Monday, January 31, 2011

Dean Karnazes vs Scott Jurek commercials

Dean Karnazes and Scott Jurek both have shot new commercials for their sponsors. Which one you think wins? I like the Breadcrumbs idea.

First The North Face commercial with Dean Karnazes.

The North Face Dean Karnazes Breadcrumbs from kontent partners on Vimeo.

This is Scott Jurek in a commercial for Brooks.

Scott Jurek - Ultramarathoner from kontent partners on Vimeo.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Grim Joggers and The New Evolution Diet

I've been playing Grim Joggers on my iPad, and it's been lots of fun. In my opinion, it beats Angry Birds hands down. But as a jogger, I'm terribly biased of course.

Let's get a second opinion from 'The New Evolution Diet' by Art De Vany:
"Lately I've been playing a lot of tennis, which is all the running I need." 
What, no jogging? What is that all about? Let's check out his new book.

Let's start at the Afterword, where N. N. Taleb (a thinker and walker) testifies:
"Art showed, backed by research, that regular jogging and marathon running degrades your health, while sprinting and interval training improves it." 
Huh? Have I missed something?
" only regular activity in life is long walks, which I tend to take every day. I try to take aimless walks of between 1 and 2 hours a day, up to 5 hours when I travel."
Then he goes on, on the very same page:
"No Moderate Exercise Sessions: either too little, or too much, or way beyond what I plan to do, and with no set schedule... No Purely Aerobic Exercise: The separation is foolish and not empirical. Avoid listening to "trainers"."
This doesn't make much sense to me. Yes variety is refreshing, and a couple of anaerobic sessions per week might be ok, but certainly most of the training should be moderate aerobic exercise.

Unfortunately the actual content written by the author is not any different or better. We are told that  jogging is not acceptable, but that opinion is not backed up by anything even remotely convincing.
"We are made more for walking and sprinting than for jogging. The fact is, few hunters ever literally ran down prey over the marathon distance of 26.2 miles." 
Gotcha, Art, and thank you for allowing us learn this gold nugget of a scientific truth (wink wink).

So the take-away value from this is that if you are a grim jogger, reading diet books by grim non-joggers is to a large degree a waste of time. You'd be better off jogging, or playing Grim Joggers.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Walrus exercise

Even a walrus can exercise, so why are you still sitting there? And don't forget to eat your fish!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Mountain Mist 50K trail run 2011

Just came across two videos from what looks like a cool trail run race in Huntsville (AL).

Mountain Mist 50k, 2011 from Marcus Farris on Vimeo.
In this edition of Alabama's famed Mountain Mist 50k trail race, top runners face the challenges of snow and ice covered rocks through the rocky trails of Monte Sano State Park.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Why we get Taubes - and what to do about it

In 2007, science journalist Gary Taubes published 'Good Calories, Bad Calories' - an instant hit. I guess low-carb friendly folks like me sort of were determined to fell in love with the fresh look at the history of nutrition science.

Now Taubes is at it again, marketing 'Why We Get Fat: And What To Do About It'. Because he chose to put it like that, I kind of lost my appetite for the book right there: I simply don't get fat the way GT thinks it should happen.

Still, I was curious enough to find out his answer to the question posed in the title. No surprises there, the culprit is carbs, with a little help from the usual suspect insulin. While it is true that carbs can end up as bodyfat, carbs alone are not likely to make anyone fat, if you make sure the carbs come from raw fresh whole foods like fruits and vegs.

For example last year when during a 4-month experiment I ate over 80% of my calories from carbs, I got the most underweight in my whole adult life: I lost 10 kg from 69 to 59 kg. After that I switched to the Perfect Health Diet diet, which recommends 20% of total calories from carbs. Well, I quickly gained back all the lost weight and some extra by eating 65% fat. So GT is right in saying that even marathon runners can gain weight, but he is wrong in assuming that the gaining process would simply consist of the conversion of dietary carbs into bodyfat. At least I seem to have gained more muscle than fat - which would not have been possible without resistance training.

One would think that the new book would be easier to get into, being advertised as 'reader-friendly' and all, but the fact is I don't find GT's thinking easy to follow. The simpler style actually enhances his trademark brainfarts, most infamous of those being the ones involving laws of thermodynamics and calories in/out. Better leave it at that.

The basic argument of Taubes has always been the same: for decades, we have been told big fat lies by authorities, based on bad science. Although I do mostly agree with that, it does not automatically follow that the research presented by GT is that much better, nor is it faultless by any means. Taubes would like to play this good science/bad science game with us, but everyone of us more or less cherrypicks the data that supports what we know to be 'true' - it's not lying, it's human nature.

Without going into details, I suspect he has made the error of trying to apply linear science on non-linear systems. I'm not sure Taubes has yet quite grasped what Art De Vany wrote on Evolutionary Fitness years before:
"All humans are self-organized dynamic systems. Systems that live in the critical region between order and chaos display power law behavior... randomization is an essential element..." 
At the end of the day, Taubes is not able to deliver many interesting or new ideas. I'm afraid he has never been the most inspiring or creative writer out there either. And what's worse, he does not seem to care whether people are couch potatoes or marathon runners. GT is almost as devastating as TV!

Taubes seems to enjoy staying forever the ultimate opposite of popular fitness motivators like Jack LaLanne (who died Sunday at 96, R.I.P.) or Dean Karnazes, the Ultramarathon Man. Instead of attacking carbs, both of these healthy athletes have stressed the importance of eating natural, whole and high-quality foods.

So without further adieu, this is time I officially quit being a Taubes-head. I cannot recommend this book to anyone, with the possible exception being the poor old calorie-counter in the video below, the professor who did the Twinkie Diet Experiment.

