A Midpoint Update on #WriteAndRun31 (and a Brand New Challenge)

angled-cover_largeIt’s been 16 days, and suddenly I remember why I started this.

The first few weeks of running and writing every day have had their moments, no doubt: it’s one thing to start a runstreak, quite another to start a runstreak in the dead of winter.

Several times I’ve opened the door and felt the cold, then quickly searched my brain for an excuse before realizing that none will be good enough. Like it or not, this run is happening. And of course, that’s the point.

A yogi will tell you that when you stop resisting and “breathe into” a tough pose, it gets easy. When it sunk in that there were no good excuses, ever — I’m running today, no matter what — that was the turning point.

At 16 days straight, it’s my longest streak since 2012. And just like that time, the simple act of running more has caused me to want to run more.

Put another way: the more energy you use, the more energy you have. Funny how that works.

It’s no different with writing. The more ideas you put on the page, the more ideas you have.

It all seems so easy, now. Why? And for the past year, two years … why not?

It’s the accountability, plain and simple. Having a group of people who in moments of weakness I imagine myself reporting to, having to explain why I didn’t do my run or my writing today … that’s why.

So who are these people? Here are just a few of their blogs — many of which were started just for #WriteAndRun31:

These represent just a tiny fraction of the bloggers participating, the blogs that were near the top of the feed when I wrote this post or that have caught my attention for some other reason. But just seeing them listed like this makes me feel something special; far better than what this challenge has done for my own habits is seeing so much goodness born into the world as a result.

It’s not too late to join us (never is; your 31 days can start whenever you want). But I’m pretty sure we’ll do something for February, so you could also wait … and waiting may actually help with habit change (see #7, here).

An Even Tougher Challenge (and What It Means for You)

While I’ve written every day this year, I haven’t published nearly that often. The two posts per week I’ve averaged so far this year feels like a lot compared to what I had been doing, but daily is another level altogether. (I only wrote about 40 posts in 2014, not counting podcast posts.)

And yet Seth manages to do it. So I’m going to do it. For a week.

Short version: I’m going to publish a new post on No Meat Athlete every day next week (Sunday, January 18th through Saturday, January 24th). It’ll be the most I’ve posted in a week since 2009.

No promises after that week is up, but I think it’ll be fun, an interesting challenge, and — in the same way that running more has made me more excited about running — that’ll be good for me. And you.

(For those on the newsletter list — I won’t email the new post every day, but I’ll jam two newsletters full of them over the course of the week. If you’re interested in reading each post as it’s published, check back at nomeatathlete.com or pay attention to our Facebook or Twitter accounts.)

Long version: Seth Godin is a huge inspiration, example, and teacher of mine. I had the money-can’t-buy privilege of spending a week in his office last summer, with Seth and 14 other entrepreneurs, artists, and ruckus-makers, and it was everything I expected and a billion times more.

Then, to top off what was already a surreal experience, he put us in his new book, What to Do When It’s Your Turn. (So of course I bought 8 copies to send to friends.)

And so when he announced this new challenge, something told me I had to do it. Fortunately, that something happened to be louder than the voice which was reminding me, “You can’t publish a new post for seven straight days.”

So I’m in.

Finally: Calling All Designers to Help Design Our Running Group Shirts!

If writing isn’t your thing, here’s one more idea to get your creative juices flowing.

We’re holding a design contest for the No Meat Athlete 2015 Running Group shirts. The winning design will be printed on our running groups’ shirts across the world this year (each city’s shirt will be customized with that city’s name), and the winning designer will win 200 bucks and free shirts for their local group.

Interested? I hope so. The deadline is January 31st, and all the details are here.

Alright, that’s all for now. I’ll be back tomorrow (with the third post in the Whole Foods / Garmin ambassador series). And then the next day. And the next day. And the day after that. This should be fun.

9 Comments

 

Why Everything They Told You About Goals Is Wrong

start-small2

We hear a lot of “achievable goals” talk these days.

And that talk, I think, is mostly harmful: it creates and encourages a culture of middling, moderation-loving wafflers afraid to lay it all on the line for something that’s worth it.

