Reading and Eating: The Winter of My Content


As the Johannesburg winter sets in. I find myself stocking up on reading material. Mainly to keep the brain sane and the training wolves at bay. I was going through my library and thought I'd share some running books that have found interesting and informative. They're the sort of books that I'll often dig out and read again. I'm quite amazed at the nuggets I find on each subsequent reading. 
Born to Run by Christopher McDougall
Challenging Beliefs by Timothy Noakes

Eat & Run by Scott Jurek
Finding Ultra by Rich Roll.  
Addict to Ultraman. Plant powered:-
The China Study by T. Colin Campbell.
The writer is an American biochemist who specializes in the effect of nutrition on long-term health. The whole food, plant powered diet

Once a Runner: A Novel by John L. Parker, Jr.

Ultramarathon Man: Confessions of an All-Night Runner by Dean Karnazes

Running with the Buffaloes: A Season Inside with Mark Wetmore, Adam Goucher, and the University of Colorado Men’s Cross Country Team by Chris Lear

Lore of Running, 4th Edition by Timothy Noakes
What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami

I decided to go Vegan on 22 April. Rather than focusing on what I couldn't eat, which seemed particularly overwhelming, I looked at what I could eat. It was an experiment of sorts to learn about new foods, my reactions to those foods, and in particular to determine the following:
• could I heal my Achilles tendon which has been bugging me on and off since 2004?

 • would my energy levels increase to allow me to manage work, my training for Comrades and my family?
All of this was encompassed in a question which has been nagging me for some time:
If I spend so much time training the outside of my body, is it not about time that I focus on what goes into my body? Or put another way, should I not give my body the best fuel possible if I expect it to respond in the best way possible?
To be clear, in some of my longer training sessions, I spend a lot of time thinking about things which can assist my speed and overall performance. Things like elastic laces to help save shoe lace tieing time, lighter shoes, lower body weight, lighter bicycle components, bike shoes on the bike with elastics, attaching my sunglasses to my bottle cage so I can put them on while I am moving on the bike rather than during T1, putting less water in my bottles for the start of the race to avoid having to carry that weight up the first climb, pressing my stop watch before the gun goes off so I don't have to press it on gun fire for fear of losing a few positions, cycling without socks so I can gain a few seconds in my transition from my swim to the bike, putting vaseline on my socks to avoid having to put vaseline on my feet in T2.

I could go on.

All that could add up to a clump of seconds, maybe even a minute to two. So if fuelling my body with better nutrients would help my body better utilise those nutrients and more efficiently turn that into energy, I'd be an idiot not to try it. And, this was key, I'd run out of ideas of how to fix my Achilles - dagnabbit!

I made a quick note in my logbook on April 22nd to keep an eye on weight, energy levels and the Achilles: 
VEGAN LIFESTYLE STARTS. 30 days. Aim is to heal the achilles and become awesome. I had quinoa, onion, mushroom, avo, tomato wrap. Pretty cool. For brekkies today I had a DSP (Dad's Secret Potion). Chai seeds, spinola, kale, kiwi, apple juice, orange, apple. Felt pretty amazing straight afterwards. Kept me easily satiated until lunch.
I note from my logbook that the word Achilles is mentioned 29 times since 1 Jan 2013 until the start of the diet. Since then there was only one mention of my Achilles on 9th May with the entry: "Right Achilles almost healed." I'm still trying to figure out what else could have fixed the Achilles other than the vegan diet. It wasn't as though I had been giving it time off. In fact the week I started the diet I totalled my biggest run week in the build up to Comrades of 107 k's.

The results:

• Achilles tendon is better and holding strong.

• Energy levels are as high as I can ever recall.

• Although I ate comparable quantities in line with my non-Vegan days, my weight dropped from 70kgs to 67.4kgs.

As I don't believe in magic pills or snake oil salesmen and their wares, I was trying to write a list of bad things to balance out with the positives. The only obstacles I faced was being faced with delicious non-Vegan options whilst eating at a friend's house. My capitulation (and let's not kid ourselves there were a few) did not seem to affect my energy levels other than the non-vegan food making me feel a bit sluggish. That could also be attributed to the glass of Chinese Whiskey!

I did receive a pummeling from my brothers and friends for going to the dark (green) side. A bit of banter never hurt anyone. The real test will be my performances in the Dolomites in July and Triathlon world champs in September.

The experiment continues....

Viva las Vegan,