Being Okay (with Being Just Okay)

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Last week I went on my first long run in months. Long, here, is generous.

It was six miles, a shortened version of a mostly flat (for Asheville) route I ran dozens of times when I was training for my hundred last summer.

Twice I stopped to walk. It was hot, but that’s not much of an excuse.

It was defeating to realize just how far I’ve slid since the hundred last July. It’s like when you go back to the gym for the first time in months or years, and struggle under a bar that’s a fraction of what you used to lift for double-digit reps. Or when you get on the scale after months of avoidance and see a number that quantifies how much you’ve let go with your diet and habits … and just how far you have to go to get back.

But something was different with this six-mile run. There was no guilt, no frustration, no overwhelm at the size of the task of getting back into marathon or ultra shape.

Because I’ve been on the roller coaster enough times now to know that this is how it works. Three different times I’ve started over in the gym, sliding back to 140 pounds after bulking up to almost 160.

More than once in my seven-year quest to get to Boston, I went six months without running — sometimes frustrated, sometimes injured, sometimes both. Once, I was pretty sure my days as a marathoner were over.

And from the time I first signed up for a hundred-miler to the time I actually ran one, I went through a lull in running where running 100 miles seemed a mere fantasy. Or perhaps a monkey I’d have to learn to be okay with carrying around on my back.

This, I realized, is the price of shunning moderation.When your approach to doing big things is to so pour yourself into them that you don’t want to think about them again for months or years, this is how it has to go.

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What Do You Listen to While You Run?

Podcast Radio2Well, it’s that time. The No Meat Athlete Academy has been live for a full week now, and that means that today, the last day of April, is your final chance to lock in the special NMA reader/listener price for as long as you remain a member, before it goes up to the normal rate tomorrow.

Inside you’ll find four hours of seminar content and almost three hours of Q&A content already available with more being added every month, perfect for listening to during runs …

… which segues nicely/awkwardly into the topic of the newest NMA Radio episode: what we listen to while we run.

Both Doug and I big fans of wearing headphones during runs. But unlike a lot of runners, we listen to more than just music. Especially if you’re putting in the long, slow miles that ultrarunning tends to encourage, that time out on the road can be an amazing to opportunity to feed your mind or to “read” those books you just can’t find time for otherwise.

Having heard from many listeners who like to listen to our podcast while they run, we figured a “meta” episode — something to listen to on your run about what to listen to on your run — would be fun.

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The Not-So-Secret Secrets to Succeeding at Anything

A few months ago, Rich Roll wrote a great post called “Why You Should Stop Lifehacking and Invest in the Journey.”

As I read the post, I found myself nodding along, as expected. When I look at the biggest accomplishments of my life so far, it’s clear that shortcuts had little to do with them.

How about you? Look at what you’re most proud of in your life, and you’ll surely find that hacks weren’t the reason you did it.

It’s not that “hacks” — in fitness, diet, business, whatever — aren’t valuable. It’s absolutely worth learning the tricks and the insights that will help you make quantum leaps along the way. Soak up every bit of knowledge you can about what you’re trying to do … and that includes the hacks.

But when a hack works — and not just for a day or a week, but for good — it’s usually because it comes on top of a foundation of fundamentals that you’ve practiced for years.

It’s those fundamentals that the internet hackarazzi ignores.

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How to Fuel Your Workouts, Naturally — with Elite Ultrarunner and Fruitarian Michael Arnstein

One hundred miles. In under 13 hours. That’s seven minutes and 46 seconds per mile, for 100 of them.

My mind is blown every time I think about that. What makes it all the more incredible — or, in Mike Arnstein’s eyes, what made it possible — is that he reached this elite level of ultrarunning with a simple diet of raw fruits and vegetables.

You may know Mike as the Fruitarian. In addition to his spectacular 12:57.45 100-mile time (the 7th fastest in history by an American), his impressive resume includes wins at the Vermont 100 and the Javelina Jundred, a 135-mile Badwater finish and 153-mile Spartathlon finish, and a pair of 2:28 marathons at Boston and NYC.

Today I’m excited to share another interview clip, this one part of a new No Meat Athlete Academy seminar titled “Natural Workout Nutrition” where Mike shares his strategies for fueling before, during, and after his demanding workouts and races with so clean a plant-based diet.

