Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Spartan Up and Diet Cults


I've been reading quite a bit recently. Trying to read one book a week. At least the last two weeks I've been on track. Both of the books I read came from Podcasts I listened to. I know one of the Authors and know the events of the other. 

 I heard an interview with Joe De Sena and really liked what I heard. He's the co-creator of the Spartan Race series. It's really cool how it got started. Joe was working on Wall Street, didn't like how he felt and started running. He then turned to Triathlon which turned to Ironman which turned to adventure racing. When that wasn't enough he created his own crazy events. Through all of this he developed a philosophy about life. Boil his story down success comes from great purpose, great consistency and great habits. This man does 300 Burpees to start his day and in the Spartan Race if you can't do one of the obstacles you have to substitute 30 burpees. I can do 30 right now and I'm a long way from 300. Maybe this week I'll do 31. This is a fast read and it's full of good motivation.

There is one thing that I want to call out. I only call it out because it's repeated in an article in the recent Outside Magazine. The statement is that Spartan Race has 650,000 annual entrants spread over 35 Events. That's just over 11,000 per event. If this were true it would be setting records for race series. I did some counting on the Spartan Website. If you search results you get really easy view of total entrants. On the website they have results for 35 events.  Some of those events are multiple races on the same weekend in the same city. There are a handful of those multiples that have more than 11,000 entrants. There isn't a single event that has 11,000 entrants. In total over the 35 events there are just over 169,000 finishers. Again that is a really big number and very successful for such a young series. But it in fact is not 650,000 and even if it is only a subset of the year, it's at least 1/2 of the year which still doesn't add up to 650,000. I blame Outside Magazine for not checking facts.
Clearly the US and even world markets are looking for something other than running or gym workouts. Spartan Racing, Cross Fit and others like this are growing and that's great for the overall fitness of the world.


I met Matt Fitzgerald the author of Diet Cults years ago when I was working for adidas in Germany. That's right he lived in San Diego working for the Competitor Group and I lived in Germany at the time and that's when we met. I really like his new book Diet Cults. It's a no nonsense historical view of our relationship with food. As you may or may not know there is an assault on the Potato. Dr. Atkins started it and many more have taken up charge. One of my favorite quotes in the book that really explains the gist of this book goes something like this "Imagine telling the Irishman who is dying of starvation because of the Potato Famine, hey those potatoes aren't really good for you anyway".
As you know I travel frequently. What I've noticed is the American diet of fast food is invading the rest of the world. Rarely do you see a fat Chinese unless of course they are sitting at KFC. The same goes for Europe where in Germany people eat a hearty breakfast of cold cuts, muesli and bread. Often you see people eating a sandwich while walking from place to place for lunch. Dinner is meat and potatoes and of course Beer. Dr. Atkins didn't quite make it to Germany I guess. Or if he did they laughed him off.

My point is we Americans are not sensible. We are overly obsessed with food. We eat too much and we jump on fads. To be truthful I'm Gluten free not because of any reason other than my wife Mary. She had major issues with her gallbladder at around the time our son Marco was born. The medical community said "we have a fix, we'll remove the gallbladder". We declined and went the holistic approach. A 6 week test for Gluten sensitivity came up positive. She's been off gluten since then and her troubles have gone away. By the way her heritage is Russian Jew and if you search Gluten sensitivity and Celiac you'll find this culture to be heavily at risk.  So it's easier for me since I do the shopping to simply shop and eat gluten free. I do that everywhere but Germany where of course I dive into the great bread at breakfast.

Diet Cults is a quick read and quite entertaining. Just the history of where food comes from is worth the read.

It's a good life….. 
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