Saturday, June 15, 2013
I listened to a talk by Christopher Mc Dougall today and he raised the question about whether we are running for fun or to run a good time.
I have always been firmly in the camp of running for fun and my very slow times, showing my aversion to go through any significant discomfort in training, have been proof (although there were some health issues (dairy intolerance) why my speed did not improve much).
Having recently joined a very family-friendly track team, I have started adding a little speed work to my training. The aversion to dealing with discomfort is still there. I have done some 200 meter repeats but nothing longer which would have been more uncomfortable. In spite of this I have had some improvement already. My pulse stays lower when doing uphill walking on the treadmill.
Today I ran a 5 K by myself (on the track, which was boring but easy to measure) and my splits were 10:15 after the first mile, 21:30 after the second mile and total time at 3.1 miles of 33:50.
This is better than I did 2 years ago at the same time of year (last year I had surgery and could not run).
Still, to reach my goal of a 5 K in under 30 minutes by late August before I turn 50 I'll have to improve quite a bit. Today's run was not horrible but it was not exactly fun either.
So this is my question: How can I make this more fun? Doing sprint workouts with other runners is actually fun, but I don't want to do that more than once a week, since I'm also still planning to fit a trail half-marathon in in September if possible, meaning I have to fit in increasingly longer long runs.
I'm considering simply doing more trail running with my dogs while largely ignoring my speed and then just doing sprint repeats once a week. I'm sure there are better training plans that have more variety including tempo runs etc. but I'd hate to have to do them. If you are slow like me the fun is in the running because it sure won't be in the winning.
Chris Mc Dougall's point in his talk was: Enjoy the run and when you get fast you'll have had fun getting there and it won't matter any more how fast you are. Do you agree?
Tuesday, June 11, 2013
Some people consider the evidence that wheat is dangerous and acting like a powerful drug in our body as not strong enough to eliminate it from their diet.
If your reason to eat wheat in the form of flour, processed foods, cereals, bread etc. is simply that of convenience outweighing health, then I will not be able to convince you. In that case I just don't think that you will find exercising convenient, preparing vegetables and other healthy foods convenient and learning about healthy living convenient, either. All these things take effort.
I am talking to those people who don't think they ever had a problem that they were aware of with eating wheat and go by the principle: If it isn't broke then don't fix it.
I believe that in this case we can usually not tell if something is broke until it's too late or almost too late.
But I believe that living wheat-free for even 30 days will bring huge improvements in health for many people. So the only question is this: Are there any disadvantages (apart from the inconvenience). To this the clear answer I would give is No. There are no nutrients that our body needs that it can only get from wheat or even from grains.
So I would like to give you the 30 day wheat-free challenge. If you are not 100% sure that wheat is healthy and safe, if you have looked at the evidence, but are not quite convinced, then do an experiment of n=1 and try to eliminate all wheat (including trace amounts in things like soy sauce) for 30 days and see if you notice any improvements in your health.
You may be surprised. If you don't notice any change then you have not lost much and have learned something about yourself.
And please let me know your results or post on the wheatbelly team.
Wednesday, June 05, 2013
It's addictive, it's necessary for our body to function, it's toxic, it gives energy, it's everywhere in our food supply, some people don't care for it, some foods need it (ever tried 100% dark chocolate?), it's in most fruit and some veggies, animals in the wild seek it out...
All these things about sugar are probably true. So what are we to do about sugar. It probably depends on the person.
For people like me, who seem to have a predisposition towards carbohydrate intolerance/pre-diabetes/type 2 diabetes (whether genetic or as a result of over-consumption earlier in my life) sugar is always a somewhat complicated substance to deal with. Note that I hesitate to call sugar a food, because it really does not have any significant nutrient value except for calories which can be used for energy.
I realized again just today that people who don't ever get sugar cravings tend to think that anybody has a choice if and how much sugar they consume. And of course they are right in one sense of the word "choice". This is just like anybody has a choice if they smoke a cigarette, even if they have been smoking 2 packs every day for the past 30 years. But for some people this choice is much harder to make, especially when life is stressful, we feel the need to feel good right now, if only for a few minutes or sugary foods are the only thing inexpensive nearby (the 50 cent candy bar or donut at the gas station, vending machine or convenience store). And then there are the social events that almost always offer sweet desserts or other sweet snacks. How can we celebrate a Birthday party without a Birthday cake? I make a meat or liverwurst cake for my dog's Birthday, but really, how many people would appreciate that?
So how do we find that balance between eating little enough sugar to where it does not start/continue cravings for more food and on the other hand not restricting ourselves so much that the sheer thought of never ever having a piece of cake or cookie again starts an emotional craving?
My new approach, which I have only tried after quite a few months on a low-carb diet is this: I will have one small bite (this morning it was a gluten-free scone with chocolate chips and nuts) and contemplate whether this is really much better than my favorite low-carb foods that I can eat in normal quantities (things like fruit with nut butter, yogurt, egg frittatas with stir-fried veggies and hot sauce etc.) . So far the sugary foods have never held much attraction once I actually tasted them.
The key to success is to not get in a situation where high-carb and sugary foods are the only option. Also, I would not recommend that anyone try this who has recently given up sugary foods, because the habit of eating them is still too strong.
My thoughts on this topic are evolving as my habits change.
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