Crazy Goals, Running, and the Plant-Based Diet: A Live Recording of My Book Tour Talk

What else is there to say? The book tour is done (today is the final event), I’ve written what there is to write about the adventure, and I’m pretty well stoked for the next chapter for No Meat Athlete.

2014 holds some major changes for NMA, the biggest in the five years since I started this little blog. While there’s a lot I can’t unveil quite yet, I can tell you that one change, for me, is a big shift in what I personally do. A shift away from the roles of managing, emailing, accounting, and more emailing, and a return to the simple job of making things — blog posts, podcasts, ebooks, webinars, and a lot more that Doug, Susan, and I have in mind for the next year and beyond.

And what has brought about the desire to make that change is, of course, the experience of the past two months … meeting literally thousands of readers from all across the country, listening to their stories of change, and being inspired to focus again on the things that really matter for this blog. And for this movement.

So in this final post about the tour — and trust me, it’s been amazing but it’s with great pleasure that I move on — I’m pleased to share a live recording from our event at Bearded Brothers in Austin, Texas. You’ll hear me and co-author Matt Ruscigno give what became our standard talks, so that you can get a small taste of what the events were like, in case you couldn’t make it out to one.

Hope you enjoy it — and even better, I hope you use it.

Here’s what to expect in this episode:

  • The best parts of the book tour
  • Matt Ruscigno’s talk at Bearded Brothers in Austin, TX
  • My talk at Bearded Brothers in Austin, TX
  • The “easy” trick for becoming comfortable with what scares you
  • How Doug actually took my advice and put it into action
  • Doug’s plans for his 100-miler
  • The importance of “burning desire” when it comes to habit change

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No Meat Athlete Radio: ‘Approaching the Natural’ with Author Sid Garza-Hillman

Last week — after the most beautiful drive of my life along the Pacific coast from southern Oregon to Mendocino, California — I had the pleasure of spending a night at the Stanford Inn by the Sea, an (all-vegan!) eco-resort.

I was only there for one night — 18 hours in total — but in that short time I had two amazing vegan meals at the resort’s Ravens Restaurant, a fire in my room’s fireplace, and a view of the Pacific Ocean from my balcony (sliiightly different accommodations from the roadside motels I’ve been staying in for most of the rest of the book tour).

It was all arranged by Sid Garza-Hillman, director of the Stanford Inn’s wellness center and author of the fantastic book Approaching the Natural. And someone I’m happy to call a friend after hanging out for a few days in Oakland and San Francisco, where Sid joined me in speaking at two of my tour events.

But the truth is that Sid and I became fast friends long before we met in person — our approaches to health and the active, plant-based lifestyle are so similar in their simplicity and affinity for small steps over big leaps, that it was only natural that we’d connect.

All of this, of course, is a long way of introducing a new podcast episode that Sid and I did together. We lit a fire at the Stanford Inn, sat down without any plan, and talked for an hour (or so) about health, what’s “natural” for human beings as a species, and why “approaching” that ideal — slowly and one step at a time — is the best strategy for sustainable health. We recorded it to use on both of our podcasts (check out Sid’s here).

Hope you enjoy it!

PS — As the tour enters its second month, the most common question I’ve gotten has become, “How’s the tour going?” The short answer is that it has been both incredible and incredibly hectic. The fact that it took me a week and a half just to get this episode published should give you an idea … so ignore our asking you to “come out to our San Francisco event,” unless you’ve got a time machine.

Here’s what Sid and I talk about in this episode:

  • Moving past the diet paradigm
  • Making gradual improvements in diet and fitness
  • Balancing technology in your day-to-day life
  • Finding the best calorie source
  • Does eating healthy make you happy?
  • Honesty and eating habits
  • Viewing mileage differently
  • The importance of creativity for a healthy life

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No Meat Athlete Radio: How to Find the Time to Do Everything You Want

Michael, I did nothing. I did absolutely nothing, and it was everything I thought it could be. — Peter Gibbons, Office Space

Shortly after I started this blog back in 2009, long before I added ultramarathons and kids into my life, a lot of people started asking me: How do you find time to do it all?

Back then, “it all” meant marathon training, eating a vegetarian diet, not flunking out of grad school, writing a blog, and being a husband.

I never thought it was that much, honestly … I always had plenty of time to do nothing; time to just be.

