Ask the Goat: Training for 3,100 miles

Editor’s note: Chris Knodel’s five-month run across 13 states begins Jan. 16. He starts in California and travels through Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia into Washington D.C., totaling 3,080 miles in 140 days (averaging 22 miles per day). The goal is to inspire a healthier generation and fight childhood obesity.

* Contribute to Chris’ online campaign

As early as 2013, my high-carbohydrate diet and low carbohydrate tolerance was wreaking havoc on my system.

Ask the Goat by Chris Knodel

Ask the Goat
by Chris Knodel

The surplus stresses from excessive running, poor diet and inadequate recovery in late 2012 had created a “perfect storm.” My endocrine system started trying to counter by adjusting by T-3/T-4 levels. My thyroid, if damaged at all, had recovered and was not hypo- or hyperthyroidic. The initial Synthroid prescription had helped regulate levels while I was still on a high-carbohydrate diet, and still had the stresses and problems associated with it.

Once I migrated over to a ketogenic (low-carb) diet with the OFM plan, my endocrine system began to autocorrect. But by continuing the Synthroid prescription, I was over countering T-3/T-4 production and was effectively pushing the problem into a new direction. That is why in June, roughly 8-10 weeks after I began the OFM, I had the massive weight gain and mood spikes. Once I became fat-adapted, I was overdosing on Synthroid. By discontinuing its use in July, everything began to go back to normal. I felt better. I looked better. And my doctor actually (after several tests, retests and some subsequent tests) removed hypothyroidism from my diagnosis list.

Between July and November, I shucked off close to twenty pounds of body fat and actually added some lean muscle mass. I began to feel like a runner again. I began to get the miles back up, and the reduced stress helped me control my ‘social disabilities’ –so much so, that I was able to discontinue my pharmaceutical cocktail of VA mood brighteners. In fact, by early November, I was completely off every prescription, and was at the apex of health and recovery.

As for the actual running, the plan was a simple periodized, 3-week rotating schedule. A sample week would look like this:

Click on image for larger version

Click on image for larger version

Weeks #1 and #2 were always similar in scope. Week #1 mandated a minimum of 25MPD for a total of six days –150MPW. Most runs would be conducted between the hours of 3:00AM-11:59AM, but a few, such as the Heat Training skill-set days and some of the trail runs, could fall in the afternoon hours. I tried to keep my peripheral musculature strong in the legs and hips by making 15% of my weekly miles on single-track. Power training entailed either wearing a weighted vest, altitude mask or pulling a tire on hilly terrain. 15% of my training would center on power development. Progression runs are a mainstay of the VESPA training methodology, most of my cardiovascular and speed yields are from those progressively faster runs, although I also do tempo runs, mild track workouts and fartleks.

Week #2 had a slightly lighter load, at 125-130MPW. But where the distances lessened, the intensity increased. The skill-set training leaned in favor of faster times, with longer progression and tempo runs. Also, it was not unheard of to increase distances to 31MPD and reduce the days to four consecutive, high mileage ones.

Week #3 centered on benchmark testing, and never exceeded 100MPW. The week was designed to set PR times and distances in controlled environments to record training progress, test recovery times and survey any high-mileage issues that may be developing (like DOMS, impact stresses, etc).

In essence, I was just running. I abandoned most of my cross-training, strengthening and peripheral muscular development. I adjusted my focus and intensity, but running was what I did throughout the ramp-up. And it was working – at least for a while.

Chris Knodel is a Mangum Track Club member and Sandhills Region native. He is the author of “More, Better Quicker – The Irish Goat: A Fat-Boy & His Path to Ultra-Distance.” His column will appear each Thursday on

Filed in: Latest Headlines, Outdoors, Sports

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