A vegan’s cutting out wheat, rice and potatoes. It’s a world gone crazy, people.
So yesterday I ran an ultramarathon – the FATS 50K – and now I’m starting on a vegan slow-carb diet. Why? A couple of reasons. One, I just read Tim Ferriss’sFour-Hour Body, and I’m intrigued by the concept. Two, right now seems like a good time for experimentation. I’m fresh off a 50k, and a renewed emphasis on whole foods might help recovery. The other reason that right now also seems like a good time to give this no-white-carbs-no-fruit-no-sugar thing a try is because I’m already looking ahead to my next two fall races – the Spartan Beast in Spartanburg (yes, you read that right) on November 4, and One Epic Run in early December. I’m curious to see if/how the change of diet affects my training and my race-day performance for each.
Unlike most people (I assume) who go on the slow-carb diet, I don’t really have a weight-loss goal. It probably wouldn’t hurt if I lost up to 5 more lbs., but at 5’7” and 130(ish) lbs., I’m quite certain that all will be fine if my weight remains the same. No, I’m really more interested in finding out if the change in diet, particularly the increased protein intake, will result in any noticeable strength gains by the time I compete in the Beast and in One Epic Run.
Also unlike most people on this diet…I’m vegan. At first glance, the vegan diet doesn’t lend itself especially well to this or any other low-carb (let’s call it what it is) diet. After all, what does a vegan eat besides carbs? Definitely not protein, since you can’t get protein without eating meat, dairy and egg white omelettes…right?
Wrong. All foods born of a living cell contain protein. Dark leafy greens, fruit (not that I’ll be eating any on the diet), carrots, all of ‘em. Other nutrients, too, unlike most high-protein fare you can pick up at a drive-thru window.
Which brings me to my next point: A whole-foods plant-based diet is surprisingly similar to the Paleo diet. Meat’s the biggest difference between them, and both discourage the consumption of foods that are not “whole” – as in white carbs and anything else that’s processed.
One of the ways in which the slow-carb diet is more doable as a vegan is that it allows, even encourages, the consumption of legumes for “caloric load” and to replace grains and other sources of carbs which can derail weight-loss efforts due to how the body processes most high-carb foods.
I’ve taken some baseline measurements from first thing in the morning on October 1 (yesterday) before the 50k and started to publish them here, but then it occurred to me that even personal acquaintances might not be ready for that much information about yours truly… So I’ve written them down in my journal and will provide updates on relative changes from week to week.
In terms of athletic performance, I don’t really have a baseline since I’ll be running both of these races for the first time. However, having participated in events of similar duration and intensity, I think I’ll be able to gauge whether the diet helped, hindered or did nothing by how I feel as it goes along, how my training goes, and the results of my first attempts at both races.
My hippie vegan slow-carb diet and exercise journal follows.
It feels weird when that one big goal is staring you in the face, and all the other distractions that preceded it are gone.
For many of us who are truly addicted to running, race day coming and going does not at all mean that the training season’s over and we can look forward to a nice, long hibernation. No, when one big event ends, we still have another one right around the corner that we were probably already building up to at the same time as the first big race. (Raise your hand with me if you’ve ever run a “tune-up” race!)
Training-wise, this past week was a little in-between for me: I wanted to give myself a break from the high-intensity Spartan workouts and burpees, but at the same time I didn’t want to slack off too much because this was also the week I had planned to do my longest training run for my next big event!
So my exercise this past week basically looked like this. Normally I like to do more cross-training for preventive maintenance purposes, but since I felt fine after the Beast, I figured I could get away with mostly running just this once…
Monday: 5.7 mile run
Tuesday: 45 minutes on a stationary bike
Wednesday: 8 mile run. 65 degrees and breezy at 0:dark:30, 50 degrees and threatening to rain by nightfall. After last week’s brief cold snap, autumn seems to finally be here. I made this messy pasta bake with broccoli in the evening so that I would have healthy comfort food for the next couple of days.
