The Painless Path to Endurance

“Victor” running an ultramarathon.

Pavel Tsatsouline is a former Soviet Special Forces physical training instructor, currently a subject matter expert to the US Navy SEALs and the US Secret Service. In 2001, Pavel’s and John Du Cane introduced the Russian kettlebell to the West.

Dan John is a former nationally-ranked discus thrower and Olympic lifter–as well as Fulbright Scholar–with more than four decades in the iron game.

T-shirt: Lance Armstrong to Pavel.

Enter Dan and Pavel

Years ago, my friend Dr. Jim Wright said something that got burned into my brain:

“Consistency and moderation over intensity.”

Not nearly as sexy as “Do or Die!” or some other juvenile T-shirt slogan, but you could not think of a better set of directions for durable performance.

You are about to meet a man who embodies this maxim. He is a US military special operator whose name I shall withhold due to the nature of his duty.

Let us call him “Victor.”

I met this quiet professional at one of our RKC military kettlebell courses. He was capable of a strict pullup with 160 pounds of extra weight, at a bodyweight of 195 pounds (and one-arm chins, naturally). He could close Iron Mind’s iconic #2.5 Captains of Crush hand gripper, 237.5 pounds strong, for three reps. And he had run over ten ultramarathons, from 50 to 100 miles!…

Any of the above is an accomplishment, but combining either the first or second feat with the third is unheard of. Especially if one considers that this man is not a pampered professional athlete, but a warrior with many combat deployments under his belt. I had to know more.

Victor graciously described his training:

Low mileage. I only ran 30 miles per week in preparation for the 100 miler. The most important training event for ultramarathons is the weekly long run. I kept my heart rate low and breathed through my nose during training runs, and I think that this helped to minimize muscle damage. I can run 20 miles on a Sunday, and still perform strength exercises on Monday. The key is having the LOW INTENSITY. I use a heart rate monitor, and I stay at 60-65% of my MHR. This means that I am often walking on the hills. If I ran 20 miles at 70-75% MHR, my recovery time would be much longer. I would do high intensity track or hill intervals on one day during the week, but the interval workout never lasted longer than 30 minutes. I keep the intervals pretty intense, though.

Fueling. I am religious about using proper fueling for all long distance events, and I swear by Hammer Nutrition. I consumed exactly 270 calories/hour for the entire 100 mile race (7:1 carbs/protein) and this gave me all the calories that I needed. The protein in my race nutrition (Hammer Perpetuem) helps to prevent muscle cannibalization during the race. Post-race/run, I drink Hammer Recoverite immediately after finishing, and try to get a good meal within an hour of the race.

Prior experience. I did my first 50-mile race 11 years ago, and I have completed over 10 ultramarathons since then. I know how my body will react after long distances, and this experience helps with the mental side of the sport. I have also completed many similar types of endurance events in my military training. Having this experience is very beneficial. I know that I can walk out the door anytime/anywhere and run a marathon pretty easily.

The hand strength and gripper stuff is just fun to do. I train them “Grease the Groove” style [easy sets throughout the day, every day—Ed.]. Of course it helps that I have been doing literally 100s of pull-ups per week (on average) for the last 14 years. I also have done a lot of rock climbing in my past, which really helps with grip strength.

Variety. I have enough variety in my training (yoga, running, biking, kettlebells, clubs, calisthenics) help keep me injury free. I try to get 1-2 days of yoga per week. Sometimes I go to a class, and sometimes on my own. I work the basic poses and focus on releasing some of the tension that comes from lots of running and strength training. The yoga has been great for injury prevention. I also do not lift any other weights besides my single 53lb. kettlebell, and my two 25lb. clubs. The only 1RM training that I do is with the gripper. I used to do presses and deadlifts after reading Power to the People!, but I felt my ego pushing me harder and faster than my body wanted to go. So I decided to limit myself to one kettlebell and two clubs and just focus on adding repetitions and intensity. Staying injury free has helped me to maintain consistent progress for the last 10 years.

I rarely train for more than 30 minutes per day. The only exception to this would be a weekly long run (3+ hours) and a weekly trail run (50-min). I have always done lots of trail running and I find that the trails are much easier on the legs. The steep trails keep things fun and help to prevent overuse injuries. I also keep my exercise selection pretty minimal: pushups, pull-ups, kettlebell swings, get-ups, windmills, goblet squats, and club mills/swipes. That is pretty much it.

I attribute most of my success to consistency. I have been training almost daily since I was 14 years old, and I am also fortunate to have a job that requires me to stay in shape. I also don’t think that there is any reason why strength and endurance have to be mutually exclusive…

Process vs. Outcome

In the mid-nineties, a curious book came out in the States: Body, Mind, and Sport by John Douillard. Given its focus on endurance sports, an apparent dislike of hard training and beef, and heavy doses of New Age discussions of Ayurveda, it is unlikely that it was read by many of our intense weightlifting friends. At least one did, though: Victor.

The book was dedicated to improving one’s performance by reducing the effort to 50%, enjoying the process, and not focusing on the result. The author cited a University of Texas in Austin study of goal-oriented and process-oriented people in the workplace. Unexpectedly, it was not the hypercompetitive Type “A” people who were doing more for the company, making more money, getting more raises and promotions. It was the folks who were enjoying their job.

Ironically, not getting wrapped up in the result may deliver higher gains. I had heard that before. One of the best pistol shooters in the Russian armed forces made a breakthrough in his accuracy when a coach told him, “You know, you have the right to miss.”

One of Douillard’s techniques was practicing a competitive sport without keeping score. “Focusing on the score attaches you to the result. Focusing on the process lets you access your greatest skill and increases your fun.” That rang true.

When I was working on my running in preparation for my military service, at least once a week I would leave my watch at home and go as far as I could while staying totally relaxed. I would draw out my breaths as far as possible comfortably, taking a series of partial inhalations (one per step), and then partial exhalations (one per step again). It took several steps, say six, to complete one breathing cycle. I scanned my body regularly for hidden tension and would release it by “breathing out” through the tight muscles and by shaking them off. I would keep my mouth closed, but not tightly, as relaxed jaws are essential to effortless running. Even after weeks when I did no other kind of running—no hard runs, no hills, no intervals, no running with weight—I could race any distance up to 10K very fast if I chose to. All I had to do was add some “gas” to the relaxation, and I flew.

Nose-only breathing was later stressed in my unit. They sometimes had us run with a mouthful of water—a brilliant self-limiting exercise in the best Gray Cook tradition. Some Russian marathoners hold a handkerchief in their teeth for the same purpose of preventing panicky and inefficient mouth breathing.

Not surprisingly, nose-only breathing and keeping the heart rate low were key components of the Body, Mind, and Sport program. The inventive author figured out a way to “make it a competitive endeavor. For example… run around the track and the winner will be the one who not only finishes first, but has the slowest breath rate and heart rate.”

Here is how he scored the winners:

Finish Time + Heart Rate + (Breath Rate x 3)

The lowest score wins, and he multiplies the breath rate by 3 to emphasize its importance.

Victor stresses, “The low HR and nose breathing are essential. After a few months of consistent practice, nose-breathing should be used for the tempo run as well. Nose breathing teaches breath control, and also acts as a “governor” that helps to prevent overtraining.” This is especially important to an athlete for whom running endurance is not the number one priority.

Endurance or strength, Dr. Anatoly Bondarchuk (Olympic hammer throw champion and coach of champions) makes a stunning revelation that the harder you push the body, the more stubbornly it refuses change:

“In our practice, with each year we have become more convinced that the stronger our desires to significantly increase the level of achievement… the less the effect… This is explained by the fact that the stronger the complex of training effects, then the more harmony there is in the defense functions in the body… This in every way possible creates barriers or prevents a new level of adaptation, where in the process of restructuring it is necessary to expend a significant amount of energy resources.