In my experience, quitting Taubesianism cold turkey is easier said than done. That's why I've provided the following three easy steps for other victims, who would wish to follow in my footsteps:
  1. Realize you're addicted to Taubes. Stop studying his books like they were the Old and New Testament. Just read something completely different for a while, like 'Perfect Health Diet' by Jaminet and Jaminet.
  2. Avoid following his new blog, which is also very boring. Subscribe to his archrival My Carb Sane-Asylum instead. I'm not saying she has all the answers, but it's refreshing to expose your mind to controversial views, and she's fun to read.
  3. Don't take my word for it. For a second opinion, read this excellent review of WWGF by Yoni Freedhoff. Breath deep, relax, and feel Taubesianism leave your body (LOL).
Good riddance bodyfat, sedentary lifestyle and GT!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

MovNat Koh Lanta

MovNat 7-day workshop in the tropical island of Koh Lanta, Thailand - a perfect place to 'escape the zoo'!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Maffetone on milk proteins

In 'Milk Proteins: The Good and the Bad' Dr. Phil Maffetone discusses dairy, and specifically milk proteins casein and whey.

Most of the protein in milk is casein, but not all casein is the same. A1-casein is the bad type you want to avoid, while A2-casein is the good one.

Most dairy sold in supermarkets contains mostly A1-casein. However milk from animals like goat, sheep, buffalo and Brown Swiss cows contains A2-casein.

If you occasionally like to eat a little good quality cheese, choose cheese from milk of
Then there is the whey, which is left over from the process of making various dairy. After realizing that whey cannot be safely dumped in large concentrations as it creates an environmental nuisance, the Italian cheese-innovators discovered it can be recooked into a fresh cheese product called Ricotta. Whey contains most of the good stuff in milk without any of the possibly troublesome ingredients, so it's definitely ok for everyone to eat that.

If you can tolerate some dairy, it's always a good idea to hunt for the very best products, like grassfed organic butter. Yes it is more expensive, but think of it as an investment in your health and fitness.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

4 critical success factors of extreme endurance athletes

Conor Neill recently spent An afternoon with Kilian Jornet (KJ).

From a series of interviews with successful extreme/ultra endurance athletes like KJ, he has extracted the following four critical success factors:
  • Acceptance - the past is gone, it serves no purpose dwelling on problems, only on dedicating resources to solve the problem and move on. KJ: "If the seal skin comes off on my ski... it is a waste to be frustrated or angry..."
  • Presence in the moment - prepare, plan and think about strategy... but once you start in a race, only focus on the moment. KJ: "I plan and think through scenarios for every race, strategies, tactics... how I will start, how I will attack... but I know that as soon as the race starts nothing will go as in the plan... I am flexible and take the opportunities that come up".
  • Humility - although you may have achieved great things, do not allow any arrogance to enter, have no feeling of superiority, of being special. KJ: "Anyone who thinks they have achieved great things in this life is a fool".
  • Responsibility - nobody else is going to solve your problems. Know how to ask for help, to use the resources around you, but never expect that anyone else will take the decisions for you. KJ: "...the only thing that moves me forward is to stop and solve the problem. Anything else is a waste of vital energy."
I believe these results can be applied in all endurance events, like in your daily life for instance.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Friday, January 21, 2011

List of registered runners for UTMB

List of registered runners for UTMB is online. There will be about 2300 runners. The race will start on Friday, August 26th, 2011 at 6:30 PM in Chamonix, France. The 166 km, +/- 9500 m route will be the same as in previous years.

[By the way, I wonder why don't they start a few hours earlier on Friday, so they wouldn't have to worry about some vandals stealing the course lights again in that difficult section traversed at night? It would be a pity to see the de facto 100-mile Trail Running World Championship be cancelled for the second time in a row.]

The list includes Kilian Jornet, the best young European ultra trail runner (23 years old; 2008 1st, 2009 1st) as well as Marco Olmo, the best old European ultra trail runner (62 years old; 2005 3rd, 2006 1st, 2007 1st).

American elite competitors include Geoff Roes, Anton Krupicka, Scott Jurek and Karl Meltzer.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Assistance and Armstrong

Science of Sports wrote about HemAssist and Armstrong. HemAssist refers to Diaspirin Cross-Linked Hemoglobin, a drug that was manufactured by an American pharmaceutical company in the late 90ies and was intended for use only in clinical trial settings, not as illegal assistance in endurance sports - or so they say anyway.

The SoS blog post is based on The Case Against Lance Armstrong in SI Vault:
"A few years earlier, according to a source familiar with the government's investigation of Armstrong, the Texan became interested in Baxter Healthcare Corp., a company based in Deerfield, Ill., that focuses in part on developing drugs to treat hemophilia. According to that source, the FDA has information that Armstrong gained access to a Baxter-made drug in clinical trial in the U.S. and Europe in the late 1990s. According to public records, a study on a drug called Diaspirin Cross-Linked Hemoglobin (DCLHb) began in early 1997 and ended in 1998. Baxter developed the drug, whose trade name is HemAssist, for use in cases of extreme blood loss, such as by shock and trauma victims; in animal studies it was shown to boost the blood's oxygen-carrying capacity without the thickening caused by EPO. The human trials were ended, however, after a number of patients died—though not necessarily from the drug's effects; some of the trauma victims were likely to have died anyway.
Armstrong's lawyers say that he denies ever having taken HemAssist, and they claim it was impossible for him to have had access to the drug after the clinical trials ended and Baxter abandoned development in September 1998. Still, stockpiles of the drug may have remained, says Dr. Robert Przybelski, an associate professor at Wisconsin who was the director of hemoglobin therapeutics at Baxter in the late '90s, although he adds that he doesn't know of any missing quantities. What would a cyclist want with the drug? "If somebody was going to design something better than EPO, this would be the ideal product," says Przybelski. DCLHb would certainly give the endurance-starved cyclist a push in the Pyrenees. "[Hemoglobin-based oxygen carriers] do everything they want EPO to do without the potential side effects of increased blood viscosity and strokes," says Przybelski. "And it doesn't last long [in the body], 12 to 24 hours, which is ideal for an event.""
Just a couple of points to keep in mind regarding assistance:
  • It's highly unlikely for anyone to be able to finish - let alone win - a race like Tour de France without any pharmaceutical assistance. That's what a finisher of the event told me. This is not a secret really, so let's not pretend we don't know that almost every elite competitor today is using some drugs. The money wasted on chasing old doping cases could be used for something more constructive. 
  • Lance has done a fairly good job in assisting cancer victims in many ways over the years (for example, check out the video below). The end doesn't justify the means, but that's pretty cool nevertheless.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Natural skill training

Natural skill training by Tom Greenwald. Simple exercise, great video.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

12 steps to get started on paleo nutrition

I highly recommend this 12-step list by Kurt G. Harris MD for anyone who wishes to get started on paleo nutrition.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Macca's Hawaii Ironman 2010 strengths: recovery and experience

Chris 'Macca' McCormack won Hawaii Ironman Triathlon World Championship in October 2010 because he had two strenghts: recovery and experience. Of course he can also swim, bike and run fast - but so can many others who didn't win that day.

