Not much to report on the "training" front. I'm running about 55 miles a week, much of it with my dog, Nick. I'm very motivated to run every day and I'm motivated to go hard now and then. But I don't seem to be motivated to do any races. That said, for a while I actually considered lining up for the Boulder 100-Mile next weekend, but family scheduling stuff won't allow it. I honestly don't know why I want to do the Boulder 100. I think running is just "what I do"; I'm hardwired to run and I love going the distance. Plus, while there's nothing better than an epic course like the Leadville 100, I'm also attracted to loop courses like what you'll find at the Boulder 100--fourteen laps of a 7.14-mile course that is pancake flat. I like that. I doubt I'll be lining up this year--maybe next year?
It's hard to say what the rest of the year may bring, except that I'm entering the Western States 100 lottery and hoping I get into the big dance. If I don't get into Western States, which I fully expect will be the case due to the sheer odds of being selected in the lottery, then I'll be back at Leadville next August. Leadville is just what I do. Speaking of Leadville, there's an awesome interview with Bill Finkbeiner, who's finished the race a record 30 years in a row (!), in the latest issue of Ultrarunning Magazine. Check it out!
Suunto Core Military Edition watch, compliments of The Watch Company. I've always known Suunto makes great watches and this one delivers. In addition to all the standard features you'd find in watches for active people, the Core has an altimeter, barometer, digital thermometer, Weather Trend Indicator and digital compass. About the only thing it doesn't have is a GPS. Anyway, I love this watch and I'm still learning about all of its features. I know it's going to be great next summer when I'm back up in the mountains training, and I think it'll also be really useful this winter for snowy trail runs and ski outings. Highly recommended!
Every so often, you come across a book that really speaks to you. That's the case with Vinnie Tortorich's new book, Fitness Confidential: Adventures in the Weight Loss Game. Tortorich, who was born and raised in Louisiana and went on to earn his physical education degree and play football at Tulane University, has been a Los Angeles-based personal trainer for decades, working with corporate executives, actors and other "notables." Now, he's come out with a book in which he tells the truth about losing weight and getting into great shape. Along the way, he reveals his own interesting story.
We all know people who have struggled with their weight for years. Like you, I've seen photos of former high school and college classmates who were healthy weight back in the day but are now obese. Hell, that almost happened to me! It's kind of sad, and Vinnie compellingly makes the case that it's because the Standard American Diet (SAD, as I like to call it) now revolves around grains and sugar. You can hardly find anything without sugar or grains in it. The USDA's "food pyramid," he says, is bullshit, which is really sad to me because it dictates things like school lunches. Making matters worse, we just sit on our asses too much--kids and adults alike. As a nation, we're fat, soft and unhealthy!
In his book, Vinnie reveals the surprising simplicity of losing weight and getting into shape. Avoid sugar and grains--yes, eat that steak!--and do a few simple exercises, like jump roping and some basic weight training. He also exposes the seedy underbelly of the American "fitness" industry and practices employed by the big gym companies. They're not in the business of getting you healthy, he says. They're in the business of making money off of your desperation. That said, he does concede that gyms can be beneficial to those who know how to use them properly.
Vinnie isn't just about promoting himself; he praises Joe Friel, Hal Higdon and other experts who actually know what they're doing and he refers the reader to these guys. He clearly doesn't have much love for snake oil salesmen like that clown on TV with the pony tail. Why? Because Vinnie tells the truth; you have to work hard in the gym. It's not going to come easy. That may not be a highly marketable message, but it's the truth!
Vinnie also goes into detail about his battle with leukemia and his multiple attempts to finish the grueling Furnace Creek 508, an epic bicycle race in Death Valley, California. Vinnie isn't just a personal trainer; he's also an accomplished ultra cyclist.
Despite the fact that there's much I don't have in common with Vinnie, he and I think very similarly when it comes to diet and fitness. Contrary to what the "experts" would have us think, getting lean and in good shape isn't rocket science. Eat the right foods and exercise several times a week and you'll get in shape. Avoid quick fixes because they don't work, and understand that you may have to make sacrifices to be healthy--a message you never hear from the snake oil salesmen. Keep it simple.
You can learn more about Vinnie at his website, and also be sure to check out his podcasts. Also, you don't have to read the actual book; it's available on iTunes (how I "read" it). Best of all, the audio book, which is just over seven hours in length, contains a lot of extras, including some stories Vinnie doesn't tell in the hardcopy book. Fitness Confidential is a great book and I highly recommend it.