I started writing this piece about six months ago and shelved it because it was too incendiary and possibly totally inaccurate.
The scientific community is at a total loss to explain that high cholesterol diet don’t cause higher risk of cardio vascular (CV) disease. Considering the billions spent on proving this to be correct, if we don’t know this without the shadow of a doubt then what do we know? It would seem to be close to nothing and that ought to make us think as to what we believe to be medically true as a whole.
What we have been told is that eating meat is a big “no, no” but several recent studies don’t show a relationship between high animal fat diet and cardiovascular disease even when someone has genetic markers for heightened risks of CV disease.
This has taken the industrial food processors by surprise and it is now scrambling to replace some of the fat free or low fat items they developed with fat. Ice cream makers makers are letting of the alternatives they have been using and going back to heavy cream. The question is: Should we be on this return of the pendulum bandwagon?
The answer, I think should be rather nuanced. With foods there are always two matters that come first and foremost. Quality and quantity.
For those who will throw the baby with the bathwater beware. I am sticking to the idea that most of us should reduce the quantity of foods we eat by 20 to 30%.
Equally important is the quality. When I eat meat I do eat the best grasped beef there is available. Aged of course is generally better as well as enzymes and bacterias have had time to break down the tissues.
While I don’t think a vegetarian diet is a must, these finding also don’t say to forego eating fruits and vegetables in great quantities. In fact, I have found that running and cycling to the extend that I do facilitates the consumption of fruits and vegetables. The body simply asks for them. After a long run my body wants fruits. When I don’t run I don’t have any desires for them. Simply said, it is all really well designed. Awesome.
Warm days are here so what better way to show appreciation but to take the bike and go out on a 100 miles ride. I left my apartment at 7AM and chose to take 25A, the North route to Southampton, Long Island. Little did I know. For a first time out, a full 60 miles of up and down hills, quite steep, it was difficult and they almost broke me. As I was contemplating cutting this short I finally noticed the hills getting a little flatter and longer. I hung in there and made it through, though ultimately a flat stopped me 2 miles short of the village of Southampton. Nonetheless I really enjoy the ride. A good mental exercise for sure. I found out that filling the bottle with hot tea doubled as I neared Southampton. It went from $1 to $2.
Never Give Up.
Running can be grueling or even boring but it does not have to be so. Long distance running in particular can be… well, long!
A run longer than an hour is not short (duh) and the biggest issue is the the wandering mind. The legs go (especially with the Hokas) but the mind is wandering all over the place and that makes the run much more difficult.
The key to keep going for me is to prevent the mind from interfering with “It’s late” “I have to get up early tomorrow” “I forgot to call so and so” “I didn’t write anything today” “It’s cold” “It’s hot” all that chatter is absolutely endless. You get the picture, we are all in the same boat.
For me, the way to avoid the chatter is:
1: Have a race schedule. This gives a goal and keep you “on the road” and keeps the mind from “winning”.
2: Focus on the finish line. It is easier to decide how long you are going to run before running rather than leaving it open. Some people use a schedule to eliminate the guess work. I prefer to gauge myself and decide as the week goes on. If I ran a race on the week end I am not going to run a 15k on Tuesday night. I adapt my running to what I am doing most particularly since my work may keep me at the office until 10PM; so I loosely plan my week with 5K, 10K, 15K and 25K runs. I chose as the week goes along generally two or days ahead. At the end of the week I must not have compromised on distance and my base training.
3: To make the longer runs comfortable I concentrate 100% on myself. I get into an internal mode and watch where my body energy is in order to not be distracted. It is akin to Qi Gong.
Energy within the body shift. It usually shows up as a slow moving ball. Once it kicks in I try to stay focused on it. It can stay in one area like the ankle and then may shift to the left arm or the back of the head, where ever it is, is where I bring my attention. Focusing on the movement it produces in the area really breaks boredom and I believe allows me to run faster. It certainly makes time, timeless.