In the videos below Macca talks this and that while getting treated by his physiotherapist in Hawaii. However what he talks is not the key. The most important thing to notice is how relaxed he looks just before the race. This was Macca's last massage before Triathlon World Championship in October 2010, which he won after a long exciting battle with Andreas Raelert.

Coaches often claim that athletes who train harder will be more likely to win. Perhaps it is also true that athletes who are able to recover better will be more successful. After all, in a recent blog of his, Macca writes:

"Recovery is king! Always err on the side of recovery in your training program. Recovery takes many forms, and body maintenance (massage, yoga, etc) sleep and rest are imperative to the game and the mix."

Maybe his ability to recover well is related to the fact that in 25 years of racing and training, Macca has never had any physical injury of any kind. That alone is a remarkable achievement.

It's also possibly his extensive racing experience that counts. Macca is 37 years old. In the past decade, he has tried winning in Kona 9 times. In three of those races he has DNF'd (2002, 2004, 2008). In 2006 he finished second with 8:13:07 time. In 2007 he won with a slower time 8:15:34. In 2010 he won again with his best time in Hawaii 8:10:37.

Chris "MACCA" McCormack: Pre-race thoughts and feelings, part 1 from susann kräftner on Vimeo.
MACCA, a very special Biest – before his 9th race on Hawaii, world championships 2010

Yesterday we had the privilege to join Chris at his last massage before the race. It was a very contemplative talk from the massage table.
Through all these years that I know Chris I saw a man maturing, becoming a wise athlete and phenomenal character. He has got the unique ability to not only make mistakes and learn from them, but he also has the courage to be outspoken about them. And it is amazing, how Chris is always ready to meet challenges, and fight his fears, how is always ready to change!
This is the first part of the talk. There will be more about to come.

Chris "MACCA" McCormack: Pre-race thoughts and feelings, part 2 from susann kräftner on Vimeo.
Recorded before his 9th race on Hawaii, world championships 2010

Now we now it, he is a very special Biest without any doubt. In an outstanding performance Chris won the Ironman world championships 2010 on the Big Island. It was probably the best race of his life. In our talk before the race he was talking about his ability to suffer, about the fact that you have to be prepared to suffer.
Your readiness to take and accept the pain in the end makes the difference whether you win or lose.

Chris "MACCA" McCormack: Pre-race thoughts and feelings, part 3 from susann kräftner on Vimeo.
Recorded before his 9th world championship race on Hawaii, world championships 2010

While MACCA's victory flushed away the rest of the racing season, and MACCA became the hero of the year it might still interest you what Chris had to say before he went into this big battle. If you listen to his words attentively it may not surprise you why he was ready and capable to win his 2nd world championship title.
Chris talks about his ability to suffer, and about this year's racing strategy "first of all to enjoy the race".

Chris "MACCA" McCormack: Pre-race thoughts and feelings, part 4 from susann kräftner on Vimeo.
Recorded before his 9th world championship race on Hawaii, 2010

Here is the last part of my talk with Chris on Thursday before the race. He is talking about race strategy, about how to stay focused during hours of pain and discomfort, and about the issue of being a big guy. This conversation shows a mature athlete who has grown and learned a lot during all these years of racing. Chris stands for the advantages of age and not the disadvantages that most people are so concerned with. This calmness, this being in his very center finally made him a favorite for this race. Definitely cues no expert paid attention to.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

My take on The Primal Blueprint

Most current popular paleo books tend to ignore or reject endurance sports, my favorite form of exercise. The Primal Blueprint (PB) by Mark Sisson is not an exception.

However, since PB is one of the few books recommended by I got interested and chose to review it.

Mark Sisson is certainly knowledgeable and experienced in the field of endurance sports, as he used to be an elite marathon runner as well as a coach to pro triathletes.
"For several years of my youth, I ran in excess of 100 miles a week with a single-minded focus toward competing in the 1980 U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials. At my peak, I was considered by many to be a picture of health: 6 percent body fat, a resting heart rate of 38 beats per minute, and a marathon time of two hours, eighteen minutes....
Soon after my best marathon performance, the monumental physical stress of my training regimen and the state-of-the-art 'high-energy' diet that fueled it resulted in a succession of serious overuse injuries, illnesses and burnout."
This seems inevitable to me, if you are on a high-carb diet and train at 'elite level', ie. way too hard. That would indeed be possible only with a little help from carbs and other hormone-stimulating substances.

The solution is simple: change to a low-carb diet and train with a lower heart rate. I don't understand why the author seems to think that if you are an endurance athlete, then you must carb-load daily and train like crazy. Not everyone wishes to rise to the elite level of competition, if it means losing your health in the process.
"The exercise gospel for decades has been to pursue a consistent routine of aerobic exercise... supposedly leading to more energy, better health, and weight control. However too many length workouts at elevated heart rates (between 75 percent and 95 percent of maximum) can put you at risk of exhaustion, burnout, injury and illness. The high-carbohydrate diet required to perform these workouts day-in and day-out only adds to the problem. At the extreme - such as with the overtrained marathon runner or ironman triathlete - a commitment to fitness can actually accelerate the aging process."
What PB calls 'Chronic Cardio' is indeed a harmful way of training, but I don't see why anyone would need to train that way. It certainly seems much harder than my normal daily training. I agree chronic anaerobic exercise would be harmful.

