30 days. 30 steaks. Multiple PRs.

Let’s start with a very important disclaimer: I’m not a nutritionist. I’m not advocating any diet changes for anyone. This is just a little account about how a (odd? actually, most definitely yes, odd!) change in my eating habits led me to multiple marathon successes. You should see your doctor before making any diet changes. But I didn’t. Oh well.

For all of you who hung onto my every word from part 1 of this blog series (Twinkies, Steaks, and Marathon PRs), I ask for your patience as I re-hash bits of it. Below is a graph of my marathon times, with highlights of my major successes (see steaks).



There’s a blog entry to be written about the first steak marker in 2010, but I’ll focus on the two most recent marathons (sequential personal records).


Over a period of a few years (2010-2013), my marathon times hit a plateau.  My fastest was around 3 hours and 15 minutes, and I could do no better.  I did what had led to earlier success: I did my speed work and I dominated my long runs.  I truly thought I was getting stronger and faster, yet with each new marathon, I simply couldn’t break through.  It was frustrating, and I was about to accept that I did what I could do in marathoning.

At the beginning of 2014, I came back from a South American trip with some awesome memories, cool souvenirs, and … a few pounds tucked into my midsection (damn you, empanadas, damn you).  So I figured I’d try some diet to trim up, and decided to dust off this book, The Four Hour Body, I had sitting around.  It’s a diet / lifestyle “guidebook” written by Tim Ferriss, the man who brought us The Four Hour Workweek.  I’m a huge fan of his work, although many complain he’s a self-absorbed douchebag.


In the book, there’s a diet plan that can be summed up as “Atkins (kinda) with a cheat day”.  Six days a week, you eat nothing but protein, vegetables, and legumes (lots of black beans).  On day seven, aka Cheat Day (aka heaven?), you go ape-$#iT.  Dozen donuts?  Sure.  Whole pizza?  Game on.  Pint of ice cream?  Just stick it into my vein.  I’ll spare you the nuances, but I can say that I would eat lots of red meat (which is allowed) on non-cheat days.  There was a streak where I ate 30 steaks in 30 days.  And yes, I documented this on Facebook and developed a mass of steak followers.  The diet (now my lifestyle) worked.  I lost 15 pounds, felt great, and I even lowered my cholesterol.


And what does this have to do with running?  I’ll be honest, I wasn’t even taking running seriously at the time.  I started the diet in January and had a race in May.  I kinda went through the motions and my mid-week runs were *awful*.  Having limited carbohydrates during the week was tough on my runs, and they often were well above 8 minutes per mile (I usually did these in the mid to lower 7’s).

But something happened on my long runs. 

I timed these runs after my cheat (high carbohydrate) days.  And my body responded really, really well.  While I couldn’t really run quickly mid-week, my long runs were the exact opposite: extremely fast.  Armed with boat-loads of sugar from the day before, I felt like a god out there.  I tore up my long runs (faster than I had ever run them before), and set personal records in my next two races (went from 3:15, to 3:11, to 3:07).

This isn’t science.  It’s my n = 1 data point.  But I can say being lighter helped me tremendously.  Having a diet that facilitated this was key.  I also believe the carbohydrate depletion effect helped as well — and there are many that will back up this theory.

All of this typing has made me hungry.  Gonna fire up myself a juicy ribeye.

Happy running (and eating!).


[Many steaks were eaten in the course of this writing. Please eat responsibly. But not birds. Thank you, the management.]

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