Dave – “Keto + MAF = Performance + Recovery”

So for the last 4+ months I’ve been following a Ketogenic Lifestyle and Phil Maffetone’s MAF training to maximize my health and reduce the risk of injury. Although I’ve been relatively healthy I’ve read a lot about Keto and it’s anti-inflammation benefits in addition to a whole host of potential health benefits. If you’re interested in learning more about it and for some great recipes, this is where I suggest you should start www.dietdoctor.com. It’s essentially, low carb, low-medium protein and high fat, and yes it goes against what we’ve been told for so many years but it works, research it with an open mind. So far I’ve lost about 15 pounds and I didn’t have any weight to lose, nor was it my intention to. But I have felt improved mental clarity, high energy level through the day, less fatigue, and did I mention great food every day, at least if you love bacon and eggs. If anyone wants to reach out to me for more info please do so. It’s not about watching or cutting calories, it’s more about eating real food, fattier cuts of meat etc., and eliminating the majority of carbs we’ve eaten for so long that has led to the obesity problems.

As for MAF training, it’s about doing your workouts at a heart rate of 180 minus your age. You do this for 2 months to build your base, regardless of type of activity, and yes it may mean walking some time. Then after that you continue to do 80% of your workouts at that level and the other 20% you can do some speed work. This also helps train your body to burn fat for fuel rather than glucose so it’s a natural fir with Keto. Training at this low level of intensity also reduces stress and inflammation, so again builds on the benefits of Keto. Now when I wake up in the morning I feel relaxed, none of those aches getting out of bed. Now most weekends I get up, have a glass of water and go out for a 3 hour run with no food, no Gatorade, no Gu’s, just a little water and I feel great. When I come back I don’t even eat for a couple of hours and the next day I feel great and go out a do a Tri. MAF talks about running slow to run faster, so would it work.

I went into my Portland marathon in October with only 8 weeks of training over a 10 week period and ran a 3:25:59, no carb loading the night before, just a nice steak covered with butter. My next races would be the real test. I haven’t done any speed work this year and I had a 10K Turkey Trot race coming up and another 10K 3.5 weeks later. For anyone that knows me, I give it all in a race and at the end I can hardly walk and have a lot of hip pain. But after my marathon I felt pretty good and 2 days later I was running 5 miles each day for the following week without any pain. I went into the Turkey Trot with a goal of sub 45 minutes, but not confident that I could do it. That’s about 5 minutes slower than my PR 2 years ago but after a year of injuries and only running since July it was going to be a challenge. I ran the first mile in 6:52 and was then able to keep the other 5.2 miles in the low 7’s for a 44.22, 7:07 average. And my hip didn’t feel bad at all, just a little ache and 2 days later I ran a half marathon distance training run. So I think it’s working, I ran this race in a fasted state, had nothing apart from water, finished with a decent time and felt great afterwards.

So for the next race I decided I would do a couple of speed workouts to see if I could improve that time. I wasn’t optimistic as this race had 2 bridges in the race so was a harder course. The speed work was a little tougher on my body but again with the anti-inflammation and other easy runs my recovery from the speed work went well. I lined up at the start and was optimistic but not positive. Again in a fasted state, I started the race easy and then ran over the bridge for a 6:46 first mile. The second mile was on the flat for a 6:40 pace and I could feel myself tiring a little but was able to keep the cadence high. My next 3 miles were all under 7 minutes and the 6th was 7:08 coming back over the bridge for the second time. I finished in 42:57, 6:53 average for a 90 second improvement from the Turkey Trot. Again my hip felt good and the following day I did our weekly Tri.

I really believe that the combination of Keto and easy training has helped me to recover quickly and able to keep fit. Only time will tell but so far I’m very encouraged with the results and I’m positive I have quicker times ahead of me. I’m still doing a boot camp once a week, yoga and several 7 minute workouts. All of these help and I would encourage everyone to look at adopting these techniques. Best of luck with your journey and happy running.

At the top of the second bridge climb, and I don't look like I'm dying.
At the top of the second bridge climb, and I don’t look like I’m dying.
Around mile 2, still feeling good and in control.
Around mile 2, still feeling good and in control.
Near the start but feeling relaxed and good form.
Near the start but feeling relaxed and good form.
Crossing the finish line, looking relaxed and feeling good. Not a usual feeling at the end of a race.
Crossing the finish line, looking relaxed and feeling good. Not a usual feeling at the end of a race.
Our Clever Training group before the race.
Our Clever Training group before the race.

9 thoughts on “Dave – “Keto + MAF = Performance + Recovery”

  1. Dave,
    This is definitely an interesting concept. With my running limited because of my knee issue, I may need to dig deeper into this. Thanks for the post and congrats on a great turnaround to your running year!

  2. What material is your hip made of?How long after your surgery,did you return to running? I’m 5 wks.post-op,TLHP.Hip is cobalt chrome.

    1. I believe it was ceramic. I started running 3 months after my surgery, some have started earlier and others later. Unless you need to I would recommend 3 months before you start and then take it easy. Listen to your body and ease back if you feel discomfort. The key is to cross train and get some strength training in to build your muscles, especially glutes. I also do yoga now but you may also want to wait a little longer before you start that. Hope you do well with your recovery.