Mark Sisson claims you generally can't combine PB or any paleo diet with marathon running, which is not true in my experience.

Surprisingly, PB seems to be well aware of Dr. Phil Maffetone and his healthy training methods, which he recommends, sort of.
"Mike Pigg and Mark Allen, world champion professional triathletes who dominated the sport... both claimed their careers were elevated to the next level - and extended by several years - when they moderated their training pace to stay below an individually determined maximum aerobic heart rate with great discipline. Guided by applied kinesiologist and endurance training pioneer Dr. Phil Maffetone, they were able to improve their aerobic conditioning... by training at a sensible, comfortable pace that represented about 80 percent of their maximum heart rate. (I advocate an upper limit of 75 percent for all but the most highly trained endurance athletes.)"
    Maffetone's greatest invention was the 180-Formula, which he developed to determine max aerobic heart rate. It is simply 180 minus your age. It doesn't require max total heart rate to be determined at all, and unlike PB 75% of max heart rate, it works very well in practice.

    PB certainly tries hard to scare people away from endurance events. The following is a good example of this.
    "Interestingly, after extreme endurance events like a marathon or ironman race, blood levels of CPK (creatine phosphokinase) can be elevated for weeks afterward. In fact, if you presented in the ER with such levels and didn't explain that you had recently run a marathon, the doctor might think you were suffering from a heart attack!"
    This refers to a well-known phenomenon since the early days of the marathon boom. While it is true that in some cases blood levels of creatine kinase may be elevated for a week or so after an endurance event, it has from the beginning been clear that there is no evidence that this would in any way damage a healthy person. Although it has been shown repeatedly that marathon running does not adversely affect the hearts of healthy runners, tales suggesting otherwise seem to live forever.

    Also Mark's Daily Apple never seems to miss an opportunity to link marathons and heart damage. And he never gets tired of repeating the old tale that the first marathon runner in died.

    In fact there is no risk to speak of when you are fit and healthy. Let's take a brief look at a recent study showing how an experienced ultramarathon athlete can withstand daily marathons without any harmful effects or damage.

    Dean Karnazes was subjected to ten blood draws during his Endurance 50 project. In the book '50/50: Secrets I Learned Running 50 Marathons in 50 Days' Bryan Bergman, PhD had the following to report.

    First, the case of Dean's CPK:
    "We expected to see fairly dramatic increases in Dean's blood markers of muscle damage. The principle marker was creatine phosphokinase (CPK), an enzyme found principally inside muscle cells that leaks into the bloodstream when cells are damaged. A typical marathon runner has dramatically elevated CPK after one marathon, and it stays elevated for up to a week. Dean, however, is no typical marathoner. He had some muscle damage associated with the event. However, at his muscle damage high point, near the end of Endurance 50, his CPK concentration was still one-fourth of what it would be for a typical runner completing only one marathon! This was a surprise, but shows how well Dean's body has adapted to the demands of ultrarunning."
    To be safe, they also monitored Dean's IL-6:
    "We also measured blood levels of an inflammatory marker called interleukin-6 (IL-6). IL-6 is a cytokine (a special type of white blood cell) that is receiving a lot of attention in the scientific world right now because of the link between inflammation and heart disease... Much to our surprise, IL-6 concentrations did not change very much during this event."
    And just in case, they also checked Dean's immune function:
    "Many publications have pointed to an increased risk of upper respiratory tract infections and decreased immune system function after one marathon... However, other than probable viral infection during the first part of the event, we observed no changes in blood markers that would suggest a compromised immune system." 
    They also measured how stressful 50 consecutive days of marathon running was for Dean's body:
    "We were also on the lookout for possible suppression of bone marrow red blood cell production that also can occur during periods of high stress. Dean's bone marrow continued to produce red blood cells throughout the event and showed no signs of slowing. Clearly, his body did not perceive this event to be as stressful as we expected!"
    If you are not 100% healthy, very young or old, or an absolute beginner, then you should take it relatively easy. If you are healthy and fit, and well-trained, you can safely participate in all endurance events, but only if you take it relatively easy. Aerobic training or racing should never feel like an epic struggle against your own body.

    Supplements like protein powder are slipped into the diet with a couple of weak excuses:

    "...we often run short of convenient, transportable, unperishable options for an afternoon pickup snack or mini meal. While not exactly Primal, protein powders do combine the best of 21st century technology with a true Primal intent: get me a fast, good-tasting source of protein without too many carbs or unhealthy fats."

    I think most people would agree that Grok would choose natural foods instead of supplements. That doesn't stop PB Store from selling 'Primal Fuel'.

    What about the recipes? For that there is a new book: The Primal Blueprint Cookbook.

    Primal cooking shouldn't obviously be rocket science, so a recipe book is not that essential. What's odd is that this Cookbook is strictly dairy-free, while the original PB book has a fairly relaxed attitude towards using dairy.

    My final verdict for the PB is 6/10 - some parts of it are slightly interesting, but as a whole it cannot be recommended.  I feel it's a confusing collection of sales pitches, aimed at selling us 'Primal' stuff we don't need. Robb Wolf likes PB, but Grok would probably run away!

    Saturday, January 15, 2011

    HURT 100 this weekend

    Following crazy trail races like HURT 100 (January 15-16) makes everything else seem so easy by comparison. I'm so glad that I don't have to HURT this weekend!

    Friday, January 14, 2011

    Trail Blanc

    Trail Blanc means White Trail, and when you watch this you'll get a pretty good idea know why.

    Trail Blanc de Serre-Chevalier white trail from Benoit Mouren on Vimeo.
    widiwici was is Serre-Chevalier this week-end for the 10th new balance winter trail 800 runners for a 30km run along the Guisane river., the sports social network was one of the official partners of this unique event

    Thursday, January 13, 2011

    Protein Cycling Diet

    Background: I've followed Perfect Health Diet (PHD) for some time now. Not to lose weight - as I was left out looking pretty emaciated after last summer's foolish raw vegan experiment - but to gain (muscle) weight.

    I'm happy with the results so far. I'm probably ready to tackle Step Four of the book now, which is about preventing disease.