…the defense function of the body systems in high level athletes is more “trained” than in low level athletes. From here a very “bold” conclusion follows, that the process of increasing sports mastery takes place at the same level as the process of developing defense functions. In the end result, the defense functions prevail over most of the time of sports development… Up to this time, all of this is a “superbold” hypothesis, giving food for very “fantastic” propositions, but there is something in all of this… Today it is only sufficiently clear that in the process of sports improvement, the body always defends itself against the irritants acting upon it.”

The ability to differentiate between “laziness” and “doing just the right amount to get the job done” is a mark of a winner. Recalls AAU American bench press record holder Jack Reape:

“I spent the first half of my training career learning to work harder and never miss workouts, and the second half learning when to sometimes go easier and when to back off.”

The above is excerpted from Pavel and Dan’s new book, Easy Strength. Learn more about it here.

The Tim Ferriss Show is one of the most popular podcasts in the world with more than 900 million downloads. It has been selected for "Best of Apple Podcasts" three times, it is often the #1 interview podcast across all of Apple Podcasts, and it's been ranked #1 out of 400,000+ podcasts on many occasions. To listen to any of the past episodes for free, check out this page.

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163 Replies to “The Painless Path to Endurance”

  1. The single phrase from the 4HB has changed me forever, “strengthen your carriage”.

    For the first time in my 37 years I can run long distance without training hard.

    1. I am an avid runner who have been not successful with big-mileage training in the first 2 years of running training. I haven’t read 4HB yet.

      Could you please share: what your interpretation of “strengthen your carriage” was, how did it change your training from b4 to a4, and what is the result like?

  2. Tim,

    I think this is as relevant a time as any to ask this: As a near-daily morning runner I’m really interested in hearing about the results of your marathon training.The four hour body/blog/ultra link leads to a coming soon page.

  3. Tim,

    Once again, loved the post. I read John Doulliard’s book a few years ago and tried it diligently. It worked pretty well but I am not a huge fan of running. As a former athlete, I have tried many variations of this type of philosophy, and look forward to trying a new twist thanks to this post.

    PS…Got a cure for writer’s block? I’ve stalled out after the second book!

    Darren Michaels

    1. Hey, Darren. Copyblogger does regular posts with solutions to writers block. Very helpful. One of the few blogs that I subscribe to…

      Also, I second ‘Bird by bird’. Great writing book.

      1. These are all great recommendations, thank you so much ! I started with an excerpt of bird by bird and finished with the Seinfeld secrets. I now have a plan

  4. I had my first halfmarathon last Sunday and really thinking about 100K race. I’m going to run a marathon on Sicily in April. Thank for this info from Victor. I really had a big problem with energy during the race (only carbs). I’ll try to change this to 7:1 formula.

  5. Tim,

    Planning to do my first marathon at the end of January. Havent been running too much to this point and don’t plan on logging 50 miles/wk to get there. Thanks for reminding me that quality training is always greater than quantity.

  6. I ran track at the university of wisconsin-madison, and am lucky to be the son of an ayurvedic practioner. These methods of breathing and training are something that I swore by throughout my career. Great to see it going a little more mainstream.

  7. I am looking into endurance training/mount climbing training. Next year my grandfather is turning ninety and he is planning to climb Mt. Rainier. One of my uncles and I have decide to join my grandfather, but I have not back pack since I was 15. And have never been high elevation climbing.

    Right now I am in good shape (to my standards), but know I have to train. Any suggestions?

    Will running hills with a gas mask help me get use to thin air?

    1. The only real training for mountain climbing is climbing mountains, preferably with a heavier and heavier pack. It’s best to start lighter, maybe 30 pounds and add 5-10 pounds at a time as you get used to it to prevent injury. if you can’t find any mountains in your area, then running hills is good. I also hear that the Stairmaster is the best machine to use, preferably with a pack as well. 🙂

      Start doign as much hiking as possible, like every weekend, at least 10 miles.

      Never heard of the gas mask, but Diamox is a great thing to take for insurance. The panic on being on a 4000 foot high free fall iceslide with the horrible feeling on altitude sickness is not a good match. It’s genetic and some people have no problems, or will be fine a bunch of times and then sick randomly. Others, like me just never do well at altitude.

  8. Hey Tim, you know any *good* pro triathletes who follow a similar protocol? I’m going pro at the end of next year and mulling over a few different training approaches.

  9. just came from crossfit and pushing myself so hard that i wanted to puke. this is an interesting read after walking out of that intense situation. it seems like you have used both approaches (after reading 4 hr body). do you have a preference of one of the methods? high intensity and short period, or low intensity and more workouts a week? thanks for all the good stuff, bruddah.

  10. Hey Tim,

    What kind of effects does endurance training (any of the varieties you’ve written about before) have on muscular strength? Would it impede or even reverse your fast-twitch muscle composition to make way for the slow-twitch fibres? In other words, is it possible to get the best of both worlds without any sacrifice?

    Thanks, and sweet books.

  11. This totally goes against the “high intensity route to endurance” put forward in the 4 Hour Body? So which is optimal? Whatever happened to that ultra you were gonna run? I am confuzzled…..

    1. Yes!!!

      Exactly. This is the oposite of that is in 4HB. Not that it surprises me because I train more like victor. However I do want to know what happened to your Ultra-run. Did you finish it and what time did you get?

  12. Hey Tim thanks for sharing this great blog post. It has been hard to train within my limits and have lately kind of understand how to train within my limits. Timely blog post to remind me to train within my limits. BTW, HARDSTYLE RULES!!!! (:

  13. Tim, may have missed it but never saw the results from your Ultra training. How did the CrossFit Endurance protocol work for you?

  14. The Breathing Thing is A fantastic Russian “secret” for improving your cardiovascular and pulmonary physiology. It’s all about adapting to HIGHER carbon dioxide levels in the blood instead of always worrying about getting more O2 its actually the opposite. Remember: Hemoglobin doesn’t let go of oxygen to the tissues unless there’s CO2 there. So you may have saturated Hemoglobin but experiencing signs of oxygen deficiency. Instead of brute force big breaths like logically you’d think….Nasal breathing, slower breaths, and tolerating higher CO2 levels is the key.

    I just attended a seminar on Hypocapnia which is the medical term for ‘hyperventilation syndrome’ …We are only just beginning to appreciate the clinical effects. They often go misdiagnosed and over medicated when really its a breathing issue. We got hooked up to a machine that measures blood carbon dioxide levels (optimal physiology being 35-45) …doc after doc got up there 35, 30, 32, 36, 33, 37 ..they all experienced the signs and symptoms but thought they were fine. I had been training via the Buteyko method from the Russians (the best way to learn to breath correctly I’ve found) and I went and hooked up and BAM ..43! The highest he had seen and I hadn’t done any ‘cardio’ or specific breathing training in months. This PhD was trying to teach the Low subjects to condition their breathing…it didn’t work that well…so I told him about Buteyko. Check it out if you have asthma, recurring headaches, random panic attacks, dizzy, fatigue, nausea, and as always I’m not your doc. But then again its really simple breathing basically while pinching your nose halfway to get used to having elevated CO2 levels in your lungs until your breathing levels get better.

    Enjoy and THanks Tim for the Great Content,

    Christian Carroll

    1. Thanks for sharing that. In internal martial arts nasal breathing is the rule. I naturally did it on my jogs to keep the body warm, loose, and full of steam. It’s also a good way to conserve water.

      Good to hear some additional scientific theory behind it.

