Can Tart Cherries Make You a Better Runner? A 7-Day Challenge to Find Out

If you’re a runner, you know there’s no shortage of new supplements and other products that claim to promote faster recovery for us. And mostly, as runners, we’ve learned to ignore them.

Usually, we just don’t believe it. Speed of recovery is hard to measure, subjectively, and even when the objective evidence is there, the miracle product du jour isn’t often something most of us would want to put in our bodies.

But tart cherry juice may just be an exception: (a) it’s natural; and (b) it seems like it might actually promote recovery. There’s a decent amount of science to say so, and the fact that it’s stuck around a while — I think I first heard of it in 2010 — certainly bodes well.

But what’s most intriguing to me about tart cherries is that they’re not just for recovery: they also have anti-inflammatory properties and have been demonstrated to reduce muscle pain during an event. Which makes them extremely well-suited for ultrarunning, where pain more than anything else eventually becomes the limiting factor … if they deliver.

Next week, that’s what I’ll be testing.

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On the Subject of World Domination (and a Super Summer Sale)

NMA cover finalOkay, so by domination I mean making a tiny, tiny dent in the universe (for now, that is … muhahaha). But let me have my fun.

Last Friday, the German version of No Meat Athlete was published. My extensive knowledge of German tells me the title should surely be Nein Meat Athlete, but alas, that is completely wrong. And only one-third German.

This is a big deal — apparently Germany is a hotbed for veganism in Europe, the last such place I would have imagined. The stereotype of sausage, bratwurst, hamburgers, weiners and schnitzel is just that, a stereotype. Part of the heritage, maybe, but not the modern everyday. (I’ve never been to Germany; this is just what I’m told.)

So it’s awesome to be a part of that movement. Even more awesome to know that there’s the potential, these days, to start something silly on your laptop that ends up across the sea.

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How to Finally Enjoy Running: The Non-Runner’s Ultimate Guide

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Runner or non-runner, whichever you call yourself, I’ve been there. And I think I’ve finally figured out that whole label thing.

When running is fun — when, even when it’s hard, it comes easy — that’s when you feel like a runner.

But most of the time, for most of us, it doesn’t flow like that. It’s a chore, a discipline. A struggle that’s worth it, but a struggle nonetheless. Those times, we don’t feel like runners.

If you’re the former — a runner, all the time — you don’t need this post. Go run because running is fun for you, for its own sake, no other reason necessary. And know that the rest of us envy you, and wish it could be that way for us.

But if you’re not always that runner, today you’re in the right place. I’ve been on both the winning and the losing side of the daily battle to get the miles in. And when it’s working — when it’s actually and truly fun to run (words I never thought I’d say) — here’s what makes it so.

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How I Fell Back in Love with Running

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Bart Yasso, “The Mayor of Running,” reminding us why we love running.

This weekend that I was to become a runner again started off with me feeling like a fraud.

Thursday afternoon, I arrived in Boston. Two hours later, Jason Fitzgerald and I walked into West End Johnnie’s restaurant, where we were to meet the rest of the invited bloggers and some of the Runner’s World staff, the kickoff to our weekend at the Heartbreak Hill Half Marathon and Festival.

We each got goodie bags from Runner’s World. In the bags, among other things: an early copy of the July issue of the magazine, which I’d been eagerly awaiting. Fully prepared for disappointment, just in case the article I was to be featured in got cut at the last minute, I flipped to page 37 and found something unexpected.

The article was there. Focusing on what the elites drink while they run. Scott Jurek. Shalane Flanagan. Dean Karnazes. Kara Goucher.

Me. 

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Running, Eating, Thinking: A Vegan Anthology

I’m proud to have contributed to a new book called Running, Eating, Thinking: A Vegan Anthology.

The backstory: Martin Rowe, president of Lantern Books (and a runner and vegan), noticed the ubiquity of vegan runners these days, and asked, why? Suspecting there was something to the phenomenon beyond simply the idea that a plant-based diet is beneficial for performance, he sought to pinpoint that something.

So he asked 15 of us to answer the question, “What does being a vegan runner mean to you?”, and Running, Eating, Thinking is the result. I’m not big on the word delightful, but to me, that’s what this compilation is. A perfect bridge between the ideological and the easier-to-approach health and environmental sides of this lifestyle — presented in a series of digestible, single-sitting essays.

Today I’m sharing an only-slightly edited version of the first draft of my original submission — which, it turns out, was not what they were looking for; they used my What It Means to Be a Runner post instead. This first attempt is a little all-over-the-place, but it was an interesting stretch for me, and I’m glad to have found an opportunity to show it the light of day.