4: When I am not focused on the Chi in my body I may be with people. Once, my whole family showed up in my mind. It was beautiful; my dad, sister, aunts and uncle were there, all alive in my mind and carrying me through. They were all cheering me on and I completely forgot about myself. I felt light and transported and the pains were gone.
Another time, Jeff came in my mind. Jeff was the 2012 winner of the Barkley marathons in Tennessee, one of the most difficult races in the world. He was not only the winner but he also broke the record by 3 hours. I was with him for what I would estimate to be a good half an hour. I felt like I was totally absorbed in his extensive running experience, determination and focus. It totally carried me. I also marveled at being One with him, he was with me, a real inspiration.
Staying focused like this, harnessing energy from outside has helped me greatly to run up to 50K in a far easier fashion than if I were only with myself.
I hope that helps and until next time, happy running and dont forget, you don’t need to pop pills to achieve. If you have knee pain, order the gel and you will be amazed. If you find yourself popping a couple of analgesics after a work out try my muscle gel. It won’t mess up your GI tract like meds do and you will recover in a far deeper way with it than you ever imagine.
Two weeks ago I ran 25 k to prepare for the half marathon (21k) at West Point last week. I did not use my Muscle Gel 155-250 after the 25 k run and I felt lingering pain for the next 12 days or so. After the West Point race I used my HS-Athletics Muscle Gel and I had some “day after” pain for only one day. I am running this evening and I am feeling great. This stuff works flawlessly. Too bad the temperatures are going down this week end, I could have taken a ride to Montauk Point from Manhattan, 150 miles on the bike, I’ll have to stick to running.
I can’t wait for the weather to warm up. Meanwhile, remember there is no reason for anyone to suffer and or pop pills whether it is knee pain or muscular pain we have your solution.
Great time running at West Point. 5k down 1k flat and 15k going uphill and a great shirt with West Point on the front. Absolutely great. Base training of this winter is paying off. I think the next half will be under 1:45hr. but here is something that is disconcerting to me.
Right at the starting line as we were starting a runner took three puffs from her inhaler. That clearly increases oxygen into the lung and give an adrenal boost. Now, is my race on equal footing with her? I don’t think so. Obviously nothing can be done about it and in such a case asthma would be blamed and how can someone criticize that? but I run on NO MEDS and by the time I get to my first goal of top ten my conscience will be clear. By the time, I get to top three I will be wearing a shirt saying “I did it without meds. 100% clean. Homeopathy kicks ass.”
Little did I know that when I wrote my blog about the virtues of “catabolic” and “anabolic” states in September 2015 first experienced in the French Alps a few years earlier that I was really speaking about a current dietary fad called “fasting diets”.
There has apparently been quite a bit of research on the matter with the more popular program “5:2” diet. In a nutshell, for five days you eat as you wish and for two days you eat 500 calories max which is equivalent to a small breakfast; Jimmy Kimmel is a big fan and credits it for his weight loss.
But let’s be clear. I don’t think any “programs” work in the long run. One should use these programs or diets as pieces of information to get to know oneself better. I explain.
For most people the customary pattern of eating goes unchallenged. Three square meals a day is simply an unquestioned habit let alone a decent amount of snacks and sodas on top of that. None of this has anything to do with hunger, health, mindfulness or even taste.
I am really happy to hear that this boundary is being challenged in books with far more logical arguments than ANY other diet out there:
1: For millions of years human have had sporadic food supply and not only survived, thrived and evolved despite shortages. In fact shortage was more the norm.
2: Animal do extremely well with limited or irregular amount of food.
3: Our bodies are actually designed to function on irregular food supply. Glycogen is one form of energy quickly available as I discussed in my base training – part one – blog (BTW: Part II is coming soon and the info is very exciting) fat storage is another form of energy storage, nowadays that function is being used simply as weight gain.
The research done with fasting diets shows that two to five days of fasting each month lowers insulin like growth factor IGF-1 which seems to be linked to cancer and diabetes. The other benefit is that lowering insulin and IGF-1 slows the aging process.
Quite honestly we can make data show just about anything. So what to keep or throw away is the question.
