Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Diet Cults - Matt Fitzgerald

If like me you are a) Fed up of all these different diets that we should be following or b) Confused at what is now considered good or bad foods; then you should definitely have a read of Diet Cults by Matt Fitzgerald.

Matt is an endurance sports writer, coach, nutritionist, and athlete so he knows his stuff. In fact I have read a lot of Matt's articles over the years on the Internet and always find his work, knowledgeable, accurate and mostly common sense!

Once you've read the book and considered all the main diet cults that are out there it does make you question how can one diet be the correct diet, how can one diet allow grains and another not. Its similar to religion, whose right because not everyone can be.

Matt almost sums it up in one example; with the odd exceptions, no elite athlete follows any of these diet cults but rather follows what science teaches us after years and years of practice of what is right. Now what does that tell you straight away.

"We saw, through the example of Paleo dieters, that people don’t choose diets by reason; rather, diets choose people by appealing to identity-based dispositions such as masculine self-image."

The Paleo diet is probably one of the most popular diets around today, but Matt refers to archeological evidence that "with new methods of extracting DNA from dental plaque revealed both Neanderthals and Paleolithic people ate barley, beans and tubers". Hominids living two and a half million years ago ate more grasses and grains than fruit and leaves and "that virtually every food humans eat today is different from those eaten by our Paleolithic ancestors"....and people are making money and living their lives based on diet that doesn't and has never existed!

All these various diets miss out on key nutrients between them and there is not a 'bad' nutrient out there, even sugar which has had more bad press than normal in recent years, if used correctly has a benefit ie. for sport and energy. It's when it gets abused by people consuming it in processed foods like sweets and cakes that it becomes a problem.

Energy drinks are loaded with sugars and have a place if you're running a marathon but not guzzled daily by kids as a 'cool' drink and that's where sports drinks manufacturers are to be held responsible. They are quite happy for it to be sold in newsagents, supermarkets and vending machines the world round knowing full well that people are consuming them as a soft drink and not what they were intended for!....OK I digress, back to the book!

Gluten intolerance is on the rise or is it? As Matt experienced with his own Mother, stress can cause similar symptoms and the world we live in is becoming increasingly stressful affecting more and more people in many ways.

You dont have to be a nutritionist to understand the book, the author's writing does not leave you baffled with scientific spill but an understanding of ...well how basically, when you put all these diets next to each other how bizarre they really sound. 

To sum up these chapters, it is that there is no such thing as one true way to eat for health.

In the last chapter of the book Matt explains his own way of Agnostic healthy eating. By no means is this the author hitting on us with another diet cult but putting all foods into a diet quality hierarchy. Ten categories of foods to eat in order of quality, sticking mainly to the foods at the top of the list but not ruling out anything. The order is as you would expect: vegetables,fruits,nuts&seeds,high quality meat and seafood,whole grains,dairy,refined grains,low quality meat and seafood,sweets,fried foods. The lower you go down the list the less you eat of, in other words, a healthy balanced diet. 

It sounds simple, but with all these diet cults existing, it's getting harder to see the wood for the trees.

Monday, 12 May 2014

Marathon training - Week 2

Already I'm two weeks into marathon training and feeling good, the miles have been kind this early into the schedule with the long run on Sunday only upto 7 miles. This has eased me nicely back into regular running after my Achilles problems.

I've not really been thinking about the big picture and getting myself back upto 26.2 miles and with the miles being low I've gone for speed and getting my fitness back. I've only run one of my runs so far slower than marathon pace, but I'm not too worried as I will definitely be slowing down as the miles increase.

Following on from last weeks 5K PB, I again run my local Parkrun this Saturday and managed to PB again, but my God did that hurt! I swear the pain is comparible whether going full out for 3 miles or running a steady 26.2 miles. The first mile was even run at 6:47 min/mile pace and I've never recorded a mile that quick before. Maybe it's down to my new streamline haircut, I've gone super short which means no more sweaty clogged up hair when I'm training through the Summer. Who am I kidding, knowing the great British weather I'll be running in more rain than sun, but at least my heads also waterproof :-)

Sunday, 4 May 2014

I'm a Marathoner

So after spending the last few weeks wondering what type of runner I am and getting over an Achilles strain (see last post) it turns out 'I'm a Marathoner!' and a 5Ker,10Ker, half marathon runner. Yep I'm all of these, because they are the distances I'll be covering as I train for my fourth marathon: The Robin Hood marathon, Nottingham.

I needed a goal and since signing up with running partner Brian, I've got my running mojo well and truly back. I'm buzzing and now every run I do has focus.

The marathon is 22 weeks away, which gives me plenty of time to train properly, unlike the 7 weeks training I did for my last marathon! Most marathon training schedules are based around 16 or 20 weeks, I've found an intermediate 20 week training schedule on the internet that I'm going to be following this time round which eases me nicely back into training again.

The goal time I've set myself for this race is 3:45, my PB currently stands at 3:58 but I'm confident with the right training I can achieve that.

That makes my marathon pace 8:45 min/miles which I will be basing my training around. It's good to know this as long training runs should normally be run 30 seconds to a minute slower than race pace, so I'll probably be looking at around 9:20 min/miles to do these.

This weeks gone well and getting myself used to running 5 days a week again. The mileage has been low, but the frequency and intensity has been good. I even bagged myself a new 5K PB at the new local Parkrun on Saturday! 

Brian and me, marathon training (I'm the one on the left!)
The other runs of this week have been 3 x 4 miles and a 6 miler. The 4 mile runs have been done at lunchtime at work with Brian. Brian is generally quicker than me (that pains me to write that!) so running with Brian tends to make these runs quicker than intended. They've all been sub 8 min/mile pace, but I've felt fine and it's been good speed work. The trouble is not every workout should be speed work and even my 3 miles on Saturday, where I ran my PB was 7:18 min/mile pace (God that hurt!). At least the 6 miler was on target as a slower than marathon pace run. So that's week one completed, fingers crossed I can stay injury free and healthy for the next few months to achieve my goal.