No Meat Athlete http://www.nomeatathlete.com Vegetarian & Vegan Running & Fitness Wed, 04 Mar 2015 15:38:13 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.1.1 3 Ways I’m Training Smarter than Ever for My Marathon Comeback http://www.nomeatathlete.com/smart-training/ http://www.nomeatathlete.com/smart-training/#comments Fri, 27 Feb 2015 14:54:08 +0000 http://www.nomeatathlete.com/?p=24640 Note: This post is sponsored by the Cherry Marketing Institute. Opinions are entirely my own. It’s been a full three years since I last ran a marathon, and over five since I last ran one hard. Or, to be fair (since they’re all hard), the last time I was last in PR-shape. Although I haven’t

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Jogger checking the running timeNote: This post is sponsored by the Cherry Marketing Institute. Opinions are entirely my own.

It’s been a full three years since I last ran a marathon, and over five since I last ran one hard. Or, to be fair (since they’re all hard), the last time I was last in PR-shape.

Although I haven’t exactly sat around since then, the training I’ve done for ultras has been much more relaxed and slower-paced than what I ever did as a marathoner. Lots of hills because of where I live, but I can count on one hand the number of speed workouts I’ve done since qualifying for Boston back in 2009.

So a return to marathons — to gasping for air during workouts, to hurrying through water stops, and to not walking the hills — will surely be no picnic. But it’s a change, and as someone who will take change over boredom any day of the week, it’s one I’m ready for.

I don’t know if I’m going for PR. Certainly not in this first marathon back; I think it’ll take me two races and a full year to get anywhere close to my 3:09:59 best. I’d love to run Boston again, and because I’ll be 35 next year (whaaat?)3:09 would get me in again, even under the new, tougher standards.

But somehow that’s not enough to motivate me. What I’d really like — the big, impossible goal that I seem to require in order to be excited — is to one day break three hours: to run a marathon time that starts with “2”. But alas, for now, I dream …

Even though I’m not in the shape that 2009 Matt was, I’ve got a leg up on that punk-ass 28-year-old whippersnapper. And that leg’s name is Wisdom from Experience (admittedly not a great name).

What I mean is this: ultramarathon training has caused me to grow. I’m smarter. It takes a completely different mindset to run a 50- or 100-miler, and a better understanding of what works, nutritionally. I’ve learned how to better train in the heat, which shoes work best for me, and how to eat better in general (I consider my 100% vegan diet another huge advantage I have over younger, just-turned-vegetarian Matt).

And finally, I think ultras have made me better at not letting up, even when it hurts.

Let’s get specific though. Here are three ways in which, even before the training for my marathon comeback has begun, I’m doing it smarter than ever before.

1. I chose a training plan that matches who I am

No, my training plan isn’t an insightful, funny, confident guy with boyish good looks. (But thanks.)

Half a decade of running ultras has taught me one hugely important lesson about myself: I love running … for the first hour. After that, unless it’s race day, I get bored and hate it.

So running three to six miles every day is great — lots of time to listen to audiobooks and podcasts while I’m engaging my body. Doesn’t get any better than that.

But weekend long runs, 15 or 20 and even sometimes 30 miles? Not my cup of tea.

So this time, I chose a plan that matches who I am. It’s by the Hanson brothers, and while the mileage is just as high as I’ve ever run, it’s spread more evenly throughout the week than it is in most plans. This means that runs during the week are longer — usually six to eight miles, so staying close to an hour — but the weekend long runs are shorter. Instead of 18-, 20-, and 22-milers, the Hanson plan maxes out at 16. Still a long run with plenty of time to get bored, but for me on a Sunday morning, two and half hours is far more agreeable than three or four.

I’ve heard mixed reviews about the Hanson plan. Surely, for a first or even a second marathon, there’s something to be said for the confidence that logging a 20-miler gives you. But having done a lot of running and learned a lot about myself in the process, I think a plan with fewer long runs might keep me motivated more than any has before.

2. I’m giving myself plenty of time to train

It took me six marathons and seven years to qualify for Boston, but the irony of it all is that I’d have gotten there quicker if I’d have been more patient. I was confident and passionate and on a mission — and although I may have never made it without those qualities, in one way they slowed me down.

Every time I trained for a race back then, I tried to do too much, in too little time. If 3:10:59 was the time I needed to qualify, it didn’t matter that my last marathon had taken me almost four hours. And if the race I wanted to run was 14 weeks away, it didn’t matter that my training plan was 18 weeks long — who wants to wait four and a half months anyway?

As a result, I was constantly on the edge of injury. I always felt “behind” in my training. And most race days, even when they yielded PR’s, felt like disappointments.

I almost did that again this time: in the excitement for running that #writeandrun31 created for me, I came very close to signing up for race that was just 14 weeks away — when the Hanson advanced plan is 18 weeks long.

And then … I didn’t. Instead of the doing the impulsive, I chose what I can best describe as the wise. (And old and grown-up and boring, but what are you gonna do?) And I’m happy with that choice.

I haven’t chosen a race yet, but I’m looking mainly at races in September and October, a full six months or more from now. I’ve got to figure out what to do in the meantime before training officially starts (another lesson I’ve learned: if I don’t have a plan before the plan, that’s not good either), but with another round of #writeandrun31 starting in March, I’ll have plenty to keep myself motivated.

3. I’m drinking tart cherry juice for recovery

I first discovered tart cherry juice by way of a week-long trial last year, during which I was shocked to experience noticeable improvement in a nagging shoulder injury I’d been dealing with for more than six months. Since then, I’ve become something of an evangelist for the natural anti-inflammatory properties of tart cherries (and to be totally transparent, this post and others this year are sponsored by the Cherry Marketing Institute).

But I wasn’t actually training for anything then, so I couldn’t really speak to how well cherries help runners recover from workouts, as they’re purported to do, even finding their way into the routines of elites like vegan ultramarathon hero Scott Jurek. The science is there — you can read the details in my post right before my trial last year, but the gist is that drinking tart cherry juice twice a day (one study specifically had athletes drink it before and after races) may speed up recovery by lessening inflammation, muscle pain, and oxidative stress.

So that’s what I’ll be doing, drinking 8 ounces of tart cherry juice (or more often, 2 tablespoons of concentrate) twice per day — once in my morning smoothie, and once directly following my workout. That’s a decent amount of added sugar to my diet, and while I’m not concerned about it immediately post-workout, I’ll make adjustments to my smoothie so that it’s not overly sweet and doesn’t pack more sugar than I need.

Given how well I’ve responded to tart cherry juice in my trial and since then, I’m excited to see how it works when I’m training hard again … and yes, that means speed workouts.