In the clip, you’ll hear about his unorthodox post-race recovery food and an interesting technique for helping to regulate your electrolyte intake during races:

(If you’re reading by email or in an RSS reader, use this link to watch the video.)

The Academy opens on Wednesday, when the full, hour-long interview with Mike will be live and downloadable for members, complete with notes and a next actions worksheet. If you’d like me to send you an email update as soon as it is, sign up here.

In the meantime, check out Mike’s ultrarunning talk from the Woodstock Fruit Festival — his non-profit raw food event in the Adirondacks, which this year is a two-week long festival in August. I’ll be there for first week with my wife and kids, and I’ll also be giving a talk or two and leading a run! I’ve heard it’s a blast and we’re really looking forward to it.

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The Small-Steps Approach to Healthy Habits (And Sharing Something New)

Happy Marathon Monday! Wishing the best to everyone running and cheering today — and congrats to Jason, Joe, and of course, Meb. (And to Greg, whose wife’s Twitter post made my day.)

On a day that makes you proud to be a runner, to be part of a community who understands you, I’m excited to share something I’ve been working very hard on — something that I hope will take our little part of the running community at No Meat Athlete to a new level.

I’ll explain more below, but first, here’s an 8-minute sample of an interview I did with author and nutritionist Sid Garza-Hillman as part of the new project. In this segment, we talk about the “small steps” approach to habit change that underlies the whole 2-hour interview (and we actually did a second interview for another hour, too!).

(If you’re reading in email or an RSS reader, visit the post to view this video.)

A Better Way to Make Healthy Changes

At the beginning of the year, I sent around a survey to part of the NMA audience. I asked about a few frustrations people have with their diet and fitness, hoping to use our new community site to address the biggest one or two.

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3 Painless Ways to Start Eating Right When Nothing Else Will Work

small steps imageYou know what you’re supposed to eat.

You don’t need another blog post telling you this food is good and that one is bad … those rules seem to change every day anyway. (Hint: “Eat whole foods” is one that’s a constant.)

It’s not that you don’t want to eat healthy. You even understand that, over time, your taste buds will adjust, and you’ll actually crave raw fruits and vegetables while becoming less interested in processed and fried foods.

You know how important it is. Not just for you, but for your family. And that if you don’t start soon, it’ll one day be urgent. And — maybe — too late.

And yet …

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9 Ultra-Helpful Tips for Making the Leap from Marathoner to Ultrarunner

Note from Matt:  Last year when I chose the course for my first 100-miler, one of the criteria I looked for was “fair.” I didn’t want the easiest, flattest course around, but at the same time, it is 100 miles, so why make it tougher than it needs to be? 

Next month, Doug Hay will be running his first 100. But in choosing his race, he didn’t look for “fair.” Instead, he went with the race that most inspired him, the Massunutten Mountain Trails 100 — which happens to be one of the toughest on the East Coast. Not a coincidence.

This choice perfectly sums up Doug’s passion for ultrarunning and trails. And it’s the reason I asked him to answer a question that people ask me all the time these days: “I’ve run a marathon, but now I’d like to run an ultra. Any advice?”

Above all, the difference between marathoning and ultrarunning is the mindset, and Doug’s post will help you to understand that shift. 

Here’s Doug.

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When it comes to running ultramarathons — any distance over 26.2 miles — most people don’t have a clue where to start. The distance sounds so much longer, the courses so much tougher, and the word “ultra” that much more hard core.

I know that before running my first ultra, I worried about things like:

  • If I train for an ultramarathon, will I end up rotting alone somewhere deep in the woods?
  • Will training for an ultramarathon take over my life and piss off all my family and friends?
  • How do I even begin training for such a distance?

Questions like these were filling my head with doubt, and I know these same doubts are common based on the questions I get from runners and readers.

The good news is that the leap from marathoner to ultramarathoner isn’t as big as most runners believe. With a few key distinctions and (maybe) a little extra mileage, you can be well on your way to adding “ultra” to your running accomplishment list.

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

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

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

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

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

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

But finally, we’ve built that place.

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