Tuesday, September 20, 2011


I’ve become fairly interested in the nutritional qualities of Chia seeds lately after re-reading the Christopher McDougall book Born to Run. Chia seeds are an integral part of the Tarahumara diet. The Tarahumara, as you may recall, are a Native American tribe from the Copper Canyon area in Mexico who are renowned for their ability to run long distances.

Chia seeds have a justly deserved reputation as nutritional powerhouses. In pre-Columbian times they were a main component of the Aztec and Mayan diets and were the basic survival ration of Aztec warriors. The Aztecs also used chia medicinally to stimulate saliva flow and to relieve joint pain and sore skin. In a one ounce (28 g) sample, dried chia seeds contain 9% of the Daily Value for protein (4g), 13% fat (9g), a considerable amount of Omega 3 fatty acids, and 42% dietary fiber (11g), based on a daily intake of 2000 calories. The seeds also contain the essential minerals phosphorus, manganese, calcium, potassium and sodium in amounts comparable to other edible seeds, such as flax or sesame.

This morning I tried a recipe for pinole, that I found at the No Meat Athlete Blog. I combined Chia seeds with masa harina, honey, cinnamon and water and then baked the resulting dough into a soft cake. The taste was pretty neutral, but not unpleasant, and I’m already thinking of ways to add flavor and nutrients to make my own energy bars that aren’t full of synthetic ingredients.

As for the purported effects of chia seeds on running stamina…..I’ll let you know tomorrow.

Monday, September 19, 2011

First Training Week

I started training for the ½ marathon last week and did my first long(ish) run of 7 miles. No serious issues presented themselves. I upped my carb intake to account for the increased exertion and have had no problem with my energy levels. Oddly enough I seem to have misplaced my Sauconys. I thought I left them at the gym but they didn’t have them in the lost and found, so I’ve been doing all my outside running in my Nike Frees, which has left my legs a little sore. I’ve been trying to transition to a forefoot strike after reading Born to Run a second time, but I don’t think I’m ready to do the whole minimalist shoe thing for all of my training. I might go pick up a pair of cheap Nikes later on this week and alternate between them and the Frees. Research has shown that the cheaper your running sneakers are, the less likely you are to get injured so my days of shelling out for $100 trainers are long gone. I also have a pair of Vibram 5 Fingers, but I haven’t mustered up the courage to run in them yet.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

The Philadelphia 1/2 Marathon 2011

This morning I was wasting time scurrying here and there on the interwebs and somewhat randomly found myself on the site of the Philadelphia Marathon. After a moment or two, I decided to sign up for the ½ marathon, which is run on the same day and tracks the marathon course for the first 13.1 miles. I’m not sure why I signed up. I have nothing to prove and I’ve spent the last year and a half trying to distance myself from goal-oriented running. Yet, here I am. I am kind of interested in the effect of my Primal diet on my performance over a longer distance, and whether I can handle a ½ marathon distance in minimal running shoes so it should be an interesting couple of months. Maybe this is also something I need to give my running a little more focus. At the very least it will be a pleasant run through Philadelphia on a Sunday morning. Here we go!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011


Time flies when you're busy. Last summer my son Ben was born and I've had very little time to dedicate to blogging-3 boys keeps you busy, let me tell you. Over the past year I've been doing mostly maintenance running at around 30 miles a week, but I've radically changed my diet to high fat/low carb with a resulting loss of around 15 pounds. This has made me much lighter on my feet but I am constantly tweaking my micronutrient ratios to ensure that I'm getting enough carbs. This is a fairly delicate balancing act and I'm still working on it. My weight loss has stalled at 175 but my body composition is incrementally changing. I'm going to redouble my efforts in the hope of getting down to a much leaner 165 by the end of the year. I have also been doing push-ups, pull-ups and squats to develop more muscle.

The impetus for all these changes was two books I read about six months ago that totally changed the way I look at nutrition and exercise. The first is Gary Taubes, Why We Get Fat and What to Do About It. Taubes essentially debunks the idea that weight control is a matter of burning more calories than one consumes, and offers an alternative viewpoint: carbs are the principal driver of fat storage and weight gain. He presents compelling evidence that limiting carbohydrates in the diet is a healthier way of eating and regulating weight.

Taubes led me, perhaps inexorably, to the Primal/Paleo movement and their emphasis on adopting a diet that eschews processed food, grains and sugar, in favor of a diet rich in lean grass-fed meats, healthy fats and vegetables. Mark Sisson is one of the so-called "gurus" of the paleo movement and his book The Primal Blueprint really changed the way I look at the concept of fitness.

