Author Archives: diaz human performance

Marathon Running Tips for those who Struggle to Break 5 Hours 12/12 by The Natural Running Network Live | Sports Podcasts

Marathon Runner, struggling to finishMarathon Running Tips for those who Struggle to Break 5 Hours 12/12 by The Natural Running Network Live | Sports Podcasts.

Running a Marathon is tough, when it takes 5 hours, even tougher. Richard Diaz shares tips with a runner who struggles to break the 5 hour barrier. Marathon Running Tips that focus on what to do and how to feed when the race takes longer than planned.

Look at any major Marathon and you’ll see that greater than half of the participants run within the 5 hour range.  This may be because more and more people are meeting the challenge than ever before.  Unfortunately, there is little information provided for these runners.  Most of what is written on training focuses on runners who hope to run in the sub-4 hour finish time.  One of our listeners asked that we address this problem and serve up some running tips.  If you are running a marathon for the first time, or have struggled when you are beyond 20 miles, this show is for you!

Not everyone is prepared to run a sub-4 hour marathon, this episode offers sound advice for those who are working their way to these finish times and need some help.

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How to Keep From Getting Fat over the Holidays

And still enjoy indulging yourself!

First off: A few parties and a few holiday feasts should not put you over the edge and cause you to gain 5-10 pounds! It’s what you do day after day, year round that sets you up for the one-two punch of Thanksgiving and Christmas. Then of course, there is New Years, when you vow that this is the last time and then you plan to get serious! Think of this scenario as you might a handmade snowball rolled down a mountain, by the time it reaches the half-way point the little snowball is now an avalanche! Trying to undo the snowball will require a much larger shovel.

What is the sense of living if every day is a struggle fraught with abstinence? Eating and drinking are simple pleasures, sharing meals with family and friends during the frustrated dieterholidays should never be dreaded and they should be something to look forward to. I am going to explain exactly how to do this without suffering the consequence of over-indulgence.

Make a pact with your family that the morning of a holiday feast, you have a sensible breakfast. A light meal made up primarily of carbohydrates. Plan to go out for an hour of easy exercise. If you don’t run, walk. If you prefer to ride a bike, perfect go do it, but don’t go crazy. If you dig a big hole you’ll generate a big appetite.­­­

Do a few active chores- wash the car, shovel some snow, tidy up around the house, just try to stay active until lunch. Be sure to have a nice meal for lunch, nothing over the top just enough to square up your blood sugar and keep from becoming ravenous come dinner time.

Stay off the coach! You have the day off and there is a lot of football you want to see, try to watch the games while standing, move around and stay active. Sitting promotes snacking and it also drops your metabolism. If you keep moving everything will work in your favor, your metabolism, circulation and digestion will all be lit up in preparation for your next meal.

Take a 20 minute walk– nothing intense, just a 10 minute destination and return. If you have some friends over, invite them to come with you. They will bitch and moan but the ones who come along will really end up enjoying the time they had with you without all the disruptions in the house.

When it comes time for dinner; enjoy the meal, have that glass of wine but be mindful, you need to go for one more walk before settling in for the evening. This time I suggest around 40 minutes to an hour walk. Don’t stress that you are not running, you are just trying to keep your metabolism stoked.

Here is the thing: Eating and sitting are murder; even those who feel that because they went out early in the morning for a Turkey Trot and this is their hopeful salvation, it’s not enough. Parking your weary hungry body on the couch will soon result in a sluggish metabolism. By keeping on the move, your body acts like a furnace and burns through the food you consume. You will also find that if you feed at reasonable intervals you are less likely to binge come dinner time. You will still have a chance to enjoy all of the food you love and without thinking about it, once satisfied you will simply stop eating. Odds are you will eat 20-30% less food and with your activity levels up throughout the day; the energy you consume will be met with a nice energy burn.

By practicing this approach during the festive season you should come away unscathed. As a matter of principle, the most effective way to maintain weight is through a sensible eating plan combined with an active lifestyle. Early exercise is great, staying busy all day is better. To learn how to create an intelligent meal plan, visit: we provide a free nutrition analysis.

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Runners learn from their Mistakes

A tale of Running Shoe Confusion

I can remember a time, not that long ago, when the obvious reasons for knee pain and a host of other injuries a runner complained about could easily be identified as simply, an overuse injury. The prescriptive cure was “take a week off” and yin-yangall would be good again.

