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How to Improve from 5 Hour Marathon to Sub 3, with Michael Ovens

By May 29, 2019May 20th, 2023No Comments
michael ovens running a marathon

I googled, what is a marathon bonk? That’s when I found out about low heart rate training and cutting out sugar and refined carbs. It was such a massive boost to my training.” – Michael Ovens

In today’s podcast I talk to Michael Ovens (Strava), a 41 year old runner from Jersey in the UK. So far he improved from a 5 hour 15 marathon down to 3 hour 18 marathon, with his eyes set on Sub 3 marathon goal next. 

I really like how honest Michael was in this conversation. We all learn from our training and racing mistakes and in today’s episode Michael shares several of his painful mistakes and ups and downs in training, starting with his five hour marathon. He hit the wall so hard that he thought he got hit by a bus, several great stories there. This made him relook at his entire approach to training and racing.

He is now feeling so much better about his training and nutrition with reduced stress levels. We dive deep into a variety of topics around his training, MAF and low HR, nutrition, racing and more.

Many members in the Extramilest Facebook group submitted questions for this podcast, so thanks everyone for your great input!

Listen to the conversation on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Overcast, Stitcher or your other favorite podcast platform.

I am giving away a copy of Dr. Phil Maffetone’s Big Book of Endurance Training and Racing. To enter, I would love to hear from you in the comments on YouTube: what was your favorite quote or takeaway from this episode? 

Enjoy my conversation with Michael Ovens. 

Show notes

  • Michael background in running [4:46]
  • His first marathon training and first 5 hour marathon race experience in 2010 [6:10]
  • Bringing down his 1/2 marathon time from 2:20 to 1:48, still loads of injuries and exhausted [7:40]
  • How his training approach changed after reading The Triathlete’s Training Bible [8:40]
  • The heart rate zone Michael started training at [9:50]
  • Michael’s second marathon experience with the worst bonk he ever experienced “felt like hit by a bus” [11:00]
  • Michael’s first experience with MAF low heart rate training [13:00]
  • How Michael does a Lactate Test on a running track [13:55]
  • Michel’s MAF test improvements down to 6:45 min / miles so far [15:10]
  • Michael’s experience with Paleo and Keto [17:40]
  • Floris’s own experience with Keto and his thoughts on nutrition [22:25]
  • Michael’s last marathon in Amsterdam, things that went well and things that could be improved [25:00]
  • The training approach for his last marathon with MAF low heart rate and his takeaways [28:10]
  • Michael will be increasing his training volume to 60 or 70 miles = 97 or 113 km a week [30:00]
  • How Michael is aiming to accomplish his Sub 3 marathon goal, with coaching by Josh Sambrook [31:50] 
  • Michaels watch setting during training and on race day [33:20]
  • Strength training as part of Michael’s training approach [34:00] 
  • The main factors that helped Michael improve significantly over time so far [36:30]
  • The biggest challenges Michael encountered with his training and his solutions [37:40]
  • Typical training week for Michael, with mostly early morning runs [39:30]
  • When training mostly at MAF, what HR strategy does Michael have for race day [40:50]
  • Marathon pace runs during Michael’s training cycle [43:00]
  • What Michael eats and drinks during training cycles [43:40]
  • Beer is Michael’s one weakness [44:50]
  • Michael’s struggle with weight and how he deals with it [45:40]
  • Michael aims for 7 to 8 hours of sleep, now he has less training stress and gets more quality sleep [47:25]
  • What Michael does to keep his stress levels low during the day [48:10]
  • His next marathon, the Jersey Marathon on October 9, 2019 [49:35]
  • Michael’s closing tips for runners looking to improve in their running [50:10]


Special shoutout

Thanks to everyone in the Extramilest Facebook group for submitting their questions. Thank you Mariano Uberti, Brian Ballard, Marc Copeland, Darren Rutgers, Rishi Sareen, Brandon Rose, Andy Sullivan, Vincent Cheah, Nicolas Garcia, Prashant Fadnavis, Dan Aupperlee, Dave Lee, Dave Lee, Saeed Khan, Blair Margot, Johan Sandgren, Rishi Sareen, Darren Rutgers and Morgan Pettersson

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You can find me, Floris Gierman here:


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