You’ve heard the quote, I’m sure: Dream no small dreams, for they have no power to move the hearts of men. And I feel pretty confident that if Goethe had lived in the 2010’s, he’d have included women there too. (And been just as into selfies as the rest of us.)

It’s not any more complicated than that. If getting or achieving that thing you want actually requires you to set a goal — i.e., it’s not like taking out the trash, where you just have to get off your butt and do it — then that means there are obstacles standing between you and what you want. Some you’re aware of, some you won’t know about until they show up.

My thesis: you’re more likely to stick it out when you’ve got a goal that’s so huge it makes your palms sweat (and makes your friends laugh) than you are with a lame one that leaves everyone’s eyelashes in place and un-batted.

If your goal is compelling (huge! ridiculous!) enough, then when those inevitable obstacles come up, you’ll plow right over them. Or around them. Or through them. And when all of those approaches don’t work, you won’t be able to sleep until you find one that does.

You’ll be obsessed, and I think that’s a great thing.

Read more »

16 Comments

 

The Frictionless Kitchen: 19 Ways to Lessen Your Resistance to Healthy Eating this Year

As I wrote in my last post, good eating habits aren’t about willpower. Willpower runs out.

Instead, if you want your healthy lifestyle to last, the secret is to remove the friction. Friction?

The time required to plan, shop for, and prepare your meals. The cost. Or simply that you just don’t like the way the food you should eat tastes — at least, compared to what you’re used to eating.

Earlier this week I examined a shopping trip and explained how each purchase helps my family eat healthily, without having to rely on willpower. It seems like a lot of people found that helpful, so today I’m taking it a step further — 19 tricks, rules, and tips we rely on to minimize the friction in the kitchen. Here goes.

Read more »

22 Comments

 

How to Put Healthy Eating on Autopilot this Year

This post is the introduction to a series of six posts (one per week) that I’m doing in partnership with Whole Foods and Garmin to start the year. As compensation, I received Whole Foods gift cards and a Garmin vívofit, both of which I’m using to create the content for this series.

(I’ve also got a $100 Whole Foods gift card and another Garmin vívofit to giveaway to a few lucky readers. I’ll include the details for entering in a later post.)

Over the past year or two, I’ve thought a lot about how we’re eating when we’re doing it “right,” versus the odd week — or sometimes, month — now and then when we get off track. Mainly, I mean those times when life with two young kids gets busy and we fall out of the smoothie routine, skip the big salad each day, and order takeout way more than we should.

And what I’ve determined is that it’s never a matter of willpower. Instead, it’s entirely about preparation.

To kick off the year, I thought it would make for a fun post if I did a big Whole Foods trip with the express purpose of buying those staples that make such a big difference in which version of our diet shows up — the foods that essentially put healthy eating on autopilot for us.

So that’s what I did last night, and below I’ll explain how we use each food to grease the wheels in our kitchen.

First, here’s the haul:

groceries

I bought two or three of a lot of the things shown here — the point, after all, was to stock up — but couldn’t fit them all in the photo.

And here’s how each food makes healthy vegan eating (at least, the Frazier household version of it) easy. Unless otherwise noted, almost all of these foods are Whole Foods brand. And they’re mostly organic, but not always.

Read more »

38 Comments

 

No Meat Athlete in 2015: What’s In Store

Run in 2015

Happy New Year! You might have noticed that at No Meat Athlete we pretty much ignore most holidays, but New Year’s? Always worth a few posts and a podcast episode or two.

I’m fond of calling it my favorite holiday. Partly because nobody calls New Year’s their favorite holiday, but mostly because I really do love it. Goals, possibilities, the feeling of a fresh start … for a self-improvement junkie, it’s even better than Black Friday (my second favorite holiday).

I have more planned for 2015 than ever before with No Meat Athlete, including a full site redesign, new shirts and other clothing (plus a design contest for running group shirts), and more Vegfests than we’ve ever done.