But now that two young kiddos are part of the picture — along with a 100-mile ultra, a new book, and a 40-city tour to go with it — this year there hasn’t been so much time to do nothing. I have a new understanding of “busy,” something I’m never proud to be.

So with that understanding — and the skills and tricks I’ve learned for accomplishing a lot of different goals without going insane — I’m ready to take a decent shot at answering the How do you find the time? question.

That’s what this episode, number 17 of No Meat Athlete Radio, is about. Doug and I sat down and talked about how we manage to balance fitness, healthy eating, and family life (because that’s all pretty important, you know) along with all the extraneous stuff we want to do.

Here’s hoping you’ll  find a nugget or two that’ll help you handle what you’ve got on your plate, or maybe even add something more — even if that something more is just some precious quiet time to yourself, with which to do nothing.

Here’s what we talk about in this episode:

  • The classic time management tip: important vs. urgent
  • Is multitasking really any good?
  • The power of turning “shoulds” into “musts”
  • Choosing to spend time on activities that create more time
  • Being efficient with your workouts
  • My plans for running on the book tour
  • Time-saving tips for eating a healthy plant-based diet
  • Meal planning strategies when you don’t have much time

PS — We had some audio issues this time around that made the sound a little bit distorted at times. Sorry about that!

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No Meat Athlete Radio: Farm Sanctuary Co-Founder and Ironman Gene Baur

Gene Baur would be pretty darn cool if he were “just” the co-founder of Farm Sanctuary.

Through his work there, Gene has become a published author and speaker, and a respected leader in the vegan, vegetarian, and animal advocacy worlds.

But when I go from admiration to downright jealousy is when you add, to all of Gene’s other accomplishments, the fact that he’s also a marathoner: after speaking at our pre-race No Meat Athlete dinner before the Rock ‘n’ Roll USA marathon and half, Gene proceeded to run the marathon faster than anyone in our group, en route to qualifying for Boston on his first try.

Oh yeah, and now he’s an Ironman, having completed his first one last month, in under 12 hours — breaking four hours in the marathon, following the 112-mile bike and 2.4-mile swim. No big deal.

It was a pleasure to have Gene as a guest on No Meat Athlete Radio. In this episode, we talk a bit about Farm Sanctuary and its mission, then compare how we trained and fueled our recent races — Gene’s Ironman and my 100-miler, which coincidentally took place on the same weekend.

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No Meat Athlete Radio: An Interview About My First 100-Miler

By now, if you’re a regular No Meat Athlete reader, it’s likely that you’ve read (fine, skimmed) my 4500-word recap of my first 100-miler last weekend. I’ve loved reading and responding to the comments, and am truly humbled by the nice things you’ve all have had to say.

Well, here’s some more for you! No Meat Athlete Radio has a minor obsession with ultrarunning, so we couldn’t let my first 100 go by without an episode dedicated to it.

But to make sure this didn’t just turn into an audio version of my text recap, we did something a little different — Doug (himself an ultrarunner eyeing his first 100) and I didn’t exchange a word about the race until the tape was rolling.

So these are Doug’s questions, my answers — two budding ultrarunners chatting, unrehearsed, about a first 100. As a result, there’s a good bit different here from my written recap, with a lot of “inside the head” stuff that’s easier to express in a conversation than in writing. I think you’ll take away some valuable nuggets from our conversation.

If nothing else, it’ll help you pass the time on a long run this weekend; listening to podcasts got me through a lot of mundane miles in the training for this race.

Enjoy!

Here’s what we talk about in this episode:

  • The importance (or not) of sleep the night before an ultra
  • Pacing strategies and walk breaks in a 100
  • The single biggest mistake I made
  • The low point, and inside “the moment” where it all turned around
  • What I warned my crew not to listen to me about
  • Why a negative outlook before the race actually helped me
  • Advice for beating wet feet, and a crucial piece of equipment I forgot to bring
  • What it’s like to run through the night on trails
  • My eating strategy for the race
  • Drinking only to thirst instead of to a schedule
  • What’s so great about Hoka One One’s
  • The reason the whole thing wasn’t quite as hard as I expected
  • How a friend helped me decide not to have a time goal
  • What the recovery has been like
  • What’s next? (Hint: RAGNAR!)

