Times, They Are A-Changin’

[newcastle and salad photo]Morning!  I’m proud to announce that I’m a guest-poster on The Runner’s Kitchen today, one of the very first blogs I started reading when I joined the blogosphere six months ago.  As a fellow beer lover, Megan always posts about the great suds she’s drinking, so for my guest post I made up a fancy salad to pair with my favorite beer, Newcastle Brown Ale.

I mean, if you’re going to get all banged up, the least you can do for your body is eat a salad with it, right? 😉

I’ll let you get your food fix for the day over there, while I post about training over here.

You’ve Changed, Man

There are some major changes going on with my body.  Not those changes, silly!  I may be baby-faced, but I’m 28!  I’m talking about my fitness level, as the result of about a year and a half of consistent training and the best diet I’ve ever eaten for any amount of time.

A few things about my 20-miler yesterday made me realize this.  Mainly, it was the fact that I ran the 20 in the morning, quickly showered and wrote a blog post, then went into school for a meeting.  I was running five or so minutes late and had to bring lunch in the car, an all-too-familiar situation for me.  But that’s the thing, it was exactly the same thing I’d have been doing if I hadn’t run 20 miles in the morning.  All the sudden it hit me.

Holy f, two hours ago I was running farther than most people will drive today.

20 miles used to be the type of thing that would require an entire Sunday.  Three hours to run it, 21 hours to lay on the couch/limp around the house moaning and feeling like I was coming down with the flu.  What’s more, runs like this would invariably be followed by a day or two of achy knees and shins.  But not now.  My quads are tired, for sure, but I don’t feel any differently than if I had, say, done a few squats in the gym.    

Next week I’ll run 15, then another 20, followed by another 15, then one more 20 before tapering for two weeks prior to my marathon.  A far cry from my previous training programs, when my legs would scream for an easy week after any run longer than about 13 miles.  And I would reluctantly oblige, concerned at the realization that my body would only allow me to get in a single 20-miler during my training.  A single 20-miler, in preparation to not just run 26.2 miles, but to try to do it faster than I ever had before.

Six months ago, when I was giving serious consideration to this vegetarian thing, the marathon training was almost the deal-breaker.  If I stop eating meat, is something going to happen to my running?

Yes, Matt.  I’d say something happened to your running.



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  1. i am so hyperlinking to this post this afternoon.
    .-= caitlin´s last blog ..Homemade Blueberry Yogurt Muffins on a Weekday =-.

  2. That’s awesome!

    This past weekend I was talking to a friend whom I’ve always admired for his spontaneity- he once went on a roadtrip and hit every coast of the USA in a week, for example (this guy is ridiculous!). I told him about my races and when I admitted that I hadn’t followed any training program but instead was just running whenever I felt like it, he was completely blown away: “that takes so much dedication to run whenever you want! I wish I could do that! I can’t bring myself to run at all!”.

    Your epiphany just made me think of that.
    .-= Sagan´s last blog ..Guest Post: Handing in my stripes =-.

    • Sagan, just like I responded to your post on Living Rhetorically In The Real World about calling yourself an athlete… when you step back and look at what you’re doing from the point of view of someone who isn’t focused on health and fitness every day, the distance that you’re running each week, even when you feel like a newbie to the running community (I still do, for some reason) is really an incredible thing.

  3. Hi Matt! Just stumbled upon your blog, via Megan’s and I am really liking what I see so far! I have toyed with vegetarianism for a while now, but had the same initial concerns as you. Looking forward to reading and learning more!
    .-= Valerie´s last blog ..A Sweet Morning =-.

    • Hey Valerie! Thanks for checking out my blog. If you’re thinking about becoming vegetarian (whatever the reason), but concerned about the drastic change, try keeping fish in your diet for a little while and see how it goes. I’m sure it’s not for everyone, but I found that within about a month I really wasn’t particularly enjoying the fish any more than my other meals, so I just cut it out.

      Just see what works!

  4. Such an awesome post!! Amazing how much your body can do! An all on a veggie friendly diet! Inspiring
    .-= Erica´s last blog ..Shrimpy Salad Two Ways =-.

  5. Amazing! Amazing that you have come so far and so cool that you feel on top of the world after those 20 milers – that is what it’s all about, right?!
    .-= Angharad´s last blog ..The little things =-.

  6. Hahha “21 hours to lay on the couch/limp around the house moaning and feel like I was coming down with the flu.” this actually made me laugh out loud!

    I just found your blog, and I’m going to have to come back and catch up on it, but I really like it! From a fellow [almost-vegan] marathoner who has qualified for Boston, it definitely can be done, and I’m sure you will be doin’ it too! See you in Hopkinton!

    • Erika, great to hear from someone who has done exactly what I’m hoping to do. From your wording, it sounds like you qualified but haven’t run it, and that you’re going to do it this year?

