The No Meat Athlete Guide to Buying Your Perfect Running Shoe (and the Only Question that Really Matters)

Young woman tying laces of running shoes before training

There’s nothing like a new pair of running kicks.

They look crisp, smell fresh, and — if you’re anything like me — instantly add a little extra pep to your stride.

I’ll even go as far as to say that it’s a sure bet that my first run in a new pair of shoes will be a good one.

But after that freshness wears off, after the smell turns sour and you’re left with just the miles on your training plan, what makes one running shoe better than any other?

Walk through a specialty running store and you’ll see dozens of brands and models to choose from, each with a different set of features that look and sound like the next best thing…

…New performance foams, shoe shapes, spring boards, and random other made-up-word materials, all promising to help you run faster or prevent your next injury.

So how do you decide?

As a long-time ultrarunner and regular shoe reviewer for sites like Competitor, I find myself trying out a new pair of shoes almost every month, and I’ve come to realize fancy marketing words have very little to do with a shoe’s performance.

While it might feel overwhelming in the store, finding the right shoe for you is not as complicated as you might think.

Below I share my tips for how to choose the perfect shoe to carry any plant-based athlete through their training and across the finish line.

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Ocean Robbins on Superfoods, Sustainability, and the 31-Day Food Revolution

ocean

I owe a lot of my health — and now my parents’ — to Ocean and John Robbins.

Ten years ago, I decided to try a plant-based diet. I was inspired, believe it or not, by a Tony Robbins seminar, and it turns out that Tony’s nutrition philosophy was heavily influenced in the mid-1980’s by John Robbins’ Diet for a New America.

Nowadays, John and his son, Ocean, put on the Food Revolution Summit every year, in which they interview 20 to 30 of the top minds in the health and nutrition world. They’re incredible at distilling broad, sometimes complicated topics into succinct, motivating advice, which is what makes the summit so appealing every year.

That’s what caught the attention of my dad in 2016, when a Food Revolution Summit talk convinced him to start eating a plant-based, nutritarian diet.

And finally, my mom started eating this way too: her motivation in the moment was a heart scare, but the foundation had been laid by several years of listening to the summit interviews.

Now, Ocean has taken the wealth of nutrition knowledge he’s amassed over his life, and compiled it into a “health manual” of sorts — The 31-Day Food Revolution: Heal Your Body, Feel Great, and Transform Your World — in stores today.

I had the privilege of reviewing an advance copy of the book, and I can tell you it’s every bit as insightful and actionable as the summit is each year.

It’s my pleasure today to feature Ocean Robbins as our guest on the latest episode of No Meat Athlete Radio. In the interview, Doug and I pick Ocean’s brain with questions both broad — like how he filters the overwhelming amount of nutrition information out there — and specific, like the foods he makes sure to eat every day.

Check out The 31-Day Food Revolution, and then listen to the episode here:

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Episode Sponsor

This episode of No Meat Athlete Radio is brought to you by Hemp Daddy’s and their full spectrum CBD products, created by a runner for runners.

Learn more at hempdaddys.com and use code nomeat at checkout to save 10% off and free shipping on your first order.

 

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High Carb Hannah on a Starch Based Diet and How She Lost 70 Pounds

EP259

Matt first met Hannah and Derek, who you likely know from Hannah’s YouTube channel High Carb Hannah, at the roulette table on the vegan cruise, and they immediately hit it off.

(Having spent many hours with Matt at a roulette table before, I can say that them getting past his unique betting strategy to the point where you actually want to talk to the guy is a miracle. 😉 )

The three of them hit it off mostly, it seems, because Hannah and Derek like to have fun… An approach to life that has not only helped grow her YouTube channel to more than 650,000 subscribers, but has shaped the way they think of food and diets.

In today’s episode, Matt sits down with both of them to discuss weight loss, the vegan YouTube scene, and why Hannah replaced her fruitarian approach to weight loss with a starch-based diet.

