She Blinded Me with Science!

Now that I am beginning to get serious about my entry in the Marathon des Sables 2013 and running 6 days per week (…as of last Friday), I have managed to acquire a 4-phase, 12 month training programme specifically geared towards the MdS! Carefully designed by Nic Jarvis, each phase of the programme is 12 weeks long and rather than the emphasis being on speed, the programme is governed by heart rate zones, MAP, MEP and SAP.

But the real je ne sais quoi of this programme, is that each day of the 6 in the running week corresponds to a percentage of the marathon that I will be running on-that-day in the Sahara.

Sounds good so far… but what the heck do MAP, MEP and SAP stand for? According to Ingo Logé (Exercise Physiologist Clinical Nutritionist, Chek Practitioner and the owner Of Fitness Forever Personal Training In Palm Desert, California…), who claims that a target heart rate zone can guide me to my “most energy-producing state;”

MAP  =  my Mostly Aerobic Pace (aerobic and fat burning.)

MEP = my Most Efficient Pace. “In this precise, precariously situated zone, you have the heightened awareness of a tightrope walker,” – Logé.

SAP = Speedy Anaerobic Pace “In this zone you feel noticeably challenged, in a state of greater stress and strain, with a sense of urgency and alarm!” (anaerobic sugar-burning.)

If, like me, you are struggling to believe that in heart-rate zone terms, the acronym SAP really does stand for, “Speedy Anaerobic Pace,” you can rest assured! I consulted and an article appropriately titled, How to Run an Ultramarathon, and sure enough it does. I found further enlightenment on Chris’ Ultra Blog – thanks very much Chris!

So to work out your MAP, MEP and SAP…

180 – your age = MEP Upper Limit > 159 for me (call it 160)

MEP Upper Limit – 10 = MEP Lower Limit > 150

MEP L.L – 20 = MAP L.L > 130

MAP L.L + 20 = MAP U.L > 150

MEP U.L + 20 = SAP U.L > 180

SAP U.L – 20 = SAP L.L > 160

So, what about my poor body with all this pavement-pounding? Well, firstly I’m running off-road and along the beach as much as possible – which I really enjoy a) because it’s authentic training (It’s not called the Marathon of the Sands for nothing!) and b) because it’s beautiful when the tide is out and the waves are gently lapping the shingle. Aww…

Copyright Nick Bideford

Tide Race. Gyllyngvase Beach. Falmouth

However, as recommended by my pal Matt Judge, I have started taking a Glucosamine and Chondroitin supplement. Both substances can be found lurking in the Joint Care section of all good health-care stores and I have felt a remarkable difference to my knees. When I do squats they no longer snap, crackle and pop and when I’m out running, they don’t winge!

The US National Centre for Complementary and Alternative medicine did a study of the benefits of Glucosamine + Chondroitin and its intervention in the pain relief of osteoarthritis sufferers. Here comes the science:

Glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate are natural substances found in and around the cells of cartilage. Glucosamine is an amino sugar that the body produces and distributes in cartilage and other connective tissue, and chondroitin sulfate is a complex carbohydrate that helps cartilage retain water.

According to Wikipedia, Glucosamine is produced commercially by the hydrolysis of crustacean exoskeletons (or, less commonly by fermentation of a grain such as corn or wheat), whereas Chondroitin sulphate is extracted from cow or shark cartilage. Hmm. Still, Runners’ World is an advocate as are 79.8% of their surveyed runners! I managed to find it in liquid form along with aloe vera, thanks to Forever Freedom, who have:

“…married the rich nutrients of stabilised aloe vera gel with glucosamine sulphate, chondroitin sulphate, methylsulphonylmethane (MSM), ascorbic acid (vitamin C) and tocopherol (vitamin E)…” in a “tremendous combination drink!”

