Monday, 29 October 2012

The search for the perfect running diet

You may have gathered from my last couple of post's that the subject of nutrition has been filling my brain at the moment. I've considered everything from the vegan diet, to the fruitarian diet and the Paleo diet. Arghhhh! so much confusion. So this post is as much as clearing my mind as it is to sharing with the reader.

I've now become a fairly serious runner, not in quality but in that if I'm not running then I'm thinking about it or talking about it a lot of the time (oh, and reading and blogging about it too!)...I'm not boring, honest! When I first started out running I never really thought much about the nutritional side of things, it was all about increasing miles and competing in 10K's, but in the last couple of years where the miles and races have increased up to marathon distances, suddenly nutrition becomes a whole new and important ball game.

I remember hitting the wall so hard in my first marathon that I was determined to get to the bottom of this nutritional malarkey!

The fruitarian and Paleo diet are very much based on what are ancestors could get their hands on (No M&S ready meals in other words!) very much berries,fruit, nuts,vegetables and meat is the Paleo diet and er...fruit for the fruitarian diet.

Now I can relate to this concept, especially the Paleo diet, I believe strongly that as humans we were meant to eat meat (sorry vegetarians!) We have teeth, some sharp front ones for biting the meat and the rear teeth for chewing. We are in a food chain and meat is full of essential vitamins, minerals and protein, if we were not meant to eat it then it would not be so good for you and when have you ever met a vegetarian Tiger?

I agree we certainly eat too much meat in our diet as it is readily available, our cavemen ancestors would only eat meat sparingly when they could catch the damn stuff. More importantly we eat far too much processed meat, and this is something I'm trying to eliminate from my diet.

For a great interview related to running and the Paleo diet listen to episode 19 of the Talk Ultra podcast. There is an interview with Barry Murray at about 1 hour and 4 minutes into the show that is well worth a listen.

The fruitarian diet is raw fruit and vegetables...blah! How dull, I love my fruit but for every meal 365 days of the year? I tried it for a day last week, on a day I was running 5 miles in the morning and 5 miles in the evening. On the evening run I felt drained and close to stopping after a few miles with no real source of carbs to fuel my day. This was only a day and I understand you have to train your body over months and months before it starts adapting to any new fuelling system.

I love listening to The Fruitarian on You Tube, I like picking out the best bits of what he has to say and applying it to my diet. The Fruitarian (Michael Arnstein) is an ultrarunner you has achieved many successes in racing based on this diet. Check out one of his videos below:

One question I do often ask myself is "What about Evolution?" We've got less hair on our bodies now as we have evolved. We no longer need a a thick covering of hair on our bodies as we no longer live in caves and have clothes and central heating. So what about our diet, can that evolve as well?
Bread was not around when we were cavemen but we now have been eating bread for hundreds of years. Surely from generation to generation, years upon years our bodies change to the way we process this once alien food? The same with milk?
Now I'm a fairly trim lad, but I do tend to have a bloated and swollen belly area most the time. I once went to see a physio who recognised straight away that this was not fat but due to digestion issues. I believe I need to avoid gluten and dairy for this reason. When I do manage to steer away from these foods for a day or two, I do recognise a reduced bloating to my belly.
So my quest for the perfect running diet goes on, I'm trying to pick the best bits out of all the diets and work out what's best for me, but still treat myself to that chunky KitKat! Hopefully this post gives 'Food for thought'.

Saturday, 27 October 2012

The real bears

OK,we're all suckers for a bit of sugar, but today's society consumes way too much.

Research has proven a direct relationship between consumption of sugary drinks and an increase in obesity, which promotes diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and many other health problems.

Watch the plight of The Real Bears below.

Real human families should know about the risks of drinking too much soda. Watch below, show your kids, your friends, family, share and spread the word.

Sunday, 14 October 2012

Eat and Run, Scott Jurek

I've finally got around to reviewing Eat and Run by Scott Jurek. It's taken me an age to read and I'm not sure why because it's excellent. The trouble is I've had too much else to read at the same time (magazine subscriptions, blogs etc.)

Scott Jurek is an Ultrarunning legend and also a strict vegan which I am not. With this being the case, I was a little apprehensive starting the book and that I would be bombarded with recipes and a biased view of the vegetarian diet...but fear not, the book is an autobiography with more stories than recipes and while Scott presents his case for a vegetarian diet, he does not ram this down the readers throat.

