Saturday, February 2, 2013

More than just running... "Eat & Run"

As is usual for me during these cold, dark days and nights of winter in Idaho, I have been reading a couple of my favorite books that inspire me to get out a do what most people don't, brave the elements in the dark morning hours to log miles, rain, snow, ice, or fog not withstanding.  I started out re-reading the classic book for any ultrarunner; Dean Karnazes' "Ultramarathon Man."  This book provides a humorous and insightful look at the development of an ultrarunning cult icon, Dean Karnazes.  If you're a runner and haven't read it, pick it up and enjoy.  I've probably read it 3 or 4 times now.

The second book I picked up this winter was "No Shortcuts to the Top," by Ed Viesturs.  You can't help but be inspired by this guy and his account of tackling the world's 14 highest peaks all without bottled oxygen.  His approach to the inherently dangerous sport of mountaineering is one of calculated risk management and sheer determination.  His book inspires one to finish projects no matter how difficult with careful, determined, diligence.

Finally, I have just finished reading a new book by ultrarunning legend and true star athlete, Scott Jurek.  Jurek is known for a few things in ultrarunning, one of them being a seven-time champion of one of the most prestigious ultras, The Western States 100.  Another unique think Jurek is known for is his diet, which is fairly unique among the world's elite athletes, being a long-term vegan.  He turned vegan after experiencing increased benefits from slowly changing his diet from junk-food junkie to a full-on vegan.  At one point, he even shunned cooking for a while, eating only raw, plant based food.  He gave this up after a bit because it involved too much chewing...  hmmmm, that doesn't sound very appealing.  Jurek's book, "Eat & Run, My Unlikely Journey to Ultramarathon Greatness" was on my list of books to read and I finally got a hold of a copy from the local library that I proceeded to devour in about 4 days.  From an entertainment standpoint, he isn't nearly as humorous as Karnazes, and there is less inspirational hoopla than Viesturs, but there is some excellent knowledge to be gained by this book.  To me, it seemed as if Scott Jurek was writing this as much for self reflection as for the masses.  I can appreciate a book like this, and I'll probably read it again someday.  It does have the unique feature of many running tips and recipes that Jurek shares.  I may come back around to this book if I go further with the little experiment I'm about to try...

It was while reading Jurek's book that I realized the next step in my evolution into an endurance athlete might involve something else besides training more.  I am very busy being a husband, parent, teacher, and athlete, and although I may desire to run and ride much more than I do, I am limited by time and finances.  Its is true that getting faster or running longer requires a phenomenal amount of training, but it is also true that I can likely gain significant benefits from a better diet and rest regimen.  So here it is, my attempt and going it an experiment of sorts.

I haven't been drinking much soda, but its time to cancel it completely.  I also want to give up refined sugary sweets for the most part, excluding special occasions   But the biggest change may come from eating less meat and more variety of veggies and fruits.  I think I'm going to give a shot at stepping down the number of "legs" I'm eating on a regular basis.  Going from things with 4 legs (cows, pigs, etc.) to only things with 2 (chicken, turkey, etc.).  I'm not saying I will never eat beef again, in fact, I have some great taco soup featuring some ground beef waiting for tonight's dinner, but rather; I will be choosing the leaner option when its there and looking to eliminate excess from my diet.  Here's a shot of my first meal under this new commitment: spinach salad with black beans, fresh local sweet corn, raw carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, turkey pepperoni, mozzarella cheese, and italian dressing garnished with some sliced oranges.  I can say that it was really, really good!  My two little kiddos really liked it as well, chalk one up for dad today!

On a slightly different note, I'll be posting "Trail of the Week" features again as soon as some weather cooperates and I can get away to some new places.  Thanks for reading and happy trails!

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