I Finally See The Benefit Of Fallowing Someone Else’s Plan

And it’s how to take it easy.

I have a go hard or go home mentality and I fell into the trap of thinking a workout that doesn’t make you sweat, doesn’t make you hurt, doesn’t take a significant amount of time, can’t be really good for anything.

I struggled through the taper before the marathon trying to keep my fitness up but not push myself and add any fatigue, in fact to be as rested up as possible, and I don’t think I did a great job. Furthermore, anytime I’ve had to recover or take a deload week I’ve struggled and I ended up doing what seemed like too little, resulting in difficulty coming back.

So after the marathon, the recovery week that I’m actively in, I knew some workouts would be good and some bad and blah blah blah and rather than program for myself (or especially wing it day by day) I looked at Krissy Moehls recovery week plan since I’m reading her book Running Your First Ultra.

And the glory of it is it’s simple. It’s lighter workouts than I would ever normally do but I’m not nervous that I’m doing too little because I’m listening to someone much more experienced than myself. That’s the benefit of someone else’s plan, being okay going not-hard, and knowing how not-hard to go.

Anyone can go hard, really. Some people are way too easy on themselves but mostly in our community the problem is everyone wants to go level 10 most of the time. Get to that feeling where you must have done something.

So it’s nice to run 3 easy miles and say okay, I took my prescription and I can stop.

Today’s a rest day again then tomorrow is 5 steady miles or an hour of cardio, in my case the elliptical, then Saturday is listed as 5-8 miles and I’m back to normal.

Now of course there’s a danger in following a program too and it’s worth saying because we have a fresh example in Jon. Let me quote him as loosely and sarcastically as I can.

Jon: Hmm, my knee hurts but the plan says 16k so 16k it is. Oh, now my knee really hurts and it’s doctor time and I’m not running the race and in fact not running again for a year, wish I’d stopped during the 16k.

But again I benefited from having a plan after the race because I had a lot of aches and pains that I feared could be injuries and wouldn’t have ran but Krissy wrote that the easy miles were mostly a test to see what’s up and that really helped. During the easy run I mentally kept an eye on all the hot spots and felt them clear up or flame up and I know better now what to stretch out and watch for.

So it’s not a matter of listen-to-the-plan or listen-to-the-body, it’s a matter of planning to listen to your body.

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Being A Cafeteria Runner, Self-Programing Vs Following A Program

I’m a cafeteria everything.

In case someone isn’t familiar with the prefix, cafeteria refers to someone who browses a lot of stuff and picks what they like. It should actually be buffet. I first heard it in the term cafeteria christian; someone who seemed to be all denominations or none at their convenience.

And last night I read the advice, it was 6 on a list of 10 I believe, to not be a cafeteria runner. Don’t peruse a bunch of different programs and take the things you like.

Timely since I’d been feeling worried about the run and somewhat envying the security my program-following friends seem to have. Maybe I’d missed something, maybe I’m under or overtraining, blah blah blah…

But confidence does not a good runner make. Deriving confidence from a running plan I think is just so it’s not your fault if the run doesn’t go well. After all, you did everything you were supposed to do, you were just following orders.

I agree that running season is like baking; you control what you put in to – as best you can and with a little hope – control what you get out. You don’t get better muffins by doubling the flour because you feel like it.

Running is a martial art though and who am I to disagree with the great Bruce Lee who told us to be water, to bend and flow, to draw from everywhere and put it all together.

Have one master and you’ll always be their student. Study under all the masters you can and you’ll eventually be a master.

I think the spirit of the Don’t Be A Cafeteria Runner advice is to not reject the things you don’t like, don’t be a totally unstructured, whimsical, pleasure-guided runner. Eat your vegetables, sprint the stairs.

SPRINT THE STAIRS!

Programing for yourself still means programing, being uncoached means you gotta coach yourself. Look at a bunch of programs and tips and guidance and experiment. Experimentation will lead to diversity and put miles on your legs, even if you hate everything you try in a week you still did a week of running.

And you can back off when you need to with less anxiety. Following a program to the letter can cause you to override injury signals.

Furthermore on that idea I think following one program can take some of the joy out of running because you’re checking off boxes instead of checking in with how you feel.