In fact in the beginning there was nothing Scott loved more than a burger and even in the early stages of his crossover to the vegan diet still used to have the odd Chicken sandwich from McDonald's. The reasons behind Scott's change to a vegan diet are purely down to how he performed so much better on the diet rather than ethical reasons. He is very passionate about the subject though and does inspire the reader to consider some of the benefits of the diet.

The book is full of memoirs from Scott's many racing achievements from winning classic Ultra races such as the 100 mile Western States, the 131 mile Badwater and the 152 mile Spartathlon. The accounts are well written and you feel like you're running with Scott as he recites the pain and hallucinations he encounters on these races...Actually it didn't feel like I was running with Scott because most the time I was reading this from my snug bed and not going through the horrendous conditions that Scott endures.

The race memoirs are truly inspirational as also is the chronicles from his difficult childhood with a mother crippled by multiple sclerosis and a strict father. Clearly a reason Scott uses his running as escapism (Well don't we all!)

At the end of each chapter you either get a recipe or a nugget of Scott's training tips. The training tips are great, the recipes, a little fussy. As I said earlier I am not a vegetarian. I totally respect other peoples reasons and views on the subject but at this stage of my life, I will not and have no reason to give up meat.

I am a firm believer in the food chain and the benefits from eating meat, but that's not to say Scott's book does not give food for thought (forgive the pun!). Along with this book, I've recently listened to the latest Talk Ultra podcast (number 19) where there is an interview with Sports scientist Barry Murray who talks about the 'Caveman diet' or Paleo diet as it is also known. I've also attended a talk with a Premiership sports nutritionist who is also an advocate of this diet.
I'm really interested in nutrition and the Paleo diet is something that strongly appeals to me. This basically consists of eating as our ancestors did: meat, vegetables, nuts and fruit. No grains or pasta just as nature intended and not a Lucozade sport in sight!!!
I've read quite a few running books and this is right up there with my favourites. Don't worry if you are not a vegan or ultrarunner; two things that I am not, this book is inspirational and well worth a read.

Thursday, 4 October 2012


Luckily I'd been sent some kinesiology tape to review, which coincided nicely with my Achilles grumbling away on both legs.

Kinesiology tape seems all the rage at the moment, you've probably seen it all over athletes this summer at the Olympics, but does it really work?

The SpiderTech tape was easy to apply, firstly you have to tear the backing paper along the perforations, peel of the backing paper on each section and then apply the tape to the skin.

The official website has video's of how to apply the tape as well as instructions in the packet:

With my 'second' skin reinforcing my Achilles, I kitted up and set off my run to work.

Can I honestly judge the tape from one 12 mile run to work? Probably not, and to be honest I didn't notice any real benefit, and by the time I arrived at work, the tape had fallen off in places from the sweat and mud on my legs. To gauge the real effects the tape would be worn over a length of time while both running and wearing it while resting to give a more accurate account.

My thoughts at present tend to lean to the 'Placebo effect'.

Below the picture, you can read the official blurb, but also take some time out and read this post: on the excellent Running Physio site about the subject of kinesiology taping.

SpiderTech has the answer with their cleverly designed “spiders”. This pre-cut kinesiology tape is a non-medicated cotton tape that is applied to the body wherever it hurts or needs support. Taping was developed decades ago in Japan. The intention was to support the body’s own healing processes with a special material utilising a particular application technique. The effect of the taping relieves pain and supports muscles and joints to ensure they are in the correct alignment or position for both exercise and recovery.
How does a ‘spider’ work?
The tape has a very specific elasticity built into the weave pattern of the cotton fabric which mimics the elasticity and thickness of human skin, allowing it to integrate, support and stabilise without adversely affecting healthy ranges of motion. This allows maximum performance ability, without pain or strain. It works in several ways to provide pain relief, reduce swelling, assist a range of movement and give structural support;


 · It takes pressure off painful areas which decreases tension through weak or inflamed muscles and tendons, therefore reducing the pain and further damage caused if the patient has to continue to use the joints, for work, day to day activities etc.

· It relaxes muscles. Depending on how it is applied, the tape is thought to activate stretch receptors in the skin which feed back to influence the control of the muscle tension under the skin or activate muscle spindles within the muscle. This increases the activity and endurance of the muscle.

· It promotes recovery. When applied to the skin with stretch, the tape naturally wants to recoil. As a result it lifts the skin and fascia to allow blood flow to increase which is thought to speed up the recovery process.