    In chapter 'Eleven Ways To Enhance Immunity', 'The Sixth Way: Restrict Protein' mentions autophagy.
    "Protein restriction benefits intracellular immunity in two ways: (1) It cooperates with the body's intracellular immune strategy of depriving bacteria of amino acids... (2) Reduced protein intake promotes lysosomal autophagy, which kills bacteria and viruses."  
    So what is autophagy? Autophagy contributes to the clearance of damaged organelles and aggregate-prone proteins, and thus supposedly to longevity. Defective autophagy has been scientifically connected to many human diseases including cancer, myopathies, and neurodegeneration including Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, etc.

    PHD explains 'Protein Restriction, Autophagy, and Longevity' this way:
    "One mechanism by which protein restriction extends lifespan is by promoting a recycling process called autophagy. Proteins generally become useless after a time: they fold into the wrong shape, or they glycate with sugar, and no longer work. These 'junk proteins' gather in cells until a cleanup mechanism, autophagy, is triggered. When protein is scarce, cells turn on enzymes that digest junk proteins, recycling their amino acids. This cleanup improves cellular health. Autophagy is necessary for protein or calorie restriction to extend lifespan."
    PHD also adds this piece of advice about the benefit of muscles:
    "Resistance exercise, which redirects protein toward muscle, helps deprive pathogens of amino acids. More importantly, it creates a protein reserve; muscles can be catabolized if needed to avert protein deficiency. Thus, resistance exercise makes low-protein diets safer."
    I've probably done enough resistance training during the past months to create sufficient muscle reserves.

    I found it interesting when PHD blogged:
    "In a recent comment, gunthergatherer introduced me to an e-book by Ron Mignery suggesting alternate-day protein elimination (a “protein cycling diet”) as an autophagy-promoting practice that should help prevent neurological disorders. This is a variation of our protein restriction, fasting, and ketogenic dieting techniques, all of which are designed to promote autophagy. Autophagy is the key intracellular immune mechanism that protects against bacterial and viral infections. It is good to see that other people are developing the same ideas we are. Hopefully these ideas can spread beyond a few scientist-dieters into general practice."
    So I decided to explore this a bit further.

    Protein Cycling Diet is a knol (a Google project that aims to include user-written articles on a range of topics) by Ron Mignery. This is basically how it is supposed to work:

    (1) Calculate the rate of cleaning by autophagy:
    • a 70 kg male (that's me) requires about 25 g of protein per day to meet protein synthesis needs.
    • Cell contents account for ⅔ of body weight.
    • Body is about 17% protein by weight.
    • 70 kg x 17% x ⅔ = 8000 g of cell protein.
    (2) When autophagy is induced by protein starvation, the body will conserve let's say 20%, so at least 20 g per day of protein must be recycled:
    • 20 g / 8000 g = 0.25% per day recycled.
    • That value supposedly exceeds the rate of accumulation of aggregates, so in theory a neurodegenerative (and possibly also many other) diseases can be prevented.
    • Measured values in studies have been larger than 0.25% per event, but 0.25% is the best educated guess for the actual value in human neurons, as the body will sacrifice some muscle tissue to provide amino acids to the brain.
    (3) Aim for 1-3 x 24h periods (18h might do it?) a week of protein restriction:
    • Anything less than 7% of calories (human milk level) should be sufficient, especially as protein digestion is not 100% efficient.
    • Fats and carbohydrates are not restricted, so those can and should be eaten. As Perfect Health Diet says: "Protein intake of 200 to 600 calories per day seems to be a healthy plateau range if sufficient carbs are eaten, but the plateau range becomes much narrower - a window around 500 to 600 calories - if carbs are restricted." 
    • Protein Cycling Diet seems a lot like Alternate Day Caloric Restriction diet, except you get to cheat with carbs and fats. Caloric restriction or intermittent fasting does not seem to be necessary for autophagy to happen. Still it might be a good idea to throw in a random caloric restriction/intermittent fasting period. 
    • For example, one might skip protein in the evening and next morning, or whatever suits your schedule best. It would still be possible to eat 50-150 grams of protein every day during the unrestricted periods, resulting in the 200-600 cals mentioned above.
    • Low-protein foods include for example: most fruits (except apricots, blackberries, cantaloupe, gooseberry, lime, nectarines, oranges, peaches, raspberry, strawberry, watermelon, and white grapefruit), carrots, and whipping cream. 
    • In case one would feel tempted to consider eating fruits, the lowest fructose fruits would be clementines (1640), pink/red grapefruit (1770), pineapple (2120), tangerines/mandarins (2400), honeydew (2960), and plums (3070). These seem too high-fructose to safely eat in any substantial quantities, so that would leave us with olives, avocados and a squeeze of lemon juice.
    I've actually already experimented with Protein Cycling a little, but I'm not sure if it's worth continuing further. I'm not sure it would work very well for me.

    In any case I'll also keep on skipping a meal occasionally, as I'm used to doing that. Intermittent fasting seems like a much more appealing and natural approach at the moment.

    Tuesday, January 11, 2011

    How a bare foot cushions running impact naturally

    Via Runblogger: the video below is interesting, because it shows in slow motion how a bare foot (of a 4-year-old in this instance) cushions running impact naturally. The point is that your shoe should not prevent your foot from doing its job, nor pretend it could do the job better than your foot. Just think about this for a moment before you buy your next running shoes, that's all.

    Monday, January 10, 2011

    Kettlebell swing

    Tim Ferriss presents 'the king of exercises': kettlebell swing.

    You can also swing with one hand, switching hands at the top or bottom position.

    I'd recommend you start with a very light weight, at least until you get your technique perfected. There's no need to exercise with extremely heavy weights at all.

    Even if you don't have any kettlebells available right now, you can try to swing with some suitable object like a cast iron frying pan, a small kid, or whatever you can think of. What's important is to learn the correct swinging motion, what you swing with is not so important.

    Dumbbell Swings, Gripper Plate Swings, Kettlebell Swings from Josh Hillis on Vimeo.
    You can do "Kettlebell" swings with anything you can get your hands on!