Second on the supplement list is (sustainable, Antarctic Ocean) Krill Oilwhich I opted for over the standard Cod liver oil, simply because the capsules are half the size. Apparently, Krill Oil is twice as effective as Cod liver oil and has the best source of uncontaminated Omega-3 EPA & DHA, blah blah blah… I did mention that the capsules were smaller didn’t I? And finally I wash that all down with a few drops of Echinaforce in water, for a little immuno-boost.

After all that jargon, I will leave you with Thomas Dolby’s eighties hit, ‘She Blinded Me with Science!’

Now all I need is a heart rate monitor, so that I can jog to my MAP, MEP and SAP zones…


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9 responses to “She Blinded Me with Science!”

  1. Dale Cheek says :

    your first link does not work. The second link is very interesting and concours, at first, that 220 minus HR is the TRH. Between Max HR and Target -10, is where we work. When I ride, I can feel all those zones, it turns out, even without the on-board computers.

    Yet later in the article, the equation changes to what you stated in the blog…180- age and so on to MEPs. This latter number is operationally too low for what I do. Probably it is excellent for the MdS.

    So if I am reading this right, basic training and health maintenance can use the Karvonen method of calculating HRs, But for the stressful and endurance MdS, we should use the more conservative Ingo Loge method.

    Is that correct?

    • LiaDitton says :


      I fixed the link – thanks for that.
      I think the Ingo Loge method is intended to be adjustable according your fitness level.
      Don’t forget that the 220- method is then x.80 or whatever percentage of your MHR you want to bracket.

      I’m not the best person to nail the difference here, not having used heart-rate zone training… yet!


  2. Graham K says :

    Sometimes it is good to simply run …no HRM and in fact not watch or any other technology. Just shoes, shorts a comfy top and a rough plan – run slow and long. Stay clear of roads whenever possible …trails are good and heather hillsides make a great substitute for sand :-)

    I love stats …but they should supplement the experience and not be the experience.

    • Phil H says :

      Like your style G.K, That’s the way I run, 99% without a HRM, but usually with a watch, have a general route, but always subject to change, 90% off road outside of November to January. Just have a quick look at my total miles (usually around 65-75miles/week) and total ascent at end of the week, then go for another run. Even stop on route to enjoy the views from the hills sometimes.

      Just enjoy the freedom of being in the hills.

  3. Dale Cheek says :

    I have a Polar brand heart monitor, used on my bike. I enjoy it very much, learning how these different parameters interrelate on a ride: HR, cadence (pedal RPM) and speed.

    Polar has an interactive wwwebsite which graphs all this, plus altitude change and distance.

  4. Phil H says :

    Got my ticket for the MdS 2013 (so might see you in the desert at some point) and have also come up with a MdS plan of training.

    Which is Run a lot. It generally breaks down like this – Find a hill in my area with a trail or several trails on it and either run the trails round the hill, or up the hill or even around, up and down it and eventually end where I started several hours later. That’s the important bit, because I left my car there and need to get home. I generally do this method 4-6 times a week plus a few runs around the roadS in my area.

    I have found this method keeps the fun and enjoyment of running high and the ‘making running like a job low’.

    Happy Running and enjoy your blog, many thanks

  5. gillgarratt says :

    Argos for HR monitor – does it mean 180 minus your age ? Or is it 220 minus your age ?

    • Dale Cheek says :

      220 minus age seems more accurate for my actual performance.

      • LiaDitton says :

        Dale, the most accurate way to gauge your performance is by finding out your MHR (Maximum Heart Rate) and RHR (Resting Heart Rate) and then using a Training-Zone-Heart-Rate-Calculator such as this one:

        The Maffetone formula involves subtracting from 180, which takes into account your resting heart rate.

        The Karvonen formula, which you refer to, is based on your target zone lying between 70-85% of the number that represents your predicted HR max. For example here is the THR for a 48 yr old.

        The upper limit: 220 – 48 or 172 x (.85) or 146
        The lower limit 220 – 48 or 172 x (.70), or 120 so you have a training zone for a 48 year old of 120-146 BPM (Beats Per Minute)

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