Thursday: Nada. Packed a gym bag to strength-train after work and make up for not going to Pump on Monday, but I felt too sluggish to do anything the whole day. Blame it on the cold, damp weather?
Friday: Since the clouds and rain from Thursday had cleared out, I was off for Veterans Day and I’m always happy to have an early start to my lazy rest-of-the-weekend, I ran 24 miles at Harbison!
Saturday: Nada again, just because.
Sunday: Nothing yet, but I’m planning on 2:15 Pump followed by yoga so that I can “just run” (rather than run and Pump) tomorrow morning.
And now that I’m in my taper, I have some time to reflect…
This year, I actually ran the FATS 50K to help prepare myself to run longer at One Epic Run in December. It was my third time running FATS, and I’ve run there on other occasions, so I know the trails pretty well by now.
Yep, a 50K was my tune-up for One Epic Run.
Last weekend’s Spartan Race was a fun interlude (if you haven’t already, check out my 2017 Spartan Trifecta medal at the end of this post!), but truth be told, I’ve pretty much been building to One Epic Run since I started ramping up for FATS back in August. After FATS, I planned out my next two months of long runs to fit around the Beast and did some Spartan workouts and burpees to prepare for that as well, but now I just have One Epic Run ahead of me.
It feels weird sometimes, when that one big goal – hurdle, obstacle, whatever you knew was around the corner but you had other things to deal with first – is staring you in the face, and all the other distractions that preceded it are gone.
One Epic Run will not be my first 50-mile event if I succeed in running that (and distance runners, we all know that anything can happen before or during the race), but 24 hours come-what-may is uncharted territory for me. It’s going to start at 9:00 on Saturday, December 9, and whatever distance I’m able to cover in that time on their 3-mile loop is what I will get credit for. If it were a known distance like a normal race, then it would simply be a question of how long it will take. When that question is already answered for you and the distance is for you to decide, the question is no longer “do you have 50K (or 26.2, or whatever) in you?” but “what do you have in you?”
Some more seasoned ultramarathoners than myself will be going for a 100-mile finish, but I know I’m not ready for that. 50 miles is my goal because it’s the longest distance I feel reasonably certain I can complete before I up and decide that I’M DONE.
When I trained for my first half and full marathon back in 2006, I had a running coach who encouraged all of us to set gold, silver and bronze goals for ourselves for those first big races (and there were a lot of us first-timers in that training group). I pretty much have these down for familiar distances, but the whole 24-hour thing somehow makes that kind of goal-setting a bit trickier. I guess I would say that for One Epic Run, the goals look like this:
And with that, my training goes on…
Do you have any big races coming up between now and the holidays? What distance, and what are your gold, silver and bronze goals?
Well, my friends, I am officially done with my vegan slow-carb diet.
When I weighed in this morning to see how much of a difference it made, I discovered that I had gained an insignificant 0.2 lbs over the 129.3 where I checked in right before FATS.
The last week wasn’t exactly brutal, since I allowed myself a couple of cheats (I mean, c’mon, it was Halloween), but I did get tired of having to look past all the perfectly good fruit from my most recent Foodshare stash in my steadily emptying fridge until payday came around again on Wednesday. I was so determined to stick with it, though, that on Friday morning I had Cajun 15 bean soup for breakfast because that was all I had left to eat besides chili (and the fruit I was ignoring)!
But since good things come to those who wait, I was thrilled to make a big bowl of Cream of Wheat for breakfast before my Spartan race and know that from that point forward, every day would be cheat day and that I wouldn’t be missing out at Thanksgiving!
What did I learn from this experience?
Well, foodwise, I learned that a vegan slow-carb diet is challenging but not impossible. And apparently, the reduction in complex carbs leaves more wiggle room for fat consumption, which I tend to be a little OCD about. In the end, it was more like a cleanse than a diet, and I feel good about the break from processed foods even if it didn’t affect my weight in the end (not that I had a weight-loss goal).