The best laid plans …

In theory, this all seems great. The cagey veteran relies on his wits to overcome his failing body, like Kirk Gibson knocking one out of park on two bad legs in the ’88 World Series.

Okay, so my body isn’t exactly failing, and it’s a stretch to call me cagey. Come to think of it, I have no idea what that word means. But I do know that when it comes to training for a race that’s many months away, a lot can happen. Better than any foolproof plan is having the foresight to know that everything won’t work; no matter how perfect your approach seems at the outset, you’ll need to make adjustments. And I will.

But I’m happy to be back to running again, and to have a goal that excites me. Onward!

 

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3 Habits to Turn to When You’re Just Not Yourself http://www.nomeatathlete.com/habit-medicine/ http://www.nomeatathlete.com/habit-medicine/#comments Wed, 25 Feb 2015 21:25:13 +0000 http://www.nomeatathlete.com/?p=24654 If you’re anything like me, you go through inexplicable rough periods now and then, those times when you’re just not feeling it. Not quite depression … just a funk. You know what I mean: Things don’t excite you the way they usually do. You wake up at night wondering if you’re doing what you should be

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If you’re anything like me, you go through inexplicable rough periods now and then, those times when you’re just not feeling it. Not quite depression … just a funk.

You know what I mean: Things don’t excite you the way they usually do. You wake up at night wondering if you’re doing what you should be with your life. And those demons you thought you had licked start to inch their miserable way back into your life.

And during these times — whether as a consequence or the cause — you tend to do fewer of your good habits, and more of your bad ones.

So how do you break out of the funk?

The hard part about these episodes of down-ness is that what you feel like doing is exactly what you don’t need to be doing — eating more (and more junk), drinking more alcohol and caffeine, watching mindless TV (I’ve been on a ridiculous Parks and Recreation on Netflix bender), and generally choosing comfort now over happiness later.

I’m not very good at avoiding the bad habits when I get down, and I don’t think many people are. But I’ve played this game enough times to know that it’s okay — as long as I’m doing the good habits too.

Which good habits?

Depending on my emotional season, three of them split time as my “anchor habit” — the habit that I do every day, without fail. Your anchor habit (or keystone habit, Charles Duhigg and James Clear call it) is the one that makes everything else easier, the one that constantly nudges you towards being your best self. It might be yoga, running, meditation … something that brings you joy and just makes the rest of the day — and you — better.

So, you know how some people take mega-doses of vitamin C when they start to get sick? I’ve started taking mega-doses of anchor habits when I’m not feeling like, mentally and emotionally, like myself.

And I’ve found that it works — at least, better than anything else I know.

Here are my three. They won’t necessarily be the ones that work for you, but I hope reading about mine will inspire you to think about which ones are yours, and that you’ll use them to take care of yourself the next time you’re in a funk.

3 Habits for Your Head

1. Running & listening.

I should think of a better name for this pairing, considering how much I love it. Thirty or forty-five minutes of exercising your body is a known funk-buster by itself — but combine it with distraction-free immersion in an inspiring podcast or audiobook, and you’ve got an activity worth building your schedule around. And this is before you even consider whatever synergistic effects come from doing the two simultaneously: they say “emotion is created by motion,” and I’ve found that to be true.

And one feature that makes this one a great weapon against the funk? The two habits reinforce each other: for example, a lot of times when I don’t feel like running, I do it anyway, simply because it’s my chance to listen to something I’m really interested in without any distractions.

Right now, I’m rotating through several audio options: Seth Godin’s Leap First (a live recording from the week I spent in his office last summer), Walter Isaacson’s biography of Steve Jobs, the New Rainmaker podcast, the Tim Ferriss show, and the James Altucher podcast.

2. Reading. 

Reading has always been something I spend a lot of time on, but this year I made a change to how I do it. Instead of reading new books — which are easy, immediately gratifying, and in this way addictive — I’m sticking mostly to the books I’ve had on my to-read list for what seems like ever. I wrote a list on my chalkboard wall of what I’m going to read this year, and made the rule for myself that I can’t add anything to it. The result is that it’s a little harder to sit down and read (there’s a reason I haven’t gotten to these books before) but I feel more accomplished and fulfilled than I used to by every minute I spend reading. I just finished up Roll the Bones: The History of Gambling, a 500-pager that’s been on my shelf for years — and I feel so much better having read that than three new business books that I’ll forget about as soon as I shut.

3. Morning pages.

Probably my quirkiest habit, but one whose legion of devotees is growing. Every day this year (and many days last year, too), I’ve done three pages of long-hand, stream-of-consciousness writing as soon as possible after I wake up. The point isn’t to produce anything good, but instead to purge your mind of all the thoughts that would otherwise bounce around in circles all day. For me, it’s meditation and medication, and I love it that way some people love yoga or tea. (The morning pages habit is just one part of The Artist’s Way, a program that I’m working through now. But I think it stands just as well on its own.)

“I’m Running, Wanna Come?”

Seth Godin shared a mindset with us last summer that’s summed up this way.

What it means is I’ve made up my mind, here’s what I’m doing, here’s what I’m going to do until it’s done.

This, to me, is how good habits pull you out of a funk.

Have you ever been finishing up your run, when just a few minutes from being home, you make an unexpected turn and decide to keep going? It’s almost reflexive, as if your body makes the decision, and your brain is just along for the ride. And inevitably, this impulsive, split-second decision turns out to be a great one — for your brain. Even when it’s raining.

This captures the effect I’m talking about. When you’re feeling down, uninspired, unsure, and you make the decision “I’m doing this habit, even though I don’t really feel like doing anything” you’re telling the rest of yourself, “I’m running, want to come?”

Put differently: I’m going to spend my time on these activities that I know are good for me. I don’t know where that will lead, or how it’s going to help with the situation that’s causing me stress, but here’s the standard I’m going to hold myself to. So, other part of my brain, are you in?

And what always happens is that it works. When you’re true to yourself and you spend the time in activities that you know connect you with the part of you that you’ve neglected, inevitably something happens for you. Something inspires you, or excites you, or so commands your attention that the funk you were in dissolves without your even realizing it, while you get furiously to work on whatever is going to become your life’s next chapter.

Thanks to Leo and Chelsea for the inspiration to get off my butt and write this one.

Two Related Heads-Ups

1. Last time I checked, March had 31 days in it … which means it’s time for another round of #writeandrun31! There’s nothing like a month-long daily habit commitment to bust a funk, and we’d love to have you join us (it’s free, too). “Write” and “run” can be symbolic if you want — pick a creative habit and a physical one, and do each for 31 days, with a community of friends cheering you on. Good times.

