Wednesday, June 05, 2013

Review: Paleo Fitness by Darryl Edwards

My friend Darryl Edwards, aka the Fitness Explorer has finally written his (hopefully first) book, Paleo Fitness. Despite my disappointment that it was not actually Darryl on the cover, I eagerly flipped open and started to read this first contribution to the Paleosphere from the UK. 

There have been so many books recently on the Paleo/Primal lifestyle, you are almost certainly wondering what else someone could contribute. But I am here to tell you that this book is a must have -- a crucial addition to anyone's library. First of all, Paleo Fitness is the best introductory book I have yet to see. Darryl describes the basic concept of Paleo and the benefits of adopting this lifestyle. He describes the basics of Paleo nutrition in a way that is very accessible. There are many other books which describe more in-depth the science of the Paleo way of eating, but Paleo Fitness lays out the basic concepts so clearly that I know this will be my first "go to" book, from which I might branch out to others which provide more details.

Why? For one thing, the layout of Paleo Fitness is so well done. It makes it incredibly easy to use as a reference book. You can just grab it and read about why gluten is a problem, for example. He lays out two weeks of meal plans which gave me a lot of ideas about how I could put together interesting Paleo meals. Usually, I skip the meal plan part of books like this because so much doesn't apply to me. But there is something about the way Paleo Fitness laid out the meals that served to spark my own creative thinking about potential meals. In addition, drawing upon both his British and Caribbean heritage, Darryl provides some very interesting and diverse recipes (Jamaican Jerk Chicken!, T'ibs We't!).

The largest section of the book is devoted to Paleo workouts and here Darryl provides excellent guidance, a workout plan/schedule for three different levels, and explicit exercise instructions. This is another place where the book's format really shines. The workout plans are laid out week by week for a month for Level I, II, and III. Exercises are described with a good level of detail and, perhaps most importantly, photographic demonstrations. 

The books ends with an FAQ section which is very useful.

There are other books written on the Paleo lifestyle which would allow you to geek out on the science behind the idea. There are some beautiful & elaborate cookbooks. But Paleo Fitness is absolutely my favorite "intro to Paleo" book and the one I will be recommending to anyone who wants to learn about what this whole Paleo thing is all about.

One other note: Darryl is British and so the entire approach and tone of Paleo Fitness is one of measured common sense. I found this immensely refreshing.

To buy Paleo Fitness:

For fun, go check out the Paleo Fitness book page on Facebook where many are posting photos of reading Paleo Fitness as so:

Friday, January 11, 2013


In case you have not heard about this, again this year, the folks at Marathon Talk are hosting a Spring Motivation challenge, beginning this month with Jantastic ( This month is all about consistency, so the challenge is to state the number of times you will run each week (run meaning at least 1 mile) and then you report in. You can also join a team and rival other people participating. There are a TON of people participating.

So, I have said I will run 5 times a week, which is higher than my average, but keeps me from having two off days in a row (well, if I did and then had to run 5 days in a row, ouch!), which is always where I start to lose motivation. So far, so good. I've run 3 times this week, today is my rest day and I will run tomorrow and Sunday to meet my goal for week 1.

Onwards and upwards!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Run Barefoot Girl Interview #2

Caity McCardel of the Run Barefoot Girl podcast interviewed me again and you can listen to the interview here:

We actually talked around the beginning of September when I was in London and the interview was published mid-November.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Running Down a Dream

A couple of years ago, I read an article about Shaun Martin in a local Arizona paper and was deeply inspired. I would love to explore the connections between running and Navajo spirituality. Now, I just found out that the November 2012 issue of Outside magazine has an article on Shaun, accompanied by this video. It is beautiful.

