long distance running

Finding Ultra

This is a review of the book, Finding Ultra, Revised and Updated Edition: Rejecting Middle Age, Becoming One of the World’s Fittest Men, and Discovering Myself, by Rich Roll. Rich Roll describes himself on his website as a “Plantpowered Wellness Advocate, Bestselling Author, Ultra-Athlete”. Credibility, established.

The story is great, the narrative poor. Read the book to know how the guy transforms his life and competes in Ultraman Championships and Ironman Championships. And if you’re listening to the audiobook, listen to it at *2 speed.

I think every runner can relate to portions of the book, like the description of pain while training, the laziness that creeps in, poor training methodology (do you know what a Z2 zone of training is? Ha!), the gluttonous monster within us all (somewhat like the Blerch), etc.

Unlike other books in the genre of running (Eat and Run, The Perfect Mile, Born to Run), though, this book is not an essential book for people who enjoy the sport, or for people who are looking to improve by fixing some chink in their armour. For Roll, the suffering is all mental, the physical struggles are easily surpassed. Poof. Unlike most of us, Rich is able to run a 10 miler right off the bat, within months of feeling dizzy while climbing a flight of stairs; he is able to stick to a diet without any problems; he is also able to manage his personal life and professional life without too many gliches; and he has a support system that sounds like it’s pulled right off the “Ideal Boy”/”Ideal Family”charts. Good for him, but it made me feel alien.

Rich Roll’s story is peppered with way too many references to plant-based eating (which even Jurek mentions in his book, but not so obsessively). Plantpowered still sounds corny to me, despite the infinite number of times it’s mentioned int he book. Plantpowered, really! Also, this book is a little too preachy for my liking. From page 270 – when I thought the book was set on a tangent to describing more insane endurance sports – it became all self-help (a genre I dislike). There’s also a part where he lambasts the government (of USA) for its agricultural subsidy policy. If you were me, you’d stop right where he finishes five Ironman distances in less than seven days. Unfortunately, it doesn’t get better after that.

Overall, the book is a quick and decent read for anyone who is into endurance sports; and especially so if one is looking for inspiration to turn one’s life around. Bottomline: If a severely alcoholic and obese person can become an Ultraman and more, you can roll out of bed and do that 5k this Sunday.

It’s a 3/5 from me. If you have checked his podcast out, please feel free drop a message about it!

Why long distance running? A toast to insanity

running crazy

The absolutely crazy things that long distance running does to you-

You  lose yourself to the present, and forget the past.

The gold medals, the chubby glory, the time you crashed your mother’s car against a stationary truck, your bad/good relationship, the good friends, the friends who think you’re stupid to be running, the candy you didn’t eat the previous day, the impossible warm up you did before you started running (your head touched your knee, you stood on one leg and pretended to be an aeroplane, all the while concentrating on your core), the fact that if you weren’t running, the past-you would’ve laughed at the present-you for running such unbelievable distances.

Not running hurts.

You snipe at unsuspecting people who made you miss your run, you stare hard at the clouds that brought rain, you frown at your mocking shoes, you read blogs about running that don’t tell you anything new, you think about cross training like a dog thinks about his water bowl. You sass-mouth the universe for conspiring against you, you feel like a fat blob, you feel listless. You snap at people who ask you if you ran.

It makes you eat healthy.

You forgo candy because they give you stomach spasms when you run, you look at McDonald’s as your mortal enemy, you will not compromise on your carbohydrate to protein ratio. You cannot appreciate sweets, you refuse to eat deep fried food. You will stop eating beans and rice. You start appreciating milk more, your love for coffee will be reined in by limiting the number of cups to three, at most (oh, the horror). You start looking at food as if it’s the sole of your shoes, important but invisible, not to be over or under done. Food shall be renamed Fuel, and water rechristened as Hydration (“have you had enough fuel and hydration?”). You attribute your performance during a run to what you ate or did not eat. You see food the way your car sees gas, you attribute your gas to the wrong kind of fuel.

It makes you competitive.

You want to over take him, and her, and that silly kid too! You can’t stand it if some one runs past you, you want to scream booya to every person you overtake, but you don’t. You want to be known as The Overtaker. You feel like Bolt when you leap forward and away, overtaking runners. You can feel your leg muscles crying in joy when you stretch them as you overtake the half dead runner. You want to be at the finish line before your friend can even say finish line. You want to sprint down the last 400m to the finish line because you don’t mind dying after you’ve overtaken happy runners, after you’ve seen their aghast and supremely tired faces. You don’t mind losing a limb, but you want to finish strong. You grow evil, you want to do better than everyone (old, young, friends, enemies, no matter!). You become a do or die person. You run to prove yourself so you run harder than you thought you could. You become the borderline-crazy person that you should beware of.

It makes you positive.

You fall in love with the world, with people you don’t know, with yourself, with the tar of the road, with the sun and the breeze, with the uphills and downhills. You look at milestones as fallible, you believe you can run any distance, you feel you can do anything. You are filled with hope and are blinded by more than the lights of the vehicles coming on the opposite side. You look at a garbage dump and think its stench is a great persuasive force to get you to run faster, away from it. You love the dirt on your shoes, you adore the angry dog barking at you, you know the cat-callers are good people deep down and see them as potential runners themselves. You feel inspired and you feel motivated. You feel light when you’re in the air, you think you’re a bird and that you’re flying, so you fly when you run; and when you fly, you’re more positive than all the positive ions of the ionosphere put together.

Running gives more than it takes, and I believe that to my core. Pun intended.

If you think one would need more reasons to lace up and hit the roads, read http://theoatmeal.com/comics/running. I tripped on it when I’d started running 10k on a daily basis.

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