Science Of Ultra | Ultra Marathon And Trail Running Expertise | World Leading Endurance Science And Coaching

Ultra marathon running physiology brought to you by the world’s leading scientists, coaches, and athletes. Science Of Ultra host, Dr. Shawn Bearden, brings you interviews and more to deliver everything you want to know about all facets of training, nutrition, hydration, environment, psychology, gear, and much more. Become your ultra best!
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Science Of Ultra | Ultra Marathon And Trail Running Expertise | World Leading Endurance Science And Coaching



All Episodes
Now displaying: 2016
Dec 6, 2016

Everything you need to know for optimal protein nutrition to maximize your training and adaption. Dr. van Loon joins us from the Netherlands where he leads a large and outstanding research group. He's the world's leading expert on this topic. How much, when, what about sex differences, what about aging, right after training, what about over night...we cover it all!

Nov 22, 2016

Everything you need to know about the fundamentals of biomechanics as they relate to injury in runners. Lots of actionable info in this one!

Nov 8, 2016

We dive into Dr. Kram's research on biomechanics and energy utilization, running economy, and the things you need to pay attention to as well as what you don't.

Oct 25, 2016

A comprehensive conversation with elite ultra runner Stephanie Howe Violett, PhD where we talk about her year of injuries, her approaches to injury recovery and to training, and her expertise (PhD) in sports nutrition.

Oct 11, 2016

What do you mean when you use the word 'training'? Today, we start a project, together, to create a training framework.

Sep 27, 2016

Recent research findings from research at the Western States Endurance Run on gastrointestinal distress.

Sep 13, 2016

Findings from recent research on recovery practices and their effectiveness for ultra marathon finishers.

Aug 30, 2016

The myth of adrenal fatigue.

Aug 16, 2016

Western States champion (2015), Magdalena Boulet, joins me for an amazing episode. Learn all the ins and outs of her training, racing approaches, nutrition strategies, and much more!

Aug 2, 2016

Roundtable discussion with three coaches (Paul Lind, Andrew Simmons, Ty Draney) recorded on location, including audience questions.

Jul 19, 2016

Ian Torrence has complete nearly 200 ultra distance events and has won approximately 25% of them. He has important advice to give regarding longevity in the sport and approaches to DNFing that you need to hear if you want to be successful in this sport for years to come.

Jul 5, 2016

You are an endurance runner. So, what's the point in doing high intensity interval training (HIIT)? Whether you are new to endurance running or a seasoned veteran, you will benefit from HIIT. We explore how, what, when, and why in this episode.

Jun 21, 2016

Learn how to prepare for performance in the heat and how heat acclimation can actually improve your performance in moderate temperatures.

Jun 7, 2016

Ben Levine, MD is among the legends of exercise cardiology and altitude physiology in sport performance. It is an honor to have him join the Ultra Clan for this amazing interview, packed with heaps of evidence-based, applicable, relevant, and actionable knowledge.

May 24, 2016

Today, I shine the spotlight on Mathew Laye, PhD. He is a scientist, coach, and athlete. As winner of the Rocky Raccoon 100 miler, along with his scientific and coaching background, he brings a rare mix of all three areas of expertise in ultra marathon training and racing to the show.

May 10, 2016

A double episode. Interviews with cardiologists Larry Creswell M.D. and Aaron Baggish M.D. They are at the forefront of heart health in endurance athletes. Is ultra marathon running okay for your heart? Listen and learn.

Apr 26, 2016

My guest today has had a life of endurance, persistence, adventure and exploration that we can all learn from. My guest is Terri Schneider. She was a professional triathlete for nine years, has raced multi-day eco-adventures around the planet, and is an ultra marathon veteran. We explore her life of endurance pursuits through the lens of her recent book, Dirty Inspirations: Lessons from the trenches of extreme endurance sports.

Apr 12, 2016

This week, we explore the ins and outs of economical running. Learn what you can do to improve yours and to what extent it will make a difference in your performance.

Mar 29, 2016

My guest today is Michael Gervais, PhD. He has been described as an industry visionary. Dr. Gervais is a licensed psychologist who focuses most of his time on people at the "top of their game", including the NFL's Seattle Seahawks, NBA players, Olympians, military personnel and corporate leaders. While spending years in the trenches of high-stakes circumstances, he has developed clarity for the tools that allow people to pursue their potential.

