August 2019 Newsletter

Welcome to the August 2019 edition of the Upper Valley Running Club newsletter! Keep your submissions coming — email newsletter@uppervalleyrunningclub.org and check out our submission guidelines here.

Happy running!

Table of Contents

  1. Letter from a Board Member by Joffrey Peters
  2. #UVRC
  3. Volunteer for UVRC by Betsy and Mike Gonnerman
  4. Annual Picnic – Thursday Aug 8 by Amanda Kievet
  5. Thank You, Mary Peters! by Erin Wetherell
  6. What I saw on my walk (not run) in Iceland by Dorcas DenHartog
  7. What is VO2 And How Can Understanding It Help My Training? – part 2 by Tim Smith
  8. Ellie’s Thoughts on Running
  9. Runner Profile: Tom Moore by Mary Peters
  10. Ask the Coaches

Letter From a Board Member

by Joffrey Peters

The Upper Valley is a wonderful place to be a runner. With a great community of runners, there are opportunities to find workout partners, inspiration, and friends. The huge network of local trails provide ample opportunity for some interesting terrain, and for some of my favorite kinds of adventures.

Let’s be clear what I’m talking about here. I define adventure as not knowing what you’re doing. If you’re totally dialed in, it’s routine. But add a little bit of the unknown and you can have an adventure.

Sometimes, the typical weekly grind isn’t enough to scratch the itch. To satisfy the need for something out of the ordinary, I reach for adventure runs. Thus, on a recent rainy Monday, I packed an extra bag to bring to work, and outlined a vague plan to run home.

The plan was to run to my home near Mascoma Lake by hopping on the Appalachian Trail near work, taking that to the summit of Moose Mountain, then taking the Moose Mountain Ridge Trail down to Mascoma Lake. That Ridge Trail follows a topographically distinctive ridge south from Moose Mountain to Route 4, just above the town of Enfield. It is a clear, aesthetic line, and would take me to the rail trail a few miles from my house. However, I’d never been on the trail, nor any of its connector trails. The total mileage was difficult to estimate without good maps. I decided to think of these less as problems, and more as opportunities for adventure!

I left work a little later than I’d hoped, so that by the time I was treading new trails, it was already dusk. The trail was well-blazed with blue paint on trees, but was so infrequently trodden that it was not easy to follow in the diminishing light, and I lost the trail several times, though only briefly. I held off pulling out my light, knowing the reflection from the fog would blind me with the headlamp on my head.

Finally, after some bumbling at intersections between unfamiliar trails, I made it to the rocky meadows on the southern portion of Moose Mountain Ridge Trail. The clearings were dotted with low bush blueberry plants, and plenty of ripe blueberries. In spite of the rain and dark, I bent down to pick some delicious berries. Bonus calories!

The ridge was not always easy to follow in the dark, as my light cast shadows from overgrowth. Eventually, I picked my way along the ridge, stopping several times for blueberries. When I got back into the woods on a more clear single track, I sped back up, and was running. Before too long, I popped out in a clearing near Rt. 4, and wound my way through a cemetery to the Rail Trail, right near the center of Enfield. Back on familiar turf, I was home free.

The trip had taken longer than I anticipated, and I nearly exhausted both my snacks and water in what turned into a nearly 4-hour ordeal. As I plodded the final rail trail miles back home, I dug into my experiences running hard races. Even with dead-feeling legs I knew how to keep going, and that soon I would make it home to dry clothes, food, and water!

This may not sound like fun to everyone, and it needn’t. I live for this kind of (type-II) fun, and running has opened up this new class of long-distance, mid-week adventures for me. Yet, you don’t have to bushwhack through wet brambles in the dark to have a running adventure. Your two feet and legs can lead you to adventure, if you trust them and let yourself make a few unexpected turns.

#UVRC

Last month Rebecca encouraged us all to start taking back the #UVRC hashtag by posting your photos and tagging them on Instagram. Here’s the featured image for this month, but we need to do better to win it back from the videogamers and rugby players!