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If you like what we do at NMA Radio, we’d greatly appreciate it if you’d leave us a rating and review on iTunes. Thank you!

Episode Sponsor

This episode of No Meat Athlete Radio is brought to you by Hemp Daddy’s and their full spectrum CBD products, created by a runner for runners.

Learn more at hempdaddys.com and use code nomeat at checkout to save 10% off and free shipping on your first order.

 

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The Ending Doesn’t Matter

 

Closeup hand of boxer with red bandages

Corny as it sounds, I’m still a sucker for the movie Rudy.

But my favorite scene isn’t the ending, where he fulfills his lifelong dream by not just getting into a game, but making a sack (though I admit I love this part and cry every single time).

Instead, it’s this one:

No drama, no triumph. Just a guy getting bludgeoned on the practice field, over and over and over.

If we didn’t know he was ultimately going to make it, we’d pity him — the way the coaches, the other players (the ones who belong there), and even his peers do.

Because despite the fact that he’s made some progress — getting himself onto the practice squad as an undersized kid with bad grades, for whom just getting into college was a major hurdle — everybody knows he’s not actually going to get to play for Notre Dame.

It’s sad to see someone so full of delusion, accepting so much pain, seemingly for no reason.

Of course, in this case, we all know it leads to that happy ending. All the pain, failure, and disappointment is ultimately worth it, because in the end, Rudy wins.

What I realize now, though, is that the ending doesn’t matter.

It’s been ten years since I qualified for the Boston Marathon, and gave a happy ending to my own, seven-year-long version of the Rudy story, in which I shaved 104 minutes off my time to get in. And it’s now been five years since last time I trained seriously for anything, since I’ve considered myself a runner.

Now that I’m back, something has changed.

What’s different now is I realize I don’t need the happy ending scene anymore. It doesn’t matter.

In doesn’t matter that Rudy ultimately gets his goal. Instead, it’s when he’s getting beaten up on the practice field where he has won. This is the entire point.

They say the reason we set goals is for who we become in pursuit of them. A tired cliché, maybe. But now I know it’s true.

When I finally did qualify for Boston, I was on a cloud.

Elated. For a week.

Then for about month, I felt good every time I thought about it.

And then… nothing. The fire of seven years was extinguished.

I didn’t even train for Boston itself. Just did the bare minimum I could to make sure I’d get across the finish line.

A few years later, I wasn’t even a runner anymore.

My point is that I was better before I had achieved the goal — when I was failing, miserably and embarrassingly, because I had told everyone I knew that this would be the time I qualified, and they just had to come watch me.

Failing, completely oblivious to the tragedy it must have been to watch me… but aware that I had failed just a little better than last time.

That was the best I ever was as a runner. When I was failing, but feeding off any bit of progress I could find, I would lie in bed at night, barely able to wait until the next morning when I could go out and do it again.

That’s the best part of the story, not the ending. And what I learned about myself there is the part that matters.

The success itself? Overrated, and probably unnecessary.

I’ve said before that if I had been smarter about the whole process, I could have done it in three years, instead of taking seven.

But now I realize the failure was what it was all about. If I could go back and do it all much smarter — with half the failure and suffering — I wouldn’t.

Getting knocked down and then standing back up — over and over and over — that’s the good part.

Fast forward 10 years…

I got into Muay Thai (Thai kickboxing) four months ago, and it’s the first time I’ve felt really excited about fitness since those Boston years.

And I’m really quite bad at it.

Largely, it’s because my hips are tight. I’m the least flexible person in class. Fifteen years of training for marathons and ultras taught my body that hips and legs are for moving forwards and backwards — not for twisting to correctly throw a punch (with your core, not your arms), and especially not for pivoting on one leg and turning over your pelvis to deliver a body kick with the other.

In my first month of training, I brought home new bruises every day. Feet, shins, chest, you name it. I even bruised — or maybe cracked — a rib in my second class, when the force of someone’s kick to the pads I was holding (incorrectly, I now know) drove my fist into my body. I immediately knew something was wrong. It was a month before I could sleep on that side again, and two before it wasn’t agony to sneeze.