  15. Hi Tim,

    Interesting excerpt. I have found the same thing to be true by observation in my own training. Trying to force a pr can much of the time lead to an overactivation of the defense mechanism. Balance and learning to have fun is actually part of high level athletic mental process. I have also found that if i literally laugh in training I’m probably going to PR or have great training that day. Loved both your books looking forward to the third. I dont run much but I have taken the kb swing and many other “muscular cardio” implements to the marathon level while at the same time building maximum strength. The old fable that you cant have strength and endurance together is dying and new pathways are being built in that arena. Thanks again for your work.

    Bud Jeffries

  16. Interesting article, especially as the 4hr body, which I loved, talks so much about high-intensity workouts, like Crossfit and sprint intervals, for improving endurance, whereas Victor subscribes almost to the opposite. The question is which gets better results and which is better for injury prevention? Or do both have a place in endurance training? Victor also raises the question whether workouts should be kept simple and only a few basic exercises used over and over or does the Crossfit approach – different workout every day – bring about more rapid improvement?

    I certainly agree with Victor’s observation that focusing on the process rather than the result can bring about better results through less tension. It’s as simple as saying ‘stay in the moment’ or ‘be present’.

  17. That guy is like a super hero.

    I can’t imagine running that long and maintaining your breathing rate. That’s amazing self control. It’s definitely getting too cold here to just be nose-breathing, but maybe I test out the handkerchief in the teeth, or try my luck on treadmill the next time I’m at the gym.

  18. Tim,

    Do you feel the Fueling aspect of Victor’s endurance events is counter to the slowcarb approach you advise? I’ve been using Vitargo all year for long distance cycling and racing (besides slowcarb) and it’s worked really well. I haven’t even required large amounts of Vitargo for 150-200km rides.

    Interested in your thoughts on this compared to Victor’s approach.

  19. I love your theories and have bought your books, but I take issue with one of them – the notion that you can become a good marathoner and ultra-runner off low mileage, Tabata sprints and suchlike. Yes, quality often beats quantity when it comes to training, but there is certainly no “easy way”. At some point, you have to put the miles in – as simple as that.

    The Four-Hour Body prided itself on research, studies and stats, but the thing about running is that there have been zillions of “experiments” over the past century or more, as the training of grassroots runners and also every Olympic champion or world record-holder has been scrutinised and tweaked to bring us to where we are today.

    Honestly, try telling women’s marathon world record-holder Paula Radcliffe (2:15:25) that 30 miles per week, running slowly and breathing through your nose is the way to go and I am sure she would laugh. Paula and top male runners like Haile Gebrselassie know there is only one way: you run as many miles as you can, as fast as you can, without getting injured.

    All top marathoners run about 100-150 miles per week, including very hard and long sessions. If beginners lurched into this kind of schedule, they would get injured straight away. The top runners have slowly built up to it over a decade or more.

    With marathons and ultra-marathons, there is no ‘easy’ way and I am afraid you are fooling your Four-Hour disciples if you suggest otherwise.

    ps: I have edited a track and field athletics magazine for 10 years and covered three Olympics. I’m also a former 1:54 800m runner and Hawaii Ironman finisher.

    1. This most obviously isn’t an instructional manual for professional-level athletics, and the author isn’t posturing as such….

    2. I tend to agree with Jason. If you wan’t to go long and relatively fast there is no substitute for milage. It’s pretty easy to just look at the ultra marathon scene, Im certain you won’t find any “outliers” that performs well without alot of training.

      With that said, I don’t think it’s possible to complete ultra marathons with a few shorter runs and a longer one per week. But I doubt he is a top performer in any way…

      I have ran two ultras this year, two marathons and a bunch of shorter races. “Finishing” is only a small challenge compared to finishing with a good time. When looking through results from alot of the ultras many people are finishing in almost walking pace, to me that is a failure.

  20. Hi Guys,

    i’ve read it often, that people claim variety or crosstraining helps injury prevention. Is that true? Does anyone know what kind of logic is behind this?

    The only idea i have is, that it can help to prevent musculare dysbalances…

    Are there sports somebody would recommend?

  21. Huge fan of Dan’s stuff.  After hearing his interview with Jim Laird I took a break from lifting and did a block of just carries for a while (farmers walks, suitcase carries, slosh pipe, sand bags, etc.) for a way to get slower cardio without being quite so bored out of my mind.  This stuff gets more often used for finishers but it makes for a pretty decent warmup or in my case, kind of an accumulation phase.  Its also a good excuse to get in some unilateral work which we never get enough of.  45 minutes of this at 135+bpm, barefoot on the AstroTurf, while blasting some pandora, and you feel pretty awesome.

    You should definitely have more Dan and Pavel on the blog.  Btw here’s Jim’s interview

  22. Very thought provoking Tim, thanks for posting. I’m going to have to give this some consideration and read their book. I have a massive overtraining issue. My martial arts instructor was the first to alert me to it years ago. I burn out so fast, and am so sore I have to take days off. Particularly now that I’m out of shape and trying to get back in good condition. My brain keeps pressing me to do what I used to be able to do, and then something gets hurt, or I feel so horrible after training that I can’t motivate myself to do it again soon. Unfortunately I rarely feel any pain or discomfort until the next day, so I’m find it hard to know where to draw the line.

    Do you have any further suggestions for how to limit yourself to what is safe and healthy when training?

  23. Just incredible… Can’t imagine running a few miles on nose breathing alone (let alone 20+), but I love the idea of the “holding water in your mouth” trick. Very useful, and very inspiring 🙂

    1. Nose-breathing has actually been advocated since the 80s. It may have been Phil Maffetone who made the recommendation or someone else, but, for mega-distance it apparently is quite effective.

      1. Phil Maffetone’s book, “Everybody is an Athlete” changed my life in several ways. John’s work might be the same theme, but has been developed from a tradition far older than Maffetones. This is not to denigrate either, it’s just that you will find that several schools of training often come to the same principles at the same time…like in the last century when schools of movement came from just about every nation and the connections are all pretty amazing, but there was almost no conversation between the principles.

  24. This is a cool post. I read a book called Born to Run, about long endurence races like the one at Death Valley and Leadville. The basic story line, true story, was that the author tries to track down the Taraumara (Please excuse spelling) Indians in the canyon lands of northern Mexico. This tribe has been fabled to be the world’s greatest runners, beating Leadville’s best wearing sandals. As the author tries to unlock the secrets of their amazing endurance, he finds that because these Indians have the most fun while they are running, do not time each other, and don’t over work themselves, they are able to run incredible distances. Maybe enjoyment is the real key to sports success.

    1. Yes I believe this is what I want to try next.

      I am just going to run and train everything I want to doas hard as I want to do it out of the joy of using my body.

      I used to be a competetive gymnast and I had a saying, if you ask your body politely to grow, it will thinkk about it and then it will do it. If you demand a response from your body it just tells you to get lost.

      Perhaps the spiritual part of training is what has not been addressed in Tims work.

      ie people heal themselves of cancer, happy thoughts can turn around injuries etc.

      I would love to see more of this kind of topic.

  25. I think this is a very good article.

    One word of caution. The aforementioned strategy was used by a well-trained athlete. For someone not as well trained or completely untrained to start on a program like the above would probably be ineffective or a complete disaster. This is a BIG factor.

  26. Hi Tim,

    Consistency and Moderation over intensity. You know, when I began lifting weights again several years ago instead of going “balls to the wall” with it I decided to take a softer, gentler approach.

    I worked out slow and easy instead of fast and frantic and I gained massive results in about a month.

    Working out this way made me “enjoy the process” a lot more because I wasn’t adding any additional stress chemicals to my body.