#uvrc by @hill_young

Check out Rebecca’s call to action here.

Volunteer for UVRC

by Betsy and Mike Gonnerman

We need volunteers to put on races, social events and programs, and we encourage all UVRC members to sign up. We have set up a volunteering page on our website: http://uppervalleyrunningclub.org/volunteer-opportunities/.

That page includes a link to a Google sheet where you can see the opportunities for volunteering, those who have volunteered, and how many points have been earned toward a reward at the end of the year. Please check it regularly, to make sure we have included your efforts on our list. You will also receive emails on a regular basis, asking for volunteers, with links to Google docs for you to sign up.

UPCOMING VOLUNTEER OPPORTUNITIES:

  • August 8 – UVRC summer picnic at Storrs Pond
  • August 17 – Under the Tree 5k – Hartland

Respond to the volunteer coordinators from the email list if you can help out!

Annual Picnic – Thursday Aug 8

by Amanda Kievet

The 4th Annual UVRC Picnic is coming right up. Here are the details:

What: 5k run/race (organized by Tim Smith) followed by grilling and beach-front fun times
When: Thursday August 8th. Run starts at 5:30pm picnic after (~6:00pm)
Where: Storrs Pond at the Byrne Pavilion (GPS address: 59 Oak Hill Dr. in Hanover)

Please bring a side dish (e.g. chips, salad, pasta salad, fruit), dessert, or drink (alcoholic beverages are fine as long as you are over 21).

Please fill out this quick form to RSVP:

Thank You, Mary Peters!

by Erin Wetherell

As someone who has never exactly excelled at running, I have found encouragement, friendship and community with the C25k group. It is in that spirit that I would like to give a big, Coucher thank you to Mary Peters for all her efforts leading the group over the past five seasons and making us all feel welcome– regardless of our speed, ability, or any other reasons our brains think of to try and convince us we’re not “runners.” When I attended the orientation session to learn about C25k in the spring of 2018, I immediately was reassured by her calm, gentle and easy-going approach. From her creative questions posed at the beginning of each run (a personal favorite of mine was “Share two foods that don’t normally go together but you enjoy”) to her consistent communication and wrangling of an ever-growing group with a wide range of abilities, I am grateful for her leadership and encouragement. C25k has been such a positive presence in my life every since I started, and I am grateful to Mary and all the coaches for their efforts in making this such a successful program. Bon Voyage, Mary! Bozeman is certainly lucky to have you and Travis.

What I saw on my walk (not run) in Iceland

by Dorcas DenHartog

Glaciers, waterfalls, the splitting of the North American and Eurasian plates, and good reminders about travel at any speed. #GuidetoIceland

What is VO2 And How Can Understanding It Help My Training? – part 2

by Tim Smith

Last month I introduced a whole lot of stuff about VO2, but I really didn’t get to the second part of the title – “… Help My Training”. This months I’ll attempt to get to that helpful bit.

First off, a disclaimer. The material of this article is essentially drawn from the book “Daniels’ Running Formula”, by Jack Daniels. So you can always turn to the original source for deeper info.

A recap of last month

  • VO2 is a measure of how many calories your body is burning, which means how much energy you have for running.
  • VO2max is essentially your power rating, like the horsepower of an engine or the wattage of a light.
  • VO2max effective combines you power and you running efficiency. I like to think of this number as a score or rating which is then useful for performance prediction, or guidance to training.
  • We can estimate VO2max effective (shortened to VO2) based on race performances.

We are always told information is power, but that is only true if we have a way of using it.

Types of Training

First, Jack Daniels breaks training down into five pace VO2 categories.

