first few mi/kms of a run. This means that athletes need to be prepared to mentally clean up data when they review it after a run and not rely too heavily upon it during the run.
  • One additional problem with optical heart rate accuracy is that it doesn’t work as effectively with darker tones of skin or tattooed skin.  For more details about this, please read Fitbits and other wearables may not accurately track heart rates in people of color.
  • Read more about the Firstbeat technology contained in most major watches at

    All in a heartbeat: How Firstbeat became the secret sauce in your fitness wearable – The company trying to turn your heart rate into personal feedback

Trail and ultrarunning coach and author, David Roche discusses some of these challenges in his article: Why You Should Be Skeptical About Your Wrist-Based Heart Rate: Wrist-based heart-rate technology is not perfected yet, and it varies based on the watch and athlete.

Malc, who has worked with some of the major players in the watch and wearable technology space, explains that major watch company use published academic papers to formulate algorithms as a means of avoiding liability and litigation:

“When you see something on a watch, that isn’t you specifically. That is a very very simplistic model or algorithm that originated with some studies that didn’t take into extremes from around the world so you have to take it all with a pinch of salt.” – Malc Kent

Most of these studies are very small populations of runners in controlled conditions.

These studies are based on the generally accepted equation that Max Heart Rate = 220 BOM – Age

Both Jacob and Malc explain that they are both outliers for most algorithms. Malc has a small heart and therefore a very high heart rate which means his lactate threshold is also high. Jacob in contrast has a very high VO2 Max, but his lactate threshold is relatively low compared to his VO2 Max.

Jacob shares examples of other outliers in the sport who also happen to be engineers and understand their unique datasets and use their own understanding of their bodies to inform their training and racing:

Gary Gellin is 51 years old and is one of the top trail and ultra athletes in North America. Despite his age, Gary has a Max Heart Rate in the high 190s to low 200s. Consequently, Gary’s lactate threshold is also quite high. Gary is a Stanford educated engineer known for his strict adherence to running by heart rate. In fact, Gary taught Jacob how to run by heart rate early in Jacob’s ultrarunning career. Gary knows the math for his own body and has recorded his own data and created his own ranges.

Malc explains that the heart has an electrical signal that will naturally oscillate even if you switch the brain off for some time which means that there may be certain individuals like Gary who may be able to exceed otherwise normal thresholds of control over the deep brain.

Another example of an outlier in the heart rate realm is Jesse Thomas a Pro Triathlete, Stanford educated engineer, founder of Picky Bars, and podcaster with wife, Lauren Fleshman, on the Work, Play, Love Podcast. Jesse and Lauren are both elite athletes and have been since their teenage years. Jacob ran in the same conference as Jesse in Oregon. Jesse was a multiple time conference and state champion before moving on to run at Stanford. Jesse explains that unlike many other elite endurance athletes he has a really low max heart rate. Both Jesse and Lauren explain what training metrics to use in Episode 28 of the Work, Play, Love Podcast.

Max King is a Cornell educated engineer who also understands his heart rate and body very well. Max’s athletic range is unparalleled in endurance athletics. He has been a world-class 3,000m Steeplechaser, Warrior Day World Champion (5K), XTERRA World Trail Run Champion (Half Marathon), National 50K Trail Champion, Olympic Marathon Trials Qualifier, World Cross Country Championship qualifier, World Mountain Running Champion, World 100K Champion, and course record holder of many trail and ultra races around the world.

Jacob recalls watching Max run the Western States 100. He passed through the half way point several minutes up on the next runner and people were encouraging him to slow down. He was running at such a conversational pace that he was able to calmly explain that he could run any slower. His heart rate was an easy 135 BPM.

Read more about Max King’s superhuman accomplishments in Taking It to the Max: An Interview with Max King.

Malc and Jacob agree that like these elite outliers, the best approach to understanding one’s own heart rate algorithm is to collect a lot of data for a long time so that you can look back and determine what your zones are relative to relative perceived exertion.

Malc has always had the philosophy that heart rate has a place to control easy runs – to very quickly bring attention to the fact that someone is training too hard.

Jacob finds heart rate especially helpful in group settings as a means of regulating effort.

Use heart rate effort in racing as a means of controlling effort, metabolism, predict fuelling, etc.

