Age Grouper Endurance Runners Should Consider Gliding But What Should They Eat, Omnivorous, Vegetarian, Or Vegan?

Hi folks! Thanks for stopping by!

Photo of Dustin before and after taking up a plant-based diet. The journey of a 1000 miles starts with the first step, or the next bite.

The dramatic and liberating effects of a dietary change. Way to go Dustin.

This blog post was prompted by a message I received on Facebook, concerning an inspiring story at the Forks Over Knives blogsite, from a faithful follower and sometimes much appreciated and gentle critic, Marsha (thanks, Marsha!). This interesting blogpost addressed the issue of using whole-food plant-based diets to improve one’s health. The story, which is well worth reading, is entitled, “After Hitting Rock Bottom, Forks Over Knives Helped Me Lose 100+ Pounds.” Reaching a healthy weight is important, but what do you do about food as an endurance athlete? I am experimenting with the Paleo Diet, of which I suspect Marsha does not approve.

As an endurance athlete, diet selection can be challenging, so I started today’s blog post with a great video on endurance, specifically Ironman, running styles, one of the best I’ve seen yet. I sure struggle with running. Being a water polo player in my youth didn’t help much! The video, which is quite long and detailed, recommends the gliding technique for age groupers, such as myself, and I agree. Too much time-of-flight is beyond my old bones. However, as an age grouper, what should you eat as an endurance athlete?

I suspect that you have to work this out for yourself, but there are a number of choices and a great deal pressure to select wise dietary approaches, including the following:

  1. Ethics – should I kill animals, or plants for that matter, for food?
  2. Sustainability – does my diet wreck the environment?
  3. Fairness – should I eat meat when much of the world is starving?
  4. Evolution – should I respect my genetic heritage as an omnivore?
  5. Mentoring – should I just consume what my doctor or nutritionist tell me to eat?
  6. Bioenergetics – as an endurance athlete, should I rely on carbs or fats for my energy supply, and if the latter can I get the energy I need from plants alone?
  7. Guilt – should vegetarians and vegans put a lot of guilt type pressure on omnivores?
  8. Empathy – should everyone who eats meat spend a little time in a slaughterhouse?
  9. Conditioning – is each person responsible for moving beyond their personal family, religious and social conditioning?
  10. Cost – should your fiscal situation drive your decision?
  11. Other – did I think of everything? I doubt it.
The Omnivore's Dilemma book recommended by FitOldDog

A fascinating and interesting book. Makes you think!

As an omnivorous (mainly, including now) veterinarian, I’ve killed a lot of animals in my time, but with some amount of introspection. I became a veterinarian because I respect and enjoy non-human animals (humans are more problematic), not because I wanted to slaughter them. I improved the lives of many animals through my veterinary work, and I like to think that my research was always directed down the path of reducing animal experimentation to the essential minimum (for some people this is zero, but I don’t agree). In my career as a research pathologist I came to the conclusion that mathematical modeling could eliminate many unnecessary and poorly conceived animal experiments. Some animal experiments are inevitable unless you want to experiment on people, including your children, or make no attempt to improve surgical and medical approaches to human and non-human animal health. For instance, I am alive today because I was provided with an abdominal aortic aneurysm stent graft, some of the essential research for which was carried out in dogs.

Old Scooter learning to live with young Willbe, as a model for older athletes competing in Ironman races.

Scooter (10 dog years = 70 human years) learning to live with Willbe (8 dog months = 2.66 human years or 2 years 8 months, a toddler), who is full of energy and a bit overboard – think Ironman swim as an older athlete!

Should they have carried out such experiments in people? Or in pigs, because we like dogs more? Actually I really like and respect pigs. Best of luck answering this question, though I really appreciate not being dead, of which Scooter and Willbe seem to approve.

I’ve enjoyed many animal companions, mainly cats and dogs, but the odd fish and a turkey (rescued from the farm I worked on as a teenager). I struggle with the issue of animal use on a daily basis, because I think that it is important.

For a great discussion of the omnivore/vegetarian/vegan question follow this link. This debate between two ‘experts’ (never did really trust experts completely) is largely well reasoned and provides a great starting point for your decision making process. Choose your diet wisely, as your psychological and physical health, and the stability of the Biosphere, may depend upon it.

I think that the most important thing to do right now is eliminate or markedly improve factory-farming techniques, but the real answer is to restrain human population growth. How we are going to do that, I have no idea. If we don’t, I suspect that Planet Earth will do it for us, as the writing is already on the wall!

-k @FitOldDog


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Disclaimer: As a veterinarian, I do not provide medical advice for human animals. If you undertake or modify an exercise program, consult your medical advisors before doing so. Undertaking activities pursued by the author does not mean that he endorses your undertaking such activities, which is clearly your decision and responsibility. Be careful and sensible, please.