%eff heart work/recovery duration % of week
Repetition 105-120 100 1:2-3 < 2 min. 5%
Interval 95-100 97.5-100 1:1 < 5 min. 8%
Threshold 83-88 88-92 5:1 20 min. or
5-20 with rec.
10%
Marathon 75-84 80-89 40-110 min. 15-20%
Easy 59-74 65-79 30-150 min. 25-30%

One of the first things which struck me when I first looked at this table is that the “percentage of weekly mileage”, the right column, doesn’t add up to 100%. That is because this is a table of workouts (each row describes a workout), and not a training plan for a whole week. For instance, if you did five workouts, one from each category the percentages could add up to: 8+10+20+30 = 73%. You could then add a sixth run of 27% of you weekly mileage to complete your week.

These are the elements of training. A full training plan is weaving these together into a cohesive whole.

The rest of Jack Daniels’ book is about putting these piece together, which means identifying what race distance are you training, and at what point in your training cycle are you at. I’ll talk a bit more about that later, but first let me break down these five types of training.

Repetition

The reason for doing a repetition workout is to develop anaerobic power and to develop good form/economy. This is not sprinting (which is all anaerobic), but this is running as hard as a distance runner can run comfortably. At those speeds you are using energy faster then you can provide oxygen for, so you will necessarily be a bit anaerobic.

How does this help your race? Why should a marathoner ever think about a repetition workout?

If a race is just about a constant effort beginning to end, this would not be so important. But if you are actually compete against the people around you; changing up your pace, surging and passing, kicking at the finish, power up a hill, they your are borrowing oxygen and momentarily running anaerobic.

There is also some evidence that this sort of workout helps heart stroke volume.

If you run anaerobic, you need longer recovery times. You will notice in the above table that the “work/recover” ratio is very high for these workouts. You should go into each part refreshed and you should not be running to utter exhaustion. Which also means it is a great time to work on your form. Are your feet slapping lazily? Are your arms flailing? While running inspect yourself, think about where your hands are, are they clenched, are you smooth?

Interval

Jack Daniels mentions that “interval” is a term widely used in running to mean a whole bunch of things, including be synonymous with repeat of repetition. In his nomenclature (and the one I will use) it refers to an VO2effort level and the related pace.

The reason to do intervals is to increase your VO2max, to stress your limit, but not strain your limit. When you start running after a rest period it can take a 1-2 minutes to get up to your VO2max, but then you would like to stay at that stress level only for a few minutes. And then you would like to repeat the sequence.

The key to intervals is cutting down on the recovery time so you are not starting from rest. That way on he second repetition it may only take a minute to get to that stress level, and you are actually spending more time at VO2max.

In an interval workout you are producing blood lactate, the by products of that stress, faster they you can eliminate them. Eventually they catch up with you and you have to stop.

I always find it interesting that the second interval of a series is the fastest for me. But it is a moment where the starting process: the opening of the lungs, the limbering of the legs, the raising of the blood flow; but the strains of the workout have not accumulated.

Threshold

Again here is a nomenclature problem; do you do a threshold workout or a threshold pace? In Jack Daniels threshold refers to the pace (and effort), whereas “tempo” is the type of workout which emphasis this pace. Threshold gets its name from the fact that you are running at the balance point between being able to eliminate blood lactate, and not quite keeping up. So if you are doing threshold training you are pushing, but just below that threshold/balance point. It is a hard but comfortable e that you feel like you can do for a few miles. You could race at a threshold pace for almost an hour.

When Roy Benson spoke to our club last summer he described an Easy Pace as one where you could speak like a Faulkner novel. Using that scale of literature; Repetitions are silent, Interval are trolls (from Harry Potter – “anyone can speak troll. All you do is point and grunt” – Fred), and Threshold are e.e.cummings, short phrases only.

The benefit of a Threshold run / Tempo workout is that it helps you develop the ability to deal with blood lactates. More generally, it builds your endurance. It is also good for developing the mental concentration needed in a long race.

Typically tempo runs last about 20-30 minutes and it is temping to push them longer. But save that for the race.

Marathon Pace & Easy Pace

It is easy to lump these two paces together, but Jack Daniels specifically curtails the amount of time/distance you should run the faster pace. On the other hand he also recognizes that sometimes you feel great, the wind is at you heels and it feels like everything is a slight downhill grade and you feel like flying. Don’t hold back, enjoy those miles!