Jacob describes one of his best ultra experiences using heart rate to control effort and fuelling at the Mt. Hood 50 on the undulating Pacific Crest Trail.

Heart rate won the day that day. Focussed on nutrition and controlling the effort. This was Jacob’s second 50 miler, but unlike his first one in which he relied entirely on effort and the heart rate of Gary Gellin, Jacob used his own heart rate data to control effort and focus on fuelling.

“If you are using the heart rate zones assigned by an app or a training system, it is likely not tailored to you, but a rather simplistic way of looking at it. If you have tons of personal data to create your own zones that is best.” – Malc Kent

Heart rate doesn’t take into account where your body is at or where your nervous system is at. Heart rate measuring devices are better for regulating effort (keeping you from running too hard), but if doing intervals, it doesn’t respond quickly enough and therefore it is not accurate enough to account for the variability (lag time, etc.)

There aren’t simple, basic rules. You have to embrace the complexity of it. Part of this is why Jacob and the Peak Run Performance coaches design training plans with a color continuum as well as some of the overlapping efforts. The overlay of heart rate zones work well with rate of perceived exertion, polarized training, 80/20, and the nordic skiing models that Matt Fitzgerald and Stephen Seiler discuss. They have gathered data from best endurance athletes in the world from their training intensities and suggest that amateurs should aim for similar ratios in training.

When it comes to watches, heart rate monitors, and other wearable technology it best to read the owner’s manual and learn how to use it and the limitations of the tool so that you can use it more effectively.

All of this and more in Episode 6 of the Art and Science of Running Podcast.

Intro and outro music by Dallin PuzeyGOIN 4 A WALK.

Please listen, subscribe and rate this podcast on Apple PodcastsSpotifyStitcherYouTube, or wherever you listen to podcasts.

Please follow us on TwitterInstagram, and Facebook and let us know what you’d like us to discuss in future episodes.


Episode 5: Injury Prevention, Treadmill Training, and Footwear Design with Dr. Zac Marion DPT



Have you ever wondered what a physical therapist thinks about all of the hype around certain footwear trends? We have, so we sat down with Dr. Zac Marion DPT about his unique perspective on the topic.

What makes Zac’s perspective unique is that prior to going back to graduate school to complete his doctorate in physical therapy, Zac was the product line manager for one of the shoe companies responsible for the paradigm shift in the running shoe industry – Altra Running.

In addition to being a physical therapist and one of the first employees at Altra, Zac is a coach for the treadmill app iFit. This platform enables Zac to help people from all over the world to live active lives – even if they are limited to a treadmill. In fact, the program follows Zac and other coaches to distinct sites across the globe to access spaces that may not be accessible to many (Mt. Kilimanjaro, New Zealand, Greece, etc.)

To see Zac run now, one would expect that he grew up running, be he actually didn’t grow up playing sports. In fact, it was less than a decade ago that he made the choice to switch from a sedentary lifestyle that led to obesity to a more active lifestyle that has led him to stand atop the podium of many ultramarathons.

Zac Marion at the TranSelkirks Run. Photo by Dark Horse Company

As a result of the benefits Zac found through running and the running community, Zac is all about promoting community health. iFit is a way for Zac and others to access parts of the world and move without some of the other impediments to activity. Running and iFit have provided Zac with a platform to help others move.

Advancements in technology, specifically the Internet, have enabled each of us (Zac, Malc, and Jacob) the ability to work with people from all over the world and for people from all over the world to work with experts even if they don’t live in the same area as them. We are able to do so much more now than we were even able to do just a few years ago.

Zac went back to school because he feels that it’s important to have a strong framework when it comes to evaluating bodies, theories, and fads so that we don’t always land on one side of the continuum or the other.

In this episode we discuss the importance of a comprehensive team to help each individual maximize their potential. “To just do physio and just treat people is not the full service.  Athletes need to be able to access the full suite of services – not just focus on the cardiovascular system or the musculoskeletal system.”

“Compliance is an issue when it comes to a clinic setting. However, if you approach the individual from a coaching perspective with the treatment and physical therapy the compliance is greater and there is greater accountability.”

Jacob explains what motivated him to make a career change and begin coaching full-time.