Monday, December 03, 2012

Wherein, once again, Tracy gets lost on a long run

Usually on Saturday mornings (I say usually because we have done it the past two Saturdays!), Marie (my hostess) and I drive across town the Mt. Fébé to "do sport" as they say here. Everyone and their mother goes to Mt. Fébé on Saturday mornings (and maybe Sunday mornings as well). It is great fun to be amongst lots of other runners & walkers and there is virtually no traffic, which is quite a treat. At the bottom of the mountain, in the shadow of the incredibly posh Hôtel Mt. Fébé, is the Parcours Vita -- an outdoor training circuit invented by the French. Is anyone old enough to remember the installation of parcours areas in the US in the 70s or 80s? There's on in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco and along the lakefront in Chicago. There's a very dilapidated one in Bamenda on a hill above a dump. Anyway, Marie and her best friend usually meet and walk to the Parcours Vita and I run the mountain. It's about a 5 mi loop up, over, down and around and so a long run is two loops. It's a good workout.

However, this week Marie was very distracted (worried about the future or potential lack thereof of her organisation) and left without me! I was dressed and ready to go well ahead of time, too (5:30am). . . it was a bit discombobulating at first, but then I realised this provided me the opportunity to go explore "la brousse" (the bush) behind our neighbourhood. I ran out there once last week -- there's a village about 5km away, but looking on Google Maps, I saw what looked like a very nice loop -- out to that village, then south along a dirt road for a ways which would eventually meet the asphalt road to the airport (or, back to town in my case). Not too many turns, seemed clear enough, let's go!

It was still early when I left and since it was Saturday, few people were heading to work. Hence, the road was nearly empty. Only a couple of motorcycle taxis running up and down. After a mile, the asphalt ended and I plunged down the hill to the bridge over the river. Hello! A couple of young men washing their clothes. Fortunately, they were still wearing their shorts. I have run past my fair share of young men in pants washing. . . I was wearing my new Luna sandals (original model with new "monkeygrip" top and ATS laces). I'm a little skittish about whether they have enough grip for going downhill, so I take it gingerly. It rained briefly yesterday evening which was enough to tamp down the dust. As I got closer to the village centre, I was trying to pay attention to landmarks because they last time I ran out here, when I turned around I took the wrong route and went 1/2 a mile before I turned around and found the right way. Of course, I'm not planning to turn and come back this way today, so I don't know why I'm checking landmarks, but there you go!

Entering the intersection crowded with shoppers and shopkeepers, another runner is coming up from the road on the right and turns down the road I'm going in front of me. I'm humming along, but (a bit unusually) he's going faster than me, so he eventually drifts away. The road turns and I think to myself he must be going around and around on the loop I saw on the map. I remember that I'm supposed to turn off and as he is turning to the right, there is a well-traveled road right on front of me and I decide that must be the one I want. 

Now I am properly out in the bush. People are friendly and fascinated by this running white woman. Those I pass on the road greet me, "bonjour," and I reply, "bonjour!" It is quite beautiful. Lots of flowers on bushes and trees. Very thick vegetation and tall trees. It feels very much like the jungle. The road is hard packed red, red dirt. My path twists and turns and I estimate in my head that I should probably meet the road around 5 miles. At one point I come to a T-junction and I think I am remembering the image of the map in my head. I ask a passing man if the main road is to the right or to the left and he points to the left road. Going down that road, a couple of motorcycles come by, indicating to me that this is the route to the main road. A bit later than my estimate, I reach asphalt at almost precisely 10km (6.2 miles). Again, imagining the map I saw in my head, I turn right because that is clearly the way back to Yaoundé, left would take me towards the airport.