Of all the categories of paces, the dominate should be Easy and then Marathon.

So what is the purpose of all those so-called “junk miles” at these slower paces? This is where you build muscle and lungs without stress. It is also where you repair all the damage you did by stressing your body with those fasters paces.

It is also my opinion that running a few miles at Marathon Pace, on those perfect days, on those perfect back roads, is about as much fun as a runner can hope to have!

Combinations and Caveats

In some sense the rest of planning a training regiment is just figuring out how many workouts at what pace. If you read Jack Daniels he divides a season into four parts. In the first part he emphasizes base work (Easy & Marathon pace), in the second part speed (Repetition). In the third part strength (Interval) and then in the last section light speed (Repetition) – but not too much – you have big race coming up. All of these augmented with Threshold, and easier, recovery runs. In fact can dial in you goal race and time frame and Daniels has a list of workout – up to ten or more each week.

To me, and I think Dorcas too, this is one of our biggest challenges. Daniels is coaching predominately collegiate and elite runners. They have time to do double sessions and lots of miles, and they are young with a shorter recovery (between workouts) time. Our task is to scale Daniels workouts to the athletes of UVRC.

Reading Your Pace Distribution

I expect that there are many methods creating this plot, but I will tell you mine. I have created a website which can read in your running data from Strava and plot it in many ways. My favorite way, and the one which tells me the most at a glance is shown below.

(You too can use my website if you have Strava data. Just go too: www.trailNotes.org/RunTestArea).

The histogram shows how much time I spend at different paces. The brown histogram is the distribution for a weeks worth of running. The blue line is the average of the previous 4 weeks. The upper part is the pace distribution (to the left, a lower pace is a faster speed). The lower part is VO2effort. To the right is high effort and so high speed.

In the left-hand panel is a week from early July. You might notice that the repetition pace is as prominent as the interval pace. This is because we were in “Phase II”, which emphasizes speed. It also looks like I am spending too much time in the “marathon” pace zone. I personally think this is because my VO2 score was set by a mediocre race a few months earlier, which may not best describe my condition now.

The right hand panel is pulled from last fall. It appears as if the pervious week (blue) I ran faster, but not as much. In fact in the blue curve are two long races, whereas the current week (brown) had some good miles (marathon pace) but no races or even TNT workouts.

At first it takes some time to think about what these plots really say. But now I look at these plots at the end of every week and I can immediately say; my mileage is (up or down), my pace is (too fast/slow), I missing too many tempo/interval workouts. It is a simple way of summing up hours of running at all types of paces in a single squiggly line.

Does it help?

Yes we could spend long winter nights sitting around discussing VO2, the virtues of so many miles at a given pace, or if one of the categories should have a slightly different range (and I am sure these can be heated ‘discussions’), but the real question is, does this help our training?

In the ‘old days’, before any of us knew anything about VO2 I ran long slow days, medium-long fast-ish days, hill days and intervals. In fact it looked about 80-90% the same, and I set my pace on a gut feeling. So how are things now different?

I find my training has changed in two ways; since I am aware of pace I am a lot more consistent about how I split my time between Interval/Repetition vs threshold vs Marthon/Easy. The other change is that when I am coming back from an injury, or an off season, I like to watch that pace distribution figure slowly drift down over a few months. It tells me things are moving in the right direction.

And also – just to prove what a running nerd I am – there are few things I would rather do then combine running and numbers.

