Whole Food Nutrition Versus Supplementation and the Reductionist Approach

Podcast Radio2A 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

Podcast Radio2Well, 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

Podcast Radio2Late 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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Simplifying Healthy Eating: An Interview with Leo Babauta of Zen Habits

Podcast Radio2What happens when one of most trusted, respected, and downright loved bloggers on the web starts eating a plant-based diet?

Leo Babauta has been vegetarian for quite some time now — in fact, the decision not to eat meat was a major factor in the life changes that prompted him to start Zen Habits, which now reaches over 1 million readers with advice and strategies for living a simple, healthy, fulfilling life.

But more recently, Leo has embraced a completely vegan diet. And to answer the question I posed at the beginning of this post: When a blogger like Leo goes vegan, he introduces a lot of others to this lifestyle — in his decidedly non-preachy, no-pressure, strikingly effective manner.

Thus was the born the 7 Day Vegan challenge, a collaborative project that Leo created by bringing together lots of well-known vegan bloggers, cookbook authors, and athletes (including fellow podcaster Rich Roll).

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How Do You Bounce Back When a Race Goes Horribly Wrong?

Podcast Radio2We like to keep it positive around here (sickeningly so, some might argue). But there’s a dark reality of distance running that, if it hasn’t smacked you in the face yet, might be just around the corner.

I’m talking about when you have a race so bad that in the lowest moment, you tell yourself (and completely believe) some variation of the following theme:

As soon as I get through this, I’m going to quit running. For real, this time.

I’ve personally retired from running a good three or four times in my head. And I’ve heard the same from many others, including my podcast co-host Doug, who emailed me after a 50K last month with his own version of the “I quit” story:

… I fell apart. 3 miles of some of the lowest running moments I’ve ever had. Thought very seriously about dropping, quitting the streak, and taking the rest of the year off from running.

Even when it’s only the outcome of a race that’s so disappointing (as distinct from the physical pain) the urge to hang up the racing flats shows up as a way to forget about the failure.

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How to Make the Leap from Runner to Ultrarunner — with iRunFar.com’s Bryon Powell

Podcast Radio2It’s been a busy few months, with wrapping up the No Meat Athlete book and our recent trip to the NYC Vegetarian Food Festival, but No Meat Athlete Radio Episode 9 has finally happened — and it’s worth the wait.

The focus of this episode is ultrarunning — but not superhuman, I-run-a-marathon-every-day-before-breakfast ultrarunning.

Instead, the purpose of this episode is to help marathoners or half marathoners (or even runners who aren’t there yet, but have big aspirations) take the plunge into the sometimes-intimidating world of ultarunning.

To add some expertise the conversation (my co-host Doug and I have each done 50-milers, but still consider ourselves relative ultra newbies), we asked author Bryon Powell of iRunFar to join us for an interview. Bryon has completed dozens of ultramarathons, including several 100 milers, and is the author of Relentless Forward Progress, a guide to ultramarathons that Doug and I have both used extensively in our training.

After talking to some listeners in NYC, it sounds like most of you are listening to the podcast while you run, and like it when the episodes last for miles and miles so you don’t have to fiddle with your iPods. So we didn’t hold back — this one is about 85 minutes long, and packed with information. And a small disclaimer: my mic’s audio during the interview section is a little funky, so I apologize for that. But hang in there, Bryon’s knowledge is worth it!trans

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Here’s what we talk about in this episode:

  • Doug and Matt’s introduction to ultramarathons (5:00)
  • Interview with Bryon Powell of irunfar.com (14:10)
  • Difference in training plans for marathons and ultras (16:00)
  • Fueling for an ultra (23:20)
  • The mental side of ultrarunning (25:00)
  • Differences between road and trail running (28:00)
  • Where to start (33:00)
  • Matt — How can I run 100 miles after only training up to 50-100k? (35:00)
  • Doug — Advice for running up mountains (Mount Mitchell Challenge) (39:00)
  • Relentless Forward Progress (40:30)
  • Doug and Matt recap (45:45)
  • Matt’s standup comedy (46:10)
  • Trail running (46:30)
  • Upping mileage and where to start (56:45)
  • Running your first 50k (1:05:00)
  • Running your first 50 miler (1:10:15)
  • Wrap-up and news (1:18:00)

Links from the show

Races we discuss

PS — We’re running a quick “Hurry Up, Spring” sale in the No Meat Athlete Store to make room for more tanktops and shortsleeve shirts, so now through Friday, March 15, all long sleeve shirts (men’s and women’s, in both the carrot and stamp logos) are marked at 20% off. Get yours before they’re gone!

