Fun at Running Lab
Learn about the No Meat Athlete, Matt Frazier, through our interview with him.
When did you start running or becoming active? Why?
I was always into sports as a kid, but I absolutely hated running. I even quit my lacrosse team after I realized how much running we had to do in practice! It wasn’t until college, after I started lifting weights with friends, that I started running. One of my roommates had the bright idea that we should run a marathon, even though none of us had ever run more than three miles at once, and suddenly I was captivated by the idea of running a marathon. We signed up, and that’s when I started running.
Do you remember the first moment you felt “like a runner”?
Yes! I had been running for seven years, and had finally qualified for Boston, so I was still on a high from that. I was reading Born to Run on an airplane, and I distinctly remember feeling like I couldn’t wait to land and go for a run. In seven years of training to qualify for Boston, never had I once felt the desire to run just for running’s sake, and I thought, “Hey, maybe this is what it means to be a runner!”
What is the craziest thing that has happened to you while on a run?
I’ve got nothing here! A handful of disgusting bathroom stories, lots of random animal sightings (turkeys, snakes, bears), but really nothing that crazy.
How do you balance working, family and fitness?
Mainly, I’m able to balance them because I don’t do a whole lot else! We got rid of cable TV a while ago and I don’t really use Facebook or even a smartphone, and that was all very intentional because I really do think it sucks up a lot of time. I work from home, for myself, so that gives me a lot of flexibility, but the real key is that I love my work, staying in shape, and my family. So I can spend all day on that stuff, and feel like I don’t need much downtime because all that time is really fulfilling to me.
What is your philosophy on diet and nutrition?
I really like Michael Pollan’s simple take on nutrition: “Eat food, not too much, mostly plants.”
I eat a 100% vegan diet, and almost entirely whole foods. The vegan part, for me, is for ethical reasons, but it has worked very well for me as a runner and I tend to think my overall health is better than it was before I ate this way. But there are plenty of “junk food vegans” out there too, so the “whole foods” part is crucial.
I believe that our bodies know how to thrive when we give them foods in their natural, unprocessed state. Whether that includes a small amount of animal products doesn’t seem to have a huge impact on health. But it’s got to be whole food – minimize the sugar, oil, and processed carbohydrates, and I think you’ll recover from workouts faster in the short term and be more disease-proof in the long term.
How do you stay motivated?
I’ve learned that I need to have a big goal, and it needs to be something that almost seems impossible for me. That’s what getting to Boston was, when my first marathon took me 4:53 and my BQ time was 3:10. And it’s how running a 100-miler seemed the first time I signed up.
But the funny thing is, I’ve come to believe that you’re actually more likely to achieve a goal that’s way out there than one that seems on the surface to be attainable, as long as some part of you can envision it happening. It’s got to pull you forward and make you jump out of bed at the mere thought of getting closer to it – and I don’t think “reasonable” goals do a good job of that.
Who do you look to for inspiration?
When it comes to athletes, Michael Arnstein inspires me. He’s known as the Fruitarian and eats and even crazier diet than I do (he eats almost exclusively raw fruits and vegetables) and has won more than his share of ultras eating this way. But I like the way that he’s not afraid to talk a big game, and then he backs it up. He’s even broken 13 hours for 100 miles, which is insane to me.
Besides athletes, I get inspired by people who have started movements or changed the world in a big way, for the better. Seth Godin and Steve Jobs types. And I’m not ashamed to admit I get into Tony Robbins’ stuff too!
What inspired you to write a book?
Mainly, I wanted to give people who might be thinking about trying a plant-based diet some more confidence that they could make it work for sports and perhaps even perform better eating this way than otherwise. There are plenty of elite athletes who eat plant-based diets, but what was missing, to me, was a more approachable and relatable way of spreading the message.
What is the question you are asked most often? And how do you respond?
“Where do you get your protein?” of course!
My response is, first, that we don’t need nearly as much protein as people think. Chris Carmichael recommends that endurance athletes get 12 to 15 percent of calories, and that’s very easy to get on a plant-based diet.
Secondly, if you eat whole foods, protein is in everything! Even whole-wheat pasta, traditionally thought of as a carbo-loading food, has 15 percent of its calories from protein. Beans, nuts, grains … even many green vegetables are high in protein. Eat whole foods and you don’t need to think about it.
What’s next for you?
I’ve signed up for my first marathon in four years, the Richmond Marathon in November. That’ll be a nice change of pace from ultrarunning, but it’s going to mean lots of tougher workouts than I’m used to. But I’m excited about it.
And I’ve started to think about writing a new book. The first one was a lot of things – nutrition guide, recipes, running advice and training plans. This one will probably be entirely recipes, and more reflective of the way I eat now than the first was.
What is the top tip you would give someone on fitness?
Do things sustainably. You might be able to go from couch to marathon in six months, but if that burns you out and you never run again, then it didn’t do anything for your fitness. What matters when it comes to fitness isn’t what you do for a month or a year or even a few years; it’s what you do for the rest of your life. So start with small steps and build a strong foundation. Shoot for ridiculous goals, sure, but give yourself time to make them happen.
What is the top tip you would give someone on nutrition?
Eat whole foods. And again, the way to get there is with really small steps, building one on top of another. Start each day with a green smoothie and keep the rest of your diet the exact same for a week. If it goes well, add a big salad to lunch. And so on. Small steps add up.
About Matt Frazier
No Meat Athlete was founded in 2009 by Matt Frazier, at about the same time he went vegetarian. Six months later, Matt qualified for the Boston Marathon with a time of 3:09:59 at the Wineglass Marathon, over 100 minutes faster than his first marathon time seven years prior.
In June 2010, Matt ran his first 50-mile ultramarathon, and has run several more ultras and marathons each year since.
When he’s not running, cooking, or blogging, Matt enjoys reading, gambling, music, and brewing beer. He lives in Asheville, North Carolina with his wife, son and two rescued dogs, and is the author of the book, No Meat Athlete: Run on Plants and Discover Your Fittest, Fastest, Happiest, Self.
Second annual Saucony treadmill challenge at Running Lab was a success!
5 minutes, 10% incline, how far can you go?
Gender Participant Distance
M Ian Boyle 0.75 F Sarah Boyle 0.69 M Justin Craig 0.68 M Ben Lambert 0.65 M Shaun Jordan 0.63 M Brian Walsh 0.60 M Ken Larscheid 0.58 F Cristina Noble 0.57 F Nancy Schubring 0.54 M Erich Watry 0.54 F Deb Deren 0.52 F Robin 0.51 F Shannon Laurie 0.49 F Hong Weng 0.48 F Samantha Stryker 0.46 F Julie Andersen 0.45 F Tara Hartman 0.42 F Amy Gluck 0.39
This year, the RidgeRunners are training and fundraising for Love Runs, a non-profit charity created by NorthRidge Church. Their primary focus for the Detroit Free Press Marathon will be raising funds to fight local human trafficking.
Every 30 seconds, a person becomes a commodity in the world of human trafficking. Michigan is ranked 2nd as the most trafficked state, only behind Nevada. This is open to NorthRidge attenders and local runners/walkers from the surrounding communities.
Running Lab is helping to support this effort in a variety of ways. One of the ways was a demo day at the church.
There were a variety of vendors that came out to demo different shoes. There was also a nutrition station at the Running Lab tent to educate and sample nutrition. Mini Good Form Running (GFR) classes to help teach the basics of better running mechanics to run faster, easier and reduce injuries.