I recommend both books, although I have to disagree with Taubes and Sisson's view of how exercise fits into a healthy lifestyle. More on that later.

Monday, June 14, 2010

A Mixed Bag

Last week was a mixed bag, what with my travels through the hot and humid south and suffering a more general fatigue from too much time spent on airplanes and hotel treadmills. Southern comfort food will also put the brakes on the best intentions. Nevertheless, what can one do but, as the Brits might say, “muddle through and do one’s bit”.

I dredged up some new-found energy at the gym today, increasing the incline on the treadmill and ripping off 60 pushups with little effort. I’ve been feeling like going back to the weights, but I’m leery about stressing the shoulder and finding myself out of action just as scuba season gets underway. The arms are useful when lifting tanks, weights and gear and not being able to reach behind one’s head when underwater has safety implications. I’ll try to take it slow. The Shelter Island 10k is coming up on Saturday.

M-5 TM
Tue-4(outside) 1 TM
Wed: 5 TM
Thu: 5 TM
Fri: 5 TM
Sat: 6 outside
Sun: 5 outside
Total: 36

Friday, June 11, 2010

Walking (or rather, Running), In Memphis

Here’s some advice. If you are going to go running in 100 degree heat for the first time of the season, it’s best not to do it in a city in a different time zone ,after five hours of sleep and while digesting a lunch of barbeque pork ribs consumed around an hour before. Oh, and going for that run at 3:00 in the afternoon when the humidity is about 97% is also a bad idea. Other than that episode of narrowly averted heatstroke, I found Memphis to be a charming southern city full of friendly people and decent food. The place was lived-in, no doubt, but there was plenty to look at while running through the streets and along the Mississippi River. Once I discovered that running before the sun comes up is the preferred time of day to exercise in the sweet sunny South, I actually enjoyed stomping around the streets and alleys.

Back to that initial run…..I was steaming along for about a mile before I realized I had bitten off a bit more than I could chew. I planned my post-landing jaunt as a five mile out-and-back along the river promenade, which would bring me though a battery of sprinklers which, I hoped, would cool me down on the way back just as they had on the way out. I had a bottle of water with me whose temperature changed from that of iced tea to that of steamed espresso over the next two miles. Rather than drinking it, I ended up pouring most of it over my head in a futile attempt to cool down. Along the run I observed old fashioned riverboats plying the Mississippi, two other runners lurching by in the opposite direction who looked like escapees from a mental asylum, and an amorous couple having sweaty sex along the “multi-use” path behind the retaining wall of a large apartment building.

As I hit the turn-around point I stopped to gather some energy for the way back. Big mistake. What little breeze I was generating by moving forward died away and I was left standing in a pool of my own (diminishing) sweat, roasting under the hot Tennessee sun. I started to feel dizzy, then nauseous, which I recognized as the classic symptoms of heat exhaustion. My choices at that moment were fairly limited. I was in a field, with no shade about three miles from my hotel. I had no money and had no idea how to get back other than by the way I came. I decided that I would take off my shirt, dump the rest of my water over my head and make a bee-line for the sprinklers about 1.5 miles back. With the shirt off and a bit of a headwind, I made it without dropping dead, but when I got there, the sprinklers had been turned off. I tossed in the towel and walked the rest of the way. It took about 15 minutes for my heart rate to come down to normal, despite the frigid AC and cold towels I scarfed from the hotel gym. Lesson learned.

Monday, June 7, 2010

The Week in Review

A pretty good week of running came to an end with a brisk 6 mile jaunt yesterday. The weather was hot, hot, hot this past week, so my outside runs were nice and sweaty. I was dragging a little this week; don’t know if it was the heat or the fact I’ve been sleeping poorly. The last two days I’ve noticed a marked increase in energy levels-this may be due to the abundance of beer I drank on Friday night. I made it to the beach twice this week-end and got in a fair amount of swimming yesterday as I scoured the bottom for sea creatures to bring back to my kids waiting on the beach. I think I'll go diving next Sunday and see if I can find some real treasure.

Tomorrow morning I head out to Memphis to mediate a case. I passed through there way back in 1989 and recall stopping briefly at Graceland to visit the Elvis shrine. Hopefully I’ll have some time to wander around Beal Street and eat some barbeque, and get in a good run or two. I imagine it’s already fairly hot in Tennessee this time of year.

Last Week:
Monday: 7 in the woods
Tuesday: 5 TM
Wed: 5 TM
Thursday: 5TM
Friday: 5 Road
Saturday: 5 Road
Sunday: 6 Road
Total: 38