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Whole Food Nutrition Versus Supplementation and the Reductionist Approach

A few weeks ago, I posted a (long) article called “Are You Getting the Nutrients You Need from Your Plant-Based Diet?“, written with my friend and book co-author, Matt Ruscigno, R.D.

It was a fun post to put together (especially the infographic, which I think is pretty handy), and I learned a lot in the process, as I always do when I work with Matt.

But a few of the comments in response to that post, along with T. Colin Campbell’s new book, Whole, left me with a nagging question:

Should we even bother worrying about individual nutrients, or is it enough to say “eat whole plant foods” and be done with it?

It’s a tough one — Campbell’s book makes a compelling argument that the only reason individual nutrients like iron, omega 3’s, all the letter vitamins, and even protein are in common parlance is the green stuff … and I mean money, not kale. “Eat whole foods” doesn’t sell magazines, pills, doctor visits, or surgeries; reductionist approaches to health do.

And yet on the other hand, those of us who eat plant-based are choosing a diet that’s very different from the norm in our society. Do we have a responsibility (to ourselves, our kids, the people to whom we recommend this diet) to know that we are, in fact, getting everything we’re “supposed” to?

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My 12-Hour Race Report, and a 102-Mile Fastpacking Adventure

Well, I’ve officially cleared the biggest hurdle on my path toward running a 100-miler (until race day, that is): a 50-mile training run.

Actually, 52.7 miles. Last Saturday I ran the Black Mountain Monster, a 12-hour race around a 5K loop that comprises single-track trails, roads, and a few fields. I had hoped to cover 100K (62 miles) on the day, but when I completed my 17th loop at 11 hours and 15 minutes, I was fairly certain I couldn’t run another in 45 minutes, and called it a day.

Anything over 50 miles was good enough for me and for my preparation for the 100-miler, so the race was by no means a failure. But still, 10 miles short of my distance goal is a lot, and I can mainly blame myself for that — I started out way too fast, clocking 10-minute miles for the first three loops, when a steady 11:30 pace was all I would have needed to reach 100K.

The good news, though? I learned more during this race than in any previous one. I paid careful attention to exactly how many calories and electrolytes I was taking in, my paces, how my body responded to the heat, my shoes, and much more. Nothing like a little fear of running 100 miles to make you get serious, I guess — I even took notes! (You can see them here, if you’re interested. I’d love to hear answers to my questions at the bottom from any experienced ultrarunners; feel free to leave them in the comments on this post.)

I’m not a huge fan of writing race recaps — I honestly can’t imagine someone sitting in front a computer long enough to read thousands of words about my race. But somehow, listening to those words on a podcast seems a bit more reasonable, so all the details are in this episode.

Doug, my co-host on the podcast, did a little ultra-adventure of his own the previous weekend — a 102-mile, mostly self-supported trek over three days on the Appalachian Trail. This style of covering a fairly large amount of ground (compared to traditional hiking) is called “fast packing,” and Doug tells us all about his first experience with it here.

Enjoy the show!

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From Overweight to Ultra-Endurance Athlete: Our Interview with Rich Roll

Late one night after a long day of work, just before his 40th birthday, Rich Roll polished off some fast-food cheeseburgers as he watched TV before heading to bed.

As he walked up the stairs, Rich had to stop, bend over and catch his breath before he could continue. Sweat was on his brow. The stress and busyness of life on the partnership track at a law firm had taken their toll on the body of this former Stanford swimmer.

Instead of blaming his work or coming up with another excuse, Rich did what most people don’t. He seized the moment. He decided then and there that things would change — that things had to change.

It’s hard to believe that just two years after the staircase incident, Rich finished one of the most grueling endurance events on the planet — Ultraman, essentially a double Ironman-distance stage triathlon — in 11th place, no less. And the following year, Men’s Fitness magazine named him one of the 25 Fittest Guys in the World. (Oh, and did I mention Rich did it all on a plant-based diet?)

In this episode of No Meat Athlete Radio, Doug and I had the absolute pleasure of hanging out with Rich, author of Finding Ultra and now host of the wildly popular Rich Roll podcast, to pick his brain about the behaviors and mindset that allowed him to make such dramatic changes, going from overweight and unhealthy at age 40 to one of the most famous vegan athletes in the world — all in the span of about two years.

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