Anahad O’Connor article “Fasting Diets Are Gaining Acceptance” in the NYT writes
“When you have low insulin and low IGF-1, the body goes into a state of maintenance, a state of standby,” Dr. Longo said. “There is not a lot of push for cells to grow, and in general the cells enter a protected mode.”
This is exactly what I explained in my blog in 2015. When you go “catabolic” as I call it, energy needs to be produced within the body. Considering the complexity of the energy producing cycle it is by nature a nibble process. I also think that letting the catabolic process happen mindfully it is a body mind process. When we apply ourselves to the catabolic process we also come to feel ourselves more, we become observant of our body and when eating becomes more mindful and when it is done in awareness it is far more useful.
Awareness brings knowledge. For example my body definitely likes to have food at 10AM. It is clockwork. I can eat or chose to bypass it. Since I am training and wanting to increase my performance I eat a fair amount at this moment. I have basically three options.
1: I can chose to stay “catabolic” and lose some of the extra fat I have to build muscle tissue, endurance etc. to help my performance. Though I could get to my peak, it would take longer that way. At the risk of repeating myself, the internal process is slow but effective.
2: I can eat the three square meals a day or more as most people do and rely on that caloric intake for my body to produce the muscle tissues and energy I need. This is a very anabolic process but not the most wise.
3: I actually chose to eat when my body actually needs it. At this moment it has adapted to the physical demand I have put on it for performance. Spring is coming, my first race is in two weeks and I have expectations. So I eat when my body really needs it. Usually that means no breakfast except for tea. Like clockwork my body wants food at 10AM so I willingly eat at that time. I chose to give my body food otherwise I go catabolic which is not the point at this moment. Then I eat a small meal later in the day around 4PM and then another meal around 8PM.
At this moment, option 3 is ideal. In the summer, it will be different. I will cycle a lot with the purpose of trimming fat but build endurance so I will let my body go catabolic and be more nibble with energy production. For me, cycling offers the best option for easy catabolic because it is much easier on the body than running which I feel really breaks tissue down more rapidly.
If I were not training and didn’t have any concern about performance choosing when to eat with awareness would be my option, not follow a program.
Treat programs as binders of information and then tailor it to what you need and find YOUR way to YOUR optimal health.
See you around.
If you ever felt lazy and tried every which way to fight your restless legs and or your conscience to get out in the cold to run here is the ultimate reason for your legs and conscience to win.
What this mean is that running long distance helps create new brain cells. The story of how guys in white coats figured this out is really interesting. Three types of exercises were compared. Running, weight training and high intensity interval.
For sure, exercise reduces the aging effect on the brain but what was not known until now was which exercise is the most effective for adult neuro-genesis: the creation of brain cells in a mature brain.
The experiment was done with rats divided into three groups. The running rats developed neuro-genesis far more effectively than the rats who did weight training. How did the rats do weight training, you might ask? They attached little weights on their tails and had the rats climb a wall on a regular basis. The third group of rats was put on alternating speed treadmills; up and down that way for up to 15 minutes.
Isn’t it fabulous? Very ingenious, I think. The routine lasted seven weeks after which they checked the brains of the little critters. The rats that ran long distance had the most neuro-genesis. Next came the alternate speed group and lastly the weight training created the least near-genesis. If this physiological process is the same for humans then we can say that sustained exercise keeps your brain young and I say that is something to run for. To be sure, swimming, cycling or any type of sustain exercise, each probably have similar benefits though each one probably affects a different area of the brain much like writing cursive activates a different part of the brain than writing script.
Go figure but it makes sense. The more diversity the better.
Happy sustained exercise
… but really, it was not a big deal though in terms of equipment I learned a few things. The temperature plunge that started on Friday and bottomed out Sunday morning made for uncommon running conditions to be embraced. So early on Sunday morning I laced my sneakers and put on a few layers.
Three bottom layers.
1: My usual knee long tights.
2: A thin long john type of pants
3: Training pants.