Since I went about it in such an unscientific manner, it’s hard to say whether the grain-free eating or the Spartan workouts and burpees had more of an impact on my results at the Beast. Maybe it was a combination. In any case, I was also thrilled to finish my 12.4-mile obstacle course in 3:40 (with 6 sets of burpees) instead of the 4 or 5 hours (with 8 or 9 sets of burpees) that I had anticipated. And I did all my wall climbs unassisted! 😊
And now I can check off one of my two major athletic goals for the year: induction into the 2017 Spartan Trifecta Tribe!
The other big goal is my first 24-hour race, One Epic Run, on December 9. Stay tuned to find out how the training goes and how I normally fuel my Plant-Powered Running!
A trail runner’s rundown of the Peak to Prosperity Passage of the palmetto Trail.
On October 28, for the first time in over a year, I went out for a trail run along the Peak to Prosperity Passage of the Palmetto Trail. I took enough pictures and had enough things to say about it that I’ve decided to dedicate a post to it.
Unlike most state parks or wherever else you typically go trail running, the Peak to Prosperity Passage is an old converted railroad, so your trail run (walk, hike, whatever) is along an historic corridor. And there is plenty of signage along the way to remind you.
The Alston trailhead is known to all who have been there for the old train trestle that takes you over the Broad River where it flows through western Fairfield County. It was calm and quiet the last time I was there, but in the summer, you can see people on the water in canoes and kayaks enjoying the sun and flat-water conditions.
About halfway from the Alston trailhead to the Pomaria trailhead, you will cross a road (which was still a big construction project last summer; I kinda miss getting to hop through it) that brings you to the former site of Hope Station, where this pictorial shows you what you might have seen in that same spot over a hundred years ago.
It’s actually kind of spooky, since there are almost no visible signs of the old railroad itself, just a couple of footbridges and old numbered sign posts every half-mile or so. And after 6.5 miles (according to Strava), you will arrive in the weird, blink-and-you’ll-miss-it town of Pomaria. There’s a fun trail display “where the train platform used to be” (she typed in the best Jeff Foxworthy imitation she could muster)…
but the town itself is, well…this.
Type-A trail runners beware: This trail, as I’ve said elsewhere, is stupid easy. It’s flat, it’s straight (the trail map shows a gradual curve over 6.5 miles, but you won’t notice it while running), and you really don’t even have to worry about standing water after heavy rainfall because of the way the trail slopes down on either side. The main “challenge” to running this trail is the abundance of loose gravel along much of the trail corridor.
It’s easy to take the trail-snob attitude and dismiss it as not worth the drive out of your way when you’re training for a race on more technical trails, but I would entreat you to look at it from another perspective. This is an excellent hiking route, it’s part of something much larger than the contained state-park trail system where you normally go running, and it’s a chance for you to experience the “tree tunnel” that so many long-distance hikers talk about. There are a couple of small camping areas off the side of the trail that do get used by section-hikers and thru-hikers; in fact, the last time I was out here, I crossed the paths of two old men hiking with full packs who had just broken camp (and there was a still-smoldering firepit to prove it) a couple of miles from Pomaria and were headed toward the Alston trailhead. As an enthusiastic reader of other people’s thru-hiking adventures, I really like seeing that the Palmetto Trail has these every so often so that hikers don’t have to figure out something else or pay to camp at a site where they’re just stopping for the night and not really using the trails for recreation.
If you enjoy reading the memoirs of people who have thru-hiked the PCT and/or AT, then it’s easy to see the appeal of terrain like this after miles of uphills and technical downhills (and zig-zaggy trail miles that don’t seem to be getting you any farther along your journey). Trail runners can experience it in much the same way, as a “break” of sorts from more rigorous trails that will still keep you in good trail shape.
OK, so I’m starting to think this whole slow-carb diet thing is bullshit.
