In 2008, I ran the Boston Marathon twice in the same day. “That’s amazing,” they said, “Now what?”
So, in 2010, I ran the 202-mile American Odyssey Relay from Gettysburg, PA, to Washington, DC. Typically a 12-person team event, I ran it solo in just over 50 hours. Again, the inevitable question: “What’s next?”
This time, the answer surprised many people. Instead of another first in running, I became the first national “spokesrunner” for Team BEEF.
While this spokesrunnership came around after I completed some of the feats above, it is not as if eating beef started in 2010. In fact, I credit my consumption of lean beef with why I have not only been able to do the things I have done but, more importantly, why I have been able to recover from the things I have done. Completing one difficult task is one thing. However, being able to dust oneself off and get to the starling line, in good shape, is another.
I figured when I began running with Team BEEF in races across the nation that the antiquated idea of how to properly fuel for a race (e.g., carbs, carbs and more carbs) would be hard to defeat. Fortunately, I’ve not only found very few people opposed to the idea of fueling on a lean beef diet, but have often been seen as a shining beacon for many who do just that.
I represent what athletes can do when they balance a healthy lifestyle with a healthful diet of lean beef. And my faith has been bolstered by the fact that many people still go by what they’ve learned from their own experiences and ignore the vocal few who tell them what they’re doing is wrong. If you’re seeing results from a certain shoe or training technique, chances are slim you’ll change it because somebody thinks their technique is better. The same goes for the way athletes choose to finely tune their bodies with the proper mixture of protein, iron, zinc and, well, the fantastic flavor of beef.
I always knew beef helped me prepare for and recover from races, but I never knew why until I learned about beef’s nutritional profile. When I tell athletes that there are more than 29 cuts of beef leaner than a skinless chicken thigh, their jaws drop. When I share that a 3-oz. serving of lean beef provides half the protein needed in an average adult’s daily diet at the cost of only about 150 calories, I sense a feeling of relief.
This past April, I ran the entire coast of Oregon along US Route 101, in one week, Averaging 50 miles a day, I also endeavored to not just motivate with my feet, but also with my mouth,. Along the route, I stopped at various schools to talk to kids about choosing properly, not only when it comes to staying clear of drugs and exercising regularly, but to also making proper food choices. There is no way I could have survived this 350 mile journey if I had not paid close attention to my diet. This means, not only during the week-long event itself but in the months and years leading up to it. Preparation for a task which will test the mind and body does not just begin with a dedication to run a few more miles. The mind must also be properly developed and the body must have the fuel to feed both the muscles and the brain.
When people say, “You run a lot – I bet you can eat whatever you want,” I always like to point out that the human body is like a well-tuned race car. Once you’ve primed that car to the point of performance where you’re depending on it to fire on all cylinders, the last thing you want to do is put gunky gasoline in it.
Furthermore, when mishaps happen (like they have to me twice in the past three years) if you are not eating properly, your body will take the brunt of your bad diet. Just two weeks ago I was involved in my second dangerous crash in my very short cycling career. The first, in 2009, gave me a grade III AC separation of the shoulder. The second ended in a broken clavicle, fractured shoulder blade, torn shoulder joint and a litany of other issue. Both could have been far worse and for that I am grateful. Yet, I know the recovery from the first, and hopefully, the second, will be sped by a diet that will fuel my body properly – lean beef.
And I am still going to run as part of the Ohio Team Beef at the Canton Marathon!
Extreme Athlete - Author - Speaker
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Dane speaks to youth encouraging them to make good decisions when it comes to exercising regularly and healthy food choices.