Ellie’s Thoughts on Running

by Ellie

I have been doing some low key ‘races’/fun/fundraising type of things. I recently did Ryan’s Run out of Dartmouth Skiway (5k) which ended up being a trip down memory lane/blast from the past. The course is a down up, a little more than a true 5k, including a short dogleg which took us out to a house I visited in my home health days and past the Moi(spelling?) house(think Easter Island). Too funny. Shoefly Trail Series is in full swing as well. Then came Gunstock Ascension Race.. Run up the hill, take the chairlift down, run up the hill, take the chair lift down. and again and again for 3 or 6 hours — you pick… Then Running with the Bears out of Clark’s Trading post. Bring your own bear and run 5k.. This year was much cooler and more pleasant than last year and we got to run the course backwards. And the Aussie beat the pants off the Border Collie. The Border Collie went on strike about a quarter mile into the course..sat down and wouldn’t budge…Ya never know what you’ll see out there.. Happy trails…

Runner Profile: Tom Moore

by Mary Peters

Name: Tom Moore

Town: Grantham, NH

Where are you from originally and what brought you to this area? We raised our kids in Keene, NH.

What do you do professionally? Not much of what I do is professional. That being said I am the president of two relatively small, environmentally conscious recycled paper manufacturers. A little bit like Dunder Mifflin.

How long have you been running? Since 1981, when I joined the “Lady Diana Track Club.”

How long have you been running competitively? Since Fall of 1982, when a ran the intramural Great Pie run.

Why do you run?
Three reasons.
1) To clear my mind and to release stress. Often the answer to a dilemma becomes apparent after a few miles.
2) For Social reasons. I like to hear people’s stories; people generally are more relaxed and open when they run. Also, I like seeing people at races.
3) Exploring and Nature. I love to explore new places, new trails. I love running in the woods. I’ve seen so many animals, plants and things.

If you like to race, favorite race distance? Why? I like 10ks because they’re long enough so you know you’ve accomplished something but not so long that you need to train a lot.

Cross training activities? Sleeping, resting and thinking about stretching or strength training that I should be doing.

Favorite post run treat? a cold beer.

Any notable streaks or other unusual running events? I had a streak of 10 years straight of running the Manchester (CT) road race during the late 80s, early 90s one during a major snowstorm when they had a team of plows plowing just ahead of the lead runners.

What made you start running? I was getting chubby.

Who is your running “idol”? Jim Burnett.

Why did you join UVRC? It’s a great club. I really appreciate the social aspect of the club. And the UVRC Clothing.

Favorite running shoe? I like TOPOs. They have a good selection of road and trail shoes.

Ever been injured? Yes, I’ve had plenty of running injuries. As you age, remaining free of injury is a measurement of success. For me, it’s my goal. Stay injury free! How did it happen

Hot or cold weather runner? Cold. Nothing beats a cold, crisp winter morning (as long as you have the right clothing).

Morning or evening runner? either morning or noontime.

What is your motivation? Pam. I like running with her and fortunately she’s dedicated.

What is your favorite race? Any NH Grand prix race especially when riding the team van – it’s an experience not to be missed! Also, I love the Western NH Trail series.

What does your daily workout consist of? Normally, I do a « what do I feel like doing » check and I run that. If I’m running with someone else, usually, I’ll do whatever they’re doing (as long as I think I can keep up or go the distance). But, I also enjoy the Tuesday night track workouts.

How about favorite work out? It’s called « intensive rest » You need a tv remote, a bag of potato chips, a comfortable couch, and a beer. It’s pretty freeform once you’ve arranged that.

If you could run with anyone, who would be the person? Rob Edson because he has a great philosophy on running and life in general.

Ask the Coaches

Got a question for the coaches? Send it to newsletter@uppervalleyrunningclub.org and we’ll send it on!

Paul Gardent:
Question on Fat Adapted Diet (high fat/low carb) for runners: There is a lot of talk about the Fat Adapted Diet (ketogenic diet) as beneficial for runners especially long distance runners. Fat adapted diet advocates recommend a high fat/low carbohydrate diet as a way to increase fat burning and improve running performance. While there are proponents of this diet for runners there seems to be just as many experts who recommend against a high fat/low carb diet. What do our coaches recommend and are any of them personally on a high fat/low carb diet?

