August 31, 2017

Nick Coury - Finding The Fat Burning Groove

Nick Coury at the 2017 Hardrock Finish 

This is Nick Coury from Phoenix, Arizona. He finished Hard Rock this year in 27:18:58, and placed 5th overall. This time represented a huge improvement from his previous times at Hard Rock.

Nick was nice enough to share a little of his race strategy with me while our crew prepared a breakfast burrito for him at the finish line.

Nick did some things differently this year. First thing he did was he walked the flats. Sounds crazy, but the benefits paid dividends for Nick. By walking the flats he was able to keep his heart rate down after running the long descents and hiking the big climbs. A lower heart rate means more fat burning as an energy source. More fat burning means more sustained energy over 100miles with less fatigue.

Next thing Nick did was never let his legs get juiced up with fatigue. He took it easy enough on the descents and climbs to keep the lactic acid from accumulating in his legs. Lactic acid is the result of pushing your heart rate beyond the aerobic zone and into the anaerobic zone. When in the anaerobic zone, consuming increased amounts of food (sugar) becomes a prerequisite to sustaining your effort. Consuming increasing amounts of food increases stress on the G.I. track, which can lead to serious stomach issues, nausea and the G.I. track shutting down entirely. Problems with the G.I. track are some of the most common reasons ultra runners lose so much time on the mountain and never make it to the finish line.

Nick was pretty adamant that these tactics made all the difference in this year’s Hard Rock. I whole-heartedly agree with him.

--> Good work Nick.

August 27, 2017

To Run and Not to Run. I Appreciate Both.

Jeff P - Not running and not on foot

One of my favorite things about running is not running.

That's right. Just plain not running, or at least certain kinds of running. For sake of clarity, I'll refer to this type of running as hell or high water running.  You know,  running not for the love or joy of running, but rather to prepare and train for something, which some of us tend to do "come hell or high water."  If you've trained for a marathon or an ultra, you know what I mean. This is running all the time running, or running because you have to running, which of course makes running a responsibility like doing the dishes or brushing your teeth.   My friend Jeff P (above) always talks about "time on foot" running. I don't mind that kind of running, because a lot of the time your not actually running.

How does one appreciate something by not doing it? My feeling is if you do something enough, you learn to appreciate it even more when your not actually doing it.

Run, rest, reflect. Repeat.


August 14, 2017

Asthma - Meat - Karma - Science

My Pre Asthma Enlightened Diet
No, this is NOT a political blog. But every once in a while I get a bug up my ass. In fact there is one up there now, burrowing further and further into…uhm, well, you know what I mean. This bug needs to be extracted. The act of writing this post will serve that purpose.

This is sort of a personal story, so bear with me.

Last year I had a bit of an asthma attack. It wasn’t so bad that I had to go to the hospital, but the ordeal was a bit of a wake up call. I couldn’t breathe properly for days. After this episode, I started depending on antihistamines to quell a lingering wheeze.

The question I’ve been asking myself is, why me and why now? And, how does one go from having no asthma symptoms for decades, to a regular bouts of wheezing.

I’ve been determined to get to the bottom of it, and try to fix it.

This first thing I did was change my diet. I started eating like a vegan. That’s right. No meat, fish, dairy or eggs. It’s been difficult, but I’ve made it 5 consecutive weeks. Last week I started eating limited portions of fish. Since starting the no meat cuisine, I’ve gone from regular bouts of asthma quelled by antihistamines several times a week, to virtually no asthma or drugs. I say virtually because I had two asthma incidents since going vegan, once after eating a Greek salad with feta cheese (I forgot) and another after being enveloped by pot smoke for several hours at a Steve Miller concert.

Is not eating meat the antidote to my asthma? I’m not totally sure, but it sure seems like it is. My original plan was to slowly start introducing various meats – fish, chicken, beef, pork – whatever, back into my diet, and see what happens.

That was before I read this book and watched this movie. To be honest, after experiencing these documentaries, I felt like a chump that’s been blind-folded in the middle of the herd while running closer and closer to the edge of the proverbial cliff.

If you haven’t read How Not to Die or seen What the Health, I suggest you do, and do it fast. Even if you don’t believe the science, or believe it and choose not to care, it will open your eyes to what you are putting in your mouth. I can’t help but thinking of the word karma. In other words, is it possible that we, the great rulers of the earth, who nonchalantly feast on our fellow creatures, creatures that are slaughtered and processed in our industrial size plants, is it we who are dying because of it?

Here are a few facts from How Not to Die to chew on:

-       A person’s risk of colorectal cancer rises by a factor of about 1.1 or 1.2 for every serving of processed meat consumed per day.

-       Researchers found a 72 percent increased risk of pancreatic cancer for every fifty grams of chicken consumed daily. And that’s not much meat, under two ounces— just about a quarter of a chicken breast. The researchers expressed surprise that it was the consumption of poultry— not red meat— that was more closely tied to cancer. 

-       The single greatest public health burden in the United States in terms of food poisoning is Salmonella. It’s the leading cause of food poisoning– related hospitalizations, as well as the number-one cause of food poisoning-related death. And it’s on the rise. Over the past decade, the number of cases has increased by 44 percent, 
-       An estimated 142,000 Americans are sickened each year by Salmonella-tainted eggs.

-       In a 2014 issue of Consumer Reports, researchers published a study on the true cost of cheap chicken. They discovered that 97 percent of chicken breasts found in retail stores were contaminated with bacteria that could make people sick.

-       As the Mayo Clinic rather indelicately put it, “Most people are infected with Salmonella by eating foods that have been contaminated by feces.” How does it get there? In slaughter plants, birds are typically gutted by a metal hook, which too often punctures their intestines and can expel feces onto the flesh itself.

-       According to the latest national FDA retail-meat survey, about 90 percent of retail chicken showed evidence of contamination with fecal matter.

-       Researchers in Sweden decided to test out a strictly plant-based diet on a group of severe asthmatics who weren’t getting better despite the best medical therapies. Patients who stuck with a plant-based diet, 70 percent improved after four months, and 90 percent improved within one year. And these were all people who had experienced no improvement in their conditions at all in the year prior to switching to a plant-based diet. Within just one year of eating healthier, all but two patients were able to drop their dose of asthma medication or get off their steroids and other drugs altogether.

Keep it real runners!