There were some pretty incredible and accomplished athletes in attendance, and every single talk or session sounded so interesting. (I wish I could get this excited to go to class!). To get a complete list of the speakers, click here.
I wasn’t able to attend as many sessions as I had hoped (12 hours of listening would have been overkill, anyway 😉 ), but I did listen super attentively to the ones I did go to, and made sure to “nerd out” and ask questions afterwards.
“Fuelling your Fire- nutrition for athletes”
(Panel: Matt Fitzgerald, Pam Reed, Terry Laughlin, Kelvin Gary, and Nicci Schock)
Even before the panel commenced, I knew that I was going to enjoy the talk. I arrived a few minutes early, and was waiting in the room responding to emails, when I felt a tap on my shoulder. I turned around and was happily surprised to see Kelvin Gary, (the owner of Body Space Fitness and one of the panelists) holding out his hand.
I had met Kelvin earlier in the summer during my weekend trip to NYC when Kat and I went to his “Training for Warriors” class at Body Space Fitness. (You can read about my experience here).We absolutely loved it, and after asking Kelvin’s permission, I instagrammed and blogged about my experience at BSF. I guess not too many people ask to take pictures of fitness equipment and gyms, because he remembered me, and we had the chance to talk for a few minutes before it was time for the panel.
In total, the panel lasted about an hour, including a few Q&A’s at the end. I took some notes for the first part, but after a while just sat back and revelled in the incredible stories of Pam Reed, snapshots of Matt’s book, and advice from the other panelists.
Although I found it all fascinating, here’s what I found to be most notable:
Kelvin uses meal logging as a tool to keep track of his client’s progress and keep them accountable for their diets. He believes in the 80/20 rule, which is where you eat clean 80% of the time, and indulge 20% of the time. This could mean every day, you have a little something special, or once a week, you give yourself a little wiggle room. Just as long as at the end of the week it balances out to 80% “good” and 20%, shall we say “not quite so good”, that’s what matters.
However, if you’re training for something specific, whether it be a marathon, a time trial, or a Spartan race, Kelvin recommends going 90/10, or even 95/5 to get that extra edge. I’ve heard many people sing the praises of the 80/20 rule, and although I don’t take note of everything that I eat, I am conscious and aware of what I am putting in my body, and generally think that I abide by these guidelines.
Nicci is a Metabolic Efficiency Training Specialist as well as a Holistic nutritionist, and as well as being an athlete herself, has coached many others to achieve their peak performance level, body composition, and/or weight. She recommends taking the time to learn what works for you individually, and to constantly question yourself to determine what is and isn’t working. One Nicci’s more simple yet poignant pieces of advice was to “allow yourself to change and explore other options”.
I found this to be a very insightful point, mostly because us humans are creatures of habit. We like what we are comfortable with, and often find the thought of change scary. For example, for the longest time I was scared of cottage cheese and avoided it at all costs. However, once I learned its nutritional benefits, I was able to get past the sketchy texture and let myself enjoy it. I’ll admit, it’s definitely a weird food to love, but if I hadn’t gone outside the box to give it another shot, I’d still be skeeved out by the funky looking food.
I found Pam to have the most captivating stories out of the panelists. I’ll admit that I’m biased, because I’m a sucker for crazy, intense stories, so when she started to describe her Badwater ultra marathon experiences, I was completely enthralled. She also has a certain vibe about her that is one one hand, so down to earth, yet at the same time, extremely insane. (She was the first person to run 300 miles nonstop without sleep!!!)
Most of what Pam talked about was her experience during different races- how she felt, what she ate, and how she pushed through. As a former anorexic of 15 years, Pam has had to endure seemingly endless suffering, both mental and physical. From winning the Badwater 135 mile race through Death Valley back-to-back years, to running around a 1 mile track for 6 days straight, averaging 1.5 hours of sleep a day, Pam has no doubt hit several walls in her time, yet pushed through them. If I had had more time, I would have loved to have made it to more of her talks over the weekend, because her stories were just so raw and inspiring.
Matt is not only a highly sought-after coach, but an award winning journalist, and the author of over 20 books focusing on endurance sports and nutrition. From having studied athletes from diverse cultures and geographic regions, Matt has concluded that most endurance and elite athletes seem to follow a similar guideline: they eat very high quality diets of a normal person.
So, if you’re a Ghanaian runner, you will eat as the other Ghanaians do, but will focus on eating the “cream of the crop”, so to speak. I suppose this is why us Westerners have gravitated towards the natural organic diet, as it is of the highest quality. Athletes can still eat burgers, they would just want to make sure that the meat is lean, grass-fed and without additives. (Basically, good- bye McDonalds).
This panel was a great way to kick off my NESS experience, because it was engaging and interactive. Furthermore, I loved how I was able to learn from 5 experts rather than just one. I also had the chance to attend Matt’s talk on Saturday, called “Go slow to get faster”, which I’ll recap in another post.
Alright time to go do some real homework. Hope your Tuesday’s off to a good start!