Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Paleo Challenge

One of the things that I've done to prepare for the Virgil Crest 100 this weekend is to deliberately loosen up my diet over the past several weeks. This might sound strange but the tighter that your sails are when it comes to nutrition the farther off course you end up when the wind blows. And at an ultra-marathon the winds blow hard...

I've been following a very clean paleo diet for the past several months and feel better than I ever have in my life. For me this means zero processed foods, no bread, grains, legumes, dairy, or refined sugars, and a low carb, moderate fat, and high protein intake favoring lean meats, a ton of veggies, seasonal fruits, nuts, seeds. Two days at the VT 100 this July reminded me why I do this in the first place. Poor sleep combined with a diet of GU, "energy" bars, and miscellaneous ultra-grub found at aid stations while pacing Jeremy Bonnet left me completely snackered for the next several days.

I've really dialed in my race nutrition over the past two years and this has played a significant role in the performance gains that I've been able to make. Unfortunately, I still haven't found a "natural" approach to ultra-eating and am relying on the Gu's and bars that I'm used to. (Maybe I'll run my next 100 armed with sweet potatoes and fistfulls of bison jerky but with the biggest race of my life in less than 3 days I'm sticking with what I know works)

That said, after the race (and a week of eating whatever my body tells me to while recovering from a 100 mile run) I'm beginning a 30 day paleo challenge in order to feel good for the fall. And you're more than welcome to join...

These periodic challenges are an opportunity to tighten up diet, sleep, and general physical fitness while reminding us how good it feels to eat and live clean. United Barbell has a good description of the challenge and a list of paleo friendly foods to keep you running strong throughout the 30 day duration.

I'll be kicking off the challenge on October 1st and, as with most things in life, it's more fun with a friend. If you've been curious of the whole "paleo" thing and want to see if a few weeks of ancestral eating improves the way that you "look, feel, and perform" as paleo-dude Robb Wolff likes to say then post a comment and we'll tackle this thing together!

Saturday, September 1, 2012


The sun beat down on the fresh straw, makeshift bridges, and always lonely landscape of the powerlines late this morning. This solitary stretch of land that separates the trails of Bradbury Mountain State Park from those of nearby Pineland Farms has served as a reflection point during many of my long runs. And this morning I had much to reflect on. The aid station that we set up for friend and teammate Xar's 50k birthday run would mark the end of my training cycle for Virgil Crest and the official start of my taper. This has been an incredible period of training towards a longtime goal and I have to admit that it's hard to see it come to an end. Here's a sketch of what the past 9 weeks looked like and a snapshot of the memories that filled the miles:

Key training runs for the Virgil Crest 100:

Week 1:
12 miles First long run in over a month. Collapsed on the lawn afterwards well reminded of why I love to run long and run trails.

Week 2:
22 miles Ran 14 miles from home to Bradbury Mountain to race a friend through the woods for 8 more. The plan was an additional 6 but we went off trail. The "race" was an impromptu challenge issued by me while running the "O" trail and feeling ballsy-I lost. And the run is one that I won't forget anytime  soon.

Week 3:
20 Miles Ran 14 miles to the start of a 6 mile trail race. Raced (poorly) at the Bradbury Scuffle. Trained (well) for pacing my very fast friend Jeremy at the VT 100 the following week.

Week 4:
30 miles  Unforgettable experience pacing Jeremy Bonnet at the Vermont 100. Many incredible moments captured in the reports of  those who ran, paced, and crewed. All can be found on our team website

Week 5:
21 miles  A hard and hot road run.

Week 6:
9 mile trail race A good race at the Bradbury Breaker, an ultra-hilly 9 miler that has become my favorite race in our annual Bradbury Dirt series.

Week 7:
20 miles Hit the roads after work for a late day 20. Grilled Pineland Farms burgers in the garage afterwards while watching the sky open up and the rain pound down from the open bay door during an unexpected, what a great night.

Week 8:
53 miles Planned a self-supported 12 hour run (6a-6p) covering a cloverleaf course of trails, fields, and roads in Brunswick, Freeport, Pownal, and New Gloucester. What I learned: L.L Bean is the second best "aid station" in the world. Pineland Farms, which I burst into 7 hours deep into the run drenched in sweat and starving, is the first. Ian Parlin , my friend, mentor and teammate, who is pacing me for the race is the best person to meet at mile 43 of a run and crush the last ten miles with. What went down from 6 in the morning until 6 at night:Watched a duck land softly on the water from the high and hilly trails of Wolfs Neck State Park in the foggy early morning, lost my bag of S-Caps on a road 3 hours later, filled my bottles in the bathroom of a little house along the railroad tracks in the heat of the afternoon, discovered a strength that surprised me in the hard moments, learned that Honey Stinger waffles are tasty, accidentally drank a bottle of river water, let out a yell at the summit with Ian at 5:50 before we bounded down the terrace trail together to put this unforgettable run in the books. Put a total of 53 miles in the bank and, hopefully, the hay in the barn for Virgil Crest.

Week 9:
21 miles A good day spent with friends and a good ending to this training cycle. The taper is officialy on with a 12 mile trail race next Sunday, an easy breezy 6-8 miler the following weekend, and the Virgil Crest 100 on September 22nd. Much love to all who've supported me along this road, much respect to my teammates who are running, pacing, and crewing at the race, and much excitement as the starting line of my first 100 miler gets nearer with each and every tick of the clock.