2. I’m really proud to announce that I partnered with coach.me (formerly the habit-change app Lift) to produce a special version of Wake Up, my own 31-day program for setting goals and creating habits. This new version is streamlined, with each day’s assignment delivered to your phone in a way that coach.me has found most effective for taking action. But even better, I also recorded an audio version of each day’s reading that goes with it. The program usually costs $30, but if you use the coupon code NMA20 between now and Monday (March 2) you’ll save 20 bucks and get it for $9.99. Pretty sweet deal, if you ask me. Check it out here.

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No Easy Task: How to Balance Food, Fitness, and the Rest of Your Life http://www.nomeatathlete.com/balancing-act/ http://www.nomeatathlete.com/balancing-act/#comments Mon, 09 Feb 2015 21:02:49 +0000 http://www.nomeatathlete.com/?p=24577 The prompt for this final post in my partnership series with Garmin and Whole Foods asks how to balance food, fitness, and life. More than with any other prompt, I feel qualified to write this one: one of the things I believe I’ve done best as an adult is to follow an (arguably) extreme diet

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The prompt for this final post in my partnership series with Garmin and Whole Foods asks how to balance food, fitness, and life.

More than with any other prompt, I feel qualified to write this one: one of the things I believe I’ve done best as an adult is to follow an (arguably) extreme diet and chase down (less arguably) extreme fitness goals, and do both in a way that feels … well, normal. And for the past four years, my wife and I have made this lifestyle work with young kids.

But while living it is one thing, explaining it is another. That’s kind of what this whole blog is about, what close to 700 posts and a book are here for.

I’ve thought hard about how to boil down the essentials of balancing healthy habits with the rest of your life into a tidy bullet list to make it seem oh-so-easy. And I’ve come to the conclusion that that’s impossible.

None of it is easy; it’s a choice you make — and sometimes a difficult one. What people chalk up to “balance” in someone else who makes it look easy might look more like obsession when you view it from the inside, on a day-to-day level.

So instead of an “easy ways” bullet list, I’m going to list three things that are hard to do. But if you do them, I think you’ll all most certainly be able to balance fitness and healthy food and the rest of your life.

First, you have to prioritize and make sacrifices. In Cloud Cuckoo Land most of us don’t like to talk about this part, but it’s true. What you focus on and measure will improve, and what you neglect will get worse and eventually be overtaken by weeds. But you can’t possibly focus on everything, so you’ve got to compromise.

My wife and I spend as much money on food for our family as we do on all our other expenses combined, except for rent. And we almost never eat out — maybe once or twice a month at most — so it’s mainly just groceries.

Several times we’ve had conversations that start with one of us saying something like, “Are you sure we should keep spending this much on food? We could literally save $1000/month if we just stopped buying organic and fresh produce.”

And every time, those conversations end with mutual agreement that yes, we should keep spending this much on food, even when it means giving up something else.

Believe it or not, staying active doesn’t come easy either. Far more than many other runners, I struggle with boredom: barring race day, a two- or three-hour run is never my idea of a fun Saturday morning. So to get myself to spend it that way is hard. But it’s worth it, and if I go too many Saturdays in a row drinking coffee and doing crossword puzzles instead of pounding the pavement, I know it’s time to set a new goal.

Speaking of which …

Second, learn what motivates you and use it.

The fact is you’re not going to stay in a constant state of eager passion about eating well and staying fit. There will be times when your motivation wanes, and when it does, knowing how to connect again to a source of inspiration (or fear, which gets overlooked as a motivational tool) is crucial indeed.

I know that really big goals motivate me as runner. Qualifying for Boston, running 100 miles … these two goals have motivated 95 percent of the miles I’ve run in my life. As I said above, I’ve learned that when I’m not feeling it, it’s because my goal isn’t right. (And usually, that means not big enough.)

I also know exactly what motivates me to stay vegan: not wanting to do harm to animals, and wanting to live as energetically as I can and for as long as I can. (“Not wanting to kill and not wanting to die” sure sounds more catchy, but my vegan-preaching censor just wouldn’t let me write it.) Do I think being vegan does either of these things completely? Of course not. But it’s the best way I know to do both, so when I’m feeling out of it, I do things to get in touch with those motivators.

One more specific example: I’ve noticed that I respond really well when I learn that a certain habit is linked to longer lifespan. Two recent ones are eating nuts and flossing your teeth. I used to be sporadic with both habits, but as soon as it “it’ll help you live longer” flashes in through my head, it trumps any amount of laziness. Having realized this, I’ve started reading more longevity research as a way to become better at habit change (as opposed to studying habit change in order to live longer through healthy habits). This is what I mean by “learn what motivates you and use it.”

Finally, understand that nothing is static; everything is either growing or dying. When we’re talking about health it’s easy to take this literally, but I actually mean it in a figurative sense: I’ve learned that if I’m not actively focused on learning more or getting better in the way I eat or as a runner, then I am getting bored and I am getting worse.

This is why I do so many diet experiments when the way I already eat is surely “good enough,” and why a quarter of the books in my bookcase are about food or fitness (and also why another quarter of them are about personal development). It’s the reason I’m so into big goals and habit change.

Yes, you can (and should) still use tricks to put things on autopilot. I certainly make use of these, to keep the weeds from taking the garden when my back is turned. But as Rich Roll has pointed out, progress and fulfillment aren’t about lifehacking, they’re about passion. Maybe even obsession.

So what can you do about this?

Be curious. Set goals. Experiment. Just don’t stand still.

Garmin vívofit Giveaway

vivofitTo help you not stand still (this time in a literal sense!), I’ve got a Garmin vívofit to give away today, just like the one I’ve been using for this series, courtesy of Garmin.

As usual, enter with a comment, and I’ll randomly draw a winner a week from now and announce his or her name in the comments section. Share this post somewhere and let me know about it in your comment, and you’ll get two entries.

I’ve enjoyed my vívofit for what it has taught me about running and giving me an awareness of my daily step count (which itself seems to predict longevity), and I think you’ll like it too. Good luck!

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The Post-Workout Meal: Revisited and Simplified http://www.nomeatathlete.com/post-workout-revisited/ http://www.nomeatathlete.com/post-workout-revisited/#comments Mon, 02 Feb 2015 20:07:08 +0000 http://www.nomeatathlete.com/?p=24526 This week’s post topic in my partnership with Whole Foods and Garmin: “Easy weeknight meals to complement any workout.” But I’ve decided to focus strictly on the post-workout meal. Why? Because although what you eat before and during your workout is important, I don’t think of those as “meals” — for most workouts they should

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This week’s post topic in my partnership with Whole Foods and Garmin: “Easy weeknight meals to complement any workout.” But I’ve decided to focus strictly on the post-workout meal. Why?

