Monday, June 11, 2012

Monday Motivation: Eat and Run

Last Tuesday, on the eve of National Running Day (I’ll admit this wasn’t marked on my calendar) Marc and I went to an event for the launch of Scott Jurek’s book Eat and Run. There was a five-mile run before the lecture that we opted out of. Many people did not and as we took our seats in the Society for Ethical Culture, I noted both the lack of air conditioning and the smell of runners. Somehow when you run the smell doesn’t bother you as much. I apologize to all the people I’ve shared subway cars with after races; I totally get it.

My main motivation in attending this talk was the “eating” portion of this book. Scott Jurek is an ultrmarathon champion and also vegan. Marc on the other hand loves hearing about any sports-related challenge. He enjoys Real Sports in HBO, watching the Kona Ironman and basically anything ESPN has to offer. The moderator of the talk was Christopher McDougall, the author of Born to Run. It was difficult to hear (or see) much that went on but I took note when Jurek spoke of running “for the love of it without the promise of reward.” For example, we were told a group of those attending ran 32 miles around the perimeter of Manhattan, the morning of the event, for fun.  I left intrigued with a copy of Eat and Run.

What the lecture lacked the book makes up for.  This isn’t just a book about a guy who runs long distances; it’s a great story. Jurek grew up with a mother with MS and a demanding, unsympathetic father. Sports were in many ways an escape and you see the roots of his mental toughness. Jurek describes the key to his success  “I had a talent for gaining speed when others gave ground, I realized that no matter how much something hurt, I could gut it out.” The book is filled with stories, advice and great quotes:

My favorite, which reminds me of fearless Jen,
Always do what you are afraid to do.
Bernard Shaw

The best dietary advice I found was Jurek’s thoughts on adopting a plant-based diet. “To my delight (and, I admit, surprise), subtracting some things from my diet actually allowed me to expand the number of foods I ate and to discover incredible and delicious new foods.”  Whether gluten free, vegan or raw, people fixate on living without certain things when the key is you can make food interesting from whatever your given choices.

Jurek’s most common pre-race food is almond butter on sprouted bread. I’m happy to say many Foodtrainers’ athletes also favor this (some choosing gluten free bread).  Jurek aims for 300 calories an hour during races but not just calories, good calories (I wish Runner’s World would take note). And there’s no mention of pasta parties and bagels. Jurek eats bean burritos, as I mentioned sprouted bread, quinoa and brown rice.

Jurek started out very much a carnivore but notes
The better I ate, the better I felt. Since going vegan, I had lost the layer of fat-the layer that came with eating the cookies and cakes and Twinkies and cheese pizza that so many omnivores and even vegetarians gulp down.
He mentions recovering better from workouts, increased energy and concentration improved. I think this is a testament not only to veganism but the power of nutrition for performance in sports and life.

I love the sound of this smoothie:
Green Power Drink
(2, 20-ounce servings)
2 bananas
1 cup frozen mango or pineapple chunks
4 cups water
2 teaspoons spirulina powder
1 teaspoon miso
Blend and drink 20-30 ounces 15-45 minutes before a run.

* I would suggest can also drink post run perhaps with vegan protein
Spirulina is an algae said to have been carried into battle by Aztec warriors, also a performance enhancer for long-distance runners, weight loss aid and immune booster. I like the pineapple here, contains a pain-relieving enzyme bromelin. The miso is interesting presumably used for its sodium content.

The only soy I recommend is fermented, as it’s generally easier to digest. Jurek points out something I didn’t know, that miso, tempeh and sprouted tofu also have less phytoestrogen content than other soy. These plant estrogens can function like estrogen.  In terms of new ingredients espoused in the book, I’m looking forward to experimenting with adzuki beans and epazote.