Zac shares his epiphany about a sedentary life vs. an active lifestyle that occurred ironically while sitting so long as a graduate student studying about the need for movement to avoid so many of the ailments that plague society today.

From the perspective of a physical therapist and/or exercise scientist and runner, what is the value of zero drop technology? Why zero drop and / or why not?

We are bipedal beings that either outlasted predators or prey. More in Born to Run.

An unrestricted human body can learn to be efficient. A zero drop shoe can help a restricted body get to a more efficient stride and heel strike.

However, the transition from 12mm (standard running shoe heel height) to zero drop is a lot for a tendon that is not accustomed to stretching. If someone wants to transition to zero drop, they should gradually transition from more traditional running shoes to zero drop a few millimetres at a time.

Zac explains that he is now running for another brand, Topo Athletics, that is designed to provide an incremental transition from more traditional heel to toe drops to zero drop.

As a coach and physical therapist, Zac’s goal is to keep people moving. If a person needs to stay in a 12mm drop shoe because that’s what keeps them moving then that’s what’s best for them.

“We can talk about ideal form all day long, but at the end of the day our sedentary lifestyles don’t set most of us up for ideal.”

As coaches and clinicians we need to look at less of a one answer for everybody to what is best for the individual.

Scientifically the zero drop philosophy makes perfect sense. It just doesn’t work for everyone. (Here’s another article advocating for variety in footwear). That being said, Altra has transformed the entire shoe industry. Most major brands have made adjustments to the heel to toe drop in at least some models and many are also adjusting the forefoot to allow for a more natural splayed fit.

What are the most common running injuries that you encounter and what are some things that runners can do to avoid these injuries?

“Outside of the acute injury of rolling one’s ankle, there are a lot of knee issues due to overloading the quads and not getting into the posterior chain enough.

“One of the things that can help runners avoid these types of injuries is to increase mobility in joints.  Injuries generally revolve around a joint. The purpose of muscular contractions is to move a joint with force. The issue generally comes from a limitation in joint mobility.”

Zac distinguishes between mobility and flexibility:

“Flexibility is the ability to, for example, grab your leg and pull it over your head. You have a full range of motion in your hip and you can assist your body in performing the action.

“Mobility is the opportunity to have strength and power throughout that entire range of motion. So flexibilty would be grabbing your leg and pulling it over your head whereas mobility is the ability to do that without touching your leg. You’re using your own musculature to go through that entire range of motion. It’s going to require a neuromuscular component and a strength component.”

Zac sees a lot of injuries due to lack of range of motion in the hips and hip flexors due to the sedentary lifestyle of most people. This leads the glutes to get knocked out the equation. Zac explains, “If there is 100% of a job that needs to get done and there are five muscles that are to cover 20% of the job each and one of those muscles gets knocked out then the other four muscles are overextending themselves and having to make up for what the other one was supposed to be doing. The hips never shut off because we are never getting out hips behind us and we are overspending on our quads. Now that patellar tendon is taking more stress than it should be taking.”

The majority of the injuries that physical therapists see see are overuse / over stress injuries.

“We can preach form all day long, but if you don’t have the mobility to utilize that form it’s not going to mean anything. You’re actually going to do more damage trying to adapt to the stress by being unprepared for proper form in one day.”

Mobility limitations cause patellar tendonitis and achilles tendonitis. The best thing you can do as an athlete is to do all of the extra little things and not just focus on the run. Are you getting the nutrition that you need after the run? Are you doing the work on a foam roller? Are you stretching before and after? Are you warming up properly and adequately? The biggest little thing that you can do is to take care of your muscles so that they aren’t pulling on tendons and ligaments. Focus on mobility.

To learn more about Zac you can find him on Instagram @zacmarion or look for Coach Zac’s workouts on iFit. https://www.ifit.com/blog/ifit-trainer-highlight-zac-marion/

All of this and more in Episode 5 of the Art and Science of Running Podcast.

Intro and outro music by Dallin PuzeyGOIN 4 A WALK.

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Episode 4: Using wearable technology to inform running shoe design



We met with Alex Leuchanka, the Senior Applied Innovation Officer for VF Corp (Altra, The North Face, Timberland, Vans, etc.) to discuss the role of wearable technologies in the development of footwear.

