Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Mutation is a good thing

A Mutation occurs when a DNA gene is damaged or changed in such a way as to alter the genetic message carried by that gene

Mutation, I mean thats what we are all trying to do here, right? Sure we like shine it up and make it seem much prettier by calling it adaptation but lets get honest its just cellular mutation.

If your a newer runner or a more casual runner then you might not have even really thought about it. You are still in that I am going to get fit, get a little faster, live healthy stage of your running and there is certainly nothing wrong with that. You haven't joined the training circus under the freak tent yet and maybe you never will. I say runaway while you still can, runaway as fast and far as you possibly can and then keep running .... oh crap never mind.

For those of you that are already hopelessly trapped under the big top you understand, its all about the mutation. Once upon a time you ran just for fun but it wasn't enough for you was it. Going for a run became "training" which only lead to faster or longer running and better race times. We all know that then leads to more "training". Its the great circle of running.

As a casual runner have you ever really though about what you are actually doing. Maybe you look up to the better runners that you know and think I wish I could run like that. Well mutation is the key. The point of training is not to get stronger or faster or boost endurance these are not training goals. These are side effects of the mutation process. The actual point of training is to cause changes to your body at a cellular level. Thats right, its all about changing the actual make up of the mitochondrion and the cell itself.

The freaks under the "training" tent already know all this. We have read all the books by Nokes, Daniels and anyone else we could find. We are well aware of what we are doing. The fact is that for most of us we are upset that we were not born bigger genetic freaks. No matter how hard we "train" most of us will never run 2:15 marathons, 15 minute 5ks or 16 hour 100 milers. You have to have been really lucky in the genetic lottery for that kind of thing but that will not stop us from trying.

Over the course of the winter I had run easy, rebuilding my base and trying to get some zip back into my legs which I had destroyed during ultra season. With some bounce back I started more serious training upping the mileage and adding lots of hills and speed. There was some improvement but I was still not back to spring 2010 levels. I did not feel like I was in very good shape at all. Yeah I know how can you be running 120k a week and not be in shape. Well there is in shape and then there is in shape (racing shape?). Then I ran a decent ATB even though I didnt race full out. Something was happening.

Then Mutation
In the last few weeks I have seen a huge jump in my own mutation (adaptation) as my high volume of mileage has begin to cause visible changes in my fitness level and endurance. I began to think I might be plateaued forever with what seemed like little forward progress and then something wonderful happened. My easy runs became way too easy. I was running the same pace but my heart rate had dropped way to low. At first I though it must be a problem with my monitor or a weird anomaly but after 3 weeks I figured it must be real. A quick email consultation with coach Roger lead to a rejigging of my approach to the runs. I started running back at my proper / previous easy run HR and suddenly I was running much faster. Last years marathon pace has become my easy run speed. For someone like me that is running mainly ultras this will hopefully translate into some faster times this year.

Mutation, its a wonderful thing.

Watch out Pick Your Poison 50k trail race is coming up this weekend!!


  1. That's awesome news, it's always exciting when you bust past your plateaus! Can't wait to see how this translates to your times for the upcoming season.

  2. That happened to me too...but only once! Last year! I want it again this year!!

    Great way to explain it though! We are freaks in the same tent!

  3. Very cool!

    I have to say, I never ran because it was fun or because I wanted to get it shape. It was all about the goal (finishing)...which is a good thing because if I was going for major body change I'd be disappointed (or have to start eating a lot less). That said, now that I've run for a year, I'm looking forward to training towards some new (rather than automatic since it's my first race of that distance) PRs.

  4. im glad im not the only one that feels like a mutated FREAK!!! i may be a freak to the normal person.....but i LOVE it!!!!

  5. Chris you are truly a FREAK :)I'm going to live vicariously through you for awhile. You couldn't have it described it better. There's no fun in the word running is there???

  6. This isn't the first time I've heard this. Run slow to run fast. Build up a really good aerobic base and the speed will follow. There's got to be something to this.

  7. Congrats on the mutation! That does sound funny to me :-).

  8. yay!! It makes me happy to read about my bloggy friends seeing the fruits of their training!! :D AWESOME MUTATION FRIEND!! :D

    sidenote: I just watched the first x-men movie over the weekend for the first time ever.. loved it! :)

  9. Way to evolve and bust through to new heights!

  10. I love the analogy - you are so right on with this.

  11. Interesting!!! As someone "in training" I have never thought of it that way! Like it :)

  12. Freaktastic, excited for you seeing results.

  13. Wow, awesome to hear! This is pretty much what every runner dreams of - reduced effort but more speed! Sounds like you have a great 2011 year to come because of this!

  14. Hmmn....mutation, perhaps I haven't been trying hard enough or maybe my whole life is nothing but a plateau.

    I have never experienced what you describe. Yes I have trained many many different ways all with varied results.....some pretty good...some not so good.

    I can't remember crossing the threshhold you describe....Oh I did progress into some fairly fast running times but my percieved effort always felt on the edge of death.

    By that I mean no matter how fast I managed to run, even though the times were faster (or slower) in comparison, I still felt the same labored....wish I could quit, before I die feeling.

  15. Instead of hitting the wall, you ran through it - sweet! Mutation is good....

  16. I am hopelessly trapped beneath that big top. Right now, there's nowhere else I'd rather be.

    Loved this post.

    Good luck in your "training."

  17. Great post. Really enjoy reading your blog.


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