Because although what you eat before and during your workout is important, I don’t think of those as “meals” — for most workouts they should instead be liquid, or quick-digesting foods like dates, fruits, smoothies, etc.

When it comes to post-workout refueling, I do still eat the high-carbohydrate, fast-assimilating food, but only immediately following the activity. An hour or two later — and for a lot of people who work out after work, this means dinnertime — it’s a meal. A big meal, a higher-protein meal. A “meal” meal.

Simplifying Nutrition Around Workouts

You can get as specific as you want with before, during, and post-workout nutrition, and I’ve written about these plenty: check out our Workout Nutrition 101 page if you’re interested in the details.

But recently I’ve been more interested in practical nutrition — an approach that’s easy to remember, one that represents 80 or 90 percent of the benefits of the perfect-but-cumbersome approach, only with 10 or 20 percent of the stress.

And for that, I just remember 3-4-5. What this means is:

  • Before your workout, aim for a 3:1 ratio of carbohydrate to protein.
  • During your workout, aim for a 4:1 ratio of carbohydrate to protein.
  • After your workout, aim for a 5:1 ratio of carbohydrate to protein (4:1 is okay too).

Even this may sound overly specific to some, and truthfully, I never actually look at exact numbers nowadays. But they’re guidelines, and if you’ve never done this before, it’s a useful exercise to put together a few “perfect” meals, just to get a sense for what they look like. For example, you might want to figure out exactly how many scoops of protein powder or how many nuts and seeds to put in a pre-workout smoothie to hit 3:1 carbohydrate-to-protein.

Post-workout is a little different than the others, for one big reason: it’s better known as “dinner.” And that’s for the family, not just me, so hitting exactly 5:1 isn’t as important to me as making something that my kids will actually eat. But given that the typical macronutrient mix I aim for throughout the day is 65-15-20 (65 percent carbohydrate, 15 percent protein, 20 percent fat), this meal ends up being between 4:1 and 5:1 most nights even without much conscious effort to make it that way.

And don’t forget — even though dinner will be a meal with a lot of complex carbohydrate, you don’t want to skip that simpler-carbohydrate snack immediately after your workout to jump-start recovery. Right after you finish your workout is the best time of day to take in sugar or even “white” carbohydrates that you otherwise avoid. I usually let this immediate snack be very high in carbohydrate (a glass of tart cherry juice, for example) to balance out a higher-protein dinner, so that between the two meals, you end up near 4:1 or 5:1.

3 Simple Weeknight Post-Workout Meals

Since most post-workout feasting happens on weeknight evenings, it comes with the added condition of having to be quick to prepare. Here are a few of my favorite go-to meals when I’m looking to refuel without spending more than 30 minutes in the kitchen:

  • Just about any pasta dish. There’s nothing I crave more after a tough run than a big plate of pasta, and usually, pasta meals are fast. As for nutrition, I wrote in a recent post about my seven favorite weeknight pasta recipes that whole wheat pasta is about 15 percent protein. That’s more than most people expect, but not enough to hit 4:1 or 5:1 since the almost all of the other 85 percent is carbohydrate. Luckily, a lot of great pasta dishes incorporate beans, and these help to boost the protein content of the meal. Sprinkle some ground walnuts on top to get even more.
  • Maggie’s Conscious Vegan Cuisine frozen meals. I wrote about these in my post on cheap vegan meals, and I’ve since realized that they’re not just vegan and whole-food based, they’re also gluten-free, low in sodium, and free of added oils. Most are too high in protein to hit 4:1 or 5:1 on their own, but you can add the necessary amount of rice to get right in that range. I wouldn’t quite call these meals delicious, but they’re decent, and considering they’re cheap and quick too, they’re my favorite new Whole Foods find.
  • Giant salad with beans and a smoothie. Not exactly a crowd-pleaser (except for the smoothie, which my kids will drink any time of day or night), and not something I’m usually in the mood for on a cold winter evening either. But in the summer, a meal like this hits the spot after a run, and combines the the two healthiest meals you can eat into one perfectly clean, high-nutrient dinner. Plus, you can adjust the proportions of beans on the salad and protein in the smoothie (powder or nuts) to hit exactly within 4:1 to 5:1 if you wish.

Step Count Update!

I’m still wearing the Garmin vívofit that Garmin supplied for this series, and clocking ever-higher numbers thanks to my commitment during #writeandrun31 to add five minutes each week to my daily run. (Read my last post about counting your steps to see the huge impact that even a short run has on your daily total.) Here’s my celebratory photo the first time I hit 15K:

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If you participated in #writeandrun31, then you know it came to a close over the weekend — and if you made it the whole way, congratulations! And if you didn’t but want to join in next time, we’ll be starting a new round in March (the next month that has 31 days).

I enjoyed a day off of both running and writing yesterday, but the challenge did exactly what I had hoped: it inspired me to get back into running. I’ve picked out a marathon to run this spring, my first in over three years, and I’m this close to signing up. I’ll let you know when I do. :)

 

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What Counting Your Steps Will Teach You About the Value of Running http://www.nomeatathlete.com/step-counting/ http://www.nomeatathlete.com/step-counting/#comments Mon, 26 Jan 2015 02:44:19 +0000 http://www.nomeatathlete.com/?p=24464 This is post #4 in a 6-part series I’m doing in a sponsored partnership with Garmin and Whole Foods. (Not to mention the 9th day in a row I’ve published a new post, which I think is pretty awesome.) Before this year began, I had no idea how many steps I took each day. 4,000?

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Many shoeprints in fresh snow

This is post #4 in a 6-part series I’m doing in a sponsored partnership with Garmin and Whole Foods. (Not to mention the 9th day in a row I’ve published a new post, which I think is pretty awesome.)

Before this year began, I had no idea how many steps I took each day. 4,000? 10,000? 20,000?

Honestly if I had to guess without doing any math, any of those could have been it.

Now, I’m really tuned in. At the end of the day, with a glance right before bed at my vívofit, I see my step count — a little daily score to tell me how I did.

Five digits, I’m happy. Any fewer, and I remind myself to move just a little more tomorrow.

Here’s the biggest takeaway for me, though: just how dramatically the length of my run each day affects my step count. It’s way more than I realized … and that makes me want to never go a week without running again.

