7 Days of Camping, Running, and Raw Food at the Woodstock Fruit Festival

WFF 2013 9017 1024x320It was a few years ago when I first heard about the Woodstock Fruit Festival, a week-long event (back then) put on by ultrarunner and Fruitarian Michael Arnstein.

Camping, swimming, running, hiking, games, bonfires, demos and talks — the most notable of which, for me, have been Mike’s ultrarunning talks that I watched on YouTube. Part 1 and part 2 were instrumental in my preparation for my 100-miler last summer.

And of course, for seven full days, all the raw fruits and vegetables you could possibly want … but no cooked food.

That’s where I got stuck. I worried I wouldn’t fit in — that because I eat a lot of cooked food, I’d be the odd man out, and spend all week defending my choices, even as a vegan.

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The Surprising Results of My Tart Cherry Juice Challenge

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been experimenting with tart cherries as a workout recovery aid, as part of 7-Day Tart Cherry Juice Challenge and series of posts sponsored by the Cherry Marketing Institute. Well, the results are in.

When I wrote “surprising” in the title, I meant it. But not for the reason you might expect (which, come to think of it, is what surprise means).

In case you missed the introductory post, here’s how my experiment set up:

  1. Run every day for a week, including several hard running workouts.
  2. Drink one tablespoon of tart cherry concentrate twice a day — once in the morning and once immediately post-run. (This is half the amount I wrote in the first post, where a reader pointed out my mistake and I corrected it before I began the challenge.)

It’s important to note that this running was supposed to represent a challenging week. While I’ve been running a fair amount this summer, my typical week prior to this experiment has been pretty relaxed … about four runs, 30 to 40 minutes each, and all at easy pace.

The point of my experiment, of course, was to put myself through a training week that would normally create a lot of soreness and fatigue. In this way, I’d be able to tell whether or not the tart cherries lived up to claim that they aid in recovery.

Everything went to plan, with one exception: I traded a planned long run on the last day for a second interval workout. This had nothing to do with how my body felt, and everything to do with a renewed interest in speedwork (and a renewed boredom with slow runs) that my return to interval training brought on.

So did the cherries help?

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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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Introducing the No Meat Athlete Community Site (Plus a Handful of New Speaking Events)

NMA badgeLast month, No Meat Athlete quietly turned five years old. I’d have loved to have planned a big hoopla giveaway extravaganza, but alas, I’ve been working on something better.

In five years, we’ve done some pretty neat things, not the least of which are putting some 20,000 “Runs on Plants” shirts out into the world, a book, and a book tour.

But without a doubt, my favorite moments in these past five years have been the stories: Wendy’s story, Tom’s story, Katie’s story, Susan’s story, to name just a few.

But these are just the ones that have made it onto the blog. During the book tour, I heard dozens, maybe hundreds more, in person. And of course many, many more on social media. (My favorites are when people randomly run into each other wearing NMA shirts and then become friends.)

What’s really remarkable, though? All these stories and connections have happened without a place for them to happen.

But finally, we’ve built that place.

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Make December Your Best Month

With Thanksgiving  finished — and I hope you had a great one — we move into what for my entire life has been my favorite season of all.

No, not the “Black Friday through Cyber Monday” shopping season. Not even just Christmas. But instead, the entire final month of the year, as we head towards a brand spanking new one.

Why December is My Favorite Month of the Year

It’s only since I’ve been an adult that I’ve come to realize that New Year’s Eve and Day are my favorite days of the year. But, considering the total geek for goal-setting I’ve grown into, this isn’t surprising at all.

While I used to spend the week between Christmas and New Year’s reflecting on the past year and putting plans in place for the next, I’ve in recent years expanded those behaviors and that mindset to stretch through the entire month of December.

To me, it seems natural, primal, and in tune with nature — take time during the cold, barren months of winter to plan, so that when it comes time for massive action in the spring and throughout the summer, you’re ready.

Sure beats overeating and getting loopy at holiday parties (though I won’t say I never do those …).

Having treated the past few winters this way, it seems a habit has been formed, and now when the chill enters the air, a sense of possibility is what comes to mind.

If you’re into New Year’s “resolutions” — and I’ll of course remind you that January 1 is arbitrary and that the “clean slate of a new year” effect is almost meaningless — I do believe you dramatically increase your chances of success by using December as a month to get a head start on those resolutions. If not by action, then at least by serious planning and anticipation, so that when the calendar changes, it brings with it a feeling of importance rather than the sense that this resolution will meet the same, silent end so many others have.

So that’s why I love this time of year. And while I’m not saying you need to go into a special goal-setting cave or shun the occasional overindulgence of the holidays (I watch almost no TV throughout the year, then suddenly become a fiend for awful ABC Family movies like Holiday in Handcuffs), I encourage you to start thinking about your goals and the changes you’d like to make now, instead of waiting until the afternoon of December 31st to start thinking about how next year will be different.