  7. Fellow Runner says:

    Before going conspiracy theory, you ought to note that the government actually has vegetarian guidelines. And I quote:

    Vegetarian diets can meet all the recommendations for nutrients. The key is to consume a variety of foods and the right amount of foods to meet your calorie needs. Follow the food group recommendations for your age, sex, and activity level to get the right amount of food and the variety of foods needed for nutrient adequacy. Nutrients that vegetarians may need to focus on include protein, iron, calcium, zinc, and vitamin B12.


    Protein has many important functions in the body and is essential for growth and maintenance. Protein needs can easily be met by eating a variety of plant-based foods. Combining different protein sources in the same meal is not necessary. Sources of protein for vegetarians include beans, nuts, nut butters, peas, and soy products (tofu, tempeh, veggie burgers). Milk products and eggs are also good protein sources for lacto-ovo vegetarians.

    While its easy and fun to blame the government, the fact is there is a food lobby for everything. Emphasis on protein often comes directly from nutritionists – who usually, like the FDA food pyramid, suggest that people eat a BALANCED diet (and that includes BALANCING the amount of protein you eat).

    Not to take away from your point, but this had to be said.

    • Fellow Runner, thanks for your comment. Always good to have my eyes opened to a different viewpoint. I didn’t know that the USDA made mention of vegetarian diets, and I do like their line “Protein needs can EASILY be met by eating a variety of plant-based foods.” So they’re certainly not anti-vegetarian, and that’s good.

      Glad though I am that they say this, I think it would be very difficult to meet what most sources (not just gov’t, but nutritionists as well) recommend in terms of protein. I mean, one could do it, but the balance of foods required to do so would be heavily tilted towards just a few foods like those mentioned in your comment. So the question is “why do nutritionists, even non-gov’t, recommend so much, when it seems that endurance athletes (and people in general) can be very healthy with much less?” This isn’t something that I’ve researched much, but the best explanation I’ve heard in what I’ve read (primarily Michael Pollan’s In Defense of Food and Mark Bittman’s Food Matters) is that in the 1960’s through 1980’s the government recommendations were made under a lot of influence from the beef and dairy industries, and those early government recommendations have shaped a lot of today’s thinking about nutrition.

      I’m no expert in this; this is just what I’ve read (and recall most easily, probably because, just as you say, it is easy to blame the government). I’d love to hear what else you think about it.

  8. props to your improvement! that is something to smile about.
    .-= janetha´s last blog ..happy birthday penelope jane! + giveaway time! =-.

  9. I agree! I quickly became a better climber when I went veg (mostly RAW) and noticed a pretty big improvement in my cardio performance as well. I rarely run, but once I started adding running into my mix I was able to run 3 miles without a problem. Never even had to work up to it. Farthest I have run since then has been close to five, but I don’t fancy myself a runner, just do it about once a week to improve my cardio for climbing. Been thinking about getting a bike lately though. Seems like it would be fun.
    .-= Caleb´s last blog ..Longs Peak, North Face Cables Route – Colorado trip report, part II of III =-.

  10. All your training and hard work is paying off Matt. Good for you!

  11. Just came across your blog from Caitlin and I LOVE it. This post rocks. I am a vegan and I am healthier than I have ever been. Im trainging for my 1st half in Sept. Good luck with your qualifying!
    .-= Angela (Oh She Glows)´s last blog ..Glow With Coconut Oil =-.

  12. “Six months ago, when I was giving serious consideration to this vegetarian thing, the marathon training was almost the deal-breaker. If I stop eating meat, is something going to happen to my running?
    Yes, Matt. I’d say something happened to your running.”

    That says it all right there. I love it. Bravo!
    .-= Amber Shea (Almost Vegan)´s last blog ..Spiced red lentil soup =-.

  13. i’m jealous. 20mi before work? not fair! nice job though 🙂

    i’m diggin the change!

  14. I love this post! You are truly an inspiration.
    .-= Hanlie´s last blog ..Book Review: The pH Miracle =-.

  15. OK I just read your guest post and I totally love that you featured beer! Do you think it helps you run better? One of my friends is a marathoner and she swears she runs better the day after drinking…all the carbs… I don’t know, anyway, just wanted to say hi!
    .-= Rachel´s last blog ..A Hump Day Treat: The “Before” Pics =-.

    • Hey Rachel. I answered your beer question on your blog, but just so others can see: I haven’t ever felt that drinking beer before a run helped me. I suppose carbs are helpful, but there are lots of ways to get carbs that don’t come with a poison! Sure wish it were true for me though!

  16. Amazing! I don’t think I could run 20, but I could sure cycle it! That’s wonderful, I’m mostly flexitarian, but really don’t have to have meat. I just love vegetarian meals, they taste so amazing and there are so many unique ways to prepare them. I’d say you are well on your way to an ultra-marathon!
    .-= EatingRD´s last blog ..lucky gal =-.