Carly Wynn:

I’m so glad this question was asked! I’ve been a fan of high fat/low-carb diets for a long time, and last year I decided to try keto. You can find the blog post I wrote about it here: https://carlyoutside.com/2018/08/20/ketosis-for-nordies-and-other-endurance-athletes/

Quick breakdown of what the keto diet is for anyone not familiar: in basic terms, the body breaks more complicated sugar (glycogen) into less complicated sugar (glucose) to use as fuel. Glycogen comes from carbohydrates. In the absence of carbohydrates, the body will break down fatty acids into ketones to burn in a similar manner. The keto diet demands that about 70% or more of your daily calories come from fat, and that fewer than 50 grams of carbohydrate is consumed per day. That’s fewer than 200 calories a day from carbohydrate.

The next thing to know is that high fat/low carb does not necessarily mean keto. It’s totally possible to shift your macronutrients to favor fat without entering ketosis, and I strongly suspect many people who think they are in ketosis are not. I’ve observed a handful of folks claiming to be on the ketogenic diet, but having done it myself, I can tell you for sure they were eating way too many carbohydrates to actually be in ketosis. 50 grams is a tiny amount, and foods like veggies and dairy contain way more carbs than you might think.

It’s worth noting that burning ketones and burning glucose are not mutually exclusive. Eating a diet higher in fat and lower in carbohydrate necessitates that the body break down fatty acids into ketones to use as fuel more often (if your blood and liver are not totally saturated with sugar all the time, you need your fat for energy.) In this way, you can train your body to become more efficient at burning fat for fuel by eating more fat and less carb in your regular diet. Well worth it, in my opinion. My body is leaner on a higher fat diet than I was on a higher carb diet, my energy levels (and mood) are more stable, and I need fewer sugary snacks to get through long workouts and races. Good stuff.

Additionally, in a balanced diet, periods of intermittent fasting will increase the burning of ketones, which is extremely healthy, with especially beneficial effects for the brain.How can you achieve this? Be mindful of carbohydrates, and leave yourself at least a 12-hour window in which you won’t be eating at all. This should be fairly achievable for most people. A 7 p.m. dinner and a 7 a.m. breakfast is all it takes.

The keto diet is hyped for its weight loss potential and the state of super stable energy it produces. Most studies have proven that the weight loss comes from the strict dietary monitoring required to enter ketosis in the first place, not from the actual state of ketosis. The stable energy is something else entirely. I go into depth in my blog post, so I won’t go too far here, but basically, the body has a nearly infinite supply of fat compared to glycogen, and as long as you have non- essential body fat on your body and you are burning ketones for fuel, you can go and go and go without bonking. That’s been confirmed in studies, and that was my experience as well.

Despite the fact that while in Ketosis I enjoyed a gruelingly hilly 7 hour run without having to eat hardly anything, I found it particularly challenging to train at any pace above easy distance pace. Metabolically speaking, the trouble is that burning ketones takes longer than burning glucose. When trying to tap into some intermediate and fast twitch muscle fiber, and certainly anything anaerobic, burning ketones quite simply couldn’t keep up. My muscles instantly flooded with that feeling of maximal exertion.

Recently I listen to a podcast that cited a study which produced similar results in endurance athletes. If you want to check that out, you can find that on the Outside Magazine podcast, the episode titled The Keto Conundrum which aired on April 30th of this year. Spoiler: they found that the most positive impact for the athletes was that keto was so hard and so unpleasant that the athletes became mentally tougher afterward.

So, my summary:
High fat/low carb doesn’t necessarily mean ketogenic. Likewise, it is possible, and very healthy, to burn some ketones alongside glucose. Diets incorporating higher fat and lower carb may work well for some athletes. That diet helps me stay lean and enjoy stable energy levels.
The ketogenic diet is probably more trouble than it’s worth. Studies have shown that true ketosis has no positive metabolic impact for endurance athletes, and that the weight-loss potential is entirely because of the strict dietary monitoring required to follow the diet.
One last point: if you do want to try the ketogenic diet, do your research. Be prepared for the dreaded brain fog, and use urine strips to make sure you’re staying away from ketoacidosis. If you don’t know what any of that means, you’re not ready to try ketosis. There are real health and safety considerations involved in this somewhat extreme diet, so know your stuff, talk to your doc, and monitor yourself carefully. For me, Keto was a fun challenge, but not a worthwhile or even beneficial change to my diet.