I have run on this road before, but not this far out, so as I run along I am looking around for anything familiar which will give me an indication of how far I have left to go. I see a bar/restaurant which I swear I saw that early, early morning when I arrived and Marie and Boris picked me up from the airport. Great, all is good, I'm going the right way. I casually notice a cement mile marker on the side of the road which says "Mfou" on it. Every couple of kilometres (every mile or so), I think, "is this where I turned around the one time I ran out 5k? It looks a bit familiar." I do this several times. But then things are feeling decidedly more and more rural rather than, as one would expect, more and more urban. A moto taxi guy in a pink helmet stops and asks if I've been running all the way since Yaoundé, "yes" I reply. "Wow! Courage!" he says, clearly very impressed. I ask him about how much further it is this way, "about 5k to town?," "oh, probably about 4k to Mfou," he replies, but I do not really hear what he says -- that is, it didn't really compute. I run onwards. I pass a couple of young guys standing by the side of the road in front of a house. Then I see another of those cement mile markers and I decide to actually go look at it. On my side, it says "Mfou 5" which would be 5km. Then on the other side, it says "Yaoundé 20". Oooohhh. Whooooaaa. And suddenly it hits me. I am 5km FROM Mfou. I am now, somehow, 20km FROM Yaoundé. How the heck did that happen? Is that really true? I stop a child walking by and ask her which direction to Yaoundé and which to Mfou. She confirms my fears. 

I have now already run 11 miles and I don't think I'm really up for another 11 or 12. . . What the heck am I gonna do? I walk back to the cool young men trying to come up with some plan in my head. I could get a moto taxi and make them wait while I ran up to my room and got money. Yes, of course, here I am 20km from home no, I am not carrying a cellphone and no, I do not have a franc on me. Clearly I forgot where I am. I used to always carry at least 500-1,000 (of whatever currency) which is enough to get a bottle of water and a taxi ride. So, I ask the cool boys and then explain that I got somehow completely turned around. Yes, I ran from Yaoundé -- they are duly impressed and nicely respectful (age definitely has its advantages in this culture). They ask where I live. "Ekoumdoum," I tell them. "Oh, that's easy then," they explain -- you just get a taxi from here for 300 to Y Escalier and then from there it's 100 to Ekoumdoum. Well, that would be easy as pie if I had any money. . . Then one of them says, "wait, I'll go get money for transport." I'm surprised, but have no other ideas so I chat a bit with the other guy. After a few minutes, the first guy returns followed shortly by his mother and a friend or aunty (likely coming out to verify his rather unbelievable story of a sweaty white woman running from Yaoundé who needs transport money!!!). He hands me 400 francs and I'm gobsmacked. I thank him and greet the women and thank his mother profusely. Within moments, a taxi comes by that is going to Y Escalier and I'm off.

Lots of amazement in the taxi when I tell them where I've run from. One guy exclaims, "these whites do not do sport like we Cameroonians, they are very strong!" Ha! Or stupid, as the case may be. . .

As we drive along, I am still totally confounded about how I got turned around. I keep looking for familiar places and think I see them. But when we get to Y Escaliers, it is not a place I have been before. I feel like I should go to the right, but I remember the young guys telling me that for Ekoumdoum, I should go left there, so I do that. After about 200 metres or so, I suddenly see something truly familiar and realise where I am -- on a totally different road than I thought, on the opposite side of my area. How did I get here?

When I get home, I cannot wait to get my watch off and sync it to the computer so I can see the track I actually took and see where I went and where I went wrong. And voilà! Do you remember the village out in the bush not too far from me? Where there is a loop that the other runner was going around? Well, the road I took off of that was where I went wrong. I should have continued around the loop and take then *next* road off to the left. That would have led me down to the airport road. The road that I took, despite being very well travelled actually does not show up on Google maps at all. It winds around and leads me to the northern road which is the one that goes to Mfou. And so, when I came to the asphalt, I thought I was southeast of home and should turn to the right, but in reality I was northeast and should have turned left!