Mar 15, 2016

My guest today is John VonHof. He literally wrote the book on foot care for the athlete, Fixing Your Feet. You can learn more from him on his website, <link><link>

Today we dig into all the essential components of good foot care, from shoe fitting to blister care. We wrap up by defining the essential features of a good minimalist foot care kit for your next run or adventure.

Mar 1, 2016

My guest this week is Max King. He won the 2011 World Mountain Running Championships and the 2014 IAU 100 km World Championship. He’s won numerous national titles at distances ranging from half marathons to ultra marathons and he was named U.S. national mountain runner of the year in 2011. He is a back-to-back winner of the Warrior Dash world championship, winning in 2014 and 2015. Also, in 2014 he tackled his first 100 mile race, the legendary and extremely competitive Western States 100 mile Endurance Run where he finished 4th.

Feb 16, 2016

An incredible episode on psychological fatigue. Is fatigue in ultra endurance performance mostly in your mind? What can you do to stay psychologically motivated to keep going? Listen and learn on today's episode with the pioneering experts on this topic.

Feb 2, 2016
My guest today is Daniel Lieberman, PhD
Dr. Lieberman is Professor and Chair of the Department of Human Evolutionary Biology, and the Edwin M. Lerner II Professor of Biological Sciences at Harvard University. He was educated at Harvard and Cambridge. He studies how and why the human body is the way it is, and the relevance of human evolution to contemporary health. His major research foci include the evolution of long distance walking and running abilities as well as the effects of shoes on locomotor biomechanics and injury; he also studies the evolution of the highly unusual human head. His work has been funded by the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, and many other groups and foundations. He has ongoing fieldwork projects in Kenya and Mexico. In addition to over 130 peer-reviewed research articles, he’s published several books including "The Evolution of the Human Head (Harvard University Press, 2011), and “The Story of the Human Body” (Pantheon, 2013). If you’ve read the book “Born to Run”, then you’re already familiar with his work because that title was actually the title of a cover in the journal Nature that featured his research well before the book of the same title; and my guest is a major figure in the book itself.
In this episode, we explore the evolution of running, the biomechanics of barefoot running, and what shoe cushioning is and does for (and to) us. We make the distinction among barefoot, minimalist, and cushioned shoes and learn about the interesting effect of barefoot running, and possibly minimalist shoe running, on normalizing foot arches.
As always, we wrap up with some actionable answers to fundamental questions in barefoot running when I ask Dr. Lieberman,
  1. What are the most common misconceptions you see in the running community with respect to barefoot vs shod running?
  2. Based on all your research, are their compelling reasons to consider barefoot or minimalist running from an endurance performance standpoint?
  3. Is there any reason to think that someone running ultra marathons would perform better or be less injury prone by switching to barefoot or minimalist running if fully and properly adapted.
  4. Should runners pay attention to their foot strike or should they just let their bodies do what’s comfortable and allow natural biomechanical adjustments to develop without conscious input?
Jan 19, 2016
My guest today is Louise Burke, PhD
Dr. Burke is Head of Discipline in Sports Nutrition for the Australian Institute of Sport. She is also Chair in Sports Nutrition, Mary MacKillop Institute for Health Research, Australian Catholic University. She served as Team dietitian for the Australian Olympic team for the past 5 Olympics ( specifacally in: 1996, 2000, 2004, 2008 and 2012). Her long list of peer-reviewed publications have been cited nearly 4,000 times. She is the author of the books Practical Sports Nutrition and Clinical Sports Nutrition. She is one of the top sports nutrition experts on the planet and she is a world leading expert on today’s topic of fat adaptation in endurance sport training and performance.
How much hype and hyperbole have you heard on the topic of fat adaptation in endurance performance? How often have you wanted the rigorous answers to specific questions on whether the science truly bears out this approach? Within the ultra marathon community, the idea of adapting substrate sources to prefer fat is a very popular topic. The idea is that a higher percentage use of fat will spare glycogen and thereby improve performance in an endurance event. Basically, the intent is to delay running out of internal stores of carbohydrate because it may be challenging to ingest and absorb carbohydrates at a rate that can keep up with use in an ultra marathon.
