[\ˌper-ə-pə-ˈte-tik\]: wandering from place to place
(Photo Credit: Photographer: David Prince (at Outside Magazine); food styling by Megan Schlow)
After several months of anticipation, Scott Jurek’s book Eat & Run: My Unlikely Journey to Ultramarathon Greatness finally hit the shelves. I picked up a copy at B&N today and am already a few chapters in and enjoying every minute of it. I’ll probably post a review of the book in the near future, seeing as to how it should only take a day, or so, to read. But I thought that I would briefly highlight one of the wonderful inclusions in the book: recipes!
For those that do not know (meaning: “anyone who has not read Born to Run”), Jurek is kind of a legend in ultramarathon circles. Among numerous other triumphs, Jurek’s running career boasts 7 consecutive wins at the Western States 100, three consecutive victories at the Spartathalon (153 miles between Sparta and Athens), and a record time at the Badwater Ultramarathon (135 miles). To top off his incredibleness, Jurek has achieved these impressive feats on a purely plant-based diet. So when I found out that he was not only publishing a book on his life story, but also providing a good deal of recipes therein, I knew right away that I was going to be purchasing the book.
Tonight we decided to go ahead and try his recipe for Lentil-Mushroom Burgers. The recipe can be found via the recipe section on his blog, a recent article in Runner’s World, and another in Outside Magazine.
Overall, I have to say that this is a really incredible recipe. I’ve been making vegan burger patties for a while and have used quite a number of recipes as my base for inspiration. Often I make quite a few changes to any recipe that I am using, but this time I stuck to every detail. Well, if I am being honest, I did make one slight change. Instead of using dijon mustard I went ahead and used Sierra Nevada’s (incredible!) Pale Ale & Honey Spice Mustard. But such a minor change shouldn’t affect my impression of the recipe overall.
The patties were slightly difficult to cook. In some vegetarian burger recipes, one uses an egg to bind the patties together. That option isn’t made available here (obviously, it is Vegan), and when it came time to flip the patties the lack of a binding agent was made abundantly clear. But other than this slight problem, the burgers came out wonderfully. We served them on some Ezekial 4:9 bread with more Sierra Nevada mustard, tomato, spinach, and red onion. Once you got the burger between two pieces of bread, it was a little easier to keep together.
In short, it is a recipe that I highly recommend. This is a good thing because it is designed to make 12 patties. I only ended up with 9, so 7 of those are sitting in the freezer waiting for a day when we need a very easy meal. Perhaps I will try to provide an update at a later date when I discover how well they cook after being frozen.
Anyway, go out and buy the book. Or at least check out the recipe at one of the sites above and give it a try. I promise that you won’t regret it.
I have found that I standardly have a pretty bad sense of when a shoe is reaching the end of its life. One day I am out on a pleasant run, and the very next day I start to feel as if all of the cushioning is gone. It’s as if someone, just to spite me, has removed a small section of foam in the shoe and replaced it with a small, jagged rock. This happened for the first time back in February, when a pair of Asics, with only 380 miles on them, decided to give up on me. The result was a continual pain in my right forefoot––a pain whose cause took me forever to locate. At first I thought that it was an overuse injury. I was increasing my mileage for my first marathon and, given the scores of hills in North County San Diego, a sore forefoot wouldn’t at all be surprising. Yet any adjustment I made in my route seemed to help very little. Two weeks later I changed my shoes and the pain was gone shortly thereafter.
"Every morning in Africa, a gazelle wakes up.
It knows it must run faster than the fastest lion or it will be killed.
Every morning in Africa, a lion wakes up.
It knows it must outrun the slowest gazelle or it will starve to death.
It doesn’t matter whether you are a lion or a gazelle…
When the sun comes up, you’d better be running."
It is not that I have a problem with the Tough Mudder, per se, but ever since hearing about this “race” I have had a major problem with the proclaimed philosophy. In some cases this irritation filters down to the Tough Mudders, themselves. I know (and have met) a good number of really great people that have participated in this event, and I have also read a good deal of blogs from like-minded individuals. Over the past year I have found that it really comes down to a flip of the coin regarding whether any given race participant will have a balanced perspective of the event or whether he or she will have surrendered to the dogmatism and accepted his or her neophyte role in the new religion.
On the one hand, the Tough Mudder is a pretty incredible event: a 10-12 mile course featuring 20-30 obstacles designed by a former member of the British Special Forces. As the course is focused more on teamwork and camaraderie, there is no official time kept––a fact that originally worried race sponsors. After all, who would show up to a “race” that one couldn’t technically win? Well, the answer came back quickly: tens of thousands. Now running websites are filled with images of individuals jumping over flames, climbing rope walls, swimming across rivers, and running through a field of live wires (some carrying 10,000 volts of electric shock).
The above almost makes it difficult to disparage the event. In my book, anything that gets people off of the couch and out of the house is already doing a great thing. It is even better when this entails 2 or more hours of physical exertion during the event, itself, and, ideally, a good deal of prior training in preparation for the course. So if you were to tell me that you are planning on participating, my honest reaction would be, “More power to you!”