  27. What struck me was that he wrote variety helps him to stay injury free.

    I would love to hear some ideas about crosstraining. Does anoybody know the logic behind it? Does it help to prevent musculare dysbalances? I am not aware of some studies.

    I can remember the prehab – chapter in the 4 hour body, but it is interesting if specific sport arts are prefered (yoga?).

  28. Thanks for this post Tim. Perfect timing!

    I’ve been wondering about endurance training and the most effective way to train for it.

    I have a friend who swears by short high intensity interval training. He’s always telling me that even though he only runs a short distance, albeit sprinting, that he could do well in a marathon or even an ultra-marathon.

    He has yet to put his money where his mouth is, so I am not so sure.

    I’ve been doing a mix of HIT cardio and also the more traditional longer runs and swims at 70% heart rate.

    Thanks for the resources, gonna checkout pavel’s book.

  29. Tim, when are we going to hear how your training went for the marathon. The four hour body/blog/ultra link leads to a coming soon page.

  30. Great article. Excellent article.

    Makes a lot of sense. Why didn’t I think of that…

    The low breath rate is also linked to healing as well.

  31. Tim,

    A couple of quick notes a bit off the main topic: Pavel was not a Spetsnaz instructor or did he get a Master of Sports (believe that was the title that he used). Several years ago, one of the long time RKC instructors that either left or was let go from Dragon Door wrote an extended piece on a site about this. John DuCane and Pavel later provided an admission on the Dragon Door website and the whole controversy quietly went away after a few months.

    Also, Kettlebells are originally from Scotland, via the Highland Games, which found their way into Europe and eventually Russia. Claims that KBs are of Russian origin, according to several strength historians, is allegedly not correct.

    1. Here is what this says:

      “Pavel Tsatsouline is a former Soviet Special Forces physical training instructor, currently a subject matter expert to the US Navy SEALs and the US Secret Service. In 2001, Pavel’s and John Du Cane introduced the Russian kettlebell to the West.”

      So, much of your post seems like an attack on Pavel or whatever…

      And, as a Highland Gamer, I am not so sure about this history. It’s like the story (stories) of the caber toss and what I was told at one of the biggest HGs in the world by the announcer: “You can tell I am making this up because my mouth is moving.”

  32. I have a lifelong history of asthma and the nose-breathing tip has been a Godsend. I practice it during my kettlebell swings.

    There is at least one school of thought about asthma – Russian, of course – that theorizes asthma as closely resembling chronic hyper-ventilation. Nose-breathing fits right into this approach of reversing asthma’s symptoms.

    Google “Buteyko” for more.


  33. That little comment, “Marathon is bad” or whatever, needs a bit of fine tuning. If someone’s career or income depends upon running, I need to have some tools to help. With some of the people that I work with, they need to go long distances with large loads, then bring some serious intensity upon their target. So, we need to have tools for them.

    Also, as a track coach, I have people, where is Bruce when I need him?, who are literally “Born to Run.” So, they need me to provide a tool kit. Now, I’m certainly no expert on running, but I was a head track coach for years and this approach above is “pretty good,” especially for a lifelong view of reducing pain and strain.

    There is much more to “Easy Strength” than this, of course, but it is a fun part of the book that is not about barbells, loading, kettlebells, peaking, and lifting massive weights…which is why I enjoyed it so much. It sounds odd, but when we discuss lifting, it’s rare than I pick up something that radically changes the way I view the universe. But, five minutes with a coach from another sport or discipline and my brain is expanded…

    Just a point I wanted to make. One other thing from my career in theology and religion: try not to make “good” or “bad/evil” about any kind of training tool…literally everything has its place sooner or later. Now, for me, Marathon running is “later,” and I love answering the question: “Dan, do you run?” with “From what?”

  34. Thanks for sharing the information Tim! Much appreciate all the work you do as always.

    I totally agree that the process is key and EFFORT is not the greatest factor. Not even close.

    As pointed out, efficiency is key.

    For some, monitoring results in the short term will lead to poor decision making and it is best to not monitor results for some time.

    But, most people I see in the gyms are not measuring anything!

    How many even write a single note during training? I would argue that measuring some type of result will lead to faster changes.

    With some training, it is entirely possible to set a new PR (personal record) in the gym for volume, density (vol/time) and/or intensity at every session.

    That becomes results based motivation!

    Rock on

    Mike T Nelson PhD(c)

  35. Speaking of…… Where is the fourhourbody/ultra link?

    It has been saying “coming soon” ever since I read the book. How about a short explanation, if the data isn´t ready?

    Thanks for stimulating content!

    1. Hi Torben,

      Sure thing. Here’s the unfortunate update: terrible plantar fasciitis in the right leg. Not at all caused by running, but rather wearing Terra Plana shoes on cobblestone streets in Europe for a month. Still on the mend.

      Will keep you all posted,


      1. Hey Tim,

        I’ve been using Terra Plana shoes everyday living in China. Pretty hard on the feet walking multiple kilometers daily in those things on concrete. Soar soles every morning for a while there. However, learning to tread lightly without looking weird or sacrificing much speed has been a rewarding experience. One strategy for me was slowing down in order to get the body mechanics right and then pushing the speed/pain limit from there. Throwing on a heavy pack ratchets up the difficulty level.

        Wish you a speedy recovery. Don’t know what you’re doing but a nightly hot foot bath could probably help out quite a bit. Bring the water level to a couple inches above the ankles and soak for 20 minutes or so. The feet should be nice and rosy. Then apply some form of compression for another 20 minutes and get some sleep. Would be better with herbs, but the hot water alone can work wonders.

        I know that many doctors suggest ice for pretty much every inflammatory condition. But I really don’t recommend it. I wont go into detail here but healthy tendons/fascia should be warm, strong and supple. Inflammation is a healing response, chronic inflammation is a healing response that can’t quite finish the job. Like a roller coaster struggling to climb that big starter peak, help push it up a little more and then it will come plummeting down. Using ice is like pushing the cars backwards back down the lift. And in the end, healing the scar tissue resultant from icing is much harder than healing the original inflammation. Even for acute inflammations there are better ways.

        Be well.

      2. My experience recently has taught me that it is not the thickness of the sole in a shoe that encourages proper technique or builds strength…it is the amount of heel drop. I injured my heel running in thin sandals Tarahumara style. My heel hit a large stone hard. I developed a serious case of plantar fasciitis afterwards in that leg. I had to put away all minimal style shoes and make more technique adjustments. I went to shoes that were padded but had zero drop and the injury cleared up in a few weeks (about 5). I started wearing Altra Instincts and I didn’t miss a day of training. My first run in the Altras was 18 miles and my second run was 20 with no problems. They are zero drop, but padded enough to help me deal with the injury in a gentler fashion without quitting training. I also feel the continuation of training contributed to the healing process. I still use VFF and the NB Minimus to take long hikes in the desert, but I stay clear of the minimal shoes for trail running…just my take.

  36. Thanks for posting this piece! With a background in contemplative practices (meditation, tai chi, etc.) I intuitively used the nose breathing technique when I began ultramarathon training 5 years ago, but It’s nice to see there’s some basis to this. Now with the help of the 4 hour body, I’m pairing down my training to use only the minimum effective dose and can’t thank you enough for the introduction to kettlebells! You continue to impress and inspire. Thanks and keep it up!


    PS – Any word on who gets those 50 Kindle Fires?

  37. This is a cool write up, I’ve seen people who benefit from this style training. I am interested in trying out this kind of stuff when training for my next ironman and comparing it to the results that I got when I used to just have endless hours to train. It would be awesome if you could score an interview with Chrissie Wellington because she is awesome and has amazing endurance fitness. I’m sure it would be interesting to see what kind of questions you could have her answer.