There was never a question of heel to toe angle or terms like “minimalist” or “zero-drop” when it came to purchasing a shoe. All running shoes were built pretty much the same way. A heavy soled heel with a mesh upper in a variety of color schemes. Sure, there were the air bags, gel sacks, cantilevers etc., but all running shoes were made based on the premise that we are meant to run on or heels. Then of course, we were not made to run, so, we needed our shoes constructed with specific applications. More rigid materials under the arch, less flex, more cushion all so that the shoe salesmen had a story to tell that was compelling enough to insure the sale.

No one ever questioned this logic until a guy named Chris McDougal, the running shoe whistle blower, wrote a passionate book about a forgotten tribe of Mexican Indians. The Tarahumara’s who happily exist on next to nothing in the canyons of the Sierra Madre. As the story goes, these canyon dwellers are renowned for their ability to run great distances through hill and dale either completely unshod or scantly protected, with some make shift sandal constructed from old tires and such. The book was aptly titled, “Born to Run”, which in one fell swoop called foul to the injustice the running shoe industry had perpetrated on civilized runners.

We were born to run; we don’t need all of this fancy protection beneath our feet. Our natural gift is a wonderful set of locomotion tools known as feet, in essence, was the argument posed. Of course, we do not live in the Copper Canyons of the Sierra Madre and if we were to move there, we had best bring some type of shoes to protect our pink, dainty feet which are a product of our societal evolution.

Sure, there are many anecdotes of species of men and women, who through environmental lifelong exposure, have developed an innate ability to motor over dirt trail, gravel and the like, without a care. Primarily because they are either too poor to own a pair of shoes or they simply had never had a chance to put a pair on. I would venture to risk the opinion that, given an opportunity to wear a pair of shoes, any shoes, for a week may cause them to want them. However, this is totally off point.

My chief rant here relates to the confusion that we as consumers tend to be exposed to, all for the benefit of a sale. The running shoe industry, at least those who I have been exposed to, who portray themselves as caring and solution seekers, flat don’t give a crap about us as consumers. Their entire focus is to develop a trend setting niche in construction of a shoe, one that allows them to spin a compelling yarn about the pitfalls that exists when, if you dare to wear any other shoe than their own. And in so doing, they gain a nice strangle-hold on the running shoe market.

I myself was duped for a time. I was absolutely drinking the Kool-aide when a shoe company (to remain nameless) led me down their well-constructed path to running righteousness. These evangelists spoke of the wrong that we have been exposed to for some 30 years and how it was their job to single handedly make things right. I thought, how cool is this! I was quick to set up my own metaphorical Kool-aide stand and got on my own little soap box and recited the songs taught me. Then one day, after all the other marketing thieves got on their own soap boxes and redesigned their own “righteous shoes” and the market was diluted once again, the evil appeared.

When the first company to realize that the “natural running concept” was losing steam, they made a command decision to make an abrupt turn and went hyper-cushy, the polar opposite of minimal and began to spin a new story for us to choke on. No, we don’t think you should run on a heavy soled heel, yes, you should be running in a neutral heel to toe configuration, BUT, the earth is unkind, you need a lot of cushion to buffer your landing to save your knees, hips, back… yada, yada, yada.balance

Which finally bring me to this: consumers are confused and the running shoe industry is responsible. Any idiot realizes that to shift from what you are accustomed to something that is completely opposite is asking for trouble. Runners who wear the traditional running shoe were prone to specific injuries. I like to refer to this circumstance as “The Devil they know”. Those who had consumed large doses of the Kool-aide, shifting to a minimal shoe, with little protection and little if any change in running style, resulted in a whole new assortment of injuries. I like to refer to these as “The Devil they don’t know”.

As the saying goes: “Better to do business with the devil you know than the devil you don’t”. Because these new injuries (The Devil we don’t know) are uncharted territory, we are rightfully fearful. “I Have never experience pain here before, how long will it last, can I recover, will I need serious medical intervention”? Some of us braved the new discomfort and were prudent in understanding this change required some timely adaptation, surfaced on the other side of these learning pains to the Promised Land, many did not.