  3. Hi Dave – I can confirm your hip is ceramic/polyethylene as I have spent the morning reading all your posts! I am very impressed with your achievements, and astounded by your work-ethic which seems to have led you into trouble several times. Glad to see you have found the Maffetone system, I have read about it and tried cycling with 115 HR (indoor trainer) whilst recovering from my May 2nd THR (ceramic/ceramic) but did not give it the full 2 months so probably did not benefit much. Will watch your progress with interest. I am sure the high-fat diet is the way to go, not prepared to go full Keto though just yet.
    I have a 3 year old Birmingham resurfacing on my left hip, recovery from that took just over a year but the right hip limited how much training I could justify. In theory I am looking to increase volume and pace now but I have a pain in the new hip leg which shows on unweighting it after loading it, this seems to get worse after I have been rock-climbing/bouldering (twisting & loading I suppose) or running for more than an hour. Hope it goes away as I have entered a 14 mile fell race in February – not that I am ambitious/competitive at all!
    Thanks for all your posts and encouragement, I did run before I had fake hips and have half & marathon PRs of 1:23/2:54 from the 80’s but my current target is to get under 24 minutes for 5k, then maybe join in local league races in the summer if this mystery pain goes away…

    1. Hope it didn’t put you to sleep, some of my posts are pretty long. Thanks for the note, we joined this site to promote running and to encourage others. I think it’s important to share what I’ve learned, both the good and the bad, so people don’t make the same mistakes and also know what’s possible. I’m sure you’ll do great in February, looking forward to reading your race report. I don’t know if you’ve tried any of those 7 minute workouts I wrote about, but I credit those for getting me back on track this fall.

  4. Dave:

    Great stuff!!

    A couple of things: If you like Phil Maffetone, and if you have time to research Arthur Lydiard, the man who (sort of) invented modern training during the mid-to-late 1950s/early 1960s, do it. He was the national coach for five different countries, 20 Olympic gold medals, knighted in Japan and Finland (he’s a Kiwi).

    Maffetone’s system is Lydiard’s with heart rate monitor and a couple of adjustments. One great article to read is by four-time Olympian Lorraine Moller. Ironically she dated Maffetone for awhile, but was coached by a Lydiard coach and she is now the co-founder of the Lydiard Foundation – which puts on clinics about the great man’s methods. Anyway, the article is called “Becoming a Body Whisperer” published by Running Times/Runner’s World online.

    (Full disclosure: I am the first CDN certified on the Lydiard method).
    Feel free to ask me questions about it anytime.

    Also, the ketogenic diet I think is great. I started it at the end of July this year and rapidly dropped 30 pounds that I needed to lose. Boom. For endurance efforts over the marathon, it is great as you know, however, anything shorter than the marathon and perhaps the marathon too the V02max is dampened enough that it affects the athlete. Not so much for us mortals, but if you take the percent: 5% lower V02max the faster the runner and the shorter the race, the more it is a problem (or try running at a steady pace up a small mountain….

    I interviewed Zach Bitter who is one of the world’s top ultra runners (owns the world 100-mile track record). He is very keto, but rolls in some carbs closer to race day and during race day. There is a belief (and still lots of research to be done), that you can stay in ketosis, even though in a race or hard workout, you bring in up to 30 grams of CHO (CHO = carbs) for that workout. Also, for recovery after a race or hard workout 20grams of healthy protein, directly after event, improves protein synthesis – the protein goes directly to the damaged muscles and the amino acids are in those muscles within a couple of hours – so not a lot of volume, but type and timing of protein is important: two eggs or well-chewed steak….are very good.

    I have interviewed top exercise physiologist Luc Van Loon from Mastrich University as well as top CDN physiologist Trent Stellingwerff on this subject. Keto is great and I am keto too, but there are some small variations that will benefit us around hard workouts and races.

    Here are some of the links to the interviews and articles I have done around Keto and sport performance:


    Interview with Zach Bitter:

    Becoming a Body Whisperer – Lorraine Moller:

    Essential Arthur Lydiard – Lorraine Moller:

    At http://www.athleticsillustrated.com search: Arthur Lydiard and you will find many interviews with world-class Lydiard athletes including Moller as well as articles on the method…..

    Anyway, great you are doing great!!

    1. Wow, great articles. I had no idea you were a coach and wrote articles, it’s very impressive the people you’ve interviewed. You should write an article about Stan, he has a very impressive running background and be sure to include Tom. I have to credit you for me to start my Keto lifestyle again, I dabbled with various diets last year while I was reading a lot of nutrition books and after reading your post in July/August I switched to Keto and have been on it since. I don’t have a running background so I’m still learning about nutrition, fitness and training and this group is a great motivator. I’ve not read too much about Lydiard apart from some running books that talk about his training methods, I will have to dig deeper. I plan running several more ultra’s next year so will need to experiment with race nutrition and strategy. I love running and my main goal is to stay healthy so I can compete at a reasonable level. Thanks again for the nudge to Keto.

  5. Dave,

    Thanks. Merry Christmas.

    Yeah, I have done about 1200 interviews. All the top athletes in the world, John Walker, Paula Radcliffe, Haile Gebr, Dennis Kimetto, Shalane Flanagan, Kenenisa Bekele….Sir Richard Branson….Rod DIxon….many many others.

    There is a lot of misunderstood stuff about Lydiard, so careful what you read online. There are a lot of people who claim they understand the method, but most actually don’t!! Or don’t fully.

    All the best,


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