Your Workout is Eating You Alive

Note: This is a guest post from Johnny B. Truant, of

I’ve got way too much going on.

First of all, I’m a budding endurance athlete. I decided to train for my first marathon last fall, and spent a long Ohio winter clocking runs in the freezing cold before the sun was up.

Second, I’m a seasoned athlete in other fields. I play a few sports when I get the chance; I’m a recreational powerlifter (I’m casually strong but not competition-strong with a max deadlift of 475); I’m a recreational Olympic lifter; I’m getting pretty serious about yoga; I’ve done a lot of Crossfit; I’ve dabbled in crazy stuff like strongman, parkour, and gymnastics.

Third, I’d like to lose a bit of weight — maybe 10-15 pounds. This is my narcissism goal. I’m lean enough now that this represents the fabled “last few pounds,” which are notoriously difficult to banish.

But the trickiest part of this complex amalgam is item number four: I’m an insulin-dependent diabetic.

Training and diet are hard enough by themselves. Add the need to fuel for performance while losing body fat (and add to THAT a desire to balance endurance with strength and to keep blood sugars steady) and pretty soon you’re tracking enough variables that it’s akin to getting a degree in nutritional biochemistry… or perhaps launching a spacecraft.

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The Missing Link(s)

I mentioned earlier this week that I skipped my weekend link post so that I could take the time to respond to all your magnificent (and truly appreciated) comments on my Boston Marathon post.

But with the feedback on the new weekend link posts having been so great, I didn’t want to completely skip it this week.   For that reason, I’ve got a little mid-week special for you!

But first…

No Meat Athletes representin’

If you’ve tried to order a No Meat Athlete shirt in the past few weeks, you probably got a nasty “out of stock” message.

Well, no more.  We just got in a big shipment, so they’re available again.  But seriously, we’re still doing this out of our house, so when I say “big,” I mean “not entirely pathetic.”  Which means they’ll run out again soon, so if you want one, now’s the time to get it, before they’re gone again for another few weeks.

Readers have been sending me some great shots of themselves wearing their NMA shirts at races recently, so I figured I’d share a few with you today.  How great is this first one?

Natalie in front of the Trevi Fountain at the Rome Marathon

Tricia after her first half marathon, in La Jolla

Carolyn on her way to a PR in her first half marathon as a vegan, in Santa Cruz

Brian running an ultra in the Houston area

Vaala, taking the NMA lifestyle to the water

Carrie at the Worst Day of the the Year urban ride in Portland, OR

Grace after the Dallas RNR Half Marathon, where she even got nice comments from Beef Council supporters

Eileen in front of the Queen Mary ship at her first half marathon, in Long Beach

Vinda at the 5K Rock the Parkway in Kansas City

Katherine after her first half marathon, the National Half in DC

Thanks guys, for sending those in!

Now, I realize the NMA audience might be more female than male, but only one image of a dude?  In the words of the immortal DMX, “Where my dogs at?”  Come on fellas, send me those photos!

Anyway, if you’d like to make sure you get a shirt this time around, you shouldn’t wait.  Go here and grab yours so you can show it off at summer races.

The Links!

Alright, a bit delayed, but here we go!  Just three this week, but that just means you’ll have lots of time to check them all out. 🙂

Make Your Own Energy Chews (With Chia Seeds!) — Midpack Runner

You might remember Tim from the chia-seed energy gel he made and guest-posted on No Meat Athlete a month or two ago.  Well, apparently Tim’s a master at incorporating chia into homemade energy food, because he’s done it again — this time, with chews.  I’ve always found chews much easier to stomach than gels, at least when it comes to commercial versions, so I’m digging this.