Maybe though you’re someone who wouldn’t run without the push of a program, maybe you don’t like any of the hard stuff… In which case why are you running? There’s other sports. Experiment with some cross-training and maybe you’ll find something you do love.

In the meantime though all that experimenting with cross training will still be adding to your fitness and the world of running isn’t going to die if you don’t water it, come back when and how you feel like it.

I think there’s a danger in buying one book, running it’s program, hating it, and thinking that you then hate running. No, you just hate that book. Get 5 books, watch tons of youtube, make-up your own intervals, and it all adds up to a love of running.

Testosterone Levels In Female Athletes, The Ruling Comes Down

Caster Semenya will have to suppress her testosterone to keep competing as a sprinter. (CBC Article)

This echoes something I was saying when I wrote about the The Virility Paradox, eventually we may have to organize sport not by gender but by hormone.

It’s not fair to Caster to have to medically dial down her natural athleticism and it’s not fair for others to have to compete against someone who has testosterone levels as high as someone doping testosterone.

But this ethical question then has to be applied to other sports as well. Dean Karnazes, one of the greatest runners in the world for those new to the blog, mentions in his TedTalk that he’s been examined and found that his body clears the by-product of exertion (commonly called lactic acid but is actually hydrogen ions) at an absurdly efficient rate. Or there was a runner mentioned in what I was reading last night, a multiple record holder who simply had the highest max heart rate ever seen. What do we do about them?

Even deeper though we have to ask what is the point of sport? What question are we seeking to answer by having people run arbitrary distances or score meaningless points?

Near as I can tell we’re trying to answer who trained better. That’s why it’s not okay to get a technological or chemical advantage that lessens the work of training. You can hire a coach and that gives you an advantage – their knowledge as opposed to your own – but the training workload still falls on you, we still declare that you earned the victory.

But then really someone who trained badly – ran themselves into the ground with overtraining while you recovered – should actually earn the victory. If it were purely about who worked harder.

Like I’ve said this is a bigger question than I can answer and I could write about it all day without getting to anything so I’ll let it go…

Book Review: The Longevity Paradox Part 1

By Steven R. Gundry, M.D, subtitle How To Die Young At A Ripe Old Age.

First of all just oy. This book is a downer. I said when I was reading Food Prescription that the book wasn’t much help if you were already eating clean anyways, well there’s no such thing as clean enough for old Gundry.

I was baffled during the first 3/4 of the book wondering what was left to eat after he hates on meat, grain, dairy, sugar, beans, corn, and marathons. I know that’s not food related but I was just mortified that he disapproves of marathons.

Now there is good stuff in the book – I don’t think he’s wrong about anything I just think it’s asking too much – and I did takeaway a lot about fasting, which was the chapter that convinced me to buy the book.

The simplest takeaway on that is you want to be sure to go to bed hungry at least once a week, for your brain-health. This got me to switch from a 24 hour fast on Mondays (Dinner Sunday to Dinner Monday) to a 36 (dinner Sunday to breakfast Tuesday). And I do feel mentally clearer on Tuesday because of it.

So that’s my top-of-the-head introductory thoughts, let’s get into the bookmarks I actually left. There’s ten.

Oh he’s got me afraid of glyphosate, thank you. In case you thought being plant-based was enough it’s got to be organic plant-based otherwise you’re getting as much dangerous garbage in your system as an omnivore.

Lectins and auto-immune get a lot of coverage. I knew lectins were bad and about breaking down the lining of your intestine but apparently they also leak out of your gut, attach to your organs, and get attacked by your immune system damaging the organ in the process.

So that’s why he’s anti-bean, but I’ve heard elsewhere that proper cooking destroys the lectin in beans. Lectin is however in every packaged food I’ve seen recently. Whenever I get too in my head about how there’s this killer stuff in every food and oh no I have to avoid everything I remind myself that smokers still exist.

You can smoke, the absolute worst possible thing one can do from a health perspective, for decades, not feel awful, and clean up the damage in a few years. Life is for living and health shouldn’t make you hide.

But do cut down your lectin intake. And don’t smoke, obviously.