Every time I think I’m starting to get somewhere, the instructor corrects my form, points out a fundamental problem that prevents me from generating enough power. Or, more humbling still, hits me in the head after I throw a punch and don’t bring my hands immediately back to protect my face again.

And so this is hard. Harder than running ever was, even when I was new.

So how, I wonder, did I get addicted to it? Why, for those first few months, did I go every single day that my rib injury (and others) allowed me to?

I think it’s because of the failure thing.

When I’m the least experienced, least flexible person on the mat, all I really have to fall back on is what running marathons and ultras taught me to be good at: how not to quit, even — no, especially — when it sucks.

So if I can’t punch as hard, kick as high, or defend myself as well as everyone else, at least I can be the guy who never, ever stops. Who gets up every time. Who doesn’t ever quit.

I can be the guy the younger, better fighters pity for all the pain he takes. I want to be that guy.

What I’ve learned about myself is that if I can find progress — even just a little, even when it’s invisible to anyone but me — then I’m happy. That’s why I’m having so much fun.

I have no goal with Muay Thai. The people in my class fight on weekends, but I don’t know if I’ll ever want to do that.

At first this concerned me, made me wonder why I was putting so much energy into this new hobby. If there’s no goal, what’s the point?

Now I get it.

Get knocked down, stand back up. Among all the failure and suffering, find the shred of progress, and keep going. That’s the point.

The ending doesn’t matter.

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I’m Upgrading My Daily Diet, Here’s How

Food for Thrive diet

At the beginning of this year, I set the goal to get into the best shape of my life in 2019.

This meant a return to running. Building strength, muscle, and quickness through Muay Thai. And probably lifting some weights, too.

One thing it didn’t mean, I thought, was a change to my diet.

I was already eating 100% plant-based, and mostly whole foods, when I told Doug in a recent episode of No Meat Athlete Radio that I was grateful not to have to worry about my diet in order to achieve this goal.

Well, I was wrong.

Since then, in thinking next-level about what it’ll take for me to achieve my fitness goals and others this year (I set nine of them!), I’ve realized how important anything that affects my energy levels — and indeed, anything I do every single day — is.

Hence more closely examining my supplementation routine, my daily schedule, and of course, my diet.

Upgrading My Daily Meal Plan

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The 7 Supplements I Take, 2019 Edition

Healthy supplements on wooden spoon

Yep, seven. Kind of a lot for a “whole foods” guy, right?

Don’t worry, I’ll explain.

If you’re even a casual NMA reader, you know it’s been a loooong time since I wrote two blog posts in a week. We’re talking years, I think.

Well, I’m here to boldly declare that I’m back. My goal for the year, No Meat Athlete’s 10th anniversary year, is to write a blog post per week, on average. Not because I should, but because I really want to — the time away has renewed my enthusiasm. And after going for so long without writing regularly, I’ve got a lot I’m excited to share.

But writing more is just one of my goals. This year, I gave myself permission to set a bunch of them — not just one or two, like I usually tell people is best — and to make them BIG.

Upgrading the OS

It didn’t take long, though, for me to realize that in order to do more, my “operating system” needs to be better — which means upgrading my daily habits, and to pay particular attention to nutrition, since that affects just about everything else.

For several years now I’ve been careful to cover the bases: vitamin B12, vitamin D, and DHA/EPA, just to safeguard myself against common deficiencies of a vegan diet (and many other diets, too, by the way). But now I’m paying more attention to things like sleep, recovery from workouts, nagging injuries, and even long-term prevention — and because of that, I find myself both more diligent and more experimental with supplements.

Don’t worry, this isn’t the post where Matt turns into a biohacker. In general, my philosophy is still “whole foods first,” and probably always will be. (Not the store — in that case, it’s actually “Whole Foods second,” after we’ve gotten everything we can at a cheaper place!)

