What would happen if you learned how to burn fat and use it as a fuel source and not have to rely so heavily on glycogen stores when you race?
How many Kenyan runners have we seen on television running at race pace but still look like they are not even laboring from the pace?
I am sure you all have seen this and wondered, ‘why are they so good’.
Furthermore, I don’t believe the Kenyans are any more able then you or I to run efficiently and effectively.
There are American men and women bettering Kenyan men and women in races around the world. Why?
How Can I Burn Fat Quickly?
There are many excuses people make when it comes to running. I ‘I am not good enough‘, ‘I don’t have the genetics or ‘talent’ to run well’, ‘I was never much of a runner but still try’.
There are many well-meaning, hard working people out there training well. The problem is they are not training specific to the goals they have set.
For example, doing 20 mile long runs at 12 minute mile pace won’t work if my goal is to break a 4 hour marathon.
Learn how to burn fat, rather than carbohydrate, when you race.
You teach your body to store more glycogen (carbohydrates) the faster you run your long runs.
The trick is getting your body use to burning fat even at speed of higher intensity.
The faster you run the more carbohydrates you use. You can burn fat quickly but drinking caffeinated drinks like green tea. In addition, running, strength training, not skipping breakfast and drinking 8 cups of water daily.
There are reasons we slow down
- we run out of glycogen
- we have not trained the body to conserve glycogen and burn fat at faster speeds.
Pete Pfitzinger, one of our nation’s top marathoners with a personal best of 2.11.43, put it like this,
As you increase your endurance training, you rely more on fat and less on carbohydrates at a given speed. As a result, your glycogen stores last longer. In a marathon, that means that “the wall” moves closer and closer to the finish line. -Pete Pfitzinger
The Physiological Facts
Does it take talent to run fast for long periods of time? Sure. That being said, you cannot rely on talent alone.
There are many athletes with little talent running incredible times.
Have you ever wondered though why the Kenyan men and women are as good as they are?
Talent and hard work
It doesn’t matter if you’re a 4 hour marathoner or a 2.10 marathoner.
The training secret is to train at or below goal marathon race pace and often.
In addition, recovery is just as important.
It is not that Americans, Europeans and other non-Kenyan, Ethiopian or Moroccan runners are not as talented.
We, at least most Americans and Europeans, don’t run to school.
We have the luxuries that some of the best runners in the world don’t have.
There are school girls in Kenya that run 3 times a day.
We are not forced to use our legs like some people in the world.
Imagine if we had to run to school or work. There would be a revolution in this society. The land of television and 24-hour fast food restaurants.
The top runners simply run more and are consistent.
Who do you think has a slight edge over someone just starting out?
Athlete A who has 10,000 miles in his or he legs
Athlete B running 5 miles per week.
You have to train progressively harder and spend longer periods of time at or below race pace.
There is no way around it.
You can only do in a race what you’ve practiced in training.- Italian Distance Coach-Renato Canova
Coach Canova’s training methods is where I comprise the majority of my training currently.
Say you are a half-marathon who wants to eventually run that distance at 7.55 mile pace.
How much of your week do you devote to running at they pace or near it.
It is very easy to simply go out and run easy miles, that should be the case if you are early on in your training build up.
…but what happens when you have many weeks of build up and your still not focusing on that 7.55 mile pace.
How can you ask of yourself to hold 7.55 mile pace for 13 miles straight when you may not have practiced doing it for 6 miles, 8 miles?
Don’t get frustrated. Adjust how you train and the results will follow.
How many of your friends brag about how many miles they run or how many times over the years have you heard runners talking about their weekly mileage?
If you burn more calories, you will lose more fat than if you burn fewer calories. Lower intensity exercise is only better for fat loss if you exercise long enough to make up for the lower number of calories used per minute.” -Pete Pfitzinger
Listen, running high mileage comprised of slow distance runs will not get you to a specific time in a specific distance.
More isn’t always better.
I have went as 142 miles a week in training and guess what, I ran my best marathon to date off of 90 mile weeks.
Running that high of mileage left me feeling flat.
Quality over quantity is the rule.
Can runners putting in 140+ mile weeks still run great times? Absolutely. That being said, everyone is physiologically different.
If someone says, ‘Hey, I ran 100 miles this week. How far did you run?’ Ignore him! What the hell difference does it make? – Coach Bill Bowerman
Running highs weeks, comprised of runs not stressing your lactate tolerance will only make you a high mileage runner.
Easy running has its place but it doesn’t prepare a runner if they have a time specific goal.
You must spend a great deal of time practicing at or far below your goal race pace.
More isn’t better
Should I run my long runs slow or fast. I heard you burn fat by running slow, not by running fast?
You will teach your body to burn fat and conserve glycogen by doing long runs. Your body will rely more on fat and less on glycogen thus preventing glycogen depletion.
This is exactly what we want to do regardless of distance but more importantly the longer you race and run.
Have you ever gotten to mile 8 in a half-marathon or mile 17 in a marathon and knew, somehow, from somewhere, a bear had decided to take a break on your back?
The trick is running at faster speeds at or below your goal race pace so that you are utilizing fats, rather than carbs. The result is you have more energy when you need it most.
What we want to do is prolong the amount of time we do not have to rely on carbohydrates and save it for when it truly counts, in that last 5K in a half-marathon or last 6 miles in a marathon.
Your body will grow accustomed to burning fats at slower speeds but will it be able to utilize it at speeds nearing your goal race pace?
Anyone can run slow and learn how to burn fat. It takes skill to run long distances at aggressive paces.
This is where sheer focus and an action plan comes into the picture.
I hope this post on how to burn fat has been helpful to you. Make sure to subscribe to the RunDreamAchieve YouTube channel. I create new content there each week to help runners like you get to the next level in their training and racing.