    I've been doing various kettlebell exercises daily lately. My muscles are a bit sore, but not in a bad way. I'm definitely getting stronger and its fun too!

    Sunday, January 9, 2011

    The secret of great paleo risotto

    Cavemen didn't probably know much about a great risotto, but if they did, they would definitely have used wild game stock. After hunting they would have gathered some vegetables and herbs and cooked the leftovers of the meat with the bones and carcasses.

    Modern man doesn't have time to hunt or slowly cook any stocks, he simple buys the ingredients from the local supermarket. Good quality stock is the most important ingredient of warming winter dishes like soups or risottos (I think the consistency of the best risotto can and should be almost like soup, rather than dry). It can really help you thrive through this challenging season in good health.

    I managed to find what I believe is the best ready-made stock in the world: Riistafondi Kannonnokan tapaan (Viltfond enligt Kannonnokka in Swedish; Wild Game Stock according to Kannonnokka in English). Kannonnokka is a remote resort offering culinary and outdoorsy experiences about 50 km from here. They apparently grow their own wild boar in the surrounding forest.

    The ingredients of this strong potion sold in 0.5 liter Tetra Brik are:

    • bones and some meat of reindeer, deer, elk and wild boar
    • water
    • onions
    • carrots
    • parsnips
    • tomatoes
    • red wine
    • parsley
    • bay leaves
    • peppercorns
    • rosemary
    • thyme
    • lovage
    • salt
    • juniper berries
    • blackcurrants
    • and what's absolutely astonishing in these unhealthy times, nothing else: no preservatives, aromas, colorings, stabilizers, modified corn starches, maltodextrins, sugars, yeast extracts or citric acids.

    Before cooking simply heat the stock with plenty of water. No need to add salt or anything else. If you make risotto just add it gradually to the rice and other ingredients like meat and vegetables. I think tons of butter and grated parmesan are essential additions to a great risotto, but your mileage may vary.

    Good luck in finding a great wild game stock, and bon appetit!

    Saturday, January 8, 2011

    Japanese marathon runner takes the wrong turn

    The leading runner's exhausted brain turns into automatic mode, and the poor dude blindly follows the lead vehicle. This happens every now and then, a couple of years ago a Finnish runner lost a marathon victory in Italy in a similar situation.

    Friday, January 7, 2011

    Thursday, January 6, 2011

    LLVLC Show Encore Week 2011

    All week long the Livin La Vida Low Carb Show will be sharing brand new interviews with the 5 most popular podcast guests from 2010:

    • Dr Robert Lustig (I've heard this one already, it was great)
    • Denise Minger
    • Chris Masterjohn
    • Dr Kurt Harris
    • Robb Wolf

    They have been going through some server issues and the download times have been slower than usual. However the quality of the podcasts is great once you get them on your iPod or whatever device you are using.

    Wednesday, January 5, 2011

    Old school stairclimbing machine

    Climbing stairs with a weight on your back seems like a great alternative for a stairclimbing machine. You are the only machine you need.

    Tuesday, January 4, 2011

    Petzl Core USB rechargeable and programmable headlamp battery

    I bought a new Petzl Core Li-ion Polymer battery (3.7V 900 mAh) for my old Petzl Tikka XP2 headlamp.

    Core is rechargeable via a USB-cable. It adds to the size and weight of the headlamp a little, but not ttoo much to notice really.

    The normal battery compartment for three alkaline AAA-batteries remains usable, just in case you need it.

    In many European trail ultras the competitors are required to carry two headlamps and extra batteries for both. That's why I want a headlamp that's not too heavy.

    Tikka XP2 is bright enough for slow trail running with 60 lumens and it weighs 88 grams (including the Core battery or 3 x AAA-batteries). I believe it is the lightest rechargeable and programmable headlight available.

    I downloaded the free OS by Petzl software and programmed and tested my Core with it. It worked well on my iMac and was easy to use.

    I programmed the Max mode as Regulated (full power for 4.5 hours) and the Eco mode as Non-regulated (the standard mode with declining power as time goes by).

    Finally here are a couple of videos by Petzl. Core really seems to work as advertised, although I haven't really tested it in tough conditions like a race yet. However I like it so far and would recommend it.

    I think the price should be a bit lower. I paid 32€ for my Core battery alone. My Tikka XP2 cost about 45€. They are now also selling Tikka XP2 Core with everything in same package.

    CORE [english] Rechargeable battery for TIKKA² headlamps from Petzl-sport on Vimeo.
    The new rechargeable CORE battery is designed for the TIKKA² - ZIPKA² line of headlamps.
    This battery is easily inserted into the headlamp in a few seconds instead of three regular batteries. It offers an advantage over standard batteries for frequent or intensive headlamp use. It is more economical to use - it pays for itself after four sets of alkaline batteries.
    The Lithium Ion Polymer technology guarantees a lifetime that is equivalent to 900 regular batteries - the CORE battery makes an efficient contribution tolimiting toxic waste in the environment.
    The CORE battery takes advantage of the high performance of Lithium Ion Polymer technology, particularly of its excellent functioning in lower temperatures.
    The CORE battery has a USB connection, so it can be recharged from any standard USB charger: a cell phone charger, a multimedia device, a solar panel, a portable energy source, a computer, etc.
    With "OS by Petzl" software, the CORE battery opens new doors: the "OS by Petzl" software can simply be installed in your computer and the headlamp connected to it. It then becomes possible to adjust, in a very intuitive way and with only a few clicks, the battery life of the headlamp or the lighting level (maximum or economic mode) according to your needs.

    OS by Petzl software demo from Petzl-sport on Vimeo.
    OS by Petzl software allows you to configure the CORE rechargeable battery and personalize the performance of your TIKKA2 - ZIPKA2 headlamp.

    Monday, January 3, 2011

    Ryan Sandes Antarctica experience

    Ryan Sandes: My Antarctica Experience in Sports Illustrated Jan 2011.

    It's about winning the Last Desert race. What's more, he has now won all four races in the 4Deserts series: Gobi, Sahara, Atacama and Antarctica.