Malc, Jacob, and Alex met at Versa MC in Calgary to discuss biomechanics and footwear development

Alex was in the area attending and presenting at two biomechanics conferences – one specifically for footwear and the other for biomechanics in general.

His presentations can be found through the links below:

Use of Wearable Sensors for Measurement of Spatiotemporal Variables During Marathon Race Poster

Use of Wearable Sensors for Measurement of Spatiotemporal Variables During Marathon Race Abstract

Exploring Kinematic Asymmetry by Means of Wearable Sensors During Marathon Race Poster

Exploring KinematicAsymmetry by Means of a Wearable Sensors During Marathon Race Abstract

Alex describes the work he does using wearable technologies to determine how the body responds to certain types of footwear, terrain, etc. Whereas in the past one had to do all of the testing in a lab, with advancements in technology he can now measure 4D movement of an individual with incredible accuracy to determine how to improve footwear development.

Jacob plans to use RunScribe sensors in training and Alex and Malc will review the data to determine which shoe models work best for him and what injury prevention protocols to follow.

Malc uses wearable technology to help runners from all over the avoid injury.

Alex uses wearable technology specifically to inform footwear development and will be working with Jacob and other VF athletes (The North Face and Altra) to gather training and racing data to hopefully create better shoes to meet their training and racing demands.

Wearable technology has been overly simplistic in the past, but RunScribe now has the ability to look at up to 35 – 40 parameters.

Recently, Alex has been comparing the Nike Vaporfly 4% Flyknit shoe and the Altra Escalante Racer.  His posters and presentations (above) show some of his findings.

Alex suggests that the gains made by the 4% are not simply due to the carbon plate, but primarily due to the newer Pbax foam compound.

As an undergraduate and graduate student and the University of New Hampshire, Alex studied zero drop technology and how the body responds to it.  In fact, his department developed a transition protocol from traditional shoes to zero drop over the course of several weeks.

Alex describes the process of shoe development and modification.

A team of developers puts the shoe together, creates prototypes, test prototypes, and gets feedback from wear testers, but to make even minor modifications comes at a great cost and generally takes time.

All of this and more in Episode 4 of the Art and Science of Running Podcast.

Intro and outro music by Dallin PuzeyGOIN 4 A WALK.

Please listen, subscribe and rate this podcast on Apple PodcastsSpotifyStitcherYouTube, or wherever you listen to podcasts.

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Episode 3: GPS, Pace, Indoor Running, Treadmill Training



Have you ever run a race & noticed that your watch didn’t match the mile markers or give you the same distance as someone else who ran the race?

Which is more reliable – the treadmill or your watch’s indoor running mode?

In episode 3 of The Art and Science of Running Podcast​, Malc Kent​ & Jacob Puzey​ discuss GPS, indoor running metrics, treadmill training, race course certification & other running metrics and technologies.

Listen, subscribe, rate & review the show at Apple Podcasts​, Spotify​, Stitcher​ or wherever you listen to podcasts!

Continue reading Episode 3: GPS, Pace, Indoor Running, Treadmill Training


Episode 2: Group Training, NN Running, Recovery, Trusting the Process



Live from Malc’s basement in Cochrane, Alberta, co-hosts Malc Kent and Jacob Puzey discuss group training, specifically the NN Running Team, with whom Malc has been working in Kenya.

 

Malc originally moved to the area because a research and development center for Garmin is located in Cochrane. Malc’s wife worked as a wireless developer for Garmin and Malc did some consulting and testing work on wearable running technologies.

Over the years, Malc has worked as a consultant for a number of companies and groups.

Most recently, Malc has been working in Kaptagat, Kenya with NN Running, the training group with which marathon world record holder, Eliud Kipchoge, trains.

Coach Patrick and team physio, Marc, monitoring a team track session in rural Kenya. Photo by Malc Kent.

