3 Steps to Planning the Perfect Running Getaway to Re-energize Your Training

This is a guest post by Doug Hay of Rock Creek Runner.

It happens to everyone.

No matter how good your intentions are in the beginning, sometimes training becomes a real drag. In any prolonged training cycle, what was once one of the most exciting things you ever started can feel more like that new friend that wants to hang out … every … single … day.

Sometimes you just need a break, and sometimes you just need a little reminder about why it is exactly that you still like that needy friend.

This recently happened to me (not the friend part, the training slump part). After a long winter of training for the No Meat Athlete group event for the Rock n Roll USA Marathon, I was beat up and burnt out.

I would have just taken a few months off, but my next big race, the North Face Endurance Challenge 50 Miler, is just around the corner — and training to run 50 miles knows no long breaks. So what did I do?

I took off to the mountains.

With nothing but a car full of camping gear and a pair of running shoes, I found my retreat, rejuvenated my soul, and now feel better about my training than I ever thought I could.

Read more »



Veg-Curious? Don’t Be Fooled by These 7 Myths About a Vegetarian Diet

A lot of the emails that I get from readers begin this way:

Hi Matt! Love your site. First I should tell you that I’m not a vegetarian…

I can’t figure out why people need to get this off their chest right away … in the future, you can skip it!

I actually think many, many readers of this site are non-vegetarians who lean towards eating mostly plants, so you’re far from alone. No shame in just being curious; we all started out that way.

And so it occurred to me the other day when I was talking to someone who called himself “veg-curious” that I should write more posts for the veg-curious. (This occurred to me because he said, “You should write more posts for the veg-curious.”)

Today’s veg-curious-friendly topic: things you hear about vegetarianism that are just plain wrong.

Read more »



The Boston Marathon, and What It Takes to Get There

Today, as you probably know, is Boston Marathon day.

My medal from 2011, and the only one that will remain when I downsize my medal collection soon.

One year ago, I ran it. It was amazing.

Two years ago, I was eligible to run, but I didn’t because my son was born just two days before the race.

(The silver lining is that a few weeks prior, I said I was going to skip his birth to run the race, in an April Fool’s joke that resulted in the loss of many friends and readers but was nonetheless an instant classic.)

And just two and a half years ago, I qualified.

Qualifying for Boston had been my goal since I signed up to run my very first marathon back in 2002, and brazenly wrote down “3:10:00” — the time I would need in order to qualify — as my projected finish time.

Pretty good estimate … I was only off by an hour and 43 minutes. I should have known something was up when I lined up in the starting corral, just behind the elites, and surrounded by serious athletes with crazy calf muscles who were obviously in a different league than I was.

Anyway, I know how inspired I used to feel on Patriots’ Day when I would see all the coverage of the marathon and envision myself one day running it, even when I wasn’t yet close to being fast enough. So I figured I’d post a few links and tips today, just in case you’re in the same boat I was.

Read more »



The One Thing Harder than Ironman

It was one year ago that I told you about Carlos and his cancer diagnosis. Many of you responded to “You Have to Fight” and the follow-up columns about him, “The One Word to Ignore” and “Out There: Never Stop Fighting” with an outpouring of support for him.

For weeks, I’ve been working on a one-year update for you. It’s been difficult to write — every time I sit down, I’m filled with tears, laughter, and pride for my best friend.

Recently, Carlos was asked to give a speech about his experience as a cancer fighter. As soon as I read it, I threw all of my drafts for this article away. No one can tell the story better than he can.

I am not here for pleasant conversation.

I write to you about things that happen to people — bad people and good people. Things that make some cry, and question life’s fairness and God’s existence. But it’s OK, because I know I am in good company. Many of you have likely gone through hell and back. I know, like you, how it feels being in pain, scared, hopeless, helpless, defeated, cheated, and alone.

But I also know we are made of some tough stuff. Every one of us is equipped to climb over obstacles. We are all made to fight and never give up.

One year ago

I was what people call “super-fit.” My sport makes regular people cry in pain just watching it on TV! Ironman consists of swimming 2.4 miles, biking 112 miles, and then running 26.2 miles, a full marathon, in less than 16 hours. I have done this 13 times in races across the United States and Europe.

I was in the midst of training for yet another Ironman last April when I suddenly got sick. It wasn’t a gradual, progressive illness. One day I rode my bike for 6 hours, and the next I had emergency surgery. In an instant, everything changed.

One year ago, I was told that I had Stage IV colon cancer, the most advanced stage of cancer.

The tumors in my colon had metastasized to the lymph nodes and to the liver. With luck and chemotherapy every oncologist said I could live another year, but the odds of survival beyond that were slim. Liver surgery is an option for some with my cancer, but I was not a candidate for it, as I had too many tumors.

The doctors didn’t say it outright, but I could tell what they were thinking: Start writing your will.

Read more »



On Starting Anew in Asheville

Happy so far: The family outside our new home in Asheville.

I’m writing this post from my brand new chair at my brand new desk. In my new office in my new home, in Asheville, NC.

It all feels a bit weird, but in an exciting kind of way, just as this entire move has felt.

When we told our friends and family that we were moving eight hours away, to a small city in the mountains of western North Carolina where we didn’t know anybody — and without one of the standard reasons, like a job, that generally causes a move — the responses varied pretty wildly.

Some people thought we were crazy. Some were sad (and of course, so were we to leave them).

But a few people told me how inspiring they thought it was that we would move so spontaneously, and not because we had to, but simple because we wanted to.

And that’s why I’m writing this post about our move, and about Asheville. Not just to explain our reasons for moving, but to (I hope) inspire others who feel stuck where they are but are afraid to make a change.

You’ll see that it’s not terribly far off topic for No Meat Athlete, either — as far as vegeterian- and vegan-friendliness goes, Asheville beats any other city I’ve ever visited.

From Baltimore to Asheville, via San Diego

Read more »