How to Be a Vegetarian Marathoner — An Interview with Matt Frazier — Strength Running

I guess one could call one a tool for linking to an interview of oneself, but I ain’t too proud!  The reason I’m linking to this (short) interview with Jason from Strength Running is because Jason’s questions were great.  He asked me about qualifying for Boston, the difficulties of being a vegetarian runner, an interesting angle on “where do you get your protein,” and more.  (By the way, Jason is what I consider a “serious” runner — 2:44 marathon PR!  Download his free “52 Workouts” ebook while you’re there.)

Five Myths About Vegans — The Washington Post

Credit to Susan for finding this piece.  Boy, I wish there was more mainstream press like this about veganism.

Alright, that’s it for today.  I’m off to do the first track workout of many, on my new mission to get my ass back to Boston (which I’m guessing will take a 3-hour marathon under the new qualifying system).  Philly in November, perhaps?



The Lightest Neutral Cushioning Shoe on the Market — New Balance 890 Review and Giveaway

First off today, I just want to take a minute and say thank you for your incredibly supportive comments on my Boston Marathon post.  You guys blew me away with the words of encouragement, and I really appreciate all of you taking the time to do that.

With the time I would have spent writing a weekend link post yesterday, I chose instead to respond to as many of the comments as I could.  I wasn’t able to respond to all 100 or so of them, but I’m trying to make more time for this sort of thing, so please keep it up!

Thanks again. 🙂  Onto the review, and a giveaway I know you’ll like.

I have a problem

At first, it was just something I tried because it seemed like fun.  But it felt good, so I did it again.  And again.  And now I don’t know if I can stop.

Okay, here we go.  This is hard to admit in public, but…

I am addicted to buying brand new shoes and wearing them to races. And I don’t just mean a fresh pair of the shoes I’ve trained in — I mean brand new shoes, models I’ve never even tried before the race.

  • On the way up to the Vermont 50 last fall, my friends and I stopped at the Adidas outlet.  I had never worn Adidas, but I fell in love with a pair of adiZero trail shoes.  Two days later, I ran 30 miles in them before switching to road shoes for the last 20 miles of the race.
  • Then a month after that, at the Marine Corps Marathon, I was seduced by the Brooks tent at the expo and walked out with a pair of the Green Silence.  The next day, I ran the marathon in them.
  • And last week, at the Boston Marathon, I tried out a brand new pair of New Balance Badelley 890’s.  I didn’t actually buy this pair; New Balance was nice enough to send me them to review.  And even better, one for you to win!

Why, why, why?

Maybe it’s a backlash.

For years, I tread very carefully when it came to marathons — I took every precaution and tested everything beforehand, just to make sure there were no surprises on race day.  Oh yeah, and I prayed that nothing went catastrophically awry during the race, when it seemed like even the slightest equipment malfunction could leave me with a something bleeding that you really don’t want bleeding.  Or a nutrition mistake that could turn the race into a 26.2-mile Porta Pot tour.

But as you do more and more races, you start to learn that you’re not that fragile.  And the more long runs you do, the easier they seem to get, even when you’re not in peak condition.

Maybe that’s a mental thing, maybe it’s physical, maybe it’s both.  If you’re new to running, this probably seems hard to imagine, but I bet some others will back me up here.

My wife hates this habit of mine, as well she should.  It’s stupid — maybe it’s my very lame attempt at thrill-seeking.  But for now, the sky hasn’t fallen as a result of my wearing new shoes to races.

My defense is that this way, I’m assured of maximizing the amount of cushioning left in my shoes. 🙂  And the shoes I’m reviewing today offered plenty of that.

New Balance Baddeley 890 Review (+ Giveaway)

Over the past two years or so, like a lot of runners I’ve gotten away from heavy, clunky shoes in favor of something more minimalist — even if not to the extent of doing all my runs in Vibram Five Fingers or even completely barefoot.

I’ve settled on the Brooks Green Silence, and been very happy with that compromise between cushioning and feel.

So I was little skeptical about the New Balance 890’s since they do, in fact, fall into the “neutral cushioning” category.  And that means a thick sole, especially at the heel, which is exactly what I noticed when I first walked around in them.