To put some numbers to it …

For the first week of the #writeandrun31 challenge, which started on January 1st, I decided to run for 20 minutes per day. At 180 steps per minute (more on this number in a bit), that’s 3600 steps each day, just from running. My total average daily steps that week: about 9700.

So what does this mean? Essentially, that running for just 20 minutes accounted for over 37 percent of my total steps! (Put differently, running for 20 minutes increased my step count from 6100 to 9700.)

But it gets more interesting. Add 10 more minutes to that 20-minute run — and this is what I was doing last week, because I’ve been adding 5 minutes each week — and you get 5400 running steps, 11,500 total for the day. (Turns out my total daily steps this week averaged 11,543 … pretty close!)

Now we’re talking almost 50 percent (47, to be accurate) of your steps coming from running.

This strikes me as a pretty big deal: if you’re like like me, adding just a 30-minute run to your day nearly doubles the number of steps you take!

(This, of course, assumes all else is held equal: in particular, that you’d be sedentary during those 30 minutes if you didn’t run. Also, it doesn’t account for any effects of running on the rest of your day. Does more running mean more energy, and therefore even more steps? Or does it drain you, and lead to fewer steps afterward? Probably depends on the person.)

3 More Ways to Incorporate Step-Awareness into Your Running

The topic of this fourth post in the series was supposed to be “Ways to Earn Your Steps,” but running is really the only way of accumulating steps that I pay attention to. (Well, that and walking up and down the hallway before bed if I’m close to a big number, or to my daily vívofit-generated goal.)

So I figured instead of more ways to earn your steps, I’d mention a few ways that paying attention to steps has helped me as a runner, and might just help you too:

  1. 180 steps per minute is the turnover rate that I try to hit on every run. Along with running most of my mileage at a slow, conversational pace, this simple change in focus helped me to stop getting injured and finally start improving as a runner (after a lot of injury frustrations the first few years). I’ve written about 180 steps per minute before, so check that out for more details here.
  2. Change things up by running “for steps”: instead of running for mileage or for time, run for total steps. So for example, if it’s a 25 minute run I’m aiming for, then sometimes I’ll run until I reach 4500 steps (25 minutes times 180 steps per minute). I like this because it keeps my focus on taking quicker steps (so I can be finished already!), instead of allowing me to get lazy and slow my turnover, as often happens near the end of a run.
  3. Assuming you maintain a mostly-constant turnover rate, lining your breath up with your steps (for example: in 3 steps, out 3 steps) is a really meditative and interesting way to monitor your exertion: you know right away when you start working harder, say on a hill or simply because you sped up, because suddenly those breaths feel too long. Note: if you’re going to try this, it’s better to choose something like “in 3 steps, out 2 steps” instead of an even division, so that you start each new breath on the opposite foot — turns out that you land harder on your first “exhale” step. Lots more about that distinction here.

And one more reason to give these a try: while each of these can actually help you run better, they’re also all great for occupying your mind. And that matters — take it from the guy who so struggles with boredom that he came up with 63 Ways to Shake Up Your Running Routine. :)

Whole Foods Gift Card Winner!

We had 348 entries into the $100 Whole Foods gift card contest, and the winner, chosen at random, is …

Erin! (Not my wife, different Erin.) Erin mentioned using frozen veggies for soups and stews, and buying things like lentils and beans in bulk as her ways to save money while eating healthily. Congrats Erin, and thanks to everyone who left a comment — we’ve got a ton of great tips there now!

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19 Great Reasons to Back Down http://www.nomeatathlete.com/19-reasons-to-back-down/ http://www.nomeatathlete.com/19-reasons-to-back-down/#comments Sat, 24 Jan 2015 22:32:37 +0000 http://www.nomeatathlete.com/?p=24417 I don’t have time. There’s too much conflicting information. I can’t afford it. The timing isn’t right. I have a family to think of. My spouse is unsupportive. My body isn’t meant to do it. Everything in moderation. I wouldn’t know where to begin. I’m too old. I’m too young. I’m not smart enough. Nobody

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I don’t have time.
There’s too much conflicting information.
I can’t afford it.
The timing isn’t right.
I have a family to think of.
My spouse is unsupportive.
My body isn’t meant to do it.
Everything in moderation.
I wouldn’t know where to begin.
I’m too old.
I’m too young.
I’m not smart enough.
Nobody I know has done it before.
Surely it’s already been done.
People like me don’t do stuff like that.
I don’t have the right background.
In any other economy …
What would my friends/neighbors/boss/in-laws think?
If only I’d been brought up differently …

Fabulous excuses, all of them. They might even be true.

The thing is, there are so many good excuses out there that no matter what it is you’re thinking of doing, you’re guaranteed to find one that fits.

You have a choice, then. You can let that perfect excuse stop you (again). Or you can use it as the evidence what you’re about to do is worth it. That it matters.

Because really, if there’s no reason not to do it … is there any reason to do it?

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A Ridiculously Easy-to-Follow Roadmap for Building a New Habit http://www.nomeatathlete.com/running-habit/ http://www.nomeatathlete.com/running-habit/#comments Sat, 24 Jan 2015 01:43:39 +0000 http://www.nomeatathlete.com/?p=24411 Most of the advice we read about habits is fairly general: start small, create accountability, have a reward system, etc. All great advice. But why so vague? Because people have lots of different habits they want to change, and general advice can (hopefully) be applied to any of them. People like Leo Babauta and James

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Most of the advice we read about habits is fairly general: start small, create accountability, have a reward system, etc.

All great advice. But why so vague?

Because people have lots of different habits they want to change, and general advice can (hopefully) be applied to any of them. People like Leo Babauta and James Clear have broad audiences for a reason.

Of course, the cost of such generality is that nobody gets a tailor-made plan for creating their specific habit. Which makes it easier to rationalize not starting at all. At least, not yet. (Though it’s quite possible that if you search Zen Habits or James’s blog for a specific habit, you might find it. Worth a shot.)

Here’s exactly what has worked for me

I can’t fix this problem, but I can offer something else: the precise details of my own plan for getting back into running, in hopes that reading the specifics might make it easy for you to envision the mechanics of your own change (even if it’s not running, and even my exact plan isn’t perfect for you).

From time to time I get as deeply not into running as any runner I know, and twice this plan has launched me right back into it — and really excited about it, even feeling halfway fit again — in the span of less than a month.

Although I’ve only done this with running, there are certainly a lot of other habits an approach like this would work for. I’ll give a few suggestions at the end.

Here’s what I’ve done both times:

1. Start running every day, for 20 minutes at a time. Every run is slow — conversational pace — but if now and then you want to work in some hills or just pick up the pace, go for it!