Yet on the other hand, I click through to the Tough Mudder “About" page and find a series of just ridiculous assertions:
Fact #1 - Marathon Running is Boring
And the only thing more boring than doing a marathon is watching a marathon. Road-running may give you a healthy set of lungs, but will leave you with as much upper body strength as Keira Knightley. At Tough Mudder, we want to test your all-around mettle, not just your ability to run in a straight line, on your own, for hours on end, getting bored out of your mind. Our obstacle courses are designed by British Speical Forces to test you in every way and are meant only for truly exceptional all-around people, not for people who have enough time and money to train their knees to run 26 miles.
Now let’s just consider, briefly, that part about training one’s knees to run 26 miles. The Tough Mudder organizers are clearly hinting at the view that running is bad for one’s knees and, thus, demonstrating just how out of touch they are with current running research (as detailed here, here, and here). Granted, this is something you would expect race organizers would know when they, presumably, expect participants in the Tough Mudder to run in-between obstacles. But we’ll chalk this up to wide spread ignorance and say nothing more of it except that it is a popular running myth, usually used as an excuse by people who are comfortable on the couch.
The main problem with this philosophy is that it reveals that the event organizers just don’t understand running. In fact, I think that the whole notion that long distance running is boring is an utterly alien notion to most long distance runners. I, for one, quite enjoy and look forward to the 2.5 hours of solitude every Sunday. And surely I am not alone. For most runners this is a time in which one is able to be left alone to one’s thoughts, to deal with one’s troubles, to plan out one’s weeks, or to simply experience and take in one’s surroundings. In fact, I would wager that those who get bored on a long run are just boring individuals.
And boring for race onlookers? Run a marathon and witness the incredible people that show up to represent their neighborhood by cheering you on, and then talk to me about the boredom experienced when watching such an event. Tell me that the time when all 5 boroughs united to cheer on NYC participants was not one of the most significant moments in sport history. Was watching Patrick Makau cross the finish line in Berlin (2011) boring? I mean, there wasn’t a band playing and he wasn’t greeted with a beer, but he did break the world record––running 26.2 miles at a faster time than the overall times of an overwhelming majority of runners completing a 10–12 mile Tough Mudder.
As a runner, these types of comments make it difficult to take the Tough Mudder seriously. But perhaps that is what is entailed by “Fact #2”. Just as “Mudders do not take themselves too seriously”, so we runners shouldn’t take the Tough Mudder seriously. But it really makes one wonder about the marketing strategy of this company and just who they are targeting. After all, if you start by insulting runners, why would a real runner want to run your “race”?
(Photo Credit: Mr Muddy Suitman)
When two runners approach one another, the increase in their rate of pace is directly proportional to the decrease in distance between them. When the value reaches 0, the decrease in rate of pace is directly proportional to the squared value of the decrease in distance.
Today was my second to last speed session before I start focusing more on my weekly mileage (right now I’m at around 35-40 mi.). The total run ended up being 7.9 miles––1+ mile warm-up, 11 x 400 meter intervals @ 5:40 min/mi pace, and a 1+ mile run back home. When all was said and done and I was nearing that last stretch back to the house, I started thinking, “You know, this has to be the worst part of the run. My legs are completely shot, I’m dehydrated, and I truly feel like just walking back.” But I pushed through and kept my “relaxed” 8:20 pace all the way to the end.
It’s at times like these when I wonder whether it isn’t the cool down that is actually the most important part of the workout. That is the place, at least for me, where the true psychological battle happens; where I feel like cutting a corner, but force myself to stay the course. It is the place where it is easiest to sell myself short, to call a battle “won” when it is still being fought.
"What was the secret, they wanted to know; in a thousand different ways they wanted to know The Secret. And not one of them was prepared, truly prepared to believe that it had not so much to do with chemicals and zippy mental tricks as with that most unprofound and sometimes heart-rending process of removing, molecule by molecule, the very tough rubber that comprised the bottoms of his training shoes. The Trial of Miles, Miles of Trials. How could they be expected to understand that?"
When I first returned to running, I found that I really only had, at most, three different paces: “very slow”, “comfortably difficult”, and “very hard”. I seldom made use of my “slow” and “hard” paces, seeing as to how the former was an uncomfortably (or, even, unnaturally) slow speed and the latter was so fast as to be unmaintainable for distances greater than 400 meters. Put them together and they are ideal for a good interval workout, but they remained entirely unhelpful for a basic training regiment. So for all practicable purposes, my training speed was primarily limited to one moderately difficult pace––a pace at which I not only ran every workout, but also, as it happens, served as my first “race pace”.
I have found this experience to be quite common among both beginner and intermediate runners. Every day one heads out the door for, say, a 4 mile run and attempts to either tie or beat one’s previous time. For beginners, this tactic often has immediate results. One notices that one’s times actually do start getting faster and after a few months, a few minutes may have even been shaved off a 5k or 10k time. But what ends up happening is that one suddenly hits a training plateau and one just can’t seem to get any faster.