The difference, though, is the weight.  The 890’s weigh in at only 9.65 ounces (roughly the weight of an apple), thanks to the REVlite material that makes up the midsole.  And that makes them the lightest shoe of their kind.  (Significantly heavier, though, than racing flat type shoes like the Green Silence.)

New Balance’s aim here was a shoe that’s lightweight, but durable and cushioned enough for everyday training.

I like this description New Balance wrote about the 890’s: “a new experience suited to runners not necessarily in search of something closer to barefoot, or even the podium, but rather a lighter, more invigorating take on the running experience they already love.”

That’s perfect.

So how did I like them?

I must say I was surprised to really, really like these shoes.  It’s been a while since I’ve run in anything this cushioned, and I’m not gonna lie — the cushioning felt good.  So did the weight, and so did the upper of the shoe, which softly and seamlessly hugged my foot in a cozier manner than what I’ve grown accustomed to with the Green Silence.  And the lacing system is much better.

My one complaint about the 890’s is that the toe box isn’t very big.  My toes felt sort of jammed into the shoe, not front-to-back, but laterally.  It wasn’t really noticeable once I started running, though I did develop small blisters on the second toe of each foot, which doesn’t happen in shoes with a larger toe box.

By the end of the marathon, my feet still felt great (much better than my quads, after hammering 15 miles of downhill to start the race), and I’ll attribute this to the substantial cushioning, after I’ve been training in less-cushioned shoes for well over a year now.

Oh yeah, and they look pretty sweet.

Will the 890’s become my everyday trainer?

I’m at a crossroads here.  One one hand, it was really nice to run with cushioning again.  But the barefooters will tell you that’s deceptive — by letting you land hard on your heel without pain, cushioned shoes set you up for injury (they’ll say).

But consider another take on it, from someone with just a tiny bit of credibility — when I got the chance to run with Scott Jurek last weekend, he said something interesting about barefooting that I took note of.

I don’t have an exact quote, but what he said was something to this extent:

Just because you’re not wearing minimalist shoes or running barefoot, doesn’t mean you can’t still be conscious of your form. If you can run with proper form and still lessen the force of your impact with cushioning, you’re getting the best of both worlds.  (For the record, Scott does some barefoot training but not every day.  He said he likes to run barefoot around the inside of a track after a speed workout, for example.)

With that in mind, I’m happy with the Green Silence as my compromise.  But on days when I want something just a little more forgiving of my sometimes-heelstrikes, the New Balance 890’s will be it.

More info, and your chance to win a pair!

You can check out New Balance’s website for some more specs that I’ve left out of this post, or check out the reviews on Amazon (my affiliate link).  Also, they’ve got a few promotional videos that are sort of fun, like one where they show how 13 helium balloons can carry the shoe away.

The New Balance 890’s retail for $100, but guess what?  If you leave a comment on this post between now and next Monday, May 2, you could win a pair when I select one lucky winner at random!

To enter, just leave a comment on this post.  Leave me something good, like an opinion on the whole minimalist vs. cushioned debate, or what you think of the promo videos.  Or something else, just not, “I want them and you vegetarians are weird.”

And I’ll tell you what.  Since this is a pretty cool prize, you can get a bonus entry if you share this post on Facebook and let me know that you did in your comment.  So for those of you who are still staunchly anti-Twitter, this is your time to shine.

Alright, that’s it.  Share this post on Facebook, leave a comment, and you’ll have two chances to win a pair of these shoes that I really like.

Thanks to New Balance for sponsoring the review and giveaway.



Boston Marathon 2011: My Recap (and My One Regret)

You probably know that I’m not a huge fan of writing race recaps.  Mostly, it’s because writing so many words about myself, my race strategy, my feelings at each mile, and so on seems kind of weird.  And with a marathon being 26.2 miles, recaps are necessarily long, so I always wonder if anyone is even still with me by the end.