And so, my friends, the adventure continues!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Brief update from Cameroon

Just a quick update after a looooong period of silence to say that I will be reactivating my blogging here at RevRuns. After spending the past 8 months in England and Europe, I am now back in Africa, now in Yaoundé, Cameroon, where everyone thinks I am insane to go around barefoot! So far I've run completely barefoot, once in my NB Minimus Trail shoes and once in my new Luna ATS sandals. It's much hotter here than it was when I left the UK, so I'm still adjusting, but it feels awesome to not have to bundle up to go for a run!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Catching up from Italy

Sooo, it's been a long time since I've written a blog post. Last time I wrote, I was living and running in Dorset in south England. Now I'm visiting the lovely hill town area of Labro, Italy, just north of Italy on the border with Umbria. In the meantime, I spent a week in London in mid-May and participated in my very first Park Run, in Hampstead Heath, which was a great experience. For those of you in the UK, Australia or South Africa, if you can get to a Park Run, I highly recommend them. I ran barefoot to the race which was a nice 2 mile or so warmup on a very chilly morning, then I ran the 5k course barefoot which was challenging because I wanted to run as fast as possible and, being in a park, the course offered a wide variety of surfaces. I was pretty proud that I actually was the fastest in my age group!

From 23 May to 27 June, I was in northern Spain where I walked the Camino de Santiago, about 50% of it barefoot. I was able to get in one run when my companions took my backpack from Mansilla to Léon and I was able to run about 18km. And I spent several days in Santiago de Compostela where I had fun running through the cobblestone streets barefoot.

Now I'm spending a few weeks in Italy and getting back into the swing of running. Here's a photo from the lake in Piediluco, down below where I am staying. On the left you can see the beautifully restored medieval hilltown of Labro and on the left, the town of Morro Reatini. This is where I am running these days. It is gorgeous and hot and very hilly. I have now figured out several routes around the house ranging from 4 to 10 miles long and am having run exploring, though I've had several runs that were longer than I intended because I got lost--always the adventure in a new location! Last week I ran 27 miles and this week will likely be around the mid-30s. I'm not running fast at all because basically I run straight uphill and then straight downhill or vice versa, but I can really tell that walking 25-35km a day for a month improved my conditioning. On Sunday I ran 9 miles and then on Tuesday I went exploring and took a rather long detour, ending up running 10 miles (when I intended to do 6) and was none the worse for wear.

My current equipment: 

- a pair of New Balance MInimus Zero trail shoes which I haven't really taken seriously off-road but I absolutely love. The first shoes I've really been able to wear without socks! They are stunningly minimal. I had a pair of Minimus Trails (not zero drop) which I used for walking the Camino and I started out sockless in those, but they caused rubbing on my heels. 

- a pair of Invisible Shoes sandals (the thinnest soles). I'm still working on the lacing methodology. I'm having the same problems I've had with Luna sandals -- basically my foot slides backwards, particularly when going up hill (and after that, when flat), which makes the heel strap dig painfully into my heel and the front end flops around so much that they would be quite dangerous on uneven ground. Those were the results with the most minimal lacing (one strap all around), so my next experiment will be with a double strap on the heel to see if that makes a difference. I also have an issue with my right foot sliding sideways--to the right. The good thing about the Invisible Shoes vs. the Lunas is that the cord is quite soft and so I have no issue with the thong between my toes (although on the 10 miler I got a bit of a blister because of my foot sliding to the side). 

- a Garmin 610 watch -- the best Garmin I've had. The most comfortable and the bezel doesn't get accidentally activated as used to happen with the 405 and 410.

- an iPod Nano -- I think this will be my "go to" device. It seems to work fine for running as long as I don't stick it inside my shorts. It also has enough capacity to store most of my current podcasts plus a playlist of songs for running. (I used to use a Shuffle for running, but lost it when I moved from Namibia.) I'm thinking of selling my iPod classic which is what I've always used for listening around the house.

- Dr. Dre Beats earphones -- I love the sound and the fit of these, but mechanically they are crap. I've literally sent back 4 pairs because within a month or two of using them, the controller (that allows for volume control, skipping songs and voice over) stops working. When I was on the Camino, I used a "One Good Earbud" which I won. It worked brilliantly, but for running, I am waiting for them to make an over-the-ear model with a shortened cord.

That's it for now. I intend to get back into the rhythm of posting regularly. I'll be in Italy for another couple of weeks and then I'm going to France, so the adventures continue!