  38. My wife was going to buy your book but i said ‘just run 5 miles each morning’, she now does this and is very skinny.

    I did a 95/5 analysis 🙂

  39. “Consistency and moderation over intensity.” WOW even outside of the context of training, this is probably the most relevant quote I’ve read in, well, ever. Intensity is the cornerstone of my personality… Thanks for the new mantra.

  40. Tim,

    Great post. Really cool information. Glad that dude is on our side. Have you ever looked at any of the training info from “Gymnastic Bodies”? I think you’d be pretty fascinated by that. Especially the sort of strength required for what look to be pretty straight forward static positions.

  41. Interesting article, BUT I stopped reading as soon as I read the line about not keeping score. That’s the last thing anyone needs in their life or this country…another liberal “we’re all winners, gets all get a participation trophy.” No, results MATTER. period. In business, life, and war. The enjoying the ride is one thing, but you need to be attached to results if you’re not going to be just an also ran in life.

  42. Seriously Tim, that is the best philosophy I’ve heard and one that I can definitely live by: “Consistency and moderation over intensity”. Just love it ’cause it can be applied to nearly all facets of life.Thanks for sharing.

  43. Great post. I’m training for an ultra marathon now and my coach says the same thing. Managing the effort using a heart rate monitor is key to not overtraining. I also think strength training has a lot to do with this since it’s a lot more painful to run 20 miles in 6 hours than it is in 4 hours and strength has a lot to do with speed.

  44. So “Victor” would recommend “a weekly long run (3+ hours) with a low HR and a weekly trail run (50-min)” (combined with strength training?) if you’re training for an ultramarathon? Seriously?

    P.S. what’s “Victor”s height?

  45. I read about the loving the process vs. waiting for the outcome in a similar book called “Stillpower” by Garrett Kramer. Great stuff all around.

  46. Tim,

    Thank you so much for mentioning Evernote.

    Since I began using it I have been able to write down all of those sparks of creativity, some 40 different muse ideas!

    Thank you so much man,

    We’re Not Worthy!

  47. Hey Tim,

    Another great article on the “less is more” concept. I read and adhered to the 4HB for about two months this year. It really opened my eyes. I lost a lot of fat, gained about 10lbs of muscle, and never really worked that hard. I am now doing the workout that Daniel Craig used for the first 007 and it is a LOT more work. I think I will read “Easy Strength” next. Keep up the good work.

  48. so I see that some of the info is attributed to being from Dan and Pavels new book, how much? as I may be interested in purchasing the book

  49. How timely!! I have been studying the SEALs over the last few years and even now this week recommitted to learn more about how they train to endure mentally and physically. Was just looking at a book about the SEALs at Barnes an hour ago. Thanks for the info Tim!

  50. I’m sorry, but I have to ask; why does everyone assume that “Victor” is a real person? I’m a big fan of this blog and Pavel. But this post is entirely unsubstantiated. Not to mention, it’s a thinly veiled infomercial for this Hammer company. A rare miss for you, Tim.

    1. The book, “Easy Strength” is dedicated to my friend (and Pavel’s). He was a Navy SEAL and we held up the publication of the book after we heard about his death. I have lost several friends the past few years and we are always asked to not use names or pictures of their faces to save retribution here on American soil. I know “Victor,” by the way. I don’t even know how to respond to an allegation like this, but I will let Tim handle it on his turf/blog.

      I know that we can type anything we want on the Internet, but you made a pretty serious allegation and you have nothing save your opinion to back it up.

    2. Hi Kyle,

      Thanks for the comment. In fairness, just because Pavel or John can’t prove the existence of “Victor” to your satisfaction, doesn’t make him non-existent.

      The Hammer mentions also got my attention, but — given my history with Pavel and years of knowing him — I have no reason to expect anything but fact and integrity. Whenever I’ve given him the benefit of the doubt, he’s delivered, so I trust him (and Dan) here.

      Just my 2 cents,


  51. awesome awesome awesome!


    key mashingly good!

    I’ve been suspecting easier is better after reading the Tao Te Ching, but never saw any evidence to support it… until now.

  52. Wait, did you say that Ayurveda was new age? My understanding is that the science of Ayurveda is over 5000 years old and is a sister science to yoga. Just like Chinese medicine, Ayurvedic medicine works on the principles of energetics and nadis (like meridians) in the body. Just sayin’.

  53. “For someone not as well trained… the above would probably be ineffective or a complete disaster.”

    I infer the opposite. The nose breathing is a built-in rate limiter, enforcing low intensity, which in turn enforces slow buildup, which in turn limits injury and prevents competing before you’re ready.

    Not to say it would be easy or painless. The untrained runner would feel asphyxiated during even mild workouts initially. But this would focus the entire workout on pulmonary development first, then cardio, then muscular. For the rank beginner, it would seem to work from the inside out, rather than the reverse.

  54. I’ve been really noticing the differences between breathing through your mouth vs. your nose on my morning runs. I’ve always heard about stomach breathing- in through the nose out through the mouth. It seems to help with cramps much of the time. Any opinion on the matter?

    Also: If ANYONE has experience dealing with foreign manufacturers, specifically:

    1. Plastic injection

    2. Getting all product “ingredients” to one manufacturer

    …I would be greatly indebted to you and would appreciate any wisdom you could impart. Email me any time. I’ve got a lot to learn!

    All the best,


  55. Hi Tim,

    In your Twitter feed you recently linked to an article on the potential therapeutic uses of “magic mushrooms”, including for cluster headaches. I’d never heard of cluster headaches before, and when I looked them up on Wikipedia I was struck by the thought that helping sufferers must surely be one of the most urgent causes in the world. For those that don’t know, a cluster headache is thought to be the most painful experience known to exist, and they can occur to people several times for a day for years on end. It’s tragic that:

    1) So many people are ignorant of the condition, including – apparently – doctors, and

    2) Many sufferers don’t have access to the medication.

    A potential subject for a future blog post to raise awareness?

    This is a wonderful post, by the way! The dictum “consistency and moderation over intensity” could be usefully applied to almost any worthwhile pursuit. It reminds me of Goethe’s “Ohne Hast, aber ohne Rast”.



  56. Tim,

    Where do you find these people that write such AMAZING posts on here! Everytime I read a new post on your blog, I want to read it twice more. I feel like I have so much to learn about fitness and balance after reading this post. I am always trying so hard to push myself harder with my workouts, I sometimes forget about my long-term goal of staying fit, and injury-free for a lifetime. I like the part about knowing when to go easier and when to back off. I am not much of an endurance athlete, yet I now want to read “Body, Mind, and Sport” after reading this post!

  57. Dunno about the long term effects of this nose breathing thing, but at first try, it’s awesome. Even though it meant that I had to go uphill at funeral march pace. Everybody, try it today!

  58. Another way to ensure that you breathe through your nose is to do your running while wearing your mouthguard.

    More practical than running with a mouthful of water, especially on longer distances.

    Not only does it keep you breathing through your nose, but also trains you to keep your mouth closed for combat sports, assuming you enjoy that kind of thing (ie boxing, mma, etc).

    I can tell you from experience, it stinks to get punched in the jaw while breathing through the mouth;; surprisingly, the bone ends up hitting the inner ear and other nastiness.

  59. Brief summary of this post:

    Breathe deep (through the nose) and do your task as though no one was taking score.

    Sounds like a decent mantra for life.

  60. I hadn’t realize how important it was to breath through the nose. I have allergy, so it’s not easy for me. I will investigate for ways to deal with it…

    I just signed in for my first marathon and will be sure to put a few of these teaching to the test during my training! Thanks 🙂

  61. Consistency and moderation plus variety finally dawned on me after I got a personal trainer and realised that strenuous daily workouts at the gym didn`t deliver. Excellent reminder.