But this is Boston — the race I worked so hard to earn the privilege of running, and the journey toward which you were such a big part of, through your reading and comments on this blog.  Even if I were to decide that a recap would be overly self-indulgent, I’m sure several of you would track me down and come punch me in the head if I didn’t write one.

So here goes.  Hope this captures just a tiny glimmer of what it felt like to actually be there.

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The Best Stuff I Read This Week — Boston Marathon Edition

It’s hard for me to believe, but I’m less than 13 hours away from standing in the starting corral at the Boston Marathon.

The weekend has gone by in a blur, and the overwhelming feeling I’ve taken away from the days leading up to Marathon Monday is that this really is something special.  Walking through the streets and just hearing people talk about all the famous parts of the race — the craziness of the start at Hopkinton, the screaming Wellesley girls near the halfway mark, Heartbreak Hill, and the finish in downtown Boston — just makes you realize how much history, tradition, and prestige are wrapped up in this greatest race in the world.   (And how fortunate you are to get the chance to be a part of it, even if just one time.)

With Scott Jurek, vegan and one of the world's greatest ultrarunners.

With the new qualifying standards, there’s a good chance this is it for me.  All that work, to get to run this 26.2 mile stretch once.  And that’s why I’m going to do everything I can to soak up every last bit of magic from this day as I can.

As if the weekend couldn’t get any better — and surreal — I found out last-minute that Chris McDougall, author of Born to Run, was holding a “Naked Run” for barefooters and anyone else in Boston on Saturday.  And guess who “anyone else” included?  None other than Scott Jurek, ultrarunning god and, as you probably know, vegan.  So I got to run alongside Chris and Scott for a little while, which was just about as cool a pair as I could imagine running with.

Though some did bare all, I didn’t go naked (barefoot).  I wore my Brooks Green Silence, to at least maintain some semblance of street cred among all these barefooters, but I think I’m going to try out a new pair of New Balance Baddeley 890’s for the marathon.

So that’s it… tomorrow’s the big day.  Until I get a chance to check in again, I’ve got a bunch of great stuff for you.  Read and be inspired to do something kickass.

How to Qualify for the Boston Marathon — No Meat Athlete

Yep, this one’s from me, but come on, give me a pass today.  Here are the most important steps I took to take 103 minutes off of my marathon time and get into Boston.

Do Something. Do Anything. — Nerd Fitness

Good stuff from Steve Kamb, in line with my recent “Just start” obsession.

Conclusion: There is No Such Thing as a Vegan — Il Post

That’s not really the title; the truth is this article is in Italian and so is the headline.  But this is the caption of the infographic, which is entirely in English.  Maybe the point here is to discourage vegans — someone who speaks Italian will have to let me know — but I actually felt the opposite in realizing that perfection is impossible.

Simple Ways to Be More With Less — Be More With Less

Courtney Carver’s new ebook.  It’s sort of about minimalism, much more about simplicity.  I read it in one night and woke up the next day feeling more inspired than I had been in a long time.  Not an affiliate link, just something I love and I think you will too.

How to Be Vegetarian and Not Gnaw Your Arm Off — Healthy Tipping Point

A good one to read if you’re veg-curious but worrying about being hungry all the time.  I totally agree with what Caitlin says about faux meats, protein, and eating fat at each meal.

You Know that Shit You Hate? — Advanced Riskology

One of my favorite posts from my friend Tyler, because I’ve only recently really begun to understand what a terrible waste it is to spend time on anything you hate.  Read this one if you find yourself doing that.

Discover Why Intermittent Fasting is the Secret Gateway to Superior Health — Ridiculously Extraordinary

Okay, the headline oversells it a bit, and I can’t say I’m on board quite yet.  But a lot of people I trust are behind this idea of periodic fasting, and I’m intrigued.  Given the difficulty of my first few experiences with a juice fast, it’ll be a while before I try it again, but I will say the challenge of depriving oneself of food for just a little while is something I’m not finished with.  After all, I think the challenge of being vegan is a small part of why I find this lifestyle appealing.