The old prescription of “Take a week off” is no longer effective. Yet there is a silver lining. All of this confusion caused us to question what’s right, wrong and cause and effect. Speaking for myself, I learned much about running and shoe design. My quest for knowledge on the subject of running mechanics seems unquenchable. Now things are far clearer to me and hopefully, I can share my lesson with those I meet. My abridged overview is this: stability, mobility and impact absorption remain the responsibility of the amazingly intuitive bodies we possess. To think that we can create applications that are smarter and more efficient than the guidance provided us by our central nervous systems and intricately efficient limbs is just idiotic. Our bodies are highly adaptive yet they wield a double edge sword. If we do not keep our swords sharp they will fail us. However, our bodies are forgiving at most any age, under the right circumstances we rebound. Running well requires education, in many cases, re-education. Good shoe construction is really pretty simple. They should be light but not so light that they do not offer ample protecting from un-natural surfaces, i.e., shards of broken glass, metal objects, concrete, pavement and the like. The sole should not be so thick that it takes you too far from the ground or dampens afferent feedback (the signals that support proprioception). At the same time, they should not be so sparse that an untrained runner is forced to contend with more of the environment than he or she is trained for. What a running shoe should not do is try and cause your feet to react to imposed structures such as heel counters, arch supports and restrictive materials designed to correct foot movement.

“I have never seen a person run poorly barefoot over a grassy field. Given the opportunity, our bodies find the correct solutions for the terrain presented.”

Some may think; I have flat feet, I pronate or supinate so I need a stability or motion control shoe. Where these circumstances may exist, there are no case studies that report correction as a result of applying these applications. I have found that in many scenarios, with some retraining, (exercise, drill and gait correction) natural functions return. None of which will occur overnight. If you have taken a life time to grow weak, it is only reasonable that it will take some time to grow strong. No, it won’t take a lifetime.

I believe there is a right and a wrong way to run. There are specific postures and ground contact points that are in keeping with the laws of physics and kinematics that are simply irrefutable. There are opportunities that exist when our working muscles and tendons are applied to task, in these appropriate planes, that make the act of running easy on the joints, economical and efficient. Invest in this knowledge and you should run healthy for many years to come.

Written by: Richard Diaz, founder of diaz human performance and The Natural Running Network


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Fitness Tips for Fat Loss

Could have used a cleaner edit but the content is good. Look for more on this topic soon.

diaz human performance

Common mistakes people make when trying to lose weight through exercise

Earlier in my career path I owned health clubs. I sold memberships, trained clients, hired and fired trainers and in 12 years of managing club affairs I learned a lot about the needs and desires of fitness enthusiasts. I could rant for hours about the goofy things I had witnessed members do in a health club, however, my focus for this article relates to the moronic things I see trainers have their clients do and get paid for. Before I build my list of useless exercises, I think it’s important that I shed light on the typical requests of the average new client in order of importance:

1. Weight loss (most people join health clubs to lose weight)
2. Tone-not build (the second leading request is to tone muscle without building them larger)
3. Improve health (coming of age…

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Fitness Tips for Fat Loss

Common mistakes people make when trying to lose weight through exercise

Earlier in my career path I owned health clubs. I sold memberships, trained clients, hired and fired trainers and in 12 years of managing club affairs I learned a lot about the needs and desires of fitness enthusiasts. I could rant for hours about the goofy things I had witnessed members do in a health club, however, my focus for this article relates to the moronic things I see trainers have their clients do and get paid for. Before I build my list of useless exercises, I think it’s important that I shed light on the typical requests of the average new client in order of importance:

1. Weight loss (most people join health clubs to lose weight)
2. Tone-not build (the second leading request is to tone muscle without building them larger)
3. Improve health (coming of age and tired of feeling sickly and lethargic)
4. Supplemental to sports training (cross training, this one is pretty new)
5. Meet people (likes group exercise, classes, Yoga, Zumba Spinning etc)

A trainer is hired to help clients achieve their goals. Look at the first few lines of any trainers’ bio on their personal website and they will tell you: “I will help you archive your goals”. Flash forward to the initial interview of trainer/client: Client shares their desires (see 1-4 on my list), trainer divulges the fee for hire, a deal is struck and then… is when the *^%x hits the fan I my book!
The broad stroke
9 out of 10 trainers will begin by suggesting; “get on a (pick one) cardio machine and warm up for 15 minutes.” After which, they will begin segregating body parts and working each major muscle group in some fashion of sequential order. For example: Back-Biceps, Legs-Triceps, Shoulders-Abs… I think you get the idea. What’s worse is most health clubs are designed with specific departments of body part machines in plug and play fashion so as to make it easy for the novice to find the appropriate machine to work the appropriate muscles. The trainer you are now paying will serve as your guide. He or she will plug the pin into the weight stacks, count your repetitions for you out loud and tell you how great you are doing, because he or she is very considerate and over patronizing.