    Tim, I bought your book in print and I cannot find the passwords that you mention at the end of the book. Could you please help?

  62. On the breathing through the nose, it is really crucial for good health even though people get accustomed to the bad habit of breathing through the mouth already in childhood. Breathing through the nose helps keep the tongue in the correct position on the palate just behind the ridge of the upper front teeth. It also blocks bacteria and germs from easily entering the body through the mouth where access is unobstructed.

  63. Dear Tim,

    Good morning. This is Kyle. I’m from the Philippines. This is general inquiry and a curious case of well, curiosity. I know that you are a fan of organization and working closely on the dynamics of everyday life. The Slow Carb Diet and the chapter on making a Perfect Posterior are one of my favorites. “Ice Age” was also cool (no pun intended) Unlike Gary Taubes, you have a way of synthezing information that is more personal and well, really tested as well. I don’t dispute Gary but I can see the process with you more. Reading this post and filling the void right now, I’m happy to see that you put forth the power of minimalist (perhaps taking a mark bittman approach?) to cooking in 4 Hour Chef. The most empowering thing I got from you Tim has been that one can influence the hand they have been dealt with especially genetics. I’d like then to propose (not of arrogance) but simply if it can be done.

    1. Can Buffalo Humps be reversed at a later point in life? (my age is twenty two right now and they say it’s genetic)

    2. What is the real cause of “man boobs” or is it too late to reduce it once gynecomastia is already there? (Along with me and overweightness, I see friends who are lean yet have these boobs.)

    3. Is there really a way to increase penis size naturally after puberty? (the evidence seems bible right now to state that once this stage has passed, it’s lost. Just hopes your son–when he hits nine–starts training like paleo guys and engaging in resistance and eating a mega healthy diet so that when he gets to college he’ll not only be tarzan but the great stallion as well.)

    I am sorry to disturb a busy schedule like yours Tim but you’ve been an inspiration and a true scientist. I’ve tried to track the numbers on each one but perhaps i’m asking the wrong questions (as Gary Taubes would say) and I screwed up. If help could be given, I’d really be grateful. Namaste. Thank you Tim!

  64. Hey Tim, loved your take on this, which is such a strong message that comes from Pavel and the RKC school. What’s so cool, is that this is how I also train athletes, and is my philosophy. We’re building a business based upon fundamental movement quality and holistic smart training for endurance athletes, with this philosophy at its “core,” and would love to see you some time. Check us out: [URL removed] Thanks again! Keep up the great work!

  65. Tim,

    I’m sure you’ve heard this argument before, but buying shares of Facebook on the second market does not make you an investor. You are simply a shareholder. An investor invests in the company, and when you purchase shares on the second market none of that money goes to the company. It’s a sleezy way to call yourself an investor by simply purchasing shares.

    You obviously feel differently, but you usually err on the side of caution, which is why it surprises me you choose to go this route.


  66. Non-competitive high intensity training has hidden dangers and simple solutions.

    Most high intensity sports have an off-season where their athletes can partially recover from accumulated stress. Parkour (my specialty), crossfit, ultra sports, etc. These sports attract stoic types who, long-term, tend towards dedication and, because of this, overtraining.

    Some easy ways to overcome this:

    1. Fish oil high in EPA to combat inflammation

    2. Seasonalize your training, e.g. 3 months on – 3 months off

    3. Off season is for building your aerobic base with long, slow, aerobic heart-rate training (capilliarization and mitochondrial growth is essential to life-long health and athletic performance)

    4. Regular myofaschial release

    5. Diet is obviously essential at all times – no binge days during the on-season.

    Tim, you need a way for us to rate comments! Even though it’s great to keep in touch with where people are at in their thinking, it is hard to find time to read through everything.

    Hope there’s something useful in this for y’all 🙂

  67. G’day Tim,

    Just discovered your blog – great stuff.

    I was one of those non-professional athletes who devoured John Douillard’s book in the mid 90’s. I was competing in triathlons [had done for 10 years] as an age group plodder. Great swim, okay bike, rubbish run. I’m not built as a runner, and triathlon was morphing from a swimmer’s race to a runner’s race. It’s harder to put time into the filed in a swim, and maintain it over the race, than it is to come out of the field near the front of the swim [for a non-swimmer in a wetsuit] and gain lots of time back over the next 2-4 hours on the bike leg.

    I need to lift my ruin speed and reduce the Herculean effort to drag my large frame around the bike and run course. I had a lot of muscle left, but not enough oxygen.

    Enter John Douillard.

    I had to step back a lot and learn the whole nasal breathing from scratch. I got passed by everyone as I walked a lot of early runs. Talk about swallowing my pride.

    However I soon picked up and surpassed the level I was at. I could knock over 1.5-2 hour run with a heart rate maintained at around 125-130. Increasing on the hard bits and hills and reducing back to the right level. Nasal breathing almost the entire way.

    I have had several years of limited training [work etc] and am now focused on getting back to a competitive level. I know what the goal is, where I need to get to, to be competitive .be in my age group. Exactly what time the bike and the run need to be combined with a good swim to get me in the top 3 in my age group, whichever length I attempt. And there are lots of great runners out there who can smash my run times.

    So back to John Douillard to recover the heart rate [and oxygen] I know I can to get to the level I want. My resting rate [on waking] is around 35-38, and during the day [on resting/seating] around 42-45. On the bike I can keep it around 110-120 and smash out a hill climb to 160, and then back again to 120-130. Even if I am not nasal breathing all the time, the body has learned what I want it to do, instead of just rocket to 75-80%.

    I started investigating ways to improve my run times and reduce further potential impact and repetition injuries. Over the last few years I developed tendonitis in the 4th metatarsal in my right foot. All the doctors and specialists have come up with all sorts of diagnoses [mostly spurious or ineffective] as to what it is and why. I know exactly where it is and why. Body mechanics, running gait, foot placement and resulting muscle tightness. I have always overcome any injury by being extremely aware of my body, muscle strengthening and often massage [either by a masseur or myself before and after exercise]. JD’s ‘salute to the sun’ regime is an integral part of my pre training and competing warm-up. Getting the body set to manage the heart rate is key.

    After a long search I have set on what I believe to be the running methodology that makes complete sense to me [much like discovering JD 20 years ago] and ties in with my view of body mechanics and an efficient use of my body mass and ties in with some of Arthur Lydiard’s philosophy [look him up – Kiwi running coach from the 50’s and 60’s].

    It’s Pose running.

    I have located a coach within a few hours of me and after one session and a few drills I was blown away by the change. He is a similar age 55-59 age group and running quickly and efficiently – injury free.

    It is going to require the same 3 steps backward to take several giant steps forward. But that’s okay. The hardest thing is overcoming years of inbuilt habits and intuition to allow the new ideas in. In much the same way as trudging around my run and seeing everyone pass me, while I worked on my nasal breathing, I’ll bit the bullet again.

    There is no soft option; all my competitors are not dropping like flies to leave me to cross the finish line first – like I thought they might when I started in the mid 80’s. With every increase in age group it becomes more and more competitive. It is now clearly a small man’s sport, those designed for cycling and running, so I have to work harder than ever to be competitive.

    And that’s fine, the added bonus is I will lose lots of unwanted weight, I’ll stay fit, and I will feel very satisfied with my achievements. Including giving those young guys a belting on the bike.

    John Douillard and Pose Running – come on the age group world’s.. let’s have ya!

    Great blog, Tim

  68. Interesting article, BUT I stopped reading as soon as I read the line about not keeping score. Explain please?…

    1. The notion of not keeping score frees yourself to make mistakes. Thereby, releasing the internal tension caused by strictly focusing on the end result. This leads your body to relax and ultimately do better than if you were keeping score.

