Primal Endurance

Last week was some sort of hell and not for any of the reasons you might suppose. Near the beginning of September, I started reading Primal Endurance written by Mark Sisson and Brad Kearns. Mark is the guy behind Mark’s Daily Apple, and Brad’s name may be familiar because he dominated much of the triathlon scene in the late 80’s, early 90’s. These guys have conspired to write a lifestyle manual for endurance has-beens like myself.



Their biggest piece of advice? “Live like Grok.” Last week was its own particular circle of hell because I’ve high glycemic index addict. I’ve been living very much unlike Grok, and this fact was laid bare when I tried to quit carbs cold turkey.

Day 1

This day wasn’t so bad. I felt the desire for high carbohydrate foods, but only fleetingly. As if, yeah it might be nice to have an energy bar or maybe a bowl of granola. I moved around, got things accomplished around the house and just sort of turned my nose up at the possibility of these treats.

Until the late afternoon, when my snobbery was fully exposed by a zombie-like desire to consume the flesh of oats. I struggled through the evening and went to bed early.

Day 2

Oh, shit! Was my first thought of the day. Things didn’t get much more complicated after that because I was dealing with a serious blood sugar deficit that only got worse as the day went on.

Needless to say, my activity level was way down on Day 2, and I ended spaced out in bed by the afternoon. Perplexing beyond words was my desire for brownies. I don’t usually eat brownies much, but since that evening I’ve experienced this overwhelming, mouth-watering desire for a big baking dish of dark chocolate brownies. Go figure.

Day 3

When I woke up, I felt the brain cloud of low blood sugar. I made myself some eggs and a small salad with olive oil, lemon, and garlic dressing and prevailed.

The day passed, I got things done. I even went for a frisbee run with A-bear. I did not track the run, nor did I follow my heart rate. I was probably in the block hole for at least some of it.

Day 4 & 5

Still craving brownies, but in more of an intellectual way now. I had a great deal of difficulty sleeping both of these nights, tossing and turning a lot.

sleep patterns

In fact, observing my circadian rhythms has been the single hardest part of this whole program. Carb cravings at the beginning were really overwhelming but very acute. Once my body started to get over its need for high blood sugar, I was able to stay mindfully aware of that desire. Even when I get to sleep after the sun goes down, I’m waking up a lot. Tossing and turning, no bueno.

Heart Rate Slow Burn

I went for a low burn “run” on Day 5 which is a lot harder than I’d expected it would be. Keeping my heart rate below my maximum aerobic threshold is going to require some fine tuning

Day 6

A pair of eggs and tasty salad. I had pretty good energy this morning and made it through the pre-school routine with a smile on my face. Also, I’ve noticed that I’m eating quantitatively less and going longer between meals than I used to be able to get away with.

I also noticed that my hands are significantly less swollen than they were a week ago. Apparently, this weekend we had a huge drop in barometric pressure too. My foot remained free the whole time, which indicates that the background level of inflammation has been reduced.

This evening I’ll likely go for another slow burn run.


Okay, so we’re only into this for a few days, but at the time I write this I’ve noticed some significant changes in my body and my mentation. Obviously, I have some work to do, also quite a bit more reading. However, the program seems to be having some positive effect, and that’s nothing to scoff at.

I’m going to give what I know and what I’ve read of this program a tentative endorsement and trust that I’ll be able to continue to adapt my life to their lifestyle program.

Real quick, thanks to Matt Hart of Coaching Endurance for the heads up on this program.


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