Still in the same chapter (called Protect and Defend) there’s talk about the importance of stomach acid. Most bacteria hate it and it keeps them in the intestine where they belong. If you too often neutralize it, particularly with other the counter heartburn medication, they can creep up and you get SIBO (small intestine bacterial overgrowth) which is bad, and/or autoimmune which is worse. And apparently drinking a baking soda solution is the, well, solution. Although no further detail is given.

Oh, the next book mark is on the next page and it’s the dreaded Thing Worse Than Gluten! Wheat Germ Agglutinin known as WGA because agglutinin is unpronounceable with any dignity. This little molecule has come across my desk before and convinced me that even the healthiest bread isn’t healthy. It gets through the gut barrier and causes inflammation but worse still it mimics insulin.

This explains how I was eating brown bread every day with as many added ancient grains as possible and still looking pre-diabetic in 2017.

Back to the bookmarks though we’re into a chapter called Dance Your Way To Old Age but really we’re still in the gut biome. This is where he gets anti-marathon. He’s against both acute endurance exercise like marathon running (or even halfs and 10ks) and so called chronic cardio.

Besides the heart scarring effects which I knew about and have written about there’s the effect on the gut. Long form exercise draws blood away from the stomach for so long that bad things go wild and it tanks your immune system, hence why runners are sick all the time and have digestive issues according to Dr Gundry.

But there’s got to be a work around. I was thinking about this on the treadmill when I ran my 3 10k intervals two days ago and noticed I’d get a chill after every handful of Smarties. Drawing blood away from the surface muscles and back to the gut, I figured.

I’ve been thinking a lot about the health consequences of running and it’s important to remember that it’s not equally bad to anything else. I’m going to write another dedicated post about it but there’s a nihilist dismissiveness that everyone suddenly gets when you talk about cancer. Oh everything gives you cancer is the common refrain. Because as evidence mounts and more and more seemingly fun things get seemingly taken away people just throw their hands up. But health isn’t about being perfect, it’s about being better. Yes, smoking and bacon will both increase your likely of getting cancer, but not equally. Yes, running and not running are both bad for you in excess amounts in long term studies, but not equally.

This is where I’m going to break the review in half so I don’t go down the bubble-living argument rabbit hole… see you tomorrow, unless too much awesome running kills me.

Torn Between Two Kinds Of Running

Let’s call them Methodical and Spiritual but really it’s a matter of treadmill or outdoor.

As anyone who reads me knows, I love treadmills.

Running outdoors is how I started though, I used to have no purpose to running other than to get out in the air and sunlight every morning. It’s hard for me to fathom right now but the first times people asked me what distances I was running I was proud to say I didn’t know.

Being methodical about time and distance and races and improvement and workifying the whole thing came later.

Sidenote: I just finished Jog On by Bella Mackie and that’s what reminded me.

I used to run to feel free and now I run to feel disciplined.

All day I’ve been bouncing back and forth with increasing despair about whether I should run from here to the Peace Bridge and back or if I should go hit the treadmill and bang out the 3 10k intervals that’s on my list.

Running to the bridge and back would be spiritually nourishing I’m sure but I instantly dread the fact that I’m not getting any work done if I do that. It feels fanciful. The distance is vague and the times will be even more so. I’ll probably fall into a too-casual pace and not really get the work done.

And the treadmill seems so damn convenient. All the water and snacks I want without having to carry them and changing music is super easy, while every minute and kilometer is measured and certain.

You know what though? Ultimately the treadmill is what I want to do, the free run is what I feel like I should do. Backward from the way a lot of runners feel, I know, but that’s why I’m torn. I’m beating myself up for choosing what I like over what seems harder even though in this case they’re both perfectly viable training methods.

Thanks for talking this out with me, blog.

Weight-loss Grants Are Dumb And Such A Good Idea

Because no one but worker bees listens to the radio anymore you might not have heard the ads for Weight-Loss Grants but they’re close to what they sound like. It’s actually a company that will rebate you some money for losing weight on any program you want and some more money if you lose that weight with one of their approved companies.

So yeah they’re meh.

I like the idea though. The money and time cost of being sick later because of being overweight will always be more than the investment of getting and staying healthy. From a government or a companies point of view it’s better to invest a thousand dollars while you’re living than ten thousand dollars when you’re dying.

From a private company point of view maybe something like a Marathon Bonus and for the government a Marathon Tax Credit to reward and incentivize a running population.