      This works in all aspects of life from exercise to business to chess. Hope that helped.

  69. Tim,

    In this age of the internet there are scads of people who accumulate and re-process information. Your posts on physical fitness and’ frankly, the entirety of the 4 hr body in particular crystalize this. I’d like to hear more from your intuitive self…

  70. Help!

    I have a half marathon in February and even though I’ve done a couple, it’s been years and my fitness is not what it should be.

    Unlike the people who question the methods Tim outlines, I’m going to try them for myself and see if the HIT and crossfit training can do the trick. Then I’ll know for myself.

    I need help though in that my copy of 4HB is a kindle version on my PC, for the life of me, I can’t seem to read the training schedule (for a start it’s sideways but it’s also tiny and exporting the image and expanding doesn’t help).

    Is the schedule available as a resource here anywhere? I can’t seem to find it. Would really make a difference if I could actually read the content of the schedule and put the plan into action.

    I’ll give an update post race day, presently I’ve run about 4 times, between 3-5 miles at a lame 9 min per mile speed.

    appreciate it everyone!!!


  71. Hey Tim

    After starting my business and doing really well, I am completely free for approximately 6 months of the year. Thanks once again for writing your books. Love them!

    During my downtime, I came up with a fabulous idea for allowing fellow 4hww travelers a way to visit many places economically. It would take some coordination which I am more than willing to do. I’d love to send you the idea if you are interested. I can be reached here: pjensencontentment at gmail dot com



  72. Wishing you rapid recovery on the plantar fascii..-illness.

    Personal advocate of running and being consistent is way more important than giving it your all as the later will ruin the experience after one attempt.

    Kind Regards,


  73. Hi Tim I am a fan of the 4 hour body and you have motivated me to experiment with possible solutions for my problems. I thought you might find this interesting. For acne I started juicing raw potatoes. I had severe cystic acne for 10 years and I juice now 4 raw potatoes and mix with apples for flavor and my acne is 90 percent better. It could be the high potassium, however I have heard the potato juice neutralizes acid in the gut that is like a domino in the process of creating a acne breakout. Also I suffered from eczema for years and the potato juice has helped partially, but a good amount of redness still remained. I started adding in 6000 units of vitamin d and the redness is almost completely gone .

    Problem 2- phobias.

    I have had with phobias since I was a kid. And I tried many anxiety reducing techniques however phobias are just not anxiety, its a group of associations creating something in NLP called emotional amplification and it distorts perception and makes things feel even worse. I cured myself of phobias from using 3D mind from essential skiils. From my experience its the fastest mental change tool Ive come across. Its truly a way to hack mental problems and change them quick compared to traditional forms of psychological treatment.

  74. There is a study published in the “European Heart Journal” [1] that suggests that for some individuals over exertion during exercise may actually cause damage in the right ventricle of the heart. The press release is on eurekalert if anyone is interested.

    This article by Tim and the heart journal study have prompted me to tone down my daily morning walk up 2000 flights of stairs with 12lb dumbbells. From now on I will practice nose breathing to ensure I don’t over do it.

    [1] “Exercise induced right ventricular dysfunction and structural remodelling in endurance athletes”. European Heart Journal

  75. Hi, Tim, Pavel, and Dan. Just wanted to say thanks to the three of you for all the light you’ve shed on training for me over the years. In a world filled with snake oil salesmen, you guys are delivering the real goods, and have directly contributed to me becoming better. Power To The People led to my first pull of 405, and eventually, to pulling 463 in competition. I am currently training in the way you describe in the article, and having great success. I, too, incorporate yoga in my life (to the chagrin of some of my oil rig coworkers) and it has turned back the clock on my body and allowed me to work in a field that is not suited to most 37 year old men.

    Thanks again, and please keep up the good work. By the way, any tips for dealing with wrist/elbow/shoulder pain caused by my work? Ignoring it is becoming increasingly harder.

    1. Thank you for your kind words, Kyle! Good pulling!

      Do not take any grief from your coworkers about yoga. They would be shocked to find out how many hard men in the special operations community practice it to balance out the hard exercise they do.

      As for your shoulders, elbows, and wrists, you need to see a sports doc who works with high level athletes.

  76. Wow, I did my own smaller version of this training already. I averaged 15 miles/week running leading up to a 50 k trail race. I did a couple of long hikes (22 and 37 miles each), and lots of yoga. According to my Garmin activity logs and compared to the amount of yoga classes I went to, both came in at 56 hours in the 3 months before the race. Core strength and just being strong in general can get you a long ways when it comes to running.

  77. Tim,

    I’m a huge fan and always inspired by the learning shortcuts and hacks you write about. I’ve seen all of your lectures and read all of your articles on rapid learning and understand the 4 principles of rapid learning. I’m always trying to use them in my own life but my only question is how do you always manage to find those people that are “surprisingly good?” My biggest concern, and I believe the same problem facing most people, is how do you find these people that are really good at something but shouldn’t be? How do you find the 120lb girl who deadlifts 420lbs kind of people?

  78. @Pavel and John.

    I tried running with water in my mouth today. IT SUCKED, but in the end I feel that it was worth it. I run 2-3 miles every morning, with mouth-breathing. I made it 1.5 miles with the water in my mouth before it was warm and mixed with saliva and I decided to just swallow it.

    I have a video sample of my breathing and it’s rather loud and labored sounding, if anyone is interested in hearing.

    Later that same day I did Yoga and I feel that I really unlocked some postures that I couldn’t before due to deeper, more-controlled breaths.

  79. Great article. Less definitely is more.

    In the spring, I broke the Guinness World Record for the most holes of disc golf in 24 hours. I know I know, kinda weird. So, I walked for 24 hours straight, somewhere between 65-75 miles, which was freakin hard. I literally did NO distance training for this. none. I did sprints mixed in with kettlebells a few times a week and that was it. My friend who runs distance almost everyday (who planned on setting the record with me, and started with me) literally almost died of exhaustion after 12 hours and had to be taken to the hospital. I know that is just one example, but it shows that smart training instead of just “hard” training will make all the difference in the world.

  80. Great article, thanks. I saw a couple comments include reference to the martial arts and would like to expand on that. One analogy I came across was that in Qi Gong we build a sky scraper one sheet of paper at a time. Slowing down and forgetting about goals has been the key for me. As other have noted, doing too much and then burning out or getting injured always sidelined me in the past.

    But now that I’ve approached weight training by doing the least amount possible (both in amount of weight and frequency) while still getting results, I’ve been able to maintain over time. Consequently, I’ve made more progress than ever before and don’t care how much weight I can lift.

    This shift in mindset from a goal-oriented western way of thinking to a process-oriented eastern way of thinking if far more enjoyable — less really is more.

  81. Great Post Tnx!

    The article mentions not exercising more than 30min. Is that per sport? can you go over the 30min if you combine different sports (e.g. running & cycling)?

  82. I came across John Douillard’s book ten years or more ago, and have been working with nasal breathing during exercise ever since. i am a road cyclist, not a professional or a marathoner, but this year put in a lot of winter hours on the trainer working with JD’s Three-Phase Workout. What I can attest to is that a) you do not get any idea what nasal breathing is about if you just put a sock or water in your mouth and go for a run. This is something you train yourself to do over weeks or months by slowing way down and learning to stay within the limits of comfort.

    And b) the shift to exercising within the bounds of comfort produced an abundance of pleasure in exercise–and increase in performance–that I could not possibly have anticipated and which I would not easily give up.