Assuming you don’t miss any days, then:

2. After one week, increase the length of the run to 25 minutes.
3. After two weeks, increase to 30 minutes.
4. After three weeks, increase to 40 minutes, and stay there until the end of the month.

If you do miss a day (even one!), then don’t increase as scheduled. Instead, once you finish the week you were on when you missed a day, repeat that entire week before increasing again. Don’t think of this as a punishment, just a course-correction since the amount you chose turned out to be too much (by definition, since you didn’t do it!).

Why every day?

It’s not that I think running every day is particularly good. (In fact, if I were training for a race, I’d definitely take one or two days off each week.)

Instead, it’s that the everyday repetition helps to create the habit. More repetitions in fewer days, plus the continuity of having no days off. (Just for this month, to jump-start things. Then do whatever you want.)

Why 20 minutes?

Because for me, that amount felt manageable. Short enough that I could do it without procrastinating, or feeling like it was painful or even a big struggle. Short enough that it actually seemed fun.

I was already an experienced runner when I did this. If you’re brand new to whatever your habit is, 5 or 10 minutes is probably a much better starting point.

Why 5 minute increments?

Five minutes represents an increase by 25 percent of weekly mileage at first, which is a lot — way more than dictated by the questionable 10 percent rule. (I actually increased by 10 minutes each week the first time I did this.)

But since 20 minutes daily is a small amount compared to mileage I’ve run before, this is okay. One could make a good argument that the rate of increase should be less, but part of the fun of this plan is the challenge of the increase once you’ve built a little momentum. But don’t go higher: having tried it at 25 and 50 percent, I like 25 percent best.

What do you do after a month?

The first time, I kept this up for about 75 days, and I was so re-enthused about running afterward that I steadily increased my mileage and then trained for and ran a 100-miler within a year.

This time, I’m not sure what I’ll do. Maybe sign up for a marathon. Maybe take a day off!

I’ll say it one more time: this doesn’t have to be about running. While I doubt an approach like this one will work for quitting bad habits or starting habits that don’t lend themselves to time or mileage (“eat healthier,” for example), for something that can (reading more, doing yoga, knitting, writing, playing guitar), I think it will. And even in those tougher cases you might be able to adapt, with just a little creativity.

Good luck!

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The Most Important Habit to Start Today http://www.nomeatathlete.com/fun/ http://www.nomeatathlete.com/fun/#comments Fri, 23 Jan 2015 02:31:38 +0000 http://www.nomeatathlete.com/?p=24405 So many of us, adults in particular, feel we can’t change anything. It doesn’t take many failed attempts at change before we begin to doubt our ability, lose trust in ourselves. This is where the “start small” advice draws its power. By making promises that are easy, ridiculously easy to keep (“I’ll run for 2

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So many of us, adults in particular, feel we can’t change anything.

It doesn’t take many failed attempts at change before we begin to doubt our ability, lose trust in ourselves.

This is where the “start small” advice draws its power. By making promises that are easy, ridiculously easy to keep (“I’ll run for 2 minutes,” for example), you start to taste success again. And in this way, day after day, you slowly rebuild that belief that simply says, “I keep the promises I make to myself”.

But where do you start? What habit should you change or create first?

I’ve heard (and had) plenty of ideas, mostly strategic. Like start with the easiest change first or change something that will free up time, so that you can use that time for other, new habits.

But I’ve come to believe that it shouldn’t be even this complicated. There’s a more important first habit to change, because it’s one of the most important habits you can change, period.

Start with the change that’s the most fun. For you.

For years, my “anchor” habits have been what I’d call grown-up fun. Reading non-fiction every morning; running while I listen to podcasts or audiobooks. They’ve worked, for the most part, and have kept me motivated to make new changes.

They’re exciting for me, because I like self-improvement stuff. Satisfying, sure, and fairly low-resistance since they’re enjoyable. But fun?

A confluence of books and ideas have suddenly made it regretfully clear to me that when it comes to my list of priorities, I’ve let fun slide too far down. And I’m willing to bet I’m not the only one — that in fact very few adults still make jump-up-and-down, shiny, happy fun a must.

But there’s so much good to be put out into the world, if only we put our own oxygen masks on first.

Artists suddenly feel nurtured, inspired, for the first time in years. Athletes remember why they started their quests. Grown-ups recall, after far too long, what they’re working so hard for.

What’s the habit that, if you could somehow find 30 minutes a day to do it, would light you up like nothing else?

Yes, that one.

If you could make it happen — and trust me, a lot of resistance, both external and internal, will try to get in your the way — how would that change your attitude? Your energy levels? The way you interact with other people? Your ability to create other changes?

So what’s stopping you?

Start small (five minutes is plenty, at first), and make it happen.

And don’t forget — have fun with it.

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My 7 Favorite Pasta Recipes (and How to Make them Vegan) http://www.nomeatathlete.com/favorite-pastas/ http://www.nomeatathlete.com/favorite-pastas/#comments Thu, 22 Jan 2015 03:55:40 +0000 http://www.nomeatathlete.com/?p=24389 I’m here to come to the defense of pasta. We’ve been conditioned to think of pasta dishes as inherently unhealthy. Carbo-loaders, sure, but beyond that? Junk. An indulgence, and nothing more. But why? I’ll concede that wheat and most grains aren’t exactly bursting with nutrients per calorie. And if you have a gluten sensitivity, then certainly,

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Cornice di pasta integrale

I’m here to come to the defense of pasta.

We’ve been conditioned to think of pasta dishes as inherently unhealthy. Carbo-loaders, sure, but beyond that? Junk. An indulgence, and nothing more.

But why? I’ll concede that wheat and most grains aren’t exactly bursting with nutrients per calorie. And if you have a gluten sensitivity, then certainly, you’ve got to use an alternative grain. But these days, that’s not hard.

Pasta, the protein source?

There’s a serious misconception out there: that pasta is “carbs” and nothing else.

Yes, it’s mostly carbohydrate. No fat, in most cases. But protein? Here’s the surprise.

Most elite vegan athletes I’ve talked to say they get anywhere from 12 to 15 percent of their calories from protein. Guess where whole wheat pasta falls?

That’s right — 15 percent protein! In other words, if you ate nothing but whole wheat pasta — while you’d have a lot of problems — protein wouldn’t be an issue! (Okay, if you want to get technical, then sure, you’d be deficient in certain amino acids. But in simple terms of protein per calorie, whole wheat pasta is exactly where you want to be.)

So this food that we’ve always considered the carbo-loader is actually quite high in protein — another great example of how eating whole foods (as opposed to pasta made from white refined flour, in this case) gets you all the protein you need.