The company I work for will subsidize the cost of a gym membership 100% for some level of employees but that just makes it a take-it-or-leave-it thing, what if they also had a No-Sick-Days bonus or a Can-Dead-Lift-The-Most-In-The-Office incentive to make people want to go to the gym?

I’m trying to think of a way to incentivize good eating but it’s all analogous to drug testing and that’s a slippery slope I don’t want to come down on.

Where I work there’s a struggle to keep people sober before big days but there’s no effort to get them to not eat crap everyday that makes them sick. In fact trying to be healthy at my workplace is a hard swim upstream (so kudos to all my peeps bringing their own lunches and stuff).

At the end of the day I don’t think most people know what it feels like to live clean, even slightly. They think of fitness in terms of wanting to be thin and sexy but it being too much work and that’s that. When really being thin and sexy is one of the last of a million benefits you’ll notice with a few minor changes and some time. People think they feel as good as they’re going to because they’re always acquiescing to their cravings. But some incentives could get them on the slippery slope, get the dopamine flowing in the right direction, and we’d all be better off even if economics was all you cared about.

Evolution Isn’t On Your Side

Let’s think about lions. Big, majestic, powerful, symbolic-as-fuck lions.

People get tattoos of male lions and it seems foolish. It’s female lions that do the the hunting and killing, usually of babies.

Male lions with their big ol’ manes just sleep and fuck. They fight each other pointlessly if they have to. They kill babies of their own species to make the women ovulate so only their genes will make it to the next generation then they sleep some more to conserve energy because they only get meals two days a week.

From a human standard that’s a terrible life, that’s basically life in a crack house.

Yet it’s what evolution has deemed the pinnacle. Evolution wants you to eat enough to make babies and be prepared to fight off others who might want to make babies.

Why are people fat and lazy? Because they won at evolution.

Doing anything more than mere humanity is extra-evolutionary. Reading, writing, working out, finding love or happiness or inventing Netflix means going over your drives, being better than your instincts.

In fact your instincts are working against you. Hyper-palatable food, over-sleeping, fear of injury, watching porn, these are all things playing on our instincts that do more harm than good.

And yet we’re dismissive when someone says This Isn’t Enough For Me. We call them selfish or entitled, we craft narratives about how rich people are unhappy and attractive people have eating disorders. There’s an opposite grass-is-always-greener effect where people convince themselves and others that things are the same over there as they are here. Drunks tell each other that if they sober up they’ll have no friends and be addicted to AA.

Effortless people, people who aren’t playing the game, often feel like they’ve been cheated, they’ve been deprived of something. They put in nothing and got nothing out and it stings, so they assume that people putting in more must be getting even more nothing.

But something happens when you take control of your life, of your body, of your time – it doesn’t make you happy but it makes the unhappiness not sting. When you get something – some weight loss, some muscle gain, some running ability, some skill, some knowledge, some thing, it comes with a new set of problem but they don’t bring you down because you already went from nothing to something so surely you can go from something to something better.

You either overcome or you underachieve.

And the biggest evolutionary trap is being like your peers.

Birds of a feather flock together but we’re not birds, we change to suit our tribes. We all know about suicide contagion – the fact that one suicide within a group raises the odds of other members doing it – but did you know it’s true of obesity too? If one of your friends gets fat you start gaining weight. Maybe that’s one more reason our culture is so brutally judgemental of the overweight.

Luckily, we live in the era of the parasocial relationship and you can be faux-peers with whoever you want. Which is sad because… instagram.

And luckily-er the information to correct all the evolutionary traps out there is readily available.

Unluckily-er most of us don’t know we’re doing things wrong. We’re in the evolutionary comfort zone and don’t know we’re poorly compensating.

For example I over-pronated my feet. My ankles and calves would compensate and I walked feeling just fine for 30 years. Until I started running. Running didn’t cause an injury it revealed – it diagnosed – a lazy compensation mechanism.

And we all do it, not just for physical things but mental and emotional ones as well.

Telling yourself you’ll figure something out later, when you can, means when you have to.

And someday you’ll find you waited most of your life for something and then it passed you by because you weren’t ready. You never really got to be where you wanted but somehow you still feel like you’ve been replaced.

You lived like a lion.