But that’s just the surface-level stuff … here’s what else is on tap for me and No Meat Athlete in 2015:

Read more »

18 Comments

 

The Obvious Technique for Getting Faster That Most Runners Are Too Lazy to Complete

Thoughtful woman writing in her kitchen

A few years ago I wrote post a while back about the power of tracking (anything!). Simple awareness of your behavior, even without a deliberate attempt to change, is often all you need in order to improve. Mind-blowing, really, and super-inspiring, especially at this time of year.

Today’s post from Doug Hay (whom you probably know as co-host of No Meat Athlete Radio and blogger at Rock Creek Runner), expands on this incredibly powerful concept in the context of running.

You say you’re serious about improving in 2015? Here’s where to start.

Runners are lazy.

That might seem like an odd thing to say about a group of people who run for pleasure (and not just because they’re being chased), but for the most part, it’s true. We’re lazy.

Runners are notorious for avoiding training routines, like foam rolling or core work, even though we know it will help prevent injuries and make us faster.

But I get it.

Foam rolling, strength routines, speed work, and other similar training techniques are painful and typically known to be the opposite of fun. Besides, after kicking ass for a 5-mile run, who wants to do more?

So even though those routines are important for proper training, I’m going to ignore the painful stuff for now. What I want to discuss today is one of the easiest techniques we runners can add to our routines that will help us get stronger, train smarter, and avoid season ending injuries. A technique that it isn’t painful, and doesn’t take much time. And believe it or not, it can even be fun.

But for some reason, almost nobody does it.

What I want to talk about today is tracking our workouts. Not just turning on the GPS, never to look at the data again (more on that later), but really tracking what we did and how we felt.

Why Tracking Matters

When my good high school friend, Jeff, got his first car, his father required that he take notes on everything about that Ford.

When he’d fill up the tank, Jeff would open up the glove compartment, pull out a notebook, and jot down everything from where he was buying gas to the car’s current mileage. Once a month, I’d catch him checking the tires’ air pressure and how the oil was holding up.

He knew all the stats on that car’s performance. He knew if it was running well or struggling through the winter.

At the time, I thought it was obsessive. But that’s because I didn’t fully understand his dad’s reasoning.

What I now understand is that with that information, Jeff knew exactly what helped the car run at peak performance, and saw warning signs if something was going wrong. When the car did have trouble, he could look back on when things started to turn sour, and report all that to the mechanic.

Now, I don’t track the stats on my car, and likely never will, but when it comes to running, Jeff’s father’s philosophy works perfectly.

The benefit of tracking running data is massive. By keeping a proper running log, we can see what is working and what isn’t, in real time. If something goes wrong and we get injured, it’s easy to look back and figure out what behaviors might have caused the issue, and how to avoid repeating that mistake.

If it’s a big race goal you’re training for, looking back on all the progress can be motivating and a powerful tool for when things get tough.

And when things go right on race day, it means you already have the entire playbook mapped out for next one.

Why Your iPhone or GPS Won’t Cut It

Over and over again, I see runners who no longer bother keeping any sort of actual records, because they think their GPS watches or phone apps do it for them. We turn them on before the run and off when we get home.

And voilà, our run is uploaded and tracked.

Unfortunately there are two marathon-sized problems with this:

  1. It’s only tracking what the watch can record (distance, pace, routes, etc.) and not how it actually felt.
  2. Because uploads happen at the magic of a button, we’re more likely not to look back on them ever again. That is, of course, until the end of the year, when we want to tweet out our total yearly mileage. #runningbrag anyone?

When all it takes is plugging in your watch to the computer, we don’t end up studying the information like we would if we were writing it out ourselves. And the information becomes useless.

9 Key Metrics to Log

In an upcoming section, I’m going to tell you to stop being a lazy runner and start keeping a training log. I’m even going to provide you with an easy tool to do it. But first it’s important to understand what to track and why it can be useful information.

SPOILER ALERT: It’s more than what your GPS tracks for you.

1) Type of workout: A 4-mile easy run is a lot different from a 4-mile run doing speed work on the track. To help differentiate the two on your tracking chart, note the type of workout first. Keep this simple to easily categorize. A few examples of types of workout include:

  • Easy Run
  • Long Run
  • Speed/Track Work
  • Hill Workout
  • Race

2) Daily Mileage: Your total daily mileage. This one’s a no-brainer.