    My response to "Want to know what it's like to run in knee-deep snow, freezing temperature conditions..." is: that's easy, only knee-deep huh? That would be about 50 cm, but we have currently about 70 cm, and we are going to get a lot more before this winter is done.

    But I guess it would be way cooler to run in Antarctica.

    Sunday, January 2, 2011

    The Lost Coast Trail

    The Lost Coast Trail from Ryan Commons on Vimeo.
    Send me a message on Facebook if you have questions about the trail or about planning a trip.

    Best Map:

    Best Book:

    Transportation from Trail-head:

    Q: Where is the Lost Coast Trail?
    A: About 6 hours north of San Francisco and 1 hour south of the Oregon/California border.

    Q: What should I expect if I hike the Lost Coast Trail?
    A: The Lost Coast Trail offers backpackers 25 miles of rugged coastline, extreme coastal views, and timeless campsites. Mountains that shoot over 4,000 feet above the coast offer a dramatic scenery as a southward bound hiker sees the big waves of the Pacific Ocean to his right and the giants of the Kings Mountain Range to his left.

    Q: Should I start in at Mattole Beach or at Shelter Cove?
    A: Start in the north at Mattole Beach. There is a large parking space where you can self-issue a free backpacking permit. Starting in the north puts the wind on your back the whole hike. Hiking north with the wind in your face is unpleasant.

    Q: Do I need a tide chart and a map if I'm just hiking the coast?
    A: Yes! Before you head out, you will definitely want to get a tide chart and a map. There are sections of the trail that you cannot safely pass through during high tide and a tide chart will advise you as to when to hike these sections. Although it is nearly impossible to get lost on the trail, the map is critical for alerting you to areas that can only be passed at low tide and for giving you exit routes through the mountains if creek levels get too high.

    Q: Do I need a bear can?
    A: Yep, they are required and there are bears out there--I even saw bear paw prints on the coastline.

    Q: How do I get back to my car?
    A: You can either hire a driver to take you back from Shelter Cove to Mattole Beach or hike back via the Kings Mountain Range. If anyone has a recommendation for a driver or driving service, please let me know and I'll add the info here.

    Q: What gear, clothing and food do you recommend for the trip?
    A: Here is a summary of the gear, clothing and food we brought (four people):

    Group Gear:
    * 2 Tents
    * Pot
    * Pan
    * 4 dishes
    * 4 utensils
    * Two White Gas Bottles
    * 2 MSR compressed gas bottles
    * Jet Boil Stove
    * Dragon Fly Stove
    * 2 Bear Cans
    * Map
    * Rope
    * Big water bottle

    * Floss
    * Toothbrush
    * Toothpaste
    * Deodorant

    * Sunglasses
    * Warm Layer - big down or fleece or ski jacket
    * External Shell Jacket and Pants - stop rain
    * Soft-Shell Pants
    * 2 Long Sleeve Shirts
    * Warm Hat
    * Cap
    * 4 Socks
    * 1 Underwear
    * Gloves (Liner and Shell)
    * Boots
    * Running shoes or sandals

    * Backpack
    * Sleeping Pad
    * Sleeping Bag - in garbage bag
    * Rain cover or garbage bags to cover pack
    * 3 Extra garbage bags
    * Camera
    * Knife & Hatchet
    * Flashlight
    * Headlamp
    * 2 water bottles (1 liter each)

    Food (95% complete):
    * Cheetos - Crunchy - 2880 Calories
    * M&M's - Peanut - 6160 Calories
    * Red Vines - 3220 Calories
    * Snickers - 1950 Calories
    * Wheat Thins - Original - 2080 Calories

    * Bagels - 1620 Calories
    * Starburst - 4640 Calories
    * Chips Ahoy - 1920 Calories
    * Beef Summer Sausage - 1520 Calories
    * Nature Valley - 2160 Calories
    * Ramen Soup - 15 packs - 5700 Calories
    * Nutter Butter - 2080 Calories
    * Shells & Cheese - 6480 Calories
    * Good Health Energy - 2250 Calories
    * Oatmeal - 4980 Calories
    * Poptarts - 6240 Calories
    * Chicken Noodle Soup - 960 Calories
    * Goldfish - Colors Cheddar - 840 Calories
    * Mama Soup - 2 packs - 560 Calories
    * Fruit Pack - 1200 Calories
    * Peanut Butter - 3040 Calories
    * Honey - 1320 Calories
    * Popcorn - 980 Calories
    * Chewy Bar - 1674 Calories
    * Beef Jerky - Original - 480 Calories
    * Trail Mix - 4200 Calories
    * Drink Flavoring - - 300 Calories
    * Tuna Meat - 360 Calories
    * Cheez-it - 1950 Calories

    Trip Report:
    by David Bebb

    We mapped out a loose, seven-day itinerary knowing that inclement weather would likely force us to change our plans. Early on a Thursday afternoon, our group of four left our car at the north end of the Lost Coast Trail (Mattole Beach) with the aim to head as far south on the trail as possible before an anticipated incoming storm flooded the creeks and cut off our coastal route. At that point (or at Shelter Cove, if we made it all the way to that end of the 25-mile trail), we would cut inland and return north along the ridge trails of the King Range.We had unexpectedly decent weather for two of the first four days, and we made the most of our good fortune by lingering on the coast's beautiful and desolate beaches.

    On the first day, we made only three miles before finding an abandoned lighthouse whose roof deck proved too tempting as a potential campsite. After setting up tents atop the lighthouse, three of us spent the last two hours of daylight snapping photos and gathering a massive pile of driftwood, stacked carefully like Jenga blocks, for a bonfire on the beach. The fourth ran up a side-trail to enjoy the sunset from a bluff a thousand feet above the surf. When night came, we lit the driftwood pyre and watched, from a safe distance, the biggest bonfire any of us had ever made. The incoming tide doused and dispersed the embers before we retired.