I remember being a little dismissive of the supplement recommendations when I first read them in The Four-Hour Body, figuring that my normal vegan diet is varied enough that I actually do get all the nutrients I need from food and hardly ever get sick. The first couple of weeks into this diet, things seemed okay, since I was getting all my exercise in the morning and had ample time in the evening to cook different veggies to go with my beans and tofu.
This past week was different, as I had more going on in the evening (details below) and used the mornings to work on my writing, all of which ate away at my time for cooking. I found myself just cooking beans and tofu, sometimes making a salad, and sometimes chopping up some squash or microwaving my frozen veggies, so that I would at least be filling up. When it hasn’t been enough and I’ve been hungry at work, I’ve just eaten more of the peanuts I keep in my desk drawer. And I can’t help but think that twice over the past week, for lack of fruit in my life except on Saturdays, I’ve had some scratchiness in my throat and that little voice telling me to go on and take an Emergen-C now so that I don’t get sick.
Well, so far I’m not sick, but at the same time I feel like a dumbass for following through because I was apparently getting all my vitamin C I needed from fruit before. Until I break from this diet at the end of next week, fruit is strictly for cheat day. To my way of thinking, no diet that comes with a supplement recommendation is a healthful one, but I’m sticking with it anyway until next weekend. My inner scientist needs to know the outcome!
My weight seems to be about the same, hovering within a pound or two of where I was when I started on Oct. 2. The main “advantage” I can see in cutting out the carbs is that I don’t seem to be fattening up on all the cooking oil, salad oil, peanuts, peanut butter and sunflower seeds that have filled the void left by my usual carb sources, even though I normally limit my consumption of these foods because of the fat content. If I were sedentary and needed to lose weight, then this would be a good way to do it because at least the diet doesn’t particularly restrict fat. But I’m not and I don’t, and I kinda want my overnight oatmeal in a jar with raisins back.
One more week…
Exercise: 6-mile run followed by Body Pump with Randy and Chris. Kinda digging the new release!
Exercise: Monday’s Spartan workout. I had to skip the cardio burnout at the end because I was out of time and needed to get ready for work, but the rest of the workout was good and I was able to work in the cardio burnout on Thursday.
Exercise: 7-mile run, including about 5 miles solo and 2 as part of the Strictly Running Pizza Run that happens on the last Wednesday of the month during Daylight Saving Time. The October Pizza Run is always Halloween-themed, and I got to the store in time to snap this picture before heading back out to run. The sumo wrestler won the costume contest 🙂
Exercise: 5 rounds of 30 burpees, 30-second side planks and the cardio burnout that I didn’t get to on Monday: ¼ mile on the treadmill at an 8% incline, 2.5 miles per hour and a 25 lb. kettle bell on my shoulder to simulate the log carry, then another ¼ mile at an 11% incline, 3.5 miles per hour and no weight (so it still felt like a fast hike). This part of the workout, 2.5 total miles walked plus all the burpees and planks, took an hour and a half!
Afterwards, I got someone in the stretching area to take photos of me demonstrating the exercises I talk about in this post, and then I went upstairs for 30 minutes of stationary bike.
Exercise: Nada, since I doubled up after work on Thursday. Instead, I spent the morning proofreading and editing some of my freelance work and sent it off to the client so that I could check it off my list in time for the weekend.
Exercise: 20 miles along the Peak-to-Prosperity Passage of the Palmetto Trail. I opted for this one because it’s free, not too far out of town and because I’ve been slack in renewing my Harbison annual parking pass. (Last weekend I just paid the $5 day fee, but I can’t keep doing that on general principle knowing that the annual pass will only cost $25 when I get my act together and renew online.)
Other benefits of running this stupid-easy, flat, mostly straight trail: faster pace per mile (my average the whole time was just under 10 minutes, which never happens at Harbison except on the gravel roads and some of the easier stretches of Firebreak) and an abundance of gravel rocks (a couple of miles past the old train trestle at the trailhead shown here) that were apparently brought in last summer to bulk up the trail. This was not an advantage on account of large chunks of loose gravel being fun to run on, because believe me they’re not. Rather, I like to think that the relative discomfort was good preparation for the Beast next weekend. You know those stretches between obstacles where you feel like you should be able to run it, but somehow the trail conditions make it really uncomfortable? Yeah – that was what I tolerated for the better part of 20 miles yesterday.