Alright, that’s all for today.  The next time I talk to you, assuming all goes well, I’ll be a Boston Marathon finisher!  Thanks for being with me on this journey.



You Have to Fight

“Stage four cancer.”

Three words. That’s all it took to send everything into a tailspin.

Author Susan Lacke with her friend and thirteen-time Ironman, Carlos

The man sitting in front of me, one of my closest friends, didn’t look sick. There was no way he had cancer.

I had been so certain Carlos was invincible; this kind of thing didn’t happen to people like him. No way.

The story itself seemed surreal.  Carlos woke up one day, seeming perfectly healthy and ready to race a half-Ironman in California. The next, there was a tumor in his colon, spots on his liver, and a whirlwind of doctors and nurses and IVs and surgeries and fear.

“I do all this stupid Ironman shit, and look where it got me.”

Carlos is a thirteen-time Ironman, a model of health to everyone who knows him. For as long as we’ve been friends, people have called him a lot of things for his healthy lifestyle — mostly some variation of ‘crazy’ — but have also admired his dedication and tenacity.

I’ve never seen Carlos question anything. He’s always been confident — sometimes to the point of being just a little bit cocky. It’s something I loved about him the first time I met him. But in that moment, discussing his cancer diagnosis, I thought I saw a glimpse of self-doubt.

I should have known better than that. When I reached out to take my friend’s hand, he looked into my eyes:

“I’m going to fight this with everything I have.”

It’d be easy (and forgivable) for him to lament — he spent all this time and energy being healthy, and for what? Why did he bother with so many vegetables when he could have eaten something deep-fried every day? What was the point of exercise if it didn’t keep him healthy? If this disease has such a low survival rate, what’s the point in fighting?

But for as long as I’ve known Carlos, I’ve known he’s incapable of such a mindset. When there’s a 99 percent chance of failure, most people hope and pray to be in the 1 percent of success.

Carlos neither hopes nor prays.  He forces his way into that slim margin and owns it.  Told you he was a little bit cocky.

He’s a fighter, and expects others to be, too. No matter the opponent, he’ll tell you to get in there and give it everything you have. If you’re going to lose, you damn well better go down swinging.

So I fight, too.

He’s fighting people who say they’re pulling for him, but secretly wonder if he’s really capable of beating such advanced cancer. I can silence my insecurities and self-doubt.

He’s fighting the exhaustion of telling his emotional story again (and again) when yet another person asks, “What happened?” I can deal my overflowing e-mail inbox.

He’s fighting a tangle of doctors and treatment options and medication regimens with optimism. I can be kind to the Starbucks barista who screwed up my drink order.

He’s fighting the pain of surgery and chemotherapy. I can pound out another hill repeat when my legs say “no more.”

He’s fighting the fear that if his treatment fails, his children will be without a father. I can stop using my busy schedule as an excuse to not have dinner with a friend.

He’s fighting fatigue to keep his promise to attend as many of my races as he can. I can give him everything I have to make him proud.

Be a fighter

We take so much for granted.  Every so-called struggle most of us encounter pales in comparison to what Carlos is facing.  We make so many assumptions that our lifestyle choices somehow imply invincibility, and yet just like Carlos going from Ironman to the operating room, everything can change at any time.

For as long as Carlos has been a part of my life, he’s been a profound influence. This circumstance is yet another example of that influence. If he can fight, so can I. Hoping and praying simply isn’t enough; even the biggest of fires can’t start without a spark.

Be that spark. No matter what it is you’re doing, you can’t just work at it halfheartedly.

You have to commit to making it happen.

You have to own every part of it.

You have to be just a little bit cocky.

Most importantly, you have to fight.