Following the essay is a link to the latest episode of NMA Radio, where editor Martin Rowe was my guest. We had a great conversation about the new anthology and what exactly it is at the intersection of running and veganism that has helped so many people find joy.

Hope you like it. And I hope more than anything that this post, the podcast, and the book inspire you to think about what’s at the core of your own identity — and that somewhere, you’ll write or speak or sing your own version of what it means to be a vegan runner.

What Being a Vegan Runner Means to Me

It takes only one word, really: this lifestyle, to me, is a practice.

I use the word in the way it’s commonly employed in the context of meditation, yoga, philosophy, or even religion — where “practice” means an activity done for its own sake, something that is not at first pleasurable (and in fact is often quite difficult) but that is unquestionably worthwhile for the foundation of character that it builds. Worthwhile, ultimately, because it purifies the soul.

Many runners run for the joy of running. Many vegans, since coming to this diet, have discovered a love for food and cooking they didn’t know existed. But neither of these describes me.

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Dominating Your Day with Jeff Sanders of the 5 AM Miracle

Podcast Radio2I’ve written a lot about accountability and how it can help you achieve big goals.

From signing up for a race before you’re even close to ready, to paying someone 25 bucks every day you don’t write (done them both), I’m a huge believer that accountability is the difference between goals that get achieved and goals that get forgotten.

Jeff Sanders, host of the popular 5 AM Miracle podcast, is my personal accountability partner. Every Friday morning, we get on Skype for half an hour to talk about our plans for the coming week — and whether we made good on our commitments the previous week.

Jeff is into waking up early, productivity, and everything else you’d expect given his podcast name, but he also eats a high-raw vegan diet and is a many-time marathoner. A big part of Jeff’s approach to staying productive and creative is having the energy to do so — which, of course, comes from the diet and lifestyle. And that’s why I’m excited to introduce you to Jeff in this week’s episode of NMA Radio.

Here’s what we talk about in this episode:

  • The drastic physical and mental changes Jeff noticed after going plant-based
  • What to do when your partner eats differently than you do
  • Why early morning hours can be your most productive
  • How to set productivity habits that stick
  • Motivation and the power of accountability

Click the button below to listen now:

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Links from the show:

PS — Good luck to co-host Doug in his first 100-miler, this weekend!

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Being Okay (with Being Just Okay)

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Last week I went on my first long run in months. Long, here, is generous.

It was six miles, a shortened version of a mostly flat (for Asheville) route I ran dozens of times when I was training for my hundred last summer.

Twice I stopped to walk. It was hot, but that’s not much of an excuse.

It was defeating to realize just how far I’ve slid since the hundred last July. It’s like when you go back to the gym for the first time in months or years, and struggle under a bar that’s a fraction of what you used to lift for double-digit reps. Or when you get on the scale after months of avoidance and see a number that quantifies how much you’ve let go with your diet and habits … and just how far you have to go to get back.

But something was different with this six-mile run. There was no guilt, no frustration, no overwhelm at the size of the task of getting back into marathon or ultra shape.

Because I’ve been on the roller coaster enough times now to know that this is how it works. Three different times I’ve started over in the gym, sliding back to 140 pounds after bulking up to almost 160.

More than once in my seven-year quest to get to Boston, I went six months without running — sometimes frustrated, sometimes injured, sometimes both. Once, I was pretty sure my days as a marathoner were over.

And from the time I first signed up for a hundred-miler to the time I actually ran one, I went through a lull in running where running 100 miles seemed a mere fantasy. Or perhaps a monkey I’d have to learn to be okay with carrying around on my back.

This, I realized, is the price of shunning moderation.When your approach to doing big things is to so pour yourself into them that you don’t want to think about them again for months or years, this is how it has to go.

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What Do You Listen to While You Run?

Podcast Radio2Well, it’s that time. The No Meat Athlete Academy has been live for a full week now, and that means that today, the last day of April, is your final chance to lock in the special NMA reader/listener price for as long as you remain a member, before it goes up to the normal rate tomorrow.

Inside you’ll find four hours of seminar content and almost three hours of Q&A content already available with more being added every month, perfect for listening to during runs …

… which segues nicely/awkwardly into the topic of the newest NMA Radio episode: what we listen to while we run.

Both Doug and I big fans of wearing headphones during runs. But unlike a lot of runners, we listen to more than just music. Especially if you’re putting in the long, slow miles that ultrarunning tends to encourage, that time out on the road can be an amazing to opportunity to feed your mind or to “read” those books you just can’t find time for otherwise.

Having heard from many listeners who like to listen to our podcast while they run, we figured a “meta” episode — something to listen to on your run about what to listen to on your run — would be fun.

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