Anyway, because I got such a late start yesterday morning, my “cheat day” didn’t start until I got home at 2 PM. Another Elvis smoothie, and then after trying and failing to nap for a couple of hours, I got up and made a semblance of the rice and gravy I’ve been thinking about for a while. Because I was still dragging and didn’t feel like standing over the stove to make my usual pan gravy, I just got the rice boiling and then dropped most of the flavor ingredients for gravy (soy sauce, nutritional yeast, sage, etc.) straight into the pot and let it all cook together.
After a trip to the store later in the evening, I also had a couple of granola bars and a small take-and-bake loaf of bread with sunflower seeds and dried fruit (raisins and/or cranberries, not quite sure but it was good).
I guess one reason to be positive about the diet is that I have been able to adapt and to keep doing the things I normally do, including a 17-mile run last weekend and a 20-miler yesterday. And since processed garbage is obviously a no-no on any slow-carb diet, it’s entirely possible that I’ve been eating better despite having cut out a bunch of things that are, in fact, good for you. Especially if you’re active.
It’s also entirely possible that the emphasis on protein has helped me build strength and recover more fully after the more-frequent strength and plyometric workouts I’ve been doing to prepare for the Beast, but only my results next weekend will tell…
This post is just what the title suggests: my story, followed by the recommendations that I followed and which led to the story’s happy ending. Enjoy!
When I first started running competitively in 2005, a few age-group wins at 5K races spurred me on to try longer distances: 10K, 8 miles…
I built up so quick that I ended up running my first competitive half-marathon and my first full marathon just two months apart, and both of these were less than two years after winning that very first age-group award, which, at age 29, was also my very first athletic award. (Raise your hand with me if all you did in school was wear the gym uniform to keep from flunking PE!)
That very first marathon was also a Boston qualifier!
The age-group wins kept coming, and I kept receiving more and more encouragement to keep it going. I was training with a group hosted by a local running specialty shop and running 5 or 6 days a week, every week. Running, running, running. Nothing else; no gym membership, just running.
As the time neared to run the 2008 Boston Marathon, I had everything arranged for the trip and the hay was in the barn (“hay” being a metaphor for training), and then two weeks out…
My knee started hurting when I went running one day after work. Like, a lot. This weird pain on the inside of my left kneecap just showed up out of nowhere. I hadn’t really dealt with any running injuries up to this point, just some foot pain after that first marathon that resolved on its own, so I “took time off” as other runners recommended and hoped it would go away. But “time off” was only a couple of days here and there, because I had to run – running is a good addiction to have, and for many of us it really is an addiction – and because I was afraid that doing nothing for those last two weeks would cause me to lose fitness and run a crappy marathon.
Well, in the end the loss of fitness was a moot point, but I still ran a crappy marathon and finished a full hour off of my goal time, popping Advil as I ran past the crowd at Wellesley and again at the top of Heartbreak Hill before I had to give up on re-qualifying for Boston at Boston and just walk-run the last five miles. I’m still proud to have run Boston once and to have a finish line photo to prove it, but it was bittersweet to have worked so hard only to have an injury rear its ugly head during my taper.
So, fast-forward through the next seven months of cardio machine workouts (also painful sometimes) at the gym where I broke down and got a membership, ART from a local chiropractor who specialized in treating injured athletes (I thought I might also have IT band syndrome in that knee), going to yoga classes just to be doing something that didn’t hurt (except that pigeon pose and any other deep knee bends did hurt), “stretching it out” (stretching what out???) and the pain progressing to where it hurt to walk down the hall at work and I had to regularly shut the door to my office so that I could prop up my skirted leg and ice the knee…
(Can you tell I’m not overly fond of going to the doctor?)
