Written by Dr. Mark Cucuzzella
It is a privilege to host my good friend Dr. Phil Maffetone as he returns to West Virginia as we continue our mission to create a healthy community. Dr. Maffetone was an early challenger to the standard American diet and the food pyramid. His books in the early 1990s challenged the low fat diet and encouraged citizens as well as the best athletes in the world to slow down and eat real food, including healthy natural fat.
For over 30 years the best athletes in the world have sought out Dr. Maffetone as they entered the zone of fatigue, overtraining, and burnout. About to quit the sport, 6 time Hawaii Ironman Champion Mark Allen went to Dr. Maffetone after losing 6 times in the event to rival Dave Scott. Dr. Maffetone reset the mind and body of someone who would become the best endurance athlete on the planet with the simple principles he has taught me and thousands of others. I heard Mark Allen share this story when we both presented at a conference in Boston several years ago. It was an honor to speak on the same stage with the vibrant Mark Allen then in his 50s and the picture of relaxation and health [recent interview with Mark Allen ].
Dr. Phil Maffetone & Dr. Mark Cucuzzella
My own personal journey into the Maffetone method began in 2000 when I read Mark Allen’s story in an airline magazine. I reread it several times as it challenged everything I thought to be true. The title was “Want Speed Slow Down”. What!? Get fast by slowing down? Surely this could not be true. So I bought my first Heart Rate Monitor and did the calculation for the effort I should run. 180 minus your age is the Maximum Aerobic Heart Rate and when the monitor beeps as you reach this threshold you must slow down.
So I started running around Washington Park in Denver in this way and I found out painfully the monitor would beep at about a 10-11 minute mile (where I used to run every day at 6 to 7 minutes a mile). I drank the cool aid and after 3-4 months was cruising effortlessly around the park again at 6 to 7 minutes a mile, but now at the nice relaxed low heart rate where you could run all day. I was becoming super-efficient and a fat burning beast. You burn fat at low heart rates and that is good for endurance as we all have lots of energy rich fat on our bodies, even if you are lean.
That fall I lined up at the 2000 Marine Corps Marathon without having done any traditional hard interval style training. What happened was the most effortless marathon I had ever experienced. I went through the half way in 1:15 feeling like out for a jog and closed the last half in 1:13 to finish a few seconds over 2:28 and 3rd place in a field of 30,000. The important lesson was how I felt at the finish. I honestly felt like I could turn around and do it again. Usually after a marathon the brain and body say “never again”. I’ve not looked back since and have run over 50 stress free marathons all below 3:00 since this day. I have Dr. Maffetone to thank for my health and longevity.
Dr. Maffetone’s credo is “everyone is an athlete.” He has worked with endurance athletes of all types, professional baseball and football players, adventurers, NASCAR drivers, and Olympic medalists in a variety of sports. Perhaps more notable, Dr. Maffetone has helped thousands of weekend warriors achieve personal-best performances in their chosen sports.
Outside the sports arena, Dr. Maffetone has coached a variety of people in the entertainment field, including musicians James Taylor, Johnny Cash, The Red Hot Chili Peppers, and producer Rick Rubin, and has also provided a system of success for some of the world’s top business executives as well as the United States military.
Phil’s latest research outlined in his new book, “The Overfat Pandemic,” shows that excess body fat is alarmingly prevalent in developed countries where up to 91 percent of adults and 60 percent or more of children may suffer from this condition. Our state of West Virginia displays this daily.
Schooled in the fields of human biology, kinesiology, physiotherapy and Chinese medicine, Dr. Maffetone is a true pioneer. He is an internationally-acclaimed author, having published more than 20 books including the first on heart-rate monitoring in the early 1980s, and the first on the benefits of barefoot running in the 1990s. His “Big Book of Health and Fitness” serves as a bible for the healthy and active lifestyle, and his textbook, “Complementary Sports Medicine” is published in four languages. He continues to write extensively and lecture worldwide on health and human performance.
We have had the privilege of hosting Dr. Maffetone here twice to share his wisdom (and to play his music). Join us for a free seminar where Dr. Maffetone will share some life lessons and stories and answer questions from the audience.
The Newly Restored Charles Washington Hall
100 E Washington St, Charles Town, WV