And so with that, in hallowed Black Friday tradition …

Special Deals to Get You Jump-Started

Here’s what we at No Meat Athlete have for this weekend, through Cyber Monday — aimed at helping you get a head start (or just a boost of extra inspiration) on whatever big changes lie ahead for you in 2014:

book bundle1. Book/ebook combo packs at over 35% off — a signed copy of the new No Meat Athlete print book + either the Marathon Roadmap or Triathlon Roadmap, priced at over 35% off the combined total regular prices. And as a bonus, you’ll get access to the special goal-setting workshop described below.

2. Exclusive goal-setting workshop when you buy 3 copies of No Meat Athlete: To encourage you to gift the new No Meat Athlete book this holiday season, just buy 3 copies of the No Meat Athlete book (from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, iBooksIndiebound, your local store … anywhere EXCEPT the No Meat Athlete store) and you’ll get access to a special live webinar at the end of December, where I’ll walk you through the goal-setting process I use each year to tackle big, “unrealistic” goals — plus answer any questions you have (about anything at all). Just forward me a copy of your receipt (matt@nomeatathlete.com) and I’ll give you the details!

(And by the way, ebooks work too — the NMA book is available as an ebook, on Kindle, Nook, and iBooks. Amazon even has a special program called Matchbook that allows you to get the Kindle version for $2.99 if you’ve bought the print version!)

3. 25% off everything in the No Meat Athlete store. Shirts, magnets, stickers, ebooks, and even signed copies of the No Meat Athlete print book.

Have a great weekend! And amidst all the shopping, if that’s your thing, take just a few minutes and start to think about what you’d like to change and what you might accomplish next year if you’d let yourself believe that you could … and go into 2014 with engines fired up and raring to go, rather than playing catch up from the very start.

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40 Cities, 50 Days: My U.S. Book Tour Recap

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The 3-foot tall poster my wife and kids used to keep track of me. :)

Just like an ultramarathon, it was both exhilarating and exhausting. There were times when I looked at how far I had left to go before I could sleep again in my own bed, and — feeling completely overwhelmed — I did what dozens of ultras and marathons have taught me to do.

Focus on the next step. And then the next. And then the next.

And, just like that, I went from city to city for a month and a half. Instead of aid stations, they were hotel rooms. Instead of long hikes up hills, they were 8- and 12-hour drives. And instead of downhills, the fun parts that ended too quickly were the events themselves, where I met hundreds and hundreds of No Meat Athletes and felt anything but alone.

I’ve been back home with my wife and kids for two weeks now. I’ll hit the road next week for two more events nearby (Raleigh and Charlotte, NC), but it sure feels like I’m done. And like every ultra I’ve finished, while I’m glad to be done, I’m especially glad to have done it.

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The First 10 Days of the No Meat Athlete Book Tour

matt talking

Speaking at JackRabbit NYC. Photo courtesy Ben Ko.

Wow, what a week! It’s been 10 days since I started my book tour, and I’ve had two events each in Washington, D.C., Pennsylvania, and Ohio, plus Boston and New York City.

If all that weren’t enough for 10 days, I took a two-day “break” to run the RAGNAR Relay in DC on an ultra team … which meant running 40 miles of our team’s 200 total. In 90-degree heat. From a smelly, crowded, always-moving van. Over the course of 28 hours. Fun times!

Actually RAGNAR was a lot of fun, even if doing it in the middle of the book tour wasn’t my best idea ever — see Doug’s RAGNAR recap if you’re interested in more about how our team did and Doug’s do’s and don’ts.

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The No Meat Athlete RAGNAR DC team. 28 hours, 199 miles, 1 seriously disgusting van.

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The No Meat Athlete Book is Out Today (Saying Thanks)

bookphotoToday, the first day my book is officially available in stores and online (serendipitously, World Vegetarian Day), is a surreal one indeed.

I’m typing this post from the passenger seat of a car, driving to Boston for the second stop on my book tour, in just a few hours. Even that phrase — “my book tour” — feels very odd to actually say or write.

But it’s underway, and the faces, names, and stories of the people I met last night in the small town of Media, PA made it feel very real, reminding me why I decided to take on this tour in the first place.

The book is at the top of several categories on Amazon. All morning I’ve been doing phone interviews and email interviews and scheduling new ones, amidst excitedly reading early reviews of the book on blogs — some of my favorite blogs, no less. It’s like a dream, and one that I’m doing everything I can to appreciate while it lasts.

It is beyond incredible that all this has happened. And while I’m feeling lots of different emotions right now — giddiness, nervousness, excitement, fatigue, missing my wife and kids — the one keeping me centered and integrated is gratitude.

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