Finally, after a chat with a running buddy who had gone through something very similar the year before, I went to see the orthopedist/sports medicine doc who had treated her. Sure enough, my “runner’s knee” had progressed to chondromalacia. All that downhill running (which feels like dessert after running up a bunch of hills) with weak quads had basically shredded the cartilage in the area where I was feeling the pain.
There was a time when it was widely believed that there’s no way to come back from cartilage degeneration in the knees except maybe to try your luck with a graft. Well, I never had surgery (nor did the doc recommend it), but I did go through a few weeks of physical therapy at his practice followed by a few failed attempts to start running again in the first half of 2009. Finally, in the summer of 2009, more than a year after the pain had begun, I let my gym membership expire (this particular gym had an option to pay for a year all at once at a steep discount), bought some ankle weights at Target, and decided that until the knee really felt better and I could at least walk-run with a knee brace without any pain, I was just going to do some of the exercises that the doc’s physical therapist had prescribed for at home.
“Until” ended up being about six weeks. After that, I started back very gingerly by walk-running with a knee brace and dropping back to only three days a week of the PT exercises. I built up slowly, gradually phasing out the walking, until about three months into that routine when I was finally able to run 5 miles with no brace and no pain. Except for a few shorter periods of injury (which have all but stopped since I got into trail running – more on why Iove the trails here!), I’ve been back for 8 years running. Pun intended!
If you’re a runner who’s not good about cross-training, don’t kid yourself about your injuries being purely from “overuse.” There are other areas that you’re neglecting. You gotta cross-train, be that with cycling, strength training, yoga (I do and am a huge proponent of all three) or whatever doesn’t involve running. Don’t think you need a membership at a gym or any of the specialized studios, either. You can buy basic weights and home gym equipment at just about any department store and do the exercises in the evening while watching Seinfeld reruns on TBS.
Where there’s a will, there’s a way.
So, with no further ado…
These are the simple home PT exercises that worked for me and that I highly recommend for anyone who doesn’t regularly work their quads. These can be performed just about anywhere (I’ve packed the ankle weights into my suitcase a few times for trips home to Virginia) and worked into any schedule.
When performing all of these exercises, be careful to avoid deep knee bends, generally defined as more than a 90-degree angle. Deep knee bends will pinch the cartilage, doing more harm than good.
Warm-up: 5-10 minutes on a stationary bike (or a real one if you’re not using a gym) at an easy pace with moderate resistance. Cycling is very demanding on quads and will enhance your efforts to build quad strength.
Failing those two options, go for a short walk up and down the block.
Stretch: Now that you’ve warmed up, take a few moments to stretch calf muscles, hamstrings, and iliotibial bands (by crossing one leg in front of the other and then bending the upper body sideways toward the foot crossed behind).
(Note: I have no scientific explanation, but at the time I found it more beneficial to do these things in this order and no stretching at the end. Nowadays, for most workouts I do a dynamic warm-up and deeper stretches at the end of a run or workout.)
Adductor lifts: Lie down on the floor with an (optional) ankle weight strapped around each ankle. Turn the left foot out to the 10:00 position and slowly lift the foot about 12 inches off the ground. Hold for five seconds, then slowly lower the leg back to the floor. Turn the right foot out to the 2:00 position and repeat with the right leg. Complete 10 sets.
Quad extensions: With the optional ankle weight still strapped around each ankle, place a solid object under the left knee which will raise the knee to a 45- to 90-degree angle . Keeping the thigh in place, slowly lift the lower leg until the entire leg is straight or has only a slight bend. (Be careful not to lock the knee, as doing so will pinch the cartilage.) Hold for five seconds, then slowly lower the foot back to the floor, restoring the 45- to 90-degree angle bend in the knee. Repeat on the right side. Complete 10 sets.