Today, Dr. Burke helps us understand the history of this topic and cuts straight to the unbiased exploration of the currently available data. Note that this idea has been around for a long time and it’s current popularity is a renaissance of previous waves of enthusiasm. What’s the real skinny on fat adaptation? This episode covers it all, including best practice guidelines for your top performance.
Our wrap-up action items today are the answers to:
  1. What are the most common mistakes Dr. Burke sees ultra endurance athletes making with their overall nutrition? And, what should you be doing?
  2. What would she say to an ultra endurance athlete interested in training and performing at their best today, regarding fat adapting diets?
Jan 5, 2016
My guest today is Michael Joyner, MD. He would need no introduction in the field of exercise physiology. Dr. Joyner is an integrative physiologist, scientist, and evidence-based Anesthesiologist at the Mayo Clinic. His specific areas of expertise include autonomic control of circulation, muscle and skin blood flow, exercise, oxygen transport and metabolic regulation in humans. Additionally, much of his lab’s work in these areas includes the study of aging. This work has been continuously funded by the NIH since the early 1990s. The list of his awards and honors is lengthy; suffice it to say that he has received many of the highest awards in the fields of physiology, medicine, and exercise. Most scientists would feel they had a worthy career with 2 or 3 seminal papers on a subject. My guest today has a list of seminal publications longer than many scientists complete lists. Dr. Joyner published over 350 scientific papers, and many books and book chapters; with many thousands of citations. Simply put, Dr. Joyner is one of the most influential figures in modern exercise science, from molecules & mechanisms to health advocacy. He is also an avid runner.
Later in the interview, you get a glimpse into his knowledge base in the history of running and runners. He rattles off runners and other elite athletes, their ages, and times of performance over many decades. This breadth and depth of knowledge allows him to bring to you amazing insights and many thoughtful ideas….including a haiku!
You can connect with Dr. Joyner at:
His website on Human Limits of Performance
Twitter: @DrMJoyner
His clinical profile at the Mayo Clinic
Dr. Joyner answers many questions, including:
  1. What are the definition(s) of fatigue?
  2. How does ‘fatigue’ differ from ‘tired’ and where do they overlap physiologically.
  3. What are the causes of fatigue in extreme cases or high intensity: occlusion of blood flow, max sprint, constant effort at ~maximal lactate steady state (fatigue in about an hour or two)?
  4. When we talk about VO2max, we generally consider the cardiovascular system - delivery of oxygen-rich blood - as the major limiting factor based on the knowledge that isolated muscle (like in single leg lifts) can consume more oxygen per 100 grams than that same tissue does at whole body VO2max. Is there a role of the cardiovascular system in exhaustion if we maintain fluid and electrolyte homeostasis?
  5. Muscle micro-trauma is likely to be a major cause of fatigue in ultras. First, what exactly is the muscle trauma and damage that is occurring during ultra marathons? Second, is this likely to be a major source of fatigue?
  6. What is the physiological basis of cardiac drift and does it have a role in fatigue or exhaustion?
  7. Fatigue is very complicated when we consider running ultra marathons. What can we say are likely contributors? Are there any factors that might be contributors in higher intensity effort that are not likely to contribute to fatigue in an ultra marathon?
  8. What do we know about aging an endurance performance relevant to fatigue?
  9. In longer events, we are likely to become relatively depleted of stored glycogen before the end of the race. If our event lasts hours…perhaps many hours…longer, and we can consume and absorb 60-90 g of carbohydrates per hour - will substrate availability contribute to fatigue even if we slow down enough to match energy intake with utilization? In other words, is there anything about being in the depleted state for a long period of time (muscle cells contracting with little internal carbohydrate) that shifts efficiency so as to contribute to fatigue?
  10. What do we know about the nature of systemic feedback signals to the brain that may contribute to fatigue/exhaustion in ultras?
  11. What do we know about the brain and motivational fatigue in events that require moderate effort for many hours, over night, and some times even multi-day?
  12. What role does sleep deprivation play in fatigue/exhaustion?
We develop a list of the expected common or primary predicted sources of fatigue/exhaustion in ultra events.
We wrap up with two action questions.
  1. What are the most common misunderstandings for misconceptions about fatigue and exhaustion in ultra endurance performance?
  2. What are the 3-4 most important actions we can take to stave off fatigue or exhaustion in an ultra endurance event (what can we do about the most common causes)?