10 Ways to Make Your Next Run an Adventure (Even in Your Neighborhood)

woman running on a mountain road at summer sunsetThis post was written by Doug Hay of Rock Creek Runner.

Quick: what are the most important personality traits for a runner to have?

If you’re like most people, you’ve probably come up with things like:

  • Discipline
  • Work ethic
  • Toughness
  • Motivation
  • Focus

Good list. They’re all relevant to training success. But if that’s your list, then you missed the biggest one.

I’m talking about a less obvious trait. One that incorporates everything listed above and more, and sits at the top of my list for traits of a good runner.


Allow me to explain:

To adventure, as defined by the good folks over at Google, is “to engage in a hazardous and exciting activity, especially the exploration of unknown territory.” Just reading that sends tingles of excitement down my spine.

An adventure is thrilling, so it takes care of the motivation and discipline. An adventure takes you out of your comfort zone, which leaves you focused and tough. An adventure is difficult, fun, and maybe even life-changing.

So why is a sense of adventure so important to running success? Because if you can keep the adventure high, everything else follows suit.

And an adventurous runner is someone I can count on to run in the rain, through the dark, when the streets are crowded or the trails remote.

They’re in it for the experience, not just the workout.

That’s what makes running stick. That’s what keeps you coming back for more.

I like to judge a run not by the pace or distance, but by the number of yelps and amount of time spent smiling.

Yelps mean I’m excited and pushing out of my comfort zone (and pushing my pace or distance in return). Smiles mean I’m having fun, and can’t wait to do it again.

All signs pointing towards adventure.

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On Bouncing Back

On the night of June 29th, I packed my suitcase for what was supposed to be just 10 days in Italy.

We would be spending some time with family before and after the trip, but we could do laundry there. So I needed only 10 days’ worth of clothes, my running shoes, my Kindle, and my computer. My wife, Erin, packed her suitcase and our kids’ similarly.

What we never could have guessed was that come October — more than three months after we left home — we’d still be living out of those same suitcases. Or that that night at the end of June would be the last we’d ever spend in our house.

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The All-New No Meat Athlete Shirts are Finally Here!



It’s here! The new look of No Meat Athlete has made its way to our shirts … but not without some drama.

Almost three months ago, along with a brief history of the running carrot, I announced that it was time for him to hang up his shoes.

He would be replaced by something new, something just slightly more serious and a tad bit tougher, to better convey what this plant-based athlete lifestyle and our No Meat Athlete movement is all about — on the shirts, website, and everything else.

Up until then, my wife and I had folded and shipped almost every shirt, all 25,000+ of them, by hand. But with the retirement of the running carrot, we decided it was finally time to pass that job off to someone who actually knows what they’re doing when it comes to managing inventory and fulfillment. (And you know what I mean if you ever waited months for a certain style and size of shirt to be back in stock. :))

And it’s a good thing we did …

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Join Us on the Holistic Holiday at Sea Cruise in 2016


(And get a discount when you register before October 10th, plus an onboard credit. Details below.)

If you’ve read and listened to No Meat Athlete this year, then you know what an influence this year’s Holistic Holiday at Sea Cruise has had on my family’s lifestyle.

It was Chef AJ’s talk on the cruise that inspired my wife, Erin, to lose 20 pounds and rediscover her passion for running and fitness. And it was the food on the ship and the talks by T. Colin Campbell, Caldwell Esselstyn, and Michael Greger that convinced us to finally stop eating oil at home.

I’m excited to announce that next year I’ll be back on the cruise again, this time as a presenter. In addition to a giving a talk about setting big goals and developing the habits to achieve them, I’m also part of a panel discussion and Q&A with vegan fitness stars Robert Cheeke, Derek Tresize, and Marcella Torres.

Erin will be back as well, and we hope that you’ll join us February 27th through March 5th, 2016.

Why come on the cruise?

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A Look at No Meat Athlete — Oklahoma City


No Meat Athlete OKC, in front of the Flaming Lips’ Museum

If our first two running group successes, Miami and Virginia Beach, have been surprises, our third is a complete shocker. Oklahoma City … that’s beef country, isn’t it?

But continuing on the theme of our other successful groups, the lack of vegan options and activities nearby makes for strong, tight bonds among NMA OKC’s members.

In fact, the first time I met some of them wasn’t in Oklahoma City but at the Marshall Healthfest in Texas, to which three members (Gina, Jon, and Kaitlyn) had driven together — for six hours each way.

The point was driven home when I visited the group in Oklahoma earlier this year and several members told me things like, “Before this group, I had never met another vegan in person.” Or, “I hang out with my NMA friends more than I do my other friends now.”

Pretty crazy! Let’s see what makes NMA Oklahoma City work.


Strong Leadership, Committed Members

Several of our other running group leaders have been frustrated by the difficulty of getting more than a few members to show up for runs when they see other groups getting 20 to 30 people for their biggest events. Here’s the thing, though: OKC doesn’t get huge numbers either, but makes it work nonetheless.

So how do they do it?

Gina Stone, the leader of the OKC group, says:

I had no idea what to expect when I scheduled the first run in October. Honestly, I was fully prepared to run by myself that first day. As it turned out, five people and one puppy showed up!

We’ve continued to meet every Sunday since then. Although we have about 137 members in the Facebook group, participation for our runs is small, ranging from about one to ten runners each week. But the bond we have with one another and the commitment of our regulars is strong.

It was so easy for us to connect each Sunday because we were just thrilled to finally have a conversation that didn’t involve us defending our protein intake. We have an amazing group of people who probably would not have ever come together had it not been for the NMA running group.

