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I recently had the opportunity to run the famed Mt. Washington Road Race in New Hampshire for the second time in the last three years. This race has been in existence for over fifty years and draws runners from all over the United States and abroad. The tag line for the race is “Only One Hill.”
The course is a brutal 7.6 miles on the auto road that gains over 4,700 feet for an average 12% grade. There are no “breaks” or flat stretches which makes it that much more of a grind. In fact, a “break” would be perhaps 8% in a couple very short sections. To top it off, the last 100 meters is a 22% grunt that’s aptly nicknamed “The Wall.” Nobody reaches the summit (6,288 feet) without leaving a donation of blood, sweat and tears.
And I love every ounce of it.
You see, I happen to be one of those sadistic runners who love running uphill until my heart pounds out of my chest. I can’t explain it, but it’s a feeling of being fully alive, even as lactic acid is filling every part of the body. It’s fun having another competitor alongside breathing just as heavily and seeing who’s going to crack first.
A Little Background
I haven’t always enjoyed running. In fact, after reluctantly running two years of high school cross-country simply to get in shape for basketball, I gave up running for nearly 20 years! Just before turning 35, I picked up a book by Dean Karnazes that inspired me to take up running again.
For the first few years, I learned a lot of hard lessons regarding training and nutrition. I also had no self-control when it came to racing. During one stretch in 2010, I raced 14 weekends in a row ranging from 5k to 25k distances. I was obsessed with achieving new personal bests until a pubic stress fracture got my attention. Fortunately, I was running again within a few weeks but it opened my eyes to the idea of “quality vs. quantity.” In other words, why not undertake more quality training blocks rather than burning myself out by racing too often?
Getting Younger Each Year
I just recently turned 43 and my running continues to improve, even after 8 years since taking up the sport again. Certainly the quality of my training has played a role in my continued improvement. But I believe nutrition has played just as large of a role, if not larger. Losing over 50 pounds has taken intentional thought and discipline about what I put into my mouth.
Our bodies are regenerating new cells every day and the nutrition choices I make will help determine what kind of body I’m re-building at the cellular level. I like to say that the most important thing I can do for tomorrow’s run is what I do in the 15-30 minutes after finishing today’s run. It’s that “magic” window of time when the body is most receptive to grabbing rebuilding materials after tissues have been broken down.
It makes me sad when I see the running industry promoting chocolate milk as a “recovery” drink (the influence of money). Sure, you’re getting some protein, but you’re also consuming a lot of unhealthy processed sugar that creates more inflammation in the body. Doing this day after day only leads to achy joints and truly feeling your age when taking those first few steps out of bed in the morning. When I stick to the most nutrient dense foods, my body feels cleaner and thanks me for it.
Adding To My Bag O’ Tricks
A few months ago, I listened to a Ben Greenfield podcast where Dr. Minkoff was the guest. The whole episode was dedicated to the subject of amino acids which really caught my attention since I’m always looking for new recovery tricks. Amino acids are known as the building blocks of protein.
When Dr. Minkoff mentioned PerfectAmino, a supplement that’s 99% utilized by the body, I was sold. After placing an order of the PerfectAminoXP packets, I experimented by taking it before a few key workouts leading up to Mt. Washington. Almost immediately, I could feel a difference in how my body felt both during the workout and after. I was essentially giving my body access to building materials even as I was breaking it down during the workout.
Lately, I’ve also been taking a serving of PerfectAmino before I go to bed at night in order to add a recovery edge while I sleep. Upon waking in the morning, my body feels stronger and more fully recovered. And believe me, we masters athletes need every recovery trick we can find! Turns out you really can teach an “old” dog new tricks.
I’m so excited to be partnering with BodyHealth as I continue to strive to reach my full potential as a runner. I’m convinced that even in the short amount of time I’ve used their products, my running has improved as evidenced by my 10th place overall finish at Mt. Washington this year. I was 25th two years ago so things are going in the right direction.
Actually…things are going uphill :o)
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