In fact, you’ll see that several of what I call “supplements” actually are whole foods; it’s just that I take them like a robot would take fuel. If robots ran on fuel.

So here goes. I’ve listed the daily dose I take next to each.

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Run a Race this Year: Developing Your Ideal Training Plan

colorful silhouettes of people running in the city

It’s a new year, which means new running and racing goals. But for many of us, the cold winter, post-holiday lack of activity makes running a big race feel nearly impossible.

So in today’s episode, we look at the entire year, not just the next few months.

Here’s a breakdown of how to develop the perfect training schedule for your goals, whether they’re 3, 6, or 12 months away.

Click the button below to listen now:

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If you like what we do at NMA Radio, we’d greatly appreciate it if you’d leave us a rating and review on iTunes. Thank you!

Episode Sponsor

This episode of No Meat Athlete Radio is brought to you by Hemp Daddy’s and their full spectrum CBD products, created by a runner for runners.

Learn more at hempdaddys.com and use code nomeat at checkout to save 10% off and free shipping on your first order.

 

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7 Books Worth Your Time for a Healthy, Happy, and Productive 2019

piles of books on table over blurred library background.

We’re two weeks into the new year… which means when it comes to resolutions, most people have hit the wall.

And that’s okay.

When we make New Year’s about a “clean slate,” our one chance to get things right, we’re going to lose. Of course we are.

But there’s tremendous opportunity in using this time of year — post-holidays, post-stress, post-busyness — to create new habits that will make this year better than the last.

So the good news is that even if your resolutions are history, the season isn’t. We’re only two weeks in!

In this spirit, I offer you the list of books I’m most excited about for their capacity to help all of us make change for the better.

Several of them I’ve read many times (often at New Year’s, in fact), a few I’ve read just once (that’s all that was needed), and a couple others that I’m reading now or have on my list for early this year.

I hope they help you make the most of this wonderful season.

41m7L8FrIzL._SX310_BO1,204,203,200_1. Turning Pro by Steven Pressfield

Maybe the best book for reading at the start of a new year, ever. I’ve read it four or five times, and I know NMA Radio co-host Doug is a big fan, too.

Turning Pro is about growing up. Showing up. And forever giving up the excuses and rationalizations that keep you an amateur (both professionally and otherwise).

It’s written for writers and artists, but the advice is applicable to just about everyone, in whatever area of life you’re playing too small.

2. Can’t Hurt Me by David Goggins

A few weeks ago, I listened to David Goggins on the Rich Roll Podcast.

I knew he was a ultrarunner, an ultra-distance cyclist, and a triathlete. And I knew he was an ex-Navy SEAL, one of those military dudes you just don’t want to mess with.

Usually, I don’t really relate to people like this; it’s just too big a leap. Robotic discipline and run-through-walls determination? Cool, but not really me.

But when you learn about where Goggins comes from and how he grew up, you realize he wasn’t born superhuman. He decided to be this way, and he still decides to choose discomfort and growth over what’s easy — every single day, starting at a ridiculously dark and cold hour.

I haven’t read Can’t Hurt Me, his self-published memoir, yet. I’m still riding the motivation-high of the new year and feeling plenty inspired.

But the second that starts to dip — and I know that at some point, it will — this will be my motivation to get back in the game.

41nAX7WbShL._SY346_3. The Little Book of Talent by Daniel Coyle

One of the most inspiring lessons I’ve ever learned is that talent isn’t an accident.

That most people who are truly great in their fields are that way not because they were born with it, but because they worked hard.

The so-called 10,000 Hour Rule was eye-opening for me. Our culture wants to be believe that the outstanding performers we admire were born with the gift — because that lets us off the hook: We weren’t born with anything special, so it’s not our fault.

But when you come to believe that with hard work and lots of it — real, deliberate practice, for thousands of hours — mastery of anything is possible, suddenly you have a lot of choices. (This is especially exciting for kids, who have more time with which to accumulate those thousands of hours.)