    At this point nasal breathing during workouts–prefaced by proper and deliberate warmup–is second nature, and actually the experience of breathing comfortably during a ride is the experience I am going for, not the performance numbers. The goal has indeed become, not to ride faster than ever or faster than the others, but to ride within that bubble of comfort that produces so much bliss during and after the ride. In the process, my performance has increased significantly, and I am really only getting started.

    One piece of advice–don’t try this at home. Find a coach or practitioner who understands these methods and work with them. You will save yourself a lot of wasted time and ineffective effort.

    Best of luck,


  83. Ok, I’ve got to ask-I love the sound of nose breathing but in reality, I snot the ENTIRE time I exercise so even when my heart rate isn’t up yet, my breathing is hopeless because I can’t breathe through my nose and run at the same time.

    Does anyone else have this problem? Is there any way to stop / fix it? I’ve taken to running with a hankie and while this keeps my nose clear for nose breathing for a few minutes, it really throws off my breathing & my stride to blow my nose every few minutes & I give up & mouth breathe again.

    I know this sounds a bit gross but t’s not mucous-y & I’m not sick or fluey or anything, it’s more like a clear liquid that starts whenever I exercise. I don’t know whether it’s because I grew up in Darwin & am not used to temperatures colder than 30 degrees Centigrade (the hotter it is, the less I struggle with this) or what. Any suggestions welcome!

    1. @joanne

      that sounds frustrating. sometimes, when tim describes a new way of doing something, I get upset when i attempt it and quit. During my saturday night run, it was cold and my nose was quite snotty. I thought “to hell with it,” and publicly blew my nose into my hand a bunch of times, shaking it off before getting back to the party.

  84. I valet cars a couple nights a week for my buddy’s company ( Saturday night was a big night for a us- lots of cars, and a long run for each one.Whenever I remembered to, I focused on nose breathing. That helped, so thank you. Then what helped even more was pre-tending that I was very light, that running made me lighter and lighter…

  85. Hey Tim and everyone,

    I just read and re-read the 5K to 50K chapters in 4HB. I’ve never been into running much and was excited to try an “80/20” approach to distance running training. I was disappointed though to see how complex and non-80/20 the schedule was, with loads of different crossfit routines I’ve never heard of and don’t know how to do.

    I’m just training for fitness, not for any races, and I’d like a simple schedule I can repeat every week. Something like this:

    Monday: Intervals

    Tuesday: Weights

    Wednesday: Rest

    Thursday: Intervals

    Friday: Weights

    Saturday: Time trials

    Sunday: Rest

    Can anyone recommend what intervals to do and 4-6 basic weight lifts to focus on (with a Routine A one day and Routine B the other day, a la ‘Geek to Freak’).

    Thanks a bunch,


    1. Hi Jason,

      Since nobody has jumped in yet, I thought I’d offer something for you. Take it with a grain of salt though – I don’t really know much about you to be detailing specifics. You have to eat healthy, get decent sleep, and stay stress free for any workout plan to be effective.

      Anyone starting distance running (or fitness in anything) should really spend 12 weeks building an aerobic base before doing anything like weights and intervals. Benefits include better recovery, fat metabolism, performance, and long-term health.

      To do this, get a heart-rate monitor, walk for 20 minutes as a warm up, run at your max aerobic heart rate (180 – age), warm down 20 minutes walk again. The workout lasts as long as the time you have. Start doing this every second day until your recovery is perfect – any soreness or pain and just go for a walk. It will help.

      After this base building period you can spend 12 weeks using your suggested routine, but to be honest there’s not much point unless you are struggling to keep your heart rate high enough (just below the 180 minus age number) on your aerobic runs. It could be a nice change though – I like to cycle my training to keep interest high.

      If you really want though, I suggest a 12 week “season” of weights, intervals, and an alternative aerobic activity like cycling or swimming with only 1 or 2 days of weights, 1 day of intervals, and 2 to 3 days of aerobic training at the 180 minus age.

      Weights – dead lift or squat at 3 sets of 5 repetitions (adjust the weight so you can’t quite get all 5 of the last set without technique breaking down or just can’t with perfect technique). If you decide on weights twice a week, include an overhead press with the same 3 sets of 5.

      Intervals – Weights should take care of your anaerobic system so an interval that works your aerobic is better I think. 5 minute intervals with 5 minutes rest. Use your heart rate monitor here to maintain intensity at the right level. Warm up with 20 minutes walking and then start with 10 beats over your max aerobic heart rate (190 minus age) and perform up to 5 intervals. If you can’t maintain your higher heart rate then stop until next week. If you want a longer interval then do so but keep the rest to work ratio 1:1

      Rest days – take one after weights and one after intervals. A quality fish oil supplement (high in EPA) should take care of excessive inflammation from these high intensity workouts. A long relaxed walk is good for recovery and stress control. If you’re still sore on the aerobic training days, drop the intensity so that your heart rate is equivalent to walking pace.

      It might not seem like much of an 80-20 plan but it really is the best way forward with the most long-term benefits.

      Hope that helps, Jason. All the best!

      For more info:

      (or click on my name for more condensed info on my blog under fitness – no adverts or anything)

      1. I forgot to mention – during your aerobic base building, increase to 5 or 6 days of training if your recovery allows.

  86. Hey Tim,

    just wanted to say thanks for winning the Breville Competition! It just arrived two days before Christmas – perfect timing! 🙂

    However, I guess someone mixed up the shipping, b/c there was no Blender&Juicer but a Teamaker…

    Is there any way to get the “real” price (Juicer&Blender)..? It’s just that, nobody in my family drinks tea and the Juicer was originally planned as a present for my mum… I didnt open the packaging yet and I still have all the documents, so I can easily send it back.

    Would be great to hear back from you. I am just writing on your blog, because my e-mail must have been lost in your or amy’s inbox.

    Also, I am really looking forward to your new book! Hope the german release doesnt take as long as it took for your last one, because I am planning to give it away as a birthday present to my little brother!

  87. Love the article. “I spent the first half of my training career learning to work harder and never miss workouts, and the second half learning when to sometimes go easier and when to back off.” These words I really like. Trying to apply to my daily business life and body. I am going to perform a lonk 2K km walk this year, so lots of good tips.


  88. Interesting link to the ‘no short cuts to success’ article…

    Unlike some naysayers, I’m actually going to follow exactly the programme (or as near as I can) to run a half marathon in 6 weeks. My fitness is not what it should be this early before the race but I’m going to give it a go. The article is patronising without any evidence to the contrary which I see a lot with Tim’s stuff…. saying ‘let’s ask Paula Radcliffe’ is moronic. Tim never says anyone will break any marathon records, he just says that you’ll be able to run 50km in 12 weeks.

    The proof is in the pudding, of course, and I’ll update here the results on race day. I’m not expecting to break any records either but at present runnign five miles is a challenge and my pace is shockingly bad.

    It’s slightly disappointing that Tim hasn’t been able to demonstrate the results himself that he’s usually good at. So I’ll be a guinea pig and see if this stuff really is a shortcut, at least for those of us who aren’t professional runners


    1. Wondering how you got on, James. Did low mileage, high intensity intervals and gym work get you through a marathon or ultra marathon? I don’t wish to sound patronising, again, but I’ve never heard of a world record-breaking or Olympic medal-winning athlete who didn’t simply run lots of miles, many of which were long and hard.

  89. Good post. A friend recommended it to me.

    I read Douillard’s book in 1997 and applied it to cross country skiing and biking with good results. To this day I still practice nose breathing as much as possible and some breathing techniques from free diving.

    I loved the concept of minimal input for maximal output. I find it especially important now that I’ve turned 41. I’m in it for the long haul!

  90. I have read all the article,and i want to say thanks to you for exceptional information. It is really well and very knowledgeable.