Malc discusses some unique features of the group that help make it so successful:

  • Everyone accepts the process.
  • Everybody does their job.
  • They don’t burden themselves with over analysis.
  • Often in training, the superstars are in the middle and not out front pushing the pace on every run.
  • There are no secrets.
  • The training is essentially the same workouts on the same days every week.
    • The track workout happens on one day.
    • The fartleks happen on another day.
    • The long run happens at another day.
  • This routine helps make recovery predictable and manageable.
  • They just consistently do the work and consistently recover from the work.
  • The altitude and dirt roads help, but the group mentality is what really sets NN Running apart.
  • Running camps are almost military style and foster camaraderie.
  • When not running, the athletes are fine doing nothing.
  • One key to success is recovering from hard work.
  • The group dynamic is one of constructive interference.

Malc relates his experience as an elite climber to trusting one’s teammates or coach. The stakes in climbing are extremely high. There is no middle ground. You’re trusting your life with a person hundreds of thousands of times in one trip.

Jacob describes some of the groups of athletes with whom he has worked and how important trusting the process, trusting the training, trusting your teammates, and trusting the coach can be.

Outro music by Dallin Puzey, GOIN 4 A WALK

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Intro to the Art and Science of Running Podcast



In this episode of the The Art and Science of Running, coaches Malc Kent and Jacob Puzey share their histories as athletes and coaches in the sport of running.
 
Jacob began running in middle school to get in shape for basketball. He ran in high school in the state of Oregon, USA before walking onto a Junior College Cross Country team at Ricks College where he was part of 2 x National Championship Team.
 
Even at 18, Jacob noticed differences in coaching styles between his high school and college coach. After a 2 year break from running and university studies, Jacob resumed his studies and began volunteer coaching and learned everything that he could from myriad mentors and books.
After a few years of pre-medicine and Exercise Science course work, Jacob gravitated toward the humanities and social sciences – cultural studies, anthropology, world languages, linguistics, language learning, and biolinguistic revitalization, etc.
During this time, Jacob coached high school teams and athletes throughout rural America to their first state track and cross country team and individual titles. He was also actively training and racing toward his own athletic goals and coaching other adults on the side. He continued to learn all that he could through books, articles, mentors, and coaching certification programs.
These experiences have led Jacob to approach running and coaching through a holistic lens trying to balance both qualitative and quantitative aspects of running and life.
 
After about 10 years of coaching high school and collegiate athletes, Jacob began coaching athletes remotely under the direction of Greg McMillan and Ian Torrence at McMillan Running.
After two years at McMillan Running, Jacob started his own online coaching company, Peak Run Performance, through which he, Malc, and other professionals coach athletes of all ages, abilities, and ambitions from all over the world.
Malc started running cross country in the UK as a young kid. Gradually worked his way up to the English School’s championships as a teenager where he ran against the likes of Mo Farah. He was also a national champion in orienteering at the age of 16.
 
His analytical mind helped him outperform even those who were fitter or more athletic. Malc started strength training as a rugby player in his teenage years. He began formally strength coaching in his early 20s.
 
Malc’s academic background is in applied physics and biomechanics. He has worked the last 14 years as an applied scientist or in biomechanics or mechanics.
Malc noted a BIG turning point 8 years ago when measuring with wearable technology which allows runners and scientists to get outside lab and measure in an authentic environment.
Jacob and Malc discuss the evolution of wearable technologies from Garmin footpods and basic GPS watches to power meters.
 
Malc asks: What is your philosophy on data? Do you treat all data the same or do you value some data more than others?
 
Jacob explains that time is the number one metric he relies upon in his own training and when designing training for athletes. He details his rationale in this article: DURATION vs. DISTANCE
 
Malc discusses the gait metrics he measures when performing a gait analysis.
 
  • Power is not the best metric for runners. It has been overhyped.
  • It changes quickly & is impacted by looking at watch. It also doesn’t take into account fatigue, etc.
  • How do you adjust training to life when based on power?
 
Malc subscribes to a systems thinking in the body like Stuart McMillan of Altis, in which the body is set of complicated systems that all interact. If you change one they all have to adjust and compensate.
 
Malc recommends that athletes collect all the data possible to understand a complex system with more than one stream of data.
 
Jacob and Malc began collaborating because Malc offers a service with technology that exceeds Jacob’s training and level of expertise and there was a demand for gait analysis services that Jacob could not meet. Both have enjoyed helping athletes from all over the world.
 
Intro & Outro music, “Goin 4 a Walk” by Dallin Puzey Music
 

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