Wall squats: In a standing position, place your back against a wall with your legs straight and your feet on the ground about two feet in front of you. Keeping your feet firmly in place, slide your back slowly down the wall until your thighs are parallel to the floor and your knees are bent at a 90-degree angle (or slightly less). Hold for 30 seconds, then slowly slide back up to your starting position. Repeat five times.
For someone with limited quad strength, these exercises can be challenging at first, and use of body weight only is perfectly fine. Everyone has to start somewhere! As time goes on, you may become comfortable enough with these exercises to begin using ankle weights, increase your adductor lift and quad extension sets, or increase the hold time for the wall squats up to 60 seconds. Stay the course, and you will be well on your way back to normal, pain-free running!
And many thanks to the total stranger at Muv who took these pictures at my request! 🙂
Have you had any experience with runner’s knee, patellofemoral pain or chondromalacia? How did you deal with it, and what has changed for you since it all started? Let me know in the comments!
Just got over the hump in my 5-week vegan slow-crab diet experience.
Hello! After writing “only” 3 posts about the vegan slow-carb diet last week, I decided to dial it back even further to one weekly recap post so that I can do more “reporting by exception” (any fun food and exercise experiences that were new this week) and how my diet and exercise went overall.
Just a day of puttering in the kitchen. I had planned to go to yoga, but the usual instructor was off, and they had someone else filling in with a different kind of class that I knew would be too active for how sluggish I felt, so I skipped it. One week later, I’m definitely ready for more yoga. Specifically, yin yoga. (Just checked the Müv Fitness schedule, and Brenda’s back today, yay!)
Exercise: 6 mile run at 4:30 a.m. followed by Body Pump with Chris and Randy at 5:30.
I freely admit that on Monday, I had a bit of a slip-up and ate a few pieces of dark chocolate. Blame the monthly visitor for that one. Otherwise, the diet continues along, and as a result of getting paid on Monday, I was able to replenish my supply of dry beans and fresh spinach and threw in some frozen ones to hold me over until my next Foodshare pickup on Tuesday or Wednesday of this week.
Exercise: Spartan workout. This week’s theme is “old school” workouts with little to no gear required. Even though my default for cardio cross-training is the stationary bike, I like that the Spartan workouts focus more on agility without quite being Crossfit (sorry Crossfitters, I had a bad experience when I tried it out a few years ago). Box jumps, body-weight squats, bear crawls and other fun movements like what I can look forward to when I face the Beast in Spartanburg in two weeks.
Exercise: The morning low temperature dropped pretty sharply this past week following the Indian Summer conditions we had the first half of the month (it was basically summer the whole time here, except for a couple of days in September when Tropical Storm Irma brought us some early fall weather). It was around 45 or 47 degrees when my alarm went off, almost 20 degrees colder than my Monday morning run. I almost didn’t go running, wanting to just stay in my pajama pants and be cozy indoors, but then I remembered that waiting until the evening would interfere with plans to cook and work on some of my freelance assignments. So, out the door I went on a 6-mile round trip from my house to the synagogue on North Trenholm Rd. and back, barely breaking a sweat the whole time.
Thursdays are normally a day off from exercise, so I got up at the usual time but stayed in my pajama pants and resumed working on freelance stuff and was just able to finish an assignment and send it off to the client before it was time to get ready for my day job.
Exercise: Despite my best effort not to exercise on Thursdays, I did take advantage of the nice weather right after work (mid-70s) to do burpees in the back yard – 5 sets of 30 burpees plus 30-second side planks. I find it especially beneficial to do lots of burpees during the weeks leading up to a Spartan race, since this assimilates part of what I already know is going to happen on race day. (One of the “features” of all Spartan races is that each failed obstacle carries a 30-burpee penalty. I usually end up doing burpees 4 or 5 times at the shorter races, so I can probably look forward to doing them 8 or 9 times at the Beast.)