I love to run and eat well and Jurek articulates the joy that can come from each of these pursuits.  More than anything though, I was left with realizing that the greatest tool we all possess isn’t physical strength or a Vitamix (and you know I love my Vitamix).  It’s our inner dialogue and knowing that you can get a second, third or fourth “wind” if you’re willing to gut it out.
We focus on something external to motivate us, but we need to remember that it’s the process of reaching for that prize, not the prize itself-that can bring us peace and joy.
Do you run? Have you ever contemplated an ultramarathon? Do you eat soy? What is it that you are afraid to do?

13 comments:

  1. Gina (Candid RD)June 11, 2012 at 4:18 AM

    I would love to get my hands on this book.  Like you, running doesn't necessarily thrill me, but I do enjoy it on occasion and I like to read about other's perspective on running/exercise, and nutrition.  
    I do eat soy, but I try to stick with the unprocessed (and yes, fermented too!) varieties; tempeh being my FAVORITE!

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  2. Did I misrepresent? I love running (most of the time) I just was more interested in the sports nutrition than running over 100 miles...How was your ride? 

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  3. Interesting - I bet it was a great event.  I didn't realize that about sprouted tofu/tempeh/miso.  Good to know.  :)

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  4. I can't do soy. It makes my skin look terrible and somehow I just can't seem to like the taste of it?

    Another reason I don't belong in Los Angeles. :)

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  5. I don't run anymore as I have seriously injured (and re-injured) my weak ankle too many times. I may try to add running back in very carefully once a week though. But it won't be very long runs.

    To me the biggest benefit of plant-based diets that are done "right" is the huge variety of whole foods that there are to explore. That's why I don't "get" vegan diets that are mainly processed "imitation" foods.

    We still eat meat about once a week and fish twice a week. But since we have cut way back on animal products, we certainly eat a wider variety of vegetables and have experimented more with different grains.

    I eat some soy, and love Korean spicy tofu soup. But I don't eat it very often.

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  6. I don't run anymore as I have seriously injured (and re-injured) my weak ankle too many times. I may try to add running back in very carefully once a week though. But it won't be very long runs.

    To me the biggest benefit of plant-based diets that are done "right" is the huge variety of whole foods that there are to explore. That's why I don't "get" vegan diets that are mainly processed "imitation" foods.

    We still eat meat about once a week and fish twice a week. But since we have cut way back on animal products, we certainly eat a wider variety of vegetables and have experimented more with different grains.

    I eat some soy, and love Korean spicy tofu soup. But I don't eat it very often.

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  7. Excellent point Andrea, you can have a junky vegan diet or a wholesome omnivorous one. I'm not vegan but still feel a diet can be mainly plants and full of variety and flavor. I have weak ankles too, I have to watch my mileage/switch shoes often. Spicy Korean soup sounds great. 

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  8. so when are you moving to a less soy-ful city? We'd love to have you. 

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  9. I liked that fact too Tiff, glad it was new to you as well.

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  10. I enjoy running. I wouldn't consider an ultra, but this August I'm on a team running the Great River Ragnar Relay, which is 12 runners running 198 miles on little sleep and lots of junk food. I'm busy trying to work out what food to bring because I'm not interested in running 20 miles in 24 hours on Wheat Thins. I read an excerpt from his book in RW and I also thought about the pancake thing. It made me think of women's magazines that shout from the front cover: "Lose 10 pounds this week!" and "Sinful chocolate cake recipe!" I don't eat soy. I try to do things that scare me and I'm better for it. Scared, but better. 

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  11. I can't wait to hear about Ragnar, have always wanted to do it. Please let me know when you post about it. I would suggest this book because there's talk of what to eat when going the distance. I love that you do things that scare you.

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  12. Nice review, and I'm quit intrigued by the miso in the smoothie-need to try that! I would never in my life consider any kind of ultra running, but after 9 Or so years of not running at all (after Running since I was 10), I'm thrilled to be able to run again once a week and in the occasional 5K-I guess you could say I've adapted and adjusted to a (hopefully injury free) plan that works for me!

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  13. Let me know if you try the miso, maybe some of the foods you eat (and lack of gluten) assist with your injury-freeness.

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