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NMA Radio: Rescuing New Year’s Resolutions

Podcast Radio2This week, the one between Christmas and New Year’s, is my favorite of the year. After the holiday celebrations have wound down, we finally have the opportunity to relax, to look back on the past year, and to get excited about all the possibilities in the next.

Last week, I wrote about why I still love New Year’s resolutions, even if they seem to have gotten a bad rap recently. In this eighth episode of No Meat Athlete Radio, Doug and I go a little bit deeper into the process of goal setting, as we discuss when, why, and how you can most effectively plan to do something great in the coming year.

Enjoy these last few days of 2012, and I hope that you’ll use them to think just a little bit harder than usual about what’s next for you. January 1st may not be inherently special on its own, I know, but there’s no reason you can’t choose to make it so.

Thanks so much for being a reader of No Meat Athlete this year. We’re truly grateful for your time, attention, and interaction, and we’re going to make 2013 our best year yet.

Here’s what we talk about in this episode:

  • Why is New Years a good time to set goals? (2:10)
  • Do you lose motivation if you postpone due to planning? (4:45)
  • How big to make your resolutions (9:05)
  • The importance of small wins (14:30)
  • Why and how you should write down your goals (17:30)
  • Seeing yourself as the person who achieves your goal (21:00)
  • The power of accountability (23:30)
  • Share your goals (32:00)
  • 2013 No Meat Athlete plans (34:15)
  • Quick-fire round! (39:00)

Help us out: If you’re a fan of the NMA podcast, we’d be immensely grateful if you’d take a second to leave us a review on iTunes.

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Links from the show:

Our phone number where you can call in to submit your question for the next episode: 707-786-3429

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How to Stay Motivated While You’re Injured

Podcast Radio2There’s nothing fun about injuries in any sport, but there’s one thing about running and other endurance sports injuries that makes them particularly devilish.

They generally happen when you’re the most excited about your training.

The reason why is pretty obvious — running injuries don’t usually happen suddenly, say, when another runner tackles you or punches you in the forehead.

You might slip or fall or roll an ankle every now and then, but most often, the injuries that sideline runners and endurance athletes are the result of overuse. We get big ideas about an upcoming race, or we fall in love all over again with running — and when we do, we run more.

More miles. Faster pace. More speedwork. We start running on our off days, or cross-training at the very least. It’s all going so great …

Until one day it isn’t. Something hurts, and gets worse. You have to stop altogether.

And then you go crazy.

Almost all of us have been there. And while there’s no one solution other than patience, there are things you can do to temper the frustration and disappointment and stay motivated until you can get back out there.

In this episode of NMA radio, Doug and I answer a few questions from Facebook and then talk to Mike Wardian, an elite vegetarian marathoner and ultrarunner who most recently won this year’s Rock ‘n’ Roll USA Marathon in DC, placed third at the 135-mile Badwater ultramarathon in 2011, and currently happens to be sidelined with an injury of his own.

Here’s how this month’s episode shakes out:

  • How do you stay positive when you’re not at 100%? (2:40)
  • When do you know to get back to training after an injury? (7:25)
  • How do you maintain fitness while you’re recovering? (9:40)
  • What’s the best way to start back up once you’re cleared to run again? (12:10)
  • Mike Wardian interview starts (17:40)
  • Doug and Matt wrap it up (50:40)
  • Beer or wine at Thanksgiving dinner table? (53:15)

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Links from the show:

Our phone number where you can call in to submit your question for next episode: 707-786-3429

Big thanks to Mike Wardian for taking the time to hang out with us!

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