Exercise: I woke up a little frazzled and not inclined to do another Spartan workout, so I climbed half-awake onto a stationary bike when the gym opened and stayed on it for about 45 minutes. This was my first time doing stationary bike in a couple of weeks (lately it’s been all running and Spartan workouts), so I could really feel all the additional squats and box jumps when I got on the bike.
In the evening, I carbed up as best I could with leftover urad dal vadai plus some stir-fried red cabbage and green beans.
Exercise: 17 miles at Harbison, my first trail run since FATS three weekends ago. Even though I went up by 4 miles from last weekend’s run through Forest Acres (I’m starting to ramp up for One Epic Run in December), and factoring in that trails are more challenging than the roads I’ve stuck to these last two weekends, it felt so, so good to be back out on the trails! More on why I love the trails here.
Also, Saturday is my slow-carb diet cheat day, so as soon as I got home from running, I made myself an Elvis smoothie: peanut butter, a whole frozen banana, a Red Delicious apple (the red flecks are from the skin), cinnamon, ginger, Demerara sugar and almond milk. (It’s not a dainty portion; my glasses are pretty big.)
I had toyed with the idea of keeping the slow-carb diet going until One Epic Run, but I think I’m going to switch back to my usual vegan diet (the one that includes grains, potatoes and fruit) after the Beast on November 4. I’m just concerned that if I stick with it and then go out to do my 25-mile training run on Veterans Day, beans and veggies the day before won’t be enough fuel, and I don’t want to have to take extra Gu during the run to make up for the relative lack of carb-loading. I survived yesterday’s run, as well as the other runs since the transition to autumn began around here last weekend, but I think the weather has had just as much to do with my pace returning to normal as any adjustment I might have made to not eating the foods that are verboten in the slow-carb diet. Still, One Epic Run is a 24-hour event, and I don’t want to be lacking energy when I get there.
And five weeks of vegan slow-carbing is enough for experimental purposes, right?
Let me know what you think! Would you ever consider doing a vegan slow-carb diet? Why or why not?
Yep, that’s a mouthful if you aren’t familiar with Indian cooking. If you’re into the plant based diet, though, these are a quick and easy anytime meal.
Let’s break it down. If you live in a city of any size, chances are you have at least one Indian grocery store. In your friendly neighborhood Indian store, they sell all kinds of different beans and split lentils (“dal”) in 1-2 pound bags. There are so many different kinds that they take up half of an aisle, and it’s like nothing you’ve seen in an American supermarket. It’s a great source of cheap, good- for- you food – if you know what to shop for. But that’s a topic for another day.
Friends, if you are hankering for an easy and healthy substitute for chicken filets, brave the beans aisle of your local Indian store, bring home a bag of urad dal and make these tonight!
To make these resemble chicken, I soak a cup of the urad dal in water for two hours, drain and place in the food processor with salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, nutritional yeast and dried cilantro (but you can use any dried herbs you like). Add just enough fresh water (about half of a cup) so that the dal can grind. Blend until smooth, and you’ve got vadai batter!
To make this go a little quicker, have a frying pan warming up on the stove over medium heat with enough cooking oil to cover the bottom. Once heated, start plopping heaping tablespoons of the batter into the pan, maybe 3 or 4 at a time, and quickly spread them out like you would with pancake batter. Cook for 2-3 minutes, flip, and cook another 2-3 minutes. (I consider mine done when they are lightly browned on both sides.) Transfer to a plate with paper towels on it so that they can drain and cool a bit and then serve however you like or eat a couple with your hands like I usually do!
As these were cooling off, I made the Brokeass Gourmet’s Thai peanut sauce as a topping for the vadai and had a red cabbage salad on the side (I’m weird like that) tossed in soy sauce, sesame oil, cinnamon, nutmeg, ground ginger and cloves (I was going for something like Chinese five spice) and crushed red pepper.
It totally didn’t occur to me until later that I could have stir-fried it with all those ingredients and that would have been pretty awesome too. Next time!
Got your own dinner hacks that use ingredients that are a little ways off the culinary beaten path? If so, let me know in the comments!