Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Powered By Plants: Interview With No Meat Athlete And Runner Matt Frazier


Running... for some it's part of their normal workout routine; for others it makes them cringe at the very thought of it.  For Matt Frazier it's become entrenched into his heart and soul.  Running is not just something he does to get some regular exercise but instead something that's turned into a unique passion of fueling his desire to make a positive impact on the world around him.

He never used to feel this way about running though.  In fact, in high school and the beginning of college he hated running and only did so if required as part of fitness program.  But that all changed one day when he became infatuated with the idea of being able to actually run AND finish an entire marathon.

He's come a long way since then and his journey has inspired tens of thousands of people along the way.  Today you won't find Matt running only marathons but competing in ultramarathons of 50 miles or more!  Now that's a feat that very few people in this world can attest to.  What's even more incredible is that Matt accomplishes all this without ever eating a single bite of meat.  That's right, he doesn't even eat lean meats such as chicken or fish that many would consider a necessity to do what he does.  Instead he's powered predominantly by plants.

Matt's running times actually improved as an endurance runner when he stopped eating meat and became vegetarian in 2009.  After being laid up with an injury for some time he decided to cut out meat from his diet before getting back into running.  The first time he returned from his injury he ran a 12 mile run faster than he'd ever run before.  He shaved 30 seconds per mile off his total time during that run!  He attributed his improvement to his new "no meat" diet and has never looked back since.

It wasn't long after that when he started his own blog, No Meat Athlete, to share his story with others.  He's become an inspiration to athletes of all kinds as well as non-athletes looking to improve their overall health and fitness.  I was fortunate enough to be able to interview Matt and will share more of his story below.  I hope you find it as uplifting and motivating as I did and I encourage you to check out his website after reading his interview for more fantastic material!

Interview with Matt Frazier

You've been a long distance runner for several years now. How many marathons and ultramarathons have you run so far? How long do you see yourself being a long distance runner in the years to come?

So far, I've run 8 marathons and 5 ultras, with 3 of the ultras being 50K's, and 2 of them being 50-milers. It's funny though, to answer this I actually had to stop and count up the number of marathons I had done. Not because it's so many, but because after I got into ultrarunning, where sometimes you'll do a marathon or 30 miles just as a training run, I sort of stopped counting.  
I don't really have any plans of stopping as a distance runner.  You see all these 60 or 70 year-olds running marathons and ultras, and I think people are finally starting to reject the "running is inherently bad for your body" idea. Two runners this year finished the Badwater Ultramarathon (the 135-mile run through the 120-plus degrees temperatures in Death Valley at age 69!)

What do you do besides running to train for events? Strength training, yoga, swimming, etc.?

I do a little bit of core work and flexibility training, but other than that I don't really do any cross-training. I like lifting weights, mainly deadlifts, to build up leg strength, but I usually only do that before I officially start a training program.  It's not that I think it's harmful, but when I ran my fastest marathon, all the workouts I did were running workouts, and since that worked, I've stayed with it.

Take us through a typical day with your "No Meat" diet. Is it different the last few days before a big race?


There are two things I try to have every day, and they're a smoothie and a salad. I find that if I just keep those two things in place, it's really easy to stay on track the rest of the day.  For example, after you drink a healthy smoothie from almost all raw foods in the morning, you don't feel like downing 3 cups of coffee.  Same with salad; you don't feel like eating a bunch of junk before dinner if you're feeling good from having a salad in the afternoon.
I like cooking, so most nights I make a nice dinner; a lot of times it's a new pasta recipe or maybe an Indian dish.  And that whatever I make for dinner is also lunch the next day.  A lot of people ask me what you eat for lunch as a vegetarian, because it seems like there aren't a lot of substantial lunch options that you can put together quickly.  But if you just make it leftovers, it solves that problem pretty nicely.
And as for snacks throughout the day, I mix it up.  Fresh fruit, vegetables or whole wheat pita with hummus, almonds or almond butter, and even stuff like chips and salsa or guacamole, which certainly isn't "health food" but isn't too bad either.


I've heard others say that being an athlete who is at the top of their game can only be done with a protein rich diet and successful athletes like Carl Lewis, Prince Fielder, or Tony Gonzalez who eat all that "rabbit food" instead of meat are the rare exception to the rule. What are your thoughts about this?



If that's the case, then there are enough exceptions that I don't think you can really consider them exceptions anymore.  There are some absolute elites in their sports who are vegetarian and vegan.  So it's not like "1 guy out of 1000 who do this sport is vegetarian," it's "1 of the top 10 guys or girls at this sport is vegetarian."  For example, all the people you mentioned are stars in their sports.  And then there are probably a lot of lesser known ones who you just don't hear about.

I'm not saying their diet is the reason they're stars.  I honestly don't even know if a plant-based diet is an advantage at the elite level.  But they're proof that at the very least it works.  I know that for me, it's just made it easier to avoid fast food and lots of other junk that you don't even realize you're putting in your body, even when you feel like you're eating healthy.  So my health has improved a lot since I went vegetarian, and with that my marathon time went way down.

If you had to pick one person who has had the biggest impact on your life so far to get to where you're at today with being a vegetarian athlete who would that be and why?


You'll probably laugh at this one, but it's the truth.  It's Tony Robbins, who isn't really an athlete and not even a vegetarian, but a motivator and peak performance expert.  If I can point to one moment in my life where I started to question all the supposed rules about how you're supposed to eat and live and what to expect from your life, it's when I went to a 4-day seminar of his.  Within two or three days of getting home, I decided to go vegetarian, start No Meat Athlete, and qualify for the Boston Marathon.

What inspires you to continue sharing your story on NoMeatAthlete.com?  I mean it is, after all, a lot of work to keep up with training, your Ph.D. goals, and everything else life throws at you.

I do it because I'm completely addicted to the feeling of putting your ideas into words, hitting the "Publish" button, and then seeing how it affects people.  And when it changes someone, like really resonates with them and gets them to start eating right or to start running or to sign up for a race they've been scared of, that's what it's all about for me.
I'm also extremely driven by the idea of being an entrepreneur and running a business that's fulfilling and meaningful and creates positive change in the world.  No Meat Athlete still has a lot of room to grow, but getting a taste of that (and recently being able to make it my full-time job) has been so motivating to me.  Sure, there are times when it feels like work, but when I go to bed at night, I can't wait until it's morning so that I can get back to work on it.

What's the one Superfood you can't live without?

Almond butter.  I put it in smoothies, on bagels, on celery, and I even eat it off a spoon sometimes.

Thank you so much Matt for sharing your personal story and insights on being an athlete who's truly focused on living a healthy and vibrant life.  Your story is an inspiration to many!


Visit Matt's website - No Meat Athlete










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