Carly Wynn is a personal coach at www.CarlyOutside.com, and can be reached at Carly@CarlyOutside.com.

Jim Burnett

Paul’s question about high fat/low carb diets for runners stirs the pot about a number of interesting running related topics. “Fat adapted diet advocates recommend a high fat/low carbohydrate diet as a way to increase fat burning and improve running performance,” he goes on to suggest. We can all agree that a ketogenic diet, if you follow it’s strict guidelines, will increase fat burning and induce weight loss and, further, we can agree that burning fat is a good thing, no doubt. I also agree that it improves the running performance of “endurance athletes.” More specifically, it improves running efficiency and, in so doing, can improve your marathon, and any 2-hour+ endurance race, performance, i.e. you can run longer at a steady state while burning fuel, mostly fat, more efficiently. In other words, instead of throwing gas (carbs) on the fire, burning fat is like throwing a slow burning log on the fire.

A ketogenic diet as a good short-term way to get “lean and mean.” This effect can also improve your performance. Basic laws of physics tell us that it’s easier move an object if it weighs less, right? If your goal is to run at or close to your ideal running weight, a ketogenic diet is a very effective means for getting you there. In this way, a ketogenic diet can be a “special arrow” in your quiver as you prepare for an “A” race, eg. your first marathon, qualify for the Boston Marathon, running an ultra or running your C25K target race. But, these are short-term endeavors. What about the ketogenic diet as a long-term, life style change?

Most runners are used to fueling with carbs. Living for an extended period on 50 grams of carbs a day (2 small bananas), which the ketogenic diet requires, is tough – some would say impossible. But, changing your life style is doable and sustainable, if you really want to do it and you highly value the result of your will power, patience and determination. You need to ask yourself, “Is it worth it?” The human body is amazingly adaptive. If you fall off the wagon, don’t blame it on bad genes or having the wrong body type. It’s all on you. If you want it badly enough, if it is that important to you, you can do. No excuses!

On the other hand, you don’t have be on a strict ketogenic diet to loose weight and improve your fitness. Burn more calories than you consume and the needle on the scale drops. With improved fitness your body becomes more efficient, you carry less weight, your metabolism slows and, as long you do 80% or more of your running at an easy or moderate pace (below your ventricular threshold = can still converse with your running buddy), you will burn mostly fat throughout the day and lose weight.

I confess that I have tried a lot of diets. It’s fun to try different foods. I have applied a ketogenic diet with intermittent fasting to good effect, for example. But, my body is predisposed to producing bad cholesterol so a strict vegan diet works best for me. Following a whole food plant-based diet I can keep my cholesterol numbers in check and avoid taking a statin to do it for me. I eat a lot of complex carbs, like sweet potatoes, that take longer to digest and burn more slowly and avoid simple carbs and sugars. For my money, the real villain out there is refined sugar. Talk about throwing lighter fluid onto the fire, geez. It takes will power, patience and determination to resist the advertisements for fast food and sweets, but, for me, it’s worth it long term. When you really stop and think about it, it’s not so much about what you do or eat, it’s about what you don’t do or don’t eat. I think it’s easier to not do stuff than it is to do stuff, don’t you?

A couple of years ago I wrote an article for the UVRC Newsletter entitled, “Look Like a Runner, Feel Like a Runner, Run Like a Runner” and this is still my credo. I chose Steve Cram as my model for the ideal runner’s body and running form. I included a photo of Steve, at the height of his Olympic greatness, rounding the turn on the track. I will never be as young, fast and svelte as Steve, but I can continually improve my running on all counts. I can be leaner, I can run tall and relaxed, I can feel good on the run and, most importantly, I can feel like a runner. That’s enough for me, it’s all I need and it’s well worth the effort.

Jim Burnett is the president of the Upper Valley Running Club.

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