Susan Lacke, NMA’s Resident Triathlete, also writes for Competitor Magazine and  Follow her on Twitter: @SusanLacke



33 Ways to Save Time (and Embarrassment) In the Kitchen

What’s the first step to take once you decide to start eating better?

The simplest answer, for omnivores and vegetarians alike, is this: Start cooking.  I believe it was Michael Pollan who summed it up best when he pointed out that nobody reaches for a bottle of high-fructose corn syrup when they’re in their own kitchen.

Whether plant-based or omnivorous, your diet will improve the day you start cooking, because it forces you to become aware of every ingredient you put into your food and your body.  And if you’re vegetarian, vegan, or nearly so, you know that cooking your own food isn’t an option — it’s a must.

But cooking, and cooking healthy, takes time. And planning.  And even some practice.

That’s not such a bad thing if cooking is your particular brand of unwinding or meditation.  And that’s certainly not uncommon; cooking a special, all-day meal on a Sunday is as therapeutic an activity as any I know.

But what if that’s not you?  What if you’d rather be running, climbing, or ripping out your own armpit hair than stuck in a kitchen for any longer than it takes  to pour a bowl of cereal?

Then you’re in the right place.  Here’s a list of 33 ways you can speed up your cooking and avoid the kitchen mistakes that don’t just cost you time, but cost you friends.  (Okay, maybe it’s not that bad, but come on — you don’t want people to think vegetarian food sucks just ’cause yours does, do you?)

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The Best Stuff I Read Last Week

Once again, my “weekend post” comes at the very tail end of the weekend… only three hours to spare!

It was a busy weekend, but I’m not complaining — “busy” comprised a 9-mile trail run (my last of any real difficulty before Boston next Monday), brewing beer (a dunkelweizen) and grilling up some vegan sausages, and cooking a big vegan Spanish tapas menu for a little family celebration of my son’s first birthday (we’ll be in Boston for the real thing).

Not too many links today, but a few stellar ones.  I’ll get right to them while it’s still the weekend.

The Other Side of the Paleo Coin — Get Fit Slowly

This is a must-read for vegan/vegetarian athletes.  It’s a guest post from Mac’s wife, Pam, whom I had no idea was an elite ultrarunner (she just ran a sub-8-hour 100K).  And guess what?  She’s vegetarian!

Recently, a reader emailed me asking how she might justify being a vegetarian, when so many strong and successful athletes are advocating the Paleo diet these days — Pam’s post is the answer that I didn’t have the knowledge to write.  While I’m not sure I agree with every point here, it’s the best set of counterarguments from the vegetarian perspective I’ve yet read.

The Human-Animal Connection — Mark’s Daily Apple

Former pro triathlete Mark Sisson isn’t Paleo, but he’s close: He’s Primal.

There is a difference. I’m not totally clear on what it is, but both still depend on consuming large amounts of meat — which is why I was pretty surprised to see this potentially compassionate headline in my feed reader.

Anyway, the post is a departure from Mark’s normal content, and it’s a nice read.  He displays an appreciation for animals’ roles in our lives, but seems also to consider hunting a part of our “connection” with them.  Overall, it’s a fair and thought-provoking post, neither anti- nor pro-vegetarian, from what I can tell.

The line that I keep thinking about is one Mark cites by someone else, regarding domestication of animals: “In groups without domestic animals, both human and non-human animals are viewed as having an intellect – that is, sentience, sociability, and intelligence.”

Screw You, I Quit! — Illuminated Mind

It wouldn’t be “The Best Stuff I Read Last Week” without at least one post to make you want to go kick ass, right?  Here it is.

What I like about this one is that it’s not just ra-ra, go-get-it stuff, but a few slighty more-concrete steps you can take to change your situation.

And the “screw you” is a more subtle one than screaming at your boss as you burn every last bridge with your current employer — it’s more about giving the finger to the cultural expectations so many people feel pressure to meet, and end up wasting their time living the life someone else designed for them.

Have a great beginning of your week. 🙂