Barefoot Monologues

A Journey of the Sole

An Ultra-Marathon and the Paleo Diet


So I’ve been having a lot of strange, crazy, ridiculous thoughts lately.

Ridiculous idea #1 is that I want to run an ultra marathon. I don’t know, maybe a 6 or 12 hour timed race, maybe a 50k…maybe the Pineland Farms 50k on May 27th (happening four days after I get back from standing for 10+ hours at a trade show in NYC – I did say it was ridiculous, didn’t I?). I want to be able to say that I’m an ultra-marathoner. Call it a bucket-list item. And for some crazy reason, a 31 mile ultra seems actually easier than running a 26 mile marathon. Maybe it’s because all the people I know who run marathons talk about how hard the 20+ mile training runs are, and my ultra friends just talk about how much beer they consume afterward. Also, many of my recently-inducted ultra runner friends only had half marathons under their belts before finishing their first ultras. But these guys are in tip-top shape and are really good at making this stuff look easy.

I don’t know though, runs as short as 6-7 miles still make my feet hurt. I’m not sure how it would be possible to succeed at this point in my training level. But, I think, perhaps if I continue training like a champ and lose the excess weight I’ve gained over the last three years, I can manage the miles a little better. And faster.

The Pineland Farms 50k is happening at the end of May, and a few of my friends will be in attendance. It’s very tempting to sign up and pay the $45 today. It would be exciting. After all, that’s how I handled the half marathon: I signed up when I was sure I had absolutely no chance of actually making it, and then I did. Many great opportunities in my life have happened by taking those kinds of big leaps. Also, I work exceptionally well under pressure, and so perhaps having a 50k over my head will help me turn my fitness level around. I don’t know. I’m going to contemplate it over a glass (i.e. bottle) of wine tonight. Actually, who am I kidding? By the time you read this I’ll probably already have signed up for the damn thing.

But, moving on.

Ridiculous idea #2: the 30-Day Paleo Diet Challenge. For those of you who have never heard of it, the Paleo diet is based on the presumption that your body is designed to eat like humans did back in the Paleolithic era (our hunter-gatherer days) – essentially what you can procure naturally from the earth. Unprocessed, whole foods. It is believed that these foods are easiest to digest, and more easily used for energy and good health.

The Paleo diet consists of (from my understanding) red meat, poultry, fish, all fruits and vegetables, nuts and eggs. It does not consist of milk, yogurt, cheese, salt, refined sugars and oils, breads, pastas, rice and any other grains, and anything else that is processed, i.e. stuff that’s not “real food.” Many also exclude beans, legumes and potatoes.

If you think about it, it makes some definite sense. Any nutritional plan out there that has its head on straight pretty much preaches a diet based on these food items, though it usually allows most grains and processed items to which, as a society, I believe we are overly addicted. Even the vegan diet, which I momentarily considered instead, allows for too much processed carbohydrates, things I’ve never attempted to cut out of my diet before. Also, I’ve never been thin. I plan to find out if there is a correlation between those two things, and that’s why Paleo is the way I’m going to go.

However, in order to bring on a realist-factor and make it easier for me to uphold for 30 days, I plan to make the following adjustments/allowances:

  • coffee (I only drink 1 cup a day anyway)
  • potatoes (mostly sweet)
  • wine (occasional, and for adding flavor to cooking)
  • simple dressings (like oil and vinegar, balsamic)
  • beans (fiber)
  • olive oil (I believe in its heart-healthy properties)
  • occasional exceptions (i.e. if eating out) when Paleo options are unavailable

So, from Monday January 23rd through Wednesday, February 22nd I will practice this way of eating. I want to free myself from my addiction to the refined sugars that settle as excess fat around my waist. I want to see if it changes my energy levels, reduces my weight, makes running easier and heck, perhaps even helps my allergies. There are a lot of claims, so it’s possible. If nothing else, it will be healthier for sure. When the month is over, I’ll figure out what to do next.

If I make it out alive, that is. I’m sure going to miss pasta and wheat cereal.

10 thoughts on “An Ultra-Marathon and the Paleo Diet

  1. Nice. Good luck!! I totally need to change my diet, too. An I’ve got all this great Paleonola around… 🙂 Would it be the same w/o yogurt, I wonder?

  2. Just some friendly paleo advice. Nix the potatoes (except sweet) and the beans. You’ll get plenty of nutrients from the other food you eat. And kind of the point of the whole thing is to cut carbs way down. Do strict paleo for 30 days and then add “forbidden” foods back to see how your body tolerates it. You’ll get better results that way.

    Keep booze and coffee. No need to cut out all the fun 😉

  3. Your modified diet jumped from paleo to primal, IMO an easier choice to make. I’ve been on a primal diet for nearly a year and it’s so brain-dead easy to do it’s not even funny. Going paleo was causing a lot of stress in my household so I had to make certain changes (add in dairy (it doesn’t bother me anyway), beans, some nuts) to make it acceptable to my girlfriend.

    Other than certain food allowances, the diets are damn near the same.

    • I’ve been asked (begged, even) not to let beans and white potatoes be in my diet, at least for these 30 days. So I’ll listen to their advice as much as I can. After this month I feel I may switch to a diet more like yours. Thanks for reading!

      • Yeah, that is only preferred so that for 30 days, you’re effectively purifying your body and getting the toxins out, so that once you start adding foods back in, you can tell (hopefully) which foods cause any GI issues or not. It’s also useful for judging if you can stay on the diet as well, part of the mind-over-matter mentality of the paleo/primal world. Those are the only reasons for going paleo for a calendar month.

  4. Hey, I’m also interested in learning to run long distances, having recently read Born to Run by Christopher McDougall. Have you looked into the Maffetone Method for endurance athletes. Dr Phil Maffetone recommends a holistic approach to training that focuses on developing one’s aerobic capacity based on heart rate monitoring. He stresses burning fat for fuel and advocates a dietary approach similar to paleo.

  5. Pingback: Paleo vs. Vegan: The Politics of Diet « Barefoot Monologues

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