Let’s return to the #1 goal- To Lose Weight. The best way to lose weight is to keep your heart rate up for a reasonable amount of time. What is reasonable? How much weight do you need to lose and how much time can you dedicate and how much can you endure? More is better. Too much too early is unsustainable. Heart rate is directly tied to the amount of calories you burn and from which energy source. If your heart rate is too high, the exercise will be short lived. You burn more calories relative to time spent but high intensity exercise does a terrible job of burring fat. If the exercise is low intensity, you’ll be able to spend more time but the caloric expenditure will be low even though the majority of the calories burned will come from fat. (This is awesome if you have all day to exercise).

The solution: Wear a heart rate monitor during exercise; have a VO2 max test conducted to identify specifically what heart rates will produce greatest benefits for you. If you can’t afford a VO2 max test or don’t have access to this technology, subtract your age from 180 and based on your initial state of fitness, add or subtract 5-10 beats per minute. If you start out pretty healthy, add 5, if you are out of shape, subtract 5 beats per minute (reserve the 10 bpm shift for extreme cases +/-).

Avoid exercises that isolate small muscle groups
Here is a short list:

• No bicep curls
• Triceps extensions
• Calve raises
• Laterals for the deltoids and…
• Ready… crunches or sit ups.

Most people that visit a gym will spend between an hour and ninety minutes max on their exercise routine. Do the math: 15 minute warm-up on cardio machine, 3X10 reps on body parts. Working biceps and triceps average 1 minute per set X 6 sets with an average of 30 seconds to 1 minute rest between sets. We have now wasted up to 12 minutes on an area of the body that will not improve in appearance until the layer of fat is burned away. Because the muscles are so small (relative to larger muscle groups, hips and thighs) you will only burn a fraction of the calories that you should have relative to your goal (lose weight-tone not build). You have now exhausted 50% of your dedicated time exercising on worthless exercise. What people should come to grips with is that to lose weight you have to make every minute count, espically if you only plan to exercise for an hour.

Focus on Compound Exercises
A compound exercise involves more than one joint: For example, the hip and knee, shoulder and elbow. When bot joints are involved the exercise becomes functional and integrates far more muscle mass than does isolated exercises as mentioned above. You will burn easily 4 times as many calories per effort and will improve functional motor skills which are a huge bonus and arguably even more important than the number of calories you’ll spend during exercise.

You may be thinking that by participating in an aerobics class sounds like the answer?
To some degree you are right. You would burn more calories this way but in my experience, most aerobic classes are not aerobic at all. They tend to be anaerobic, especially if you are out of shape. This will result in calories expended almost exclusively from sugar (You won’t be burning fat over the long term).



Lifting weights while exercising overloads muscle, when a muscle is overloaded, it becomes stronger, denser and increases your metabolism. Having said that, the key to weight lifting effectively is a matter of progression, begin with lighter weight and work up to loads you can manage with good form for an average of 10 repetitions. Initially, many exercises are more effective with body weight alone. For example: if you can’t do 10 push-ups with good form, doing a bench press is not an effective substitute. A push-up is a functional exercise; it involves more than one joint and encourages core integration and stability. A bench press does not. A body weight squat that takes you through a full range of motion should precede a squat with external load (weights) that you cannot successfully move through a full range of motion.

My recommendation for a successful hour of exercise to lose weight and tone muscle

Begin without any external devices for the first 6 weeks. Perform a circuit of exercise that cause you to keep your heart rate to an 180-age while exercising with recovery times between exercise as needed that causes you to come down to no lower than 120 bpm. If you are 40 years old, in fair shape, 180-40= 140 + 5= 145 bpm (you will be surprised how hard this is in the beginning).

Air Squat

Air Squat

Example: Jog/run 200 yrds, do 30 seconds worth of burpee’s (look it up) 30 seconds worth of push-ups, plank for 30 seconds, recover to 120 of max and repeat. Each of these collective sets, including recovery will take 4-5 minutes. After the second round, you will want to walk a bit, this is very taxing. Go ahead and walk until you feel able to proceed. Keep this up for an hour, do it every other day and follow a sensible plan, doing this will get you to your goal much faster than your old trainer. Oh yeah, I forgot. Fire the trainer, use the money to buy a high quality heart rate monitor.

This approach is surprisingly simple in structure, does not require a membership to a gym yet is highly effective.
To really accelerate the process, make a point to jog or walk for an additional 30 minutes every late afternoon, preferably before the dinner meal. This added bump in metabolism will pay huge dividends. It m

ay not seem like much but it’s the consistency that matters. Turning the switch up on your metabolism right about the time that things began to slow down.

This is the theme for the exercise sessions I take my small group through 3 days each week. Of course there is more variety, some overload and a few extra tools but the concept is the same. I don’t count reps, I don’t commonly complement new hair-do’s but I get things done. That’s what they pay me for.
Written by Richard Diaz, founder of diaz human performance.

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Interview with World Triathlon Champions Leanda Cave and Tim Don 05/23 by The Natural Running Network Live | Sports Podcasts

Interview with World Triathlon Champions Leanda Cave and Tim Don 05/23 by The Natural Running Network Live | Sports Podcasts.

Leanda Cave won the Ironman World Championship and the 70.3 World Championships in 2012. Tim Don won 4 triathlon World Titles and competed in 3 Olympic Games. Richard Diaz asks about racing, where the sport is taking them and how they like the ride so far.

Tim has a great start on the 2014 season and Leandra is hungry for another win at the Escape from Alcatraz in June. Join us for a unique and candid conversation with two world class triathletes.

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The Benefits of Monitoring Heart Rate for Endurance and Speed

hrt-1Anyone who exercises or is training for a Marathon or Triathlon needs to listen to this show. Richard Diaz and guest Dr. Harry Pino, Clinical Exercise Physiologist, discuss the benefits and methods of effective heart rate training and why you should do it.

Dr Pino is a practicing East Coast Physiologist who performs VO2 max tests on athletes to prescribe effective heart rate specific training programs.  Our host, Richard Diaz is a West Coast Clinician and coach with 20 years’ experience prescribing training programs for athletes based on the VO2 max testing he performs.  This is East meets West, a coming of minds on the topic of heart rate specific training.  How best to conduct the principals of training for endurance and speed, what to expect and all details in between.  This show is perfect for anyone interested in health and fitness or competition in any sport.

Check out this episode!

Going Faster Part II – Gaining an Edge with Aero Wheels

reynolds600-450In Triathlon, Cycling Aerodynamics shaves precious time. Paul Lew, Director of Technology & Innovation at Reynolds Cycling explains; the importance of the right aero wheels for every condition and when they make a difference. This information is critical for every triathlete, beginner to pro.

In the previous broadcast Jim Gourley, Author of FASTER, shared his insights on the influence of carbon wheels, wetsuits etc. on performance.  Now we will introduce cutting edge technology from the leaders in the Multi-sport performance industry.  Be sure to listen to each broadcast, it will surely help you finish your next race faster as you back your performance with Science!

Check out this episode!

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Dean Karnazes and Scott Jurek – Revisited

Scott-deanBoth Scott Jurek and Dean Karnazes are on the short list of the Greatest American Ultra-Marathon Runners.  We interviewed both these great runners and brought snippets of our conversations together in one show.  This show is slated to air on the 4th of July and since we don’t plan to work during the holiday, we thought you might appreciate this unique blend of views from two distinctly different personalities in the world of Ultra Running.

Check out this episode!

Running Shoes what you don’t know can hurt you!

Emily newMarathon Runners, are you confused, injured or simply ill-informed about running shoes? What’s best for you, minimal, zero drop, stability or motion control?  Join us as we bring back Dr. Emily Splichal to de-mystify shoe selection for all types of runners.

There is so much marketing hype in the billion dollar shoe industry it is hard to sort the fact from fiction.  Dr Emily is a world renowned podiatrist, educator and founder of The Evidence Based Fitness Academy. She has a lot to offer in the way of sound advice for runners, especially those who have been plagued with running injuries.  This is a show you don’t want to miss!

Check out this episode!

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