3) Time/Pace: Track your overall time running, and break it out into pace.

4) Route: Always track where you ran. It allows you to review how hilly the course was, how frequently you’re running a particular route, and if certain characteristics of your regular routes might be contributing to an injury or improvements. Tracking your route also comes in handy when designing course specific training.

5) Terrain: Running on rocky trails or a paved bike path? Crowded city sidewalks or a gravel road? All these factors affect your pace and the benefit of that particular run. Take note of the terrain for reference in the future.

6) How you felt: I like to have a quick reference to how I felt during the run, and do it as simply as possible with just three options: bad, normal, great. That way you can quickly see if you’ve had several bad or great runs in a row, and make adjustments accordingly. It also serves as reference guide to how certain distances, paces, or routes affect your feeling about the run.

A helpful trick if you’re tracking on the computer is to use a color coded system for this, which makes deciphering how you felt even easier.

7) Effort: For this I recommend using a scale of 1 to 5. 1 being the a completely easy run and 5 being an all out effort.

8) Notes: A blank space for you to fill in any notes you have about the run. Important things to keep in mind are what you ate before, during, and immediately after, what shoes you were wearing, notes on weather, if you were running with anyone else or solo, your heart rate if you measured it, and anything else that has a major effect on the run itself.

9) Extras: I recommend you also track a few extras on a semi-regular basis, such as weight, diet, and what you’re training for at the moment. There’s no need to track these every single day, but they’re good to have as a reference in the future.

What to Do With All This Data

So you’ve taken my advice and started tracking your runs. Now what?

Just like my friend Jeff could do for this car, you too can now use the data you’ve tracked and put it to use in real time. At the end of each week, or at the very least each month, look back at your training log and ask yourself the following questions:

  • Where has my training been lacking? It’s easy to skip a workout here or a long run there without realizing that you’re doing it multiple times per week or repeatedly over several weeks.
  • Have I covered all the basic pillars of proper training?
    • Easy run
    • Speed work/tempo run
    • Long run
    • Strength/core training
    • Rest days
  • In what areas of my training am I seeing improvements? Look for patterns over the week or multiple weeks that indicate improvement in speed, endurance, or strength, and note which workouts are working for your training to use in future weeks.
  • In what areas of my training am I seeing weaknesses? If after 6 weeks, you aren’t improving on speed, for example, something isn’t working. Adjust your training to address that particular weakness.
  • Where am I now, and how should I move forward? Training plans are a constant work in progress. As you look back on the data, reassess where you are and how to properly move forward. It’s this lack of assessment that often leads to over-training and injury.

A (Totally Free) Training Log Tool

The web and your smart phones are full of fantastic tools for tracking runs. A couple of my favorites are Strava and Daily Mile.

While those tools are powerful, I find that the act of logging in to a site and posting a run publicly is often enough to hold me back from doing it in the first place.

So after speaking with Matt, I’ve decided to share with the No Meat Athlete family the training template that the runners I coach use to track their training plans. It’s simple, interactive, and tracks everything you need and nothing more.

Download that tool and receive more information on smart training here. (Just a heads up, the sign-up is hosted on my blog, so it will direct you away from No Meat Athlete.)

Quit Being a Lazy Runner!

Taking notes on 9 different things might feel like a lot of work, but when you actually sit down and do it, you’ll see that tracking each run only takes 2-3 minutes. Even the laziest of runners can justify two to three minutes of work if it means getting faster and preventing injuries.

And the best part? By creating a habit of tracking your runs, that same process will spill over into more than just workouts. Budgets, diet, meditation … just about anything you’re looking to improve can benefit from keeping a log or journal.

Start with running. This obvious technique is too easy and beneficial to keep avoiding.

About the Author: Doug Hay will teach you how to run further, faster, and more efficiently than you ever have before. Take the first step towards achieving your running goals with the Trail Runner’s Cheat Sheet, or download the free tracking tool mentioned above here.

18 Comments

 

8 Stress-Free Ways to Start Healthier Habits Now

December is upon us, and while for most of us that means holidays and parties and more stress than is healthy, it’s also one of my favorite times of the year for thinking about change.

