20 – Andy Magness: How To Train For 50+ Mile Ultra Endurance Races In One Hour Per Week

Andy Magness, Author, Ultra Endurance Athlete, High Intensity Training Practitioner
Andy Magness, far right (image via guides.co)

Andy Magness is a husband, father, recreational philosopher, occasional adventurer, part-time athlete, race director, youth philanthropist, and author.

Andy is rock climber turned ultra endurance fanatic that pushes mind and body to the limit. I don’t think he’ll mind me saying that I think he’s borderline crazy as illustrated and reinforced by his impressive Race Resume.

To prepare for this podcast, I set aside some time to read through his website and resources. I was so impressed with his Ultra Mental Book that I devoured it in one sitting. I thought it was beautifully written, funny, authentic and very practical.

Andy has an MA in physics, and due to a growing list of responsibilities, he decided to put his scientific brain to work to figure out how he could continue to participate in adventure races whilst significantly reducing his training volume. Andy stumbled across HIIT (high intensity interval training) and found that he could train for 1-3 hours a week (typically just 1 hour a week!) and reduce his risk of injury, improve his performance and make more time for his other responsibilities and past times.

Andy’s story and race performances are a powerful testimony for the efficacy of high intensity training and how it can be applied to prevent injury, increase training efficiency, and get better results. It’s refreshing to hear about the productive application of HIT outside the world of body building. Andy’s work has shown that appropriate physical conditioning (like HIT or HIIT) can serve as the foundational training program for many athletic pursuits.

We cover A LOT, including:

  • How Andy went from training 15+ hours to 1 hour per week and improved his performance.
  • What 20% of mental exercises Andy uses for maximum benefit.
  • Is the will power needed for ultra endurance races hard wired or can it be learned?
  • The importance of training specificity to the actual competition.
  • How to train your cardiovascular system without putting in 10, 20, 30 training hours per week.
  • How to significantly reduce the risk of injury when training for ultra endurance events/any competition.
  • The different diets recommended for ultra endurance.
  • The hardest event and experience that Andy has ever been through (including a near death experience that gave him a perspective that would serve him for years to come).
  • The best way to prepare for a 12 km obstacle race for optimal performance.

Andy Magness

I have a twin brother … he was putting in 10 or 15 hour weeks, he wanted to be a professional adventure racer … I was as fast if not faster than he was, so I pretty much figured I was onto something…..

– Andy Magness

Andy is training someone to do the Kepler challenge: a pretty serious 60 km mountain run in New Zealand. His trainee, Vaughn Filmer, has never run more than a 10 km race, so this makes for a really good experiment to see how fast Andy can make him using low volume, brief HIIT. Andy’s goal is to help Vaughn finish in the top third or quarter of the field using very unconventional and counter intuitive training techniques. Check out the blog here.

Contact Andy at Ultramentalbook [AT] gmail {DOT} com.

Check out the interview, and all other interviews, on iTunes, click here.

Here’s my interview with Andy:

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This episode is sponsored by Hituni.com, providers of the best online courses in high intensity training. Add the course you want to your shopping cart and enter the coupon code HIB10 to get 10% OFF! Order Here

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In the introduction to this podcast, I mention being put through a gruelling workout with Ted Harrison. You can listen to Ted’s interview here:

During the podcast, we talk about a number of the guests, but Dr Doug McGuff in particular. Check out my interviews with Doug below:

Dr Doug McGuff (Part 1 Show Notes & Part 2 Show Notes)

Show Notes

  • Andy’s journey and massive shift in exercise volume [05:00]
  • What 80/20 exercises does he recommend towards mindset development? [09:50]
  • How much of the willpower aspect of adventure racing is genetically hardwired? [14:23]
  • How important is it to train with specificity for adventure races e.g. running on a treadmill vs running outdoors? [15:35]
  • How do you train your cardiovascular system to last the full distance if you don’t train for that specifically? [21:15]
  • How are you able to retain/build muscle using a HIIT training protocol? [28:00]
  • How much should someone be concerned about chronic motion stress from HIIT? [35:34]
  • What advice do you have to recovery quickly and effectively from ultra endurance events? [40:07]
  • If you had all the time in the world to allocate to training, what would you change about your regime, if anything? [42:20]
  • Is a High-Fat Low-Carb diet an effective diet strategy for participants in ultra endurance events? [44:10]
  • How to effectively apply the Pareto Law to diet [50:25]
  • What is the hardest event you have ever done? [54:30]
  • What was the scariest thing you’ve ever done and how did you push through it? [1:05:00]
  • What drives you to carry on when your body can’t give anymore? [1:06:45]
  • When is your next event and what is your current training regime? [1:10:30]
  • What is the best way to prepare for a 12km obstacle race like SOTF [1:13:30]


Resources and People

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