    Though we were alternately given sunshine and rain over the next two days, both days were similar to the first: leisurely mornings spent breaking down camp, unhurried afternoon hikes south along the beach and coastal bluffs, and evening fires to warm ourselves and dry our gear. In the afternoon on the fourth day, we encountered others on the coast for the first time -- surfers headed north to camp and surf near Big Flat. Later that afternoon, we arrived at Black Sands Beach, the southern terminus of the Lost Coast Trail.

    On the fifth day, we set out on our return through the mountains, spending the first night at Horse Camp (approx. 3000 feet). We knew a storm was expected the next day, but we were surprised how wet the mountains already were: thick fog coated the conifers with moisture, which then rained down on us as nearly constant winds shook the tree branches above us. The difficulty of hiking the unexpectedly undulating ridge trails with our fully-loaded packs and the recollection of the relative warmth and dryness of the lower elevations coaxed us back to the beach. We decided to descend on Rattlesnake Trail the following day.

    On the morning of the sixth day after a slight detour to summit King's Peak (4,088 feet, no view due to the fog, wicked winds that made the rain hitting our faces feel like hail), we headed down Rattlesnake Trail toward the beach. Because a storm was expected that day, we knew we were taking a chance by returning to the coast: flooded creeks might force us to backtrack through the mountains. After an afternoon of downhill switchbacks, we reached the creek at the bottom of a canyon two miles upstream from the beach (approx. 400 feet elevation). Sure enough, we found flows many times heavier than we had seen in the same stream three days prior. Navigating the canyon toward the beach required two crossings. The first we managed safely by shimmying across a thick tree trunk at a narrow point over the creek's roiling white water. After walking a mile toward the ocean, the daylight was fading and we could not find a safe way to make the second crossing.

    We were exhausted, wet, cold, and discouraged, and we decided to make camp for the night. The only safe way to get home within our 7-night timeframe (as opposed to waiting indefinitely for flows in the coastal creeks to recede or attempting unsafe creek crossings) was to trek back over the King Range to the inland town of Honeydew the following day -- a prospect we did not relish.

    The next morning we backtracked four miles and 3,500 feet up Rattlesnake Trail, then went north four miles along the ridge trails until we reached a jeep road. From there, we hiked 10 miles down the other side of the range, reaching Honeydew around 8 p.m. I was feeling very smug with this accomplishment and was ready to call it a day, but two in our party who are remarkably enthusiastic and obnoxiously fit decided, after a mere three hours of rest, to run/walk an additional eighteen miles down the road from Honeydew to pick up our car at the beach that night. They arrived around 4:45 a.m. with the car. Two hours later as we scarfed down omelets in a diner somewhere south of Garberville, I was not complaining.

    The trip was a perfect mix of beauty, desolation, challenge, adventure and good company.

    Saturday, January 1, 2011

    Extracting 3 useful ideas from The 4-Hour Body

    Let's be clear that I'm not a fan of Tim Ferriss by a long shot. I don't idolize his lifestyle nor his writing style.

    I don't adore his accomplishments in the field of body hacking either. He is not hiding the fact that he has never been much of an endurance athlete, although he seems quite proud for his recently acquired running and swimming techniques. I've heard he might be interested in trying to run a 50-mile race or something like that in the near future though.

    I find some of his research methods quite questionable.Tracking personal data about some aspect of your physical progress doesn't really prove much at the end of the day. But I admit some of his experiments are fun to read about.

    Having said that, most of his self-experimentation ideas in the new book 'The 4-Hour Body: An Uncommon Guide to Rapid Fat-Loss, Incredible Sex and Becoming Superhuman' (from now on, let's call it '4HB' for simplicity) seem too risky, common or useless to me. I remember Total Immersion swimming catching on about a decade ago, but I just can't get too excited about some dude swimming a mile in the ocean. Same goes for Pose method and running a 50K. Too easy!

    When all this marketing hype settles eventually, I predict there won't be much real results left. The book itself boldly states that "Everything Popular Is Wrong", and 4HB being No. 1 on the New York Times Bestseller list, I rest my case.

    For example, I join factsaboutfitness in seriously doubting it's humanly and naturally possible to gain 19.5 kg of muscle in a month with his Slow Carb (aka Full Of Beans :-) diet and Minimum Effective Dose training concept. And to be honest, if it somehow were possible, as a runner I still wouldn't be interested in gaining that much muscle mass.

    I guess he has to exaggerate just about everything he does in order to sell more books. 6-minute abs, give me a break! Just check out this  '3-minute Slow Carb breakfast video' and take notice how long it really takes, even with all that ready-made garbage food and microwave oven - LOL!

    But hey, who wants to write a sardonic review - especially now when huntgatherlove already beat me to it. In all fairness, 4HB is one of the most interesting books ever written about body hacks and self-experimentation. Even if the experiments may not always suit your taste, they could give you new ideas.

    So I decided to set myself a challenge of extracting three new ideas (new in the sense that I'm not already using them) from 4HB. These would have to be practical ideas that anyone could easily start applying right now, the first day of 2011, and keep on using daily throughout the year.

    We tend to underestimate tiny ideas that could potentially have a huge effect if applied daily. I find it odd that small ideas are often perceived less valuable only because they are quick and easy to implement. For some weird reason we seem fond of big crazy ideas that are difficult to do (and almost impossible to keep on doing) and thus likely without any effect at all.

    Without further ado, on the cover there is a well-balanced body figure holding healthy food and some sort of supplement, so I thought I'd try to extract my chosen ideas within these three categories.
    1. Body idea: hire a qualified personal trainer to design a simple but effective strength/fitness program that can be performed daily at home or gym or anywhere (no excuses).
    2. Food idea: eat fermented foods like sauerkraut, kefir, yogurt etc daily. Also try using brazil nuts as a healthy snack.
    3. Supplement idea: take some green tea extract (or real green tea), garlic extract (or real garlic), and flax seed oil (I'm curious to see if it improves my sense of balance).
    All of the above will be fully implemented by the end of next week, and I'm committed to following this through at least until April. I'll make a full assessment of benefits then. I'm not likely to transform into a Superhuman, but I certainly hope this will have a huge impact on my running performances next summer. Thanks in advance 4HB!