Why? Because you don’t want to be another victim of the New Year’s syndrome, where on December 31 you realize you’re in roughly the same place you were a year ago. Then you resolve to change, and while it feels real in the moment, it’s forgotten by February.

Instead, start now – in early December. So that you can reflect, get inspired, and make intelligent choices about the results you want to create. So that you can lay the groundwork, and take the first few steps to creating the new habits you’ll need.

And so that when New Year’s comes, you’ll be ready.

But there’s just one problem.

Although the month leading up to the day when everybody else likes to announce their changes can be mega-inspiring, it’s also mega-stressful. The sweets, the alcohol, the presents, the in-laws … not exactly a conducive environment for change.

The trick, then, is to start small. Make only the simplest, most stress-free of changes now, to lay a solid foundation for the year ahead.

If the changes you’d like to make relate to your health — or even if they don’t, but you could use some more energy and enthusiasm for whatever other crazy goals you have in mind — here are eight easy, nearly stress-free ways to lay the groundwork before January 1.

Read more »

369 Comments

 

The No Meat Athlete Holiday Gift Guide to Stuff You Actually Need (and None of the Crap You Don’t)

Oh, it’s that special time of year. I know it’s not exactly fashionable to embrace the fact that Christmas comes earlier every year, but I’ll happily admit that I love it.

I’m a nut for this season. I like getting and giving, drinking a few extra Christmas ales, listening to crappy holiday albums (Taylor Swift’s Christmas is E.P. is downright sick) and, of course, watching made-for-ABC-Family holiday movies — my favorite is Holiday in Handcuffs, with Desperately Seeking a Santa a recently discovered close runner-up. (Pro tip: you can identify a holiday movie buff when they refer to Home Alone as “Home Alone 1,” which tells you that the sequels haven’t dropped off their radar.)

In the spirit of the holidays and rampant consumerism (come on, it’s fun!), Doug and I put together a special podcast-and-blog-post version of the NMA Holiday Gift Guide.

For the full experience, where we go into all the “whys” of our gift guide, listen to this 47-minute Black Friday edition of the NMA podcast at the end of this post. But if you’re in a hurry and don’t like listening to two idiots blabber on about why all this stuff is great, well, we’ve got you covered there, too — just check out the categorized list below to see our picks for the 2014 holiday season.

And for yourself …

bundle-page-imageGift guides are great when it comes to shopping for others, but let’s be honest — they’re really for you, right?

So if you’re looking for something to reward yourself (in a way that’s a pretty darn good investment for your health and happiness), don’t miss the incredible No Meat Athlete Plant-Based Fitness Bundle. It’s one-time-only collection of 23 plant-based fitness, cooking, meal planning, and productivity guides, including:

  • All the NMA Roadmaps (5K, Half Marathon, Marathon, and Triathlon) and Wake Up, my 31-day goal-setting and personal development program
  • Rich Roll’s Jai Lifestyle meditation guide and Jai Seed cookbook
  • 3 months of meal plans from Yum Universe author Heather Crosby
  • The all-new Run Your BQ Essentials program
  • NMA Radio co-host Doug Hay’s guide to your first ultramarathon
  • More guides from vegan superstars Christy Morgan, Nicole Antoinette, Jeff Sanders, and many more!

All of these guides together would normally cost you $539.35, but now through Wednesday morning, you can save over 82% on this bundle of plant-based goodness — so check out all the details here. (Oh and PS — 5 percent of every bundle sale goes directly to Farm Sanctuary, our favorite animal-friendly charity.)

Listen to the audio version of NMA Gift Guide

Click the button below to start listening right now:

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Or:

If you’re a fan of NMA Radio, we’d greatly appreciate it if you’d leave us a rating and review on iTunes. Thank you!

Running

Altra Running Shoes

Gear

Kitchen/Food Essentials

Health & Wellness

Mental

Trips (for you and that someone you really like)

A little something for you

Check out the No Meat Athlete Plant-Based Fitness Bundle (available only until 10am Eastern time on Wednesday, December 3rd)!

5 Comments