    • Hey EatingRD, I checked out your blog. It’s neat that you’re going to have nutrition and fitness degrees on your resume. Ultramarathon, maybe one day for me. I must admit the idea is intriguing :).

  17. Freaking fantastic! Good to hear some real results like that (I look forward to long runs one day once I work up to them). I remember how happy I was that I could run 20 minutes and not be out of breath when a month before I couldn’t run 2 minutes without having to stop. 🙂
    .-= Hethir´s last blog ..How to Get Started Boosting Your Fertility Naturally… =-.

    • Hethir, it’s so cool to see how fast your body adapts when you dramatically change what you’re asking it to do. Seeing those improvements is my favorite thing about running.

  18. that is quite incredible 🙂 great reflection!

  19. i think this might be one of my favorite posts yet – seriously, that last sentence is such a clincher! isn’t that amazing how running and fueling yourself like that can help? i’ve also noticed a lot of those changes too – i used to be able to sleep forever. now i get to bed on time and bound out of bed lots of days, ready to pack my day in.

    yay yay yay for you!
    .-= Holly (The Healthy Everythingtarian)´s last blog ..Handsomely Rewarded =-.

  20. Loved this post!
    I can relate as I’ve cut out cooking with dairy, fish, and meat the same time I started running almost three months ago. Although I still eat these at social sitch, I barely have cravings anymore. Plus, I’d like to believe that my fitness level is at my best right now running at least 15 miles a week. As a newbie runner, this is big for me. You’re an inspiration!
    Amazing job with the 20 miler!
    .-= Mia {runs and rests}´s last blog ..Half Marathon Training: Go! =-.

  21. Love this post…it’s so awesome to see hard work, good eats, and proper training pay off! 😀 You’ll do awesome in the marathon!
    .-= Sarah (Running to Slow Things Down)´s last blog ..Topsy Turvy Stomach =-.

  22. FYI i want a no meat athlete t-shirt so bad. LOL.
    .-= caitlin´s last blog ..Multi-Purpose =-.

  23. Aww bummer…there go my plans for creating Bud Light Pro Sport (with protein, naturally)…
    Thanks for the comment! Excited to keep reading your stuff!

  24. Preaching to the converted here, but this was a great post and it warms my heart to know there are other like minded folks out there who are finding that your diet really DOES make a difference in your performance. Way to go man, thanks for getting message out there. Not only do you talk the talk but you walk the walk. (Or should I say run the run?)
    .-= Alison´s last blog ..The Feather =-.

  25. Saw your link on Sagan’s site and came over to say hi! I’ve been a no meat runner for many years. Now I’m running 50/week, but I’ve done my share of very long runs. I have found that running off road, or on softer roads has enabled me to keep on keeping on. Good shoes, good form, and it’s all good 🙂

    Like the recipes and the message, thank you!
    .-= Dr. J´s last blog ..Exercise notes: Benefits for teens, no need to check with doctor and more =-.

  26. You may be interested to know that New Castle is not a veg-friendly beer. It’s processed with isinglass: http://www.barnivore.com/beer/Newcastle%20Brown%20Ale

    Also, I know you’re vegetarian and not vegan, but have you checked out http://www.veganfitness.net? It’s SUCH an excellent resource for the meat-free athlete.
    .-= Micco´s last blog ..Pop! Goes my Tart =-.

    • Hey Micco, thanks for the tip. It’s amazing how many things are made with animal products! Someone recently informed me that Parmigiano-Reggiano is made with rennet, for example. Interesting that the website you linked to says “Not Vegan Friendly.” I’m assuming based on what you wrote that it’s not vegetarian friendly either.

      I’m not really sure what to do about this kind of stuff. When I first started this diet, I even still ate fish; my intention was to have a healthier diet. Only a small part of it was ethical. Since then, I’ve eliminated fish almost entirely because the ethical part has become larger. But I’m not really sure how far I want to take it, how strict a vegetarian I want to be.

      Still, it never hurts to know more, so thanks. Also I’ll look at that website. I’ve never heard of it, but vegan sites always have plenty of good stuff to offer.

  27. Great post! Congratulations on making such a great positive change! I can smell a BQ from here. 😉
    .-= Jess in NYC´s last blog ..My 7-year-old Self =-.

  28. awesome post!!
    good luck with the rest of your training!

  29. I just found your blog and really have enjoyed it so far. Your posts are informative!

    I ran my first half marathon last December (Las Vegas Rock N Roll) and I joined a training group. The group were split into half marathon runner and the marathon runners. I must have gotten mixed up during the run and ended up running with the marathon training group. I ACCIDENTALLY ran 13 miles that day, way before I ready. So when you say that you needed “21 hours to lay on the couch/limp around the house moaning and feel like I was coming down with the flu.”….I totally understand this. That’s what happened to me.

    P.S. Just started my blog a month ago and I’m looking forward to reading your helpful hints on blogging.

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