1. Endurance athletes on the whole carry too much body fat—a consequence of carbohydrate dependency eating and overly stressful training patterns.

This is the first of “115 Things You Need To Know,” that starts off the first chapter of “Primal Endurance,” the new book by Mark Sisson and Brad Kearns—both elite triathletes from the dawn of triathlon to the early 1990s. (Sisson, who finished 4th in the Hawaii Ironman in 1982, ultimately coached Kearns later on to a national title).

“Primal Endurance” is not your conventional triathlon training book. Rather, it’s a manifesto from two of the early pioneers of triathlon who have spent the last decade explaining that the high-mileage/high-carbohydrate/moderate intensity platform that they used to live and die by, is almost the exact opposite of a better way to be a good triathlete (and to be a good triathlete a long time).

Consider their “7 habits of a highly effective primal endurance athlete.” Rather than an emphasis on accumulating massive amounts of training volume (Sisson—a 2:18 marathoner in his day—used to run 100-miles per week, and claims that his training and diet left him destroyed at the age of 27), health and balance:

  1. Sleep
  2. Stress/rest balance
  3. Intuitive and personalized schedule
  4. Aerobic emphasis
  5. Structured intensity
  6. Complementary movement and lifestyle practices
  7. Periodization

The book also gives credit to some of the first to begin touting ideas that were considered controversial in the 1990s that Primal Endurance has internalized. Phil Maffetone, for example, who was perhaps the first to talk about lowering carb intake and upping fat consumption to optimize the metabolism for fat-burning efficiency. His disciples included the likes of Mark Allen and Mike Pigg.

With 10 chapters and the addition of a one-year sample training schedule, “Primal Endurance” is an integration of a lot of the topics that have bubbled to the surface, from applying nutritional ketosis to a training plan, to mobility work, to sleep, to a reliance on strength training.


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