Those three worked out perfectly. I didn’t feel the cold at all.
For the top I put on four wicking shirts.
A pair of gloves on my hands. A face mask on my head and a knitted hat.
I stepped out and boy, wow, it was cold. Within one block (100 yards) the cold was seeping through those layers. Not good. I went back home and put paper in between the layers as in the great cycling tradition when riders grab newspapers at the top of mountains passes to avoid getting cold on the way down and went back out. It worked.
Central Park was deserted. Through my run, I saw at most a dozen runners, interestingly mostly women or so it seemed. I was surprised, cold affected people’s behavior that much as little affect New Yorkers.
The face mask helped cut down the cold air a little bit by breathing right through the fabric. I bought it the day before at Paragon. They basically had two models: With holes (10) or without holes over the mouth area. Since I was most concerned about warming the air, I figured choosing the one with ten holes would defeat that purpose so I chose the other.
Within 500 yards my glasses were fogged up and frozen. I took them off. At the 3K mark I was essentially pretty warm but that face mask became a problem. I could not breathe nearly as well as before and it was getting wet. Every so often I began to lift it up to getting fuller breaths that worked but those breaths were cold and I still had nine K’s left to go.
A problem with equipment does not better with time. I kept the pattern of lifting the face mask every so often to get a better breath. At 5K it was totally wet but still serving a purpose. It served an increasingly diminishing benefit all the way through. It is only when I ended my run that I realized, the steam coming out of my breath was actually frozen on the outside impeding air flow.
By 9K the top of my lungs started to sear up and slowly the cold spread down into my abdomen. A sensation I never had before. It increased until I finished my run.
When I got home I peeled off those layers, they were drenched but since I ran all the way home I didn’t get a chance to get cold but clearly this was an equipment failure. The paper I had placed between the second and third layer was soaked and crumbled to the floor.
All in all I was surprised by the amount of moisture that accumulated and will take this as a learning experience, my knitted cap was frozen as well from the moisture pearling up but with proper gear these things can probably easily be dealt with. For now, I cut out a diamond shaped hole to allow for more air to seep through and perhaps avoid some of the “drooling effect” caused but the moisture of heavy breathing. Let’s see what works out the best short of buying some contraption from Hammacher Schlemmer store.
The second biggest snowstorm in history ended on Sunday as the pink fingers of dawn was beginning to light up the sky.
Central park was gorgeous, what better way to be show appreciation. I ended up running in deep virgin snow for an incredible heart pounding 5k and then continued for another 5k on packed crackling snow.
I am done for a few days, felt my body going “catabolic”. I was spent and sore. I used the muscle gel big time, I don’t have any soreness. No pills, no need and feeling like a million bucks.
I wanted to go run but I read the newspaper and lazed around until the morning caught up on me. I took a look at my schedule for the day; heavy! I will run later……
Later. I leave the office at 9:30PM, tomorrow we are supposed to be pounded by a heavy snowstorm. Perfect opportunity. I take the CitiBike around the corner on 32nd St and Lexington Ave, ride it up to my apt on 120th St on the West Side, park the bike inside my building while I quickly change into my sport clothes. Run down the stairs, pick up the bike and ride it back down to 85th Street and Central Park West. Get off the bike Triathlon Style and run a 10K in deserted Central Park which feels a little menacing, snow begins to dust the city.By the time I come home I am freezing, the kind I like and I feel great, I didn’t waste my time. After a hot shower I am good to go for more… in the morning in the snow!It’s late Saturday afternoon and I have my trail shoes on, it’s been snowing hard for 12 hours. Let’s go for a run in the snow. The footing is unsure but that is the point. Slow running to not get injured but all kind of muscle fibers get a good work out. A 5 k will do. Fabulous, gorgeous, my feet are super cold, the city has shed its gray and black facade and become the angel it actually is to some of us. I feel great, the “bad” weather actually helped me get out there. As I always say. I need all the help I can get, I think I’ll go for a 10K tomorrow… that’s how I keep a skinny butt 🙂