While the turnout varies each week, a few members form a rock-solid core that’s consistently showing up for runs and other group events. Another group of more casual members rotates in and out.

And it seems like it’s been that way since the beginning:

Even though I’m the one that creates the event on Facebook and “shouts” directions as we meander through downtown each week, this group would not be what it is without the initial enthusiasm, support, and participation from Kris, Jonathan, Nelly, and Emily. As the group grows, we continue to acquire new, committed “regulars” who add layer upon layer of awesomeness to the runs and the veg scene in our city.

It’s the people that make this group rock, no doubt. There is no better feeling than blazing through the odious Oklahoma weather every week with a mighty tribe of paradigm-busting, compassionate, inspiring athletes.


Like Clockwork

Every week I scan through the photos that our running groups post in their Facebook groups, and early on, OKC stood out. It wasn’t that they had huge numbers, just that every single week, a few people turned out. One low-turnout run didn’t mean the end of the group; they’d just have fun and show up again the next week.

Same time. Same place. Every week. In Gina’s words:

Our group is consistent, welcoming, diverse, and reliable. We meet at the same time, relatively same spot, run the same course, and encourage all levels of ability and plant-based eating to join us. In a place like Oklahoma, it is easy to be a vegan freak, but it’s even easier to latch on to those individuals who share your unique beliefs and lifestyle.

What Makes It Work

In a nutshell, it’s:

  • Consistency. Even though the turnout has never been huge, the group can count on a run every week. Same time, same place.
  • Friendships. Some members also go to other running groups together, and the Facebook page really took off with lively conversation, including an ongoing argument about the merits of grapefruit.
  • The common bond in a place where vegans are few.
  • A few members who are really committed, forming a very strong core.

I had no idea what a blast I’d have visiting this group in Oklahoma City. I’ve harped on the closeness of the friendships a lot here already, but it took actually hanging out with them for a weekend to fully understand how powerful a factor this is.

The day I arrived, we had delicious almond milk cappuccino at Elemental Coffee, then pizza and beers while we waited out a tornado warning. The next day it was hot yoga and a visit to Mim’s Bakery, a vegan food truck run by Emily, a member of the group. And of course, the obligatory stop at the Flaming Lips’ museum for the official photo during our run, before enjoying one more meal out at one of just a few vegan-friendly spots in town.

As unlikely as it might seem in the heart of beef country, this group made being a vegan in OKC for a weekend a blast. Limited in options, sure, but amazing people to share the journey with — people who “get” you and want to see and be a part of real change for their city.

If any one factor is the reason for their success, that’s it.

A Few More Photos of NMA OKC









Haven’t run with your city’s NMA group yet? Check out our full listing and get on it! And if it doesn’t exist in your city yet, why not be the one to start it?



Frustrated with Your Inability to Change? How a Simple Shift in Focus Can Make All the Difference

Imagine that a change you want to make is a thousand-pound boulder you’ve got to move.

You push with all your weight against it, and it doesn’t budge. Not an inch.

So you take a break, and try again.

It still doesn’t move. Try again; same result.

Eventually, you realize the boulder is not going to move, and you give up, feeling defeated and powerless.

Until you remember what Archimedes said: “Give me a lever long enough and a fulcrum on which to place it, and I shall move the world.”

It turns out that focusing on the lever, not the boulder, makes all the difference when it comes to making a real change in your life. But how exactly do you make this shift?

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The Ridiculously Simple Way to Peel a Mango (With a Pint Glass!)

(Click here to watch the video on YouTube.)

First, proper credit. While I would love to have invented this trick, I didn’t: I learned it from a Crazy Russian Hacker video.

To call this trick “life-changing” might be a stretch, but it’s not far off. I bet I ate 100 mangoes last August after I learned it. For real. (It helped that I was on a fruitarian kick, sometimes eating three or four mangoes for lunch.)

I’ve shown this trick for peeling mangoes to anyone who will watch, and I’m continually shocked by the number of people — even vegans, fruit people, etc. — who don’t know it. Maybe I get more excited about mangoes than most, but still: if this one were common knowledge, I truly believe there would be no wars.

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Sleep Matters: 7 Ideas for Doing It Better

bedding sheets and pillow sleep bedThis post is sponsored by the Cherry Marketing Institute, the third in a series of six I’m doing in partnership with them this year.

Back when I was in college, I used to hear the joke that of good grades, sleep, and a social life, you could have whichever two you chose … but only two.

Replace “good grades” with a job, and you’ve got a pretty accurate description of the real, grown-up world, for most people. And when “social life” now includes mostly non-negotiable activities like spending time with your kids, exercising, and taking the time to prepare healthy food for yourself and your family, skimping on those eight hours of sleep we’re supposed to get each night starts to become a pretty attractive option.

It’s not news that as a culture, we’re sleep deprived. Starbucks wouldn’t be a $15-billion/year company if we all woke up smiling and chipper every morning. (Check out this week’s issue of Brian Clark’s Further, my favorite weekly email digest about “health, wealth and wisdom,” for loads of compelling reasons to get your z’s.)

And if you’re an athlete …

… then sleep matters even more. In his ultrarunning talk from the Woodstock Fruit Festival (starting around the 18:00 mark), Michael Arnstein says that how much sleep he gets the night before a 100-miler is one of the most important factors in how he’ll perform — he even goes as far as to wear a blindfold, earplugs, and a hat to bed; sleep in isolation; and several days before the race, start hitting the sack in the early evening so that he’ll get used to the early bedtime and be able to log eight to ten hours before waking up at 4am on race day.

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