Daniel Coyle wrote a long book, called the Talent Code, about this idea, where he shared the best practices he learned by studying talent hotbeds around the world. The Little Book of Talent is a distillation of that advice into 52 short directives — things like “shrink the practice space” and “buy a notebook” — to help you engineer your (or your kids’) practice routines for success.

613D-sCSsoL._SY346_4. The Bullet Journal Method by Ryder Carroll

I’ve been frustrated with journaling for a long time. I’d love to make it work — to have a record of my successes, failures, and lessons learned, plus whatever benefits come from the journaling process itself — but just haven’t been able to make the habit last.

I go through spurts where I do it every day, and then I stop for months (or years). I’ve tried it in different formats, handwritten and typed, notebook, computer, cloud, with no way to pull it all together. It’s a mess.

Worse, I keep notebooks of to-do lists and day-to-day notes, but I have no process for revisiting them. Sure, I might write down a great insight or quote, but I’ll likely never see it again without any system for making sure I do.

Well, the Bullet Journal promises to be that system, and hundreds of thousands of happy Bullet-journalers give me reason to believe that promise.

Charmingly, it’s all done in a blank, pen-and-paper notebook. You can now buy “official” Bullet Journals, but I find that idea much less appealing than the DIY version.

You actually don’t need to buy The Bullet Journal Method to learn the system; it’s all laid out for free on the author’s website. But the book provides additional context around things like goals and intentionality, and the idea that at its best, Bullet Journaling is an exercise in mindfulness.

5. The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo

Yes, this is kind of old. I read it back in 2015, and I felt like I was late to party then.

So why include it? Because it freaking works.

I read a whole lot of books about how to make things better, and for me, none has ever delivered on its promise the way this one has.

Since my epic tidying marathon this book inspired three years ago, I’ve never gone back to my old ways. It’s life-changing, for real.

Now’s the perfect time. Ditch the clutter and make room for what matters in your life.

51xCkzASckL._SY346_6. Atomic Habits by James Clear

Maybe my mantra should be, “I haven’t read the book, but I have heard the author on the Rich Roll podcast!”

Because that’s the deal with this one, like it was with #2 above.

I talk a lot about the “small steps” approach, and also the opposite (but not entirely incompatible) idea of “massive action.” But there’s so much more to the science of changing habits, a lot of which has to do with engineering your environment for success.

I went into this interview assuming I knew most of what there is to know about practical habit change advice, but as I listened, blogger and author James Clear gave so many “ah-ha” tips that I had to add his book to my list of must-reads this year.

If you think your whole habit-change operating system could use a software upgrade, then this is the book to read.

7. Deep Meditation by Yogani

I’m slightly ashamed to admit that, despite investing quite a bit of money and time in meditation courses and apps, I’ve never made meditation into a lasting habit.

Interestingly, though, none of the fancy courses I’ve bought or attended have provided more insight than Deep Meditation, a short little volume you can buy for $4.61. It shines light on a lot of the dark corners of meditation, and provides a simple, practical prescription for creating a daily practice.

I’m not sure 2019 will be the year I make meditation last — that might never happen. But when I’m ready to try again, this is the approach I’ll go back to.

61-OwbMZwmL._SX404_BO1,204,203,200_8. The No Meat Athlete Cookbook by Matt Frazier and Stepfanie Romine (Just $3.99 today!)

Okay, so I promised you seven books, but snuck in an eighth. And one that I co-authored, no less!

And there’s a good reason for that. The No Meat Athlete Cookbook was selected by Amazon as a Kindle Daily Deal, which means that today (and today, January 13th, only), you can pick up the digital version for just $3.99.

It’s discounted across all platforms today, so you can get it at that price regardless of how you e-read.

This book is our most successful to date, with over 50,000 copies sold and lots of accolades in mainstream press. If you haven’t gotten a copy yet, the start of the new year is as good as time as any.

One final time, happy new year. Remember, it’s not about the day, but about the season, so make something happen while 2019 is still in front of you.

cookbook-facebook-2019

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