Nobody’s saying that pasta is the next superfood. But it’s a solid base on which to build great-tasting meals with loads of vegetables, and that’s why I love it.

My Love Affair with Pasta

In what feels like a past life before I became vegetarian, I was a pasta fiend. I spent Sundays (and too many weekdays) making gnocchi and fresh linguine and ravioli, all from scratch. As authentic as I possibly could.

While my priorities have shifted somewhat as I’ve gotten older, pasta is still a standby. That little island of decadence in the middle of the week that my kids will actually eat. The one meal with which I still spend time pairing with the perfect wine.

And a meal that, contrary to popular belief, can be one of your healthiest of the week — with just a little effort.

4 Ways to Make Your Pasta Healthier

  • Use alternative grain pasta. Personally, I don’t mind whole wheat or have any sensitivity to gluten, but you definitely want whole wheat over white flour. And as far as the flavor goes, it’s come a long way in the past 15 years or so. Most often though, we use an organic corn/quinoa blend pasta.
  • Use less oil: in most recipes, I cut the oil in half, especially if they call for a quarter cup or more. I don’t omit it entirely because, well, I like it.
  • The vast majority of pasta recipes call for cheese. You can usually omit it without a problem, but a lot of times I like to compensate with either (a) a squeeze of lemon juice and a pinch of salt, (b) a dollop of cashew cream, (c) gomasio, (d) toasted walnuts ground into a course powder, plus a little lemon juice.
  • If you’re worried your pasta dish isn’t substantial enough, blend some chickpeas into the sauce. This is actually called for in certain traditional recipes, and adds some nutrition.

My 7 Favorites

The recipes below are mostly linked from other sites, not my own. As you’ll see, when it comes to pasta, I’m generally not a fan of recipes from vegan cookbooks: I like to go to the source. The rustic. The authentic. And then make them vegan on my own terms — no nutritional yeast; no excessive kale “just because.”

So this is a different collection of recipes than you’ll normally find on No Meat Athlete. Vegan, sure — and with each one, I explain how to make it that way. And healthy? That too. But the kind of healthy that you’d never notice if you didn’t know better.

1. Malloredus with Tomatoes, Green Onions, and Fennel

My absolute favorite dinner recently. If you’re not making your own pasta, then it’s quick, too! The fennel and green onions add interesting flavors not found in typical red sauce. This one is best in the summer with fresh, ripe tomatoes, but I’ve made it with canned diced tomatoes and it still works.

Make it vegan: It already is! Just omit the cheese at the end.

2.Penne with Pesto, Potatoes, and Green Beans

Potatoes and pasta may seem like an odd pairing, but this is a traditional (and delicious) Italian dish. For years this has been my ritualistic pre-race lunch or dinner (lunch is your better bet for the day-before carbo-loading meal).

Make it vegan: The recipe linked above is on No Meat Athlete, but it’s from when I was vegetarian, not yet vegan. So omit the grated cheese, and use this recipe for the pesto (or another one you like) instead:

  • 2 cups (one large bunch) basil
  • 1/3 cup raw almonds (walnuts or pine nuts work, too)
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • sea salt, to taste
  • 1/3 cup good quality olive oil

Combine basil, nuts, garlic, lemon juice, and a pinch of salt in a food processor and pulse until it becomes a coarse paste. With the machine running, drizzle in the olive oil and let it process until the mixture is relatively smooth. Add salt to taste.

3. Pasta with Potatoes and Red Sauce

More potatoes and pasta in the same bowl, so save this Mark Bittman recipe for a pre-long-run or pre-race meal the day before. Simple, with just a handful of ingredients, and fairly quick, too.

Make it vegan: Omit the optional pancetta or bacon.

4. Rigatoni Pugliese

This hearty recipe is from chef Andrew Carmellini’s great book Urban Italian (unfortunately, the book is not so vegan-adaptable). It’s a pasta dish I feel especially good about eating and serving to my kids, since it includes both chickpeas and broccoli rabe and thus isn’t a total carbo-bomb.

(By the way: the missing ingredient amounts in the linked recipe are one-quarter teaspoon ground fennel seed and one-half teaspoon crushed red pepper.)

Make it vegan: Omit the sausage (duh) and skip the “To Finish the Dish” section, which uses cheese and butter. Optionally, you can use a vegan sausage like Field Roast (Italian style), but in that case, brown the sausage in a separate pan and only toss into the sauce at the very end, otherwise it’ll disintegrate in the sauce. Trust me, I’ve done it.

5. Pasta with Sungold Tomatoes

A simple, weeknight sauce that’s borderline decadent. It depends entirely on the quality of tomatoes you use, but most of the time I make it with red tomatoes since it’s hard to find yellow. This is the time to pay extra for those fancy Kumato or other slightly-larger-than-cherry tomatoes.

Make it vegan: Omit the cheese at the end, and if you use the optional breadcrumbs, make sure they’re vegan. I like to make them myself or use whole-wheat panko breadcrumbs.

6. Tagliatelle with Mushroom Ragu

For multiple birthday dinners, this is the meal I’ve requested (and that my wonderful wife has made for me). We always make it with portobellos instead of porcinis, since porcinis are more expensive, hard to find, and woodsier-tasting.

I’ve had it with fresh, eggless pasta and of course it’s delicious that way, but most of the time we just buy dried fettuccine noodles. You can even used jarred sauce if you really want to speed things up.

Make it vegan: Omit the cheese, and replace the small amount of butter with either olive oil or refined coconut oil (the saturated fat content gives coconut oil a more buttery taste than olive oil, and the refined version tastes less coconutty than the virgin variety). Make sure the red wine you use is vegan.

7. Pasta alla Norma

Not usually a huge fan of eggplant, I fell in love with pasta alla norma when I ate a vegan version as part of a prix fixe menu in a restaurant beneath the Borgata Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City. Confession: the recipe I usually make at home is from Cooks Illustrated, but their recipes online aren’t free to view.

Make it vegan: It basically already is — just omit the cheese at the end.

Join me in Italy next summer?

I’ve only been to Italy one time, but I’ll be returning this July with Tierno Tours and Green Earth Travel. I’ll be hosting a one-week tour, along with artistan vegan cheese maker Miyoko Schinner, in the Amalfi Coast region (where I’m told the diet is traditionally organic and somewhat plant-based). Miyoko and I will each give a few talks/demos, and I’m sure I’ll get out for a few runs, too.

Our week is limited to only 22 guests and filling quickly, so if you’re interested, check out the details here and get in touch with Donna at Green Earth Travel to reserve your spot.

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9 High-Energy Plant-Based Snacks for Athletes http://www.nomeatathlete.com/vegan-athlete-snacks/ http://www.nomeatathlete.com/vegan-athlete-snacks/#comments Wed, 21 Jan 2015 02:14:20 +0000 http://www.nomeatathlete.com/?p=24352 Plant-based. Healthy. Snack. It’s a lot to ask of a food. But we need them. One of the common questions that I hear from new vegetarians or vegans is “I’m always hungry — how do I stay full with this diet?” — and my answer is to eat more. Not bigger servings, but more often.

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Plant-based. Healthy. Snack. It’s a lot to ask of a food.

But we need them. One of the common questions that I hear from new vegetarians or vegans is “I’m always hungry — how do I stay full with this diet?” — and my answer is to eat more. Not bigger servings, but more often.

Why? Most whole, plant-based foods are not calorically dense. That means they take up a lot of room in your stomach, without packing a lot of calories.

Of course, that also means they digest quickly, so not long after eating one meal, you’re hungry for another.

Enter the snack.

And to clear up a common misconception among some vegans: just ‘cause it’s vegan, doesn’t mean it’s healthy. There are plenty of junk-food vegans out there, and you don’t want to be one of those.

But let’s not equate “unhealthy” with “high-calorie.” We’re talking about snacks for athletes here — whether around workouts or during the rest of the day — and a lot of us actually want more calories. I eat a lot of fruit throughout the day, but I almost always need at least one snack that’s more substantial. (Because, again, most plant foods aren’t very dense in calories — to me, that’s a much bigger concern than “where do you get your protein?”)

So here we go. Nine favorite healthy, plant-based snacks for athletes. A few of my favorites, and a few from some friends. (And if you’re looking for more options, we’ve got a longer list of vegetarian and vegan snacks here.)

1. Trail mix

trail mix

Along with fruit, trail mix is my everyday snack. I don’t eat much at once, but make it a point to get a big handful or two every day — mainly for the long-term health benefits of nuts. I’ve always settled for raisins as the sweet counterpoint to the nuts, but recently I’ve started using dried tart cherries to add a sour note and get the recovery benefits that they’re known for. My recipe:

  • 1 part raw walnuts
  • 1 part raw cashews
  • 1 part raw almonds
  • 1 part raw pumpkin seeds
  • 1/2 part vegan dark chocolate chunks
  • 2 parts dried tart cherries

I’ve only used sweetened tart cherries, but the sweetness of the trail mix will also depend on the type of chocolate you choose, so you’ll have to experiment to get it just right for your taste.

Especially if you think you won’t like a trail mix with raw nuts and no salt, you need to give this one a try.

2. S’nuts

snuts-image-1024x768

S’nuts are almonds with a sweet, salty, smoky glaze, created by Jason Sellers, chef and co-owner of Plant, my favorite restaurant in Asheville. Whenever I make a batch for the week, it’s gone in a day. Get the recipe here, and your kids will thank you.

3. Whole wheat pita with almond butter or hummus

This is my bridge between my smoothie and lunch if I’m training for a race and feel the need to add that mid-morning mini-meal between my smoothie and my lunch.

Prep time is almost zero: toast a whole wheat (or alternative grain) pita for a few minutes, then spread with your choice of topping. If you’re using nut butter, a drizzle of maple syrup adds a touch of sweet and some quick-burning calories. If you’re using hummus, a few drops of hot sauce make it that much better.

In need of a new hummus recipe? Try this buffalo hummus from my book, that Angela Liddon shared over at Oh She Glows.

4. Peanut butter and banana “quesadilla”

Let’s be clear here. This one almost didn’t make the list when what we’re shooting for is a list of healthy snacks. I’m fine with all the ingredients, but all at once, it’s a decent amount of sugar and fat you’re looking at.

So why did I include it? Because it’s freaking worth it. You’ll be an absolute hero the next time somebody’s in the mood for a late night snack in your house and you pull these bad boys out of … well, you know where. Or even better, reward yourself after your next long run.

I use this recipe, choosing maple syrup over honey, replacing the suggested oil with just a drizzle of coconut oil, and usually substituting almond butter for the peanut butter.

5. Granola

[momo granola bars]

My favorite granola, ever? This one that chef Mo Ferris came up with for my book, No Meat Athletewhich is why I put it in! It’s peanut-buttery, which is a nice change in the world of sometimes-dull granola. Even better: the recipe calls for dried cherries, so when I make it these days I use tart cherries and double the amount (since it’s not quite as easy to get the suggested daily amount with dried cherries as it is with juice). This recipe is technically for a granola bar, but just crumble it if you want the typical granola consistency.

6. Energy Bars

Energy bar recipes abound, and I can’t honestly say I’ve tried all that many of them — I use the ones from this blog fairly often (the Ultimate Energy Bar Formula is a favorite). As far as pre-made bars go, I’m a big fan of CORE Foods, a non-profit whose bars pack serious calories while still managing to be whole-food based. Plus, they’re not too sweet, and I like that.

The six snacks above are my favorites, and the ones I eat most often. But I’m only one guy, so I asked a few friends from the NMA team to share their go-to snacks. Here they are.

Matt Ruscigno, vegan registered dietitian and co-author of No Meat Athlete:

7. Raw banana mash

Matt calls this a non-blended smoothie, and it’s easy, cheap, and tasty (and raw!). He eats it for breakfast, but it would make a perfectly good snack, especially if you sprinkle in a crunchy, salty component like granola.

  • 2-3 ripe bananas
  • A few tablespoons nut butter
  • Diced apple
  • Blueberries

Mash the bananas in a bowl, then top with the remaining ingredients.

Maggie Vining, leader of the Wilmington No Meat Athlete group and community manager of all the No Meat Athlete groups:

8. Apples with nut butter

Self-explanatory. Try sunflower seed butter if you’re bored of peanut and almond butters.

Doug Hay, co-host of NMA Radio and blogger at Rock Creek Runner:

9. Roasted chickpeas

Roasted chickpea recipes abound (couldn’t say that a few years ago — thanks, internet!), but Doug and I both like Angela’s over at Oh She Glows. There’s an Italian version at the top of this tomato soup recipe from her book, or try the salt-and-vinegar variation on her site.

There you have it — plant-based, healthy, and snacky. Happy snacking!

This post is part of a sponsored, 7-part ambassador program I’m doing with the Cherry Marketing Institute, which I’ll be spacing out over the first half of 2015. See my previous posts about tart cherries here, here, and here.

The post 9 High-Energy Plant-Based Snacks for Athletes appeared first on No Meat Athlete.

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