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On the Sweat Elite podcast, Matt sat down with Lyle O’Brien, a seasoned marathoner based in Boulder, Colorado. Lyle has made impressive strides in his career, including a top 15 finish at the U.S. Olympic Trials and setting a course record at the Indianapolis Marathon. In this episode, Lyle discusses his journey, the role of supplements in his training, and his thoughts on recovery. The full podcast is in the player below with highlights in this article for your convenience.

Meeting Lyle O’Brien

Lyle O’Brien is no stranger to the world of competitive running. Based in Boulder, Lyle has been making waves in marathons, most notably placing in the top 15 at the U.S. Olympic Trials and winning the Indianapolis Marathon last year with a course record. Our host, Matt, first connected with Lyle after the Indianapolis Marathon when Lyle reached out via email. This connection has blossomed into a friendship and collaboration, leading to Lyle appearing on the Sweat Elite podcast.

Training Insights

Lyle’s training is rigorous and meticulously planned. He shared his journey from nearly leaving the sport after college to rediscovering his passion for marathons in Boulder. His initial foray into marathons saw him running a sub 2:30 in Eugene, which only fueled his drive to improve.

Heat Training

One fascinating aspect of Lyle’s training regimen is his approach to heat training. Recognizing the importance of being prepared for various race-day conditions, Lyle employed a strategy that included utilizing a sauna several times a week and running on treadmills to acclimate his body to higher temperatures. This method proved particularly useful for the Olympic Trials, held in hot and humid conditions.

Carbohydrate Loading

In the week leading up to a race, Lyle emphasizes carbohydrate loading, focusing on consuming high-carbohydrate foods like sourdough bread and white rice while avoiding fats and proteins. This strategy helps him ensure his muscle glycogen stores are fully stocked and ready for race day.

The Role of Supplements

Lyle is a firm believer in the power of supplements to enhance performance and recovery. He discussed several key supplements he uses and the science behind them.

Ketones 

Lyle highlighted several studies that support the efficacy of ketone supplements, such as one that showed increased post-exercise muscle glycogen synthesis. Lyle uses ketone esters post-exercise to accelerate recovery, finding significant improvement in his performance and reducing symptoms of overreaching.

Carbohydrates and Electrolytes

Understanding the importance of fueling his body during long runs, Lyle aims to intake about 100 grams of carbohydrates per hour. He stresses the importance of practicing this during training to avoid surprises on race day. To complement his carbohydrate intake, Lyle also focuses heavily on electrolytes, particularly sodium, to prevent cramping and maintain performance levels during prolonged exertion. He recommends a substantial sodium intake (~2100 mg per hour), supplemented with magnesium to aid in overall bodily functions.

Other Supplements

Other noteworthy supplements in Lyle’s regimen include:

– Protein: Especially whey protein post-workout to help muscle repair and growth.

– Collagen: Important for maintaining bone, skin, and tendon health.

– Creatine: Not just for bodybuilders; it plays a role in ATP energy production and muscle recovery in endurance athletes.

– Glycine: An amino acid that helps lower body temperature and aids sleep.

– Myoinositol: Enhances glucose uptake in muscles and supports overall metabolic function.

– Magnesium: Vital for muscle function and preventing cramps.

Cannabis: A Controversial Topic

One of the more controversial topics covered was Lyle’s use of cannabis in training and recovery. He shared insights from his time working in the cannabis industry and his own personal experiences.

The Science and the Stigma

Lyle explained that THC, the psychoactive compound in cannabis, is classified as banned during competition but is increasingly recognized for its potential benefits in recovery and mental health. Lyle believes cannabinoids offer significant anti-inflammatory benefits and can help with muscle relaxation and recovery.

Personal Experience

In his experimentation, Lyle has used topical cannabinoid products and ingested or inhaled cannabis in controlled amounts. He found that cannabis can provide a sense of relaxation and help address pre-race nerves, although it’s crucial to find the right dosage to avoid adverse effects.

Cost-Effective Nutrition Strategies

Lyle also shared some practical tips for reducing the cost of nutrition without compromising on quality. For example, instead of buying expensive gels, he uses table sugar and maple syrup for carbo-loading. These alternatives provide the requisite glucose and fructose in the correct ratios for optimal absorption.

What’s Next for Lyle?

Lyle is currently gearing up for Grandma’s Marathon, despite facing some health setbacks, including Achilles issues and illness. He’s optimistic and focusing on fine-tuning his training and supplement regimen. Looking ahead, he plans to implement continuous glucose and ketone monitoring to further refine his diet and unlock additional performance gains.

Conclusion

Lyle O’Brien’s approach to training, recovery, and supplementation offers a wealth of insights for both professional athletes and recreational runners. His willingness to experiment with different supplements will pay off in the future.

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