What’s the hardest you’ve ever worked? This photo was 10 weeks into the hardest 16 weeks I’ve ever dieted and trained, yet not my best outcome. Why? It’s not ONLY about hard work.
Without getting into what was happening business-wise, let’s just focus on the end of my cut-down in 2008: the last 4 months I trained 3 times PER DAY (not a typo). I had 2.5 cartons egg whites, 8 cups raw spinach, 1/2 cup white rice, a multi, two 1g caps fish oil, four 1g caps CLA, and 3 gallons spring water per day. THAT. IS. IT. No cheat meals. Not once. No drugs. Not even caffeine. No tea or coffee. I didn’t even have anything that tasted sweet, no flavored water, no flavored anything, no sweetener, no sauces, no mint or cinnamon even, including my toothpaste. 21 intense workouts/week on 250 grams protein, 8 grams fiber, 27 grams net carb, 6 grams fat (1,166 calories). No breaks. No treats. The months prior to this weren’t slacking at all. So don’t you dare say it’s ONLY about hard work. With my genetics and all my givens, this was the farthest I could could go with it in my 20s, ending at a somewhat lean 225lbs.
This picture was at 10 weeks in. I got more shredded in the last 6, but not a ton. Never did a water deplete - so who knows. In fact, I was so disappointed I didn’t take a single picture at the end. Also, the credit markets crashed as we were about to launch a new business, which was absolutely devastating. People forget that during the Fall of 2008 it was unclear if the world would continue to exist; whole industries imploded; free-market capitalists BEGGED for socialistic big government subsidy bailouts. All around, it was rough. The hardest working year of my life equaled negative return on investment.
I. HEAR. YOU. I hear people who are aggravated by how hard they work versus someone else. I have outperformed this physique with less work, just by focusing more on rest, recovery and stress management. And someone may argue “smarter, not harder.” But this sentiment isn’t true. Sometimes head starts, cheating, trust funds, genetics, timing, and dumb luck can take someone farther, faster, sooner, for longer.
For most people, you’re going to have to work harder than it “should be”. But let us be kind to ourselves and one another, recognizing that there is no 1-to-1 return on hard work. It matters ALWAYS, but not ONLY.
What’s a ketone?
It’s a chemistry term. It refers to a structure which is responsible for certain reactions, characterized by a carbon-oxygen double bond.
Many “keto” proponents don’t start here and also don’t realize that fructose-containing foods are filled with ketone-bonded energy. But, as you’ll soon see, these foods would not constitute “keto” compliance because of their tremendous sugar load.
This leads us to the central theme of the keto craze: proportions of one fuel versus another. Regardless of what some bros have told you, it’s not so much about one or the other. It’s the proportions.
To put things in perspective, elite cyclists might be considered “keto” at a dietary carbohydrate number of 1,000 grams. One thousand grams of carbs is only 4,000kcal. Some of these guys burn 14,000kcal on a competitive day. From where do you think that other 10,000 is coming?
What is ketosis?
This is a name we slap on the condition someone enters when they don’t have supra-adequate access to blood sugar or glycogen.
The body sees that it can’t easily get sugar into tissue (prediabetes and diabetes) or that it has little available to do so (fasting, dieting, high fat/keto nutrition, intense prolonged exercise). Begrudgingly, it relents to breaking down stored fat. During this breakdown, the liver produces these things we call ketones.
To a certain extent, therefore, any diet which results in reduced body fat was ketogenic, whether or not it abided by the name “keto.” Any time the human body breaks down fat, it will make ketones. This is a biological law. Any diet which didn’t result in fat loss was not promoting sufficient beta-oxidation and never produced a significant number of ketones even if the adherent called it “ketogenic dieting.” This is not an opinion. This is the known and non-debated biochemistry of fat loss. Fat loss is ketogenic whether you achieve it through bodybuilding dieting, veganism, paleo or otherwise. Therefore, to the question, “does keto cure obesity and diabetes?”, the answer, by definition, is yes. In fact, it’s the only cure for both.
Now don’t confuse controlled nutritional or exercise-induced ketosis with another condition called diabetic ketoacidosis. In insulin resistant individuals, they become so addicted to sugar, yet so incapable of utilizing it, that the body will amass outrageous amounts of energy in the blood (disposing of none), which is an acid load. This drops the pH of the blood dangerously and can be fatal. This has almost nothing to do with what we’re talking about when restoring a person to health through intelligent eating patterns.
To oversimplify, the human body can run on sugar in a wanton inflammatory state or it can churn along productively with something called beta-oxidation. Getting the body to remember beta-oxidation isn’t so easy; and this difficulty is the place from whence ketogenic diets arose. Most people must pass through severe withdrawal to achieve fat loss. Your brain is addicted to sugar at multiple levels. Yet not one cell in the body intrinsically requires external carbohydrates. Again, this isn’t my opinion. This is the unanimous declaration of the National Academies of Science, Engineering, Medicine, the National Research Council, and the National Institutes of Health (p. 275; https://www.nap.edu/read/10490/chapter/8 ). We can fuel everything with fats and protein, and liver function. But people have trained their bodies to reject the efficiency of beta-oxidation, and they require sugar emotionally, mentally, socially, and physically.
Depending on the severity of your addiction, there may be no “easing” into ketosis. People who have defined life with the abuse of alcohol can’t easily step into a healthy relationship with alcohol. In the same way, carb-addicts can’t easily step into a healthy relationship with carbs.
So we get rid of carbs, right?
Well, sort of. You have to understand that you likely have a severe mental and physical illness. SEVERE. And it’s been normalized in our society. So you have ZERO social support to go through the withdrawal symptoms. One of the first symptoms of withdrawal is misinterpreted as hypoglycemia. And I want to be sensitive here. So read closely. Ninety-nine times out of one-hundred, this is complete bullshit. I am the strongest advocate for science literacy I know. I rely on CONDUCTING science. I have people test blood sugar when they feel low. In SIXTEEN YEARS I had only one single client who was right about being hypoglycemic and she is an actual type I diabetic.
So I have people test blood sugar, because I actually believe in DOING real science. I know that this is a huge departure from other science advocates whose idea of science is the act of sharing vaguely science-related memes or pointing to consensus opinions. Ninety-nine percent of people who experience or fear hypoglycemia, when they test, discover HIGH blood sugars, not low. They’re addicts. They’re experiencing extreme drug withdrawal. Additionally, in the average populace, there is basically no such thing. Why? Because we aren’t even supposed to run our bodies on blood sugar alone. The human race wouldn’t exist if we required constant external carbohydrates. All of prehistory and almost all of history was not marked with swinging through the drive-through and eating snickers bars 5-10 times a day.
What are people usually referencing when they say “keto?”
It varies. Medical researchers Wilder and Peterman coined the term “ketogenic diet” in the early 1900s, defining it as a carbohydrate intake of 15 or fewer grams per day, protein intake of 1 gram per kilo of body weight per day, and a fat intake 4 times the sum weight of protein plus carbs. What’s most interesting is that scientists in the 1920s were discovering that fasting was a powerful therapeutic intervention for many diseases; and this formulation of the ketogenic diet was an effort to get all the benefits of fasting while still having some food. Moreover, Wilder and Peterman were hoping this ratio would lead patients to greater compliance over longer periods of time. Pay attention. Ketogenic dieting was devised IN ORDER TO BE easier to follow and for higher compliance. Don't you dare talk about how it can't be sustained. That was its very purpose.
By definition, any diet which works is ketogenic. This is an undeniable biochