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Brian MacKenzie: Power, Speed, Endurance Guru

By Brad Kearns

Brian is the co-author of an epic textbook on training titled Power, Speed, Endurance, and the New York Times bestseller, Unbreakable Runner. As the founder of the CrossFit Endurance movement, Brian gained notoriety for challenging the dated conventional endurance wisdom of a mileage obsessed, “more is better” approach. Brian’s comprehensive program blending traditional aerobic mileage with varied forms of explosive strength training, flexibility/mobility work (he’s a close associate of MobilityWOD.com and Becoming a Supple Leopard author Dr. Kelly Starrett), breath work and recovery has busted the boundaries and barriers of the old school approach. Brian has occasionally faced challenges and controversy by those favoring status quo. Consider this salacious magazine article title from Outside magazine in 2013: “Brian MacKenzie's Controversial New Approach to Marathon Training: The mastermind behind CrossFit Endurance says the best way to train for a marathon is to run less and torture yourself more in the gym.” Well, it’s not nearly as simple and crude as the frequently referenced juxtaposition of “quantity versus quality” suggests. It’s now becoming clear that chronic cardio is not only ineffective but can also destroy your health. Furthermore, it’s also evident that endurance athletes are deficient in many areas of general fitness, especially preserving efficient technique as they become fatigued. If your low back and hip flexors get cooked at mile 20 of a marathon (because, for argument’s sake, that’s a butt-long way and you’ve perhaps never run further than that in training), some of the energy your cardiovascular machine is still able to produce for the final six-mile slog is wasted. Instead of maintaining a balanced center of gravity and generative efficient explosive force with each stride, you center of gravity caves and you collapse a bit into the ground on each stride. This is where the explosive training goes in. Loading a squat bar with weight, running sprints or performing any other explosive efforts is in many respects simulating what happens to your body at mile 20, but without having to exhaust yourself by running the first 20 miles in training before obtaining that desired breakthrough adaptation. Explosive work is not an endurance “hack” (you will never hear Brad use that word on this show or in life, ever). Rather, it’s adding a critically important training modality to your game in order to best prepare your body for daunting competitive challenges without falling apart. With Brian passionately advocating to expand our training consciousness, he has come off as an intense guy, which he is. After all, that’s him sprinting in Tim Ferriss’s epic Four Hour Body book trailer and his thumbnail image with his individual finger tattoos spelling “U-N-S-C-A-R-E-D.” What was cool in meeting Brian person was how thoughtful and chill he is. The conversation went off into the metaphysical and reflective direction instead of just going into his boiler plate PowerSpeedEndurance message. Brian starts by discussing the perspective he has gained from his recent terrible accident, surgery, and recovery process, gives a refreshingly expanded perspective of the dated and oversimplified quality versus quantity debate, countering the “more is better” mentality with the priceless maxim, “Better is Better.” Perhaps the best takeaway from the show is Brian’s emphasis that the next evolution in human performance will come in the area of recovery, and complementary practices such as breathing, cold therapy, and heat therapy, of which he is super focused on these days. Visit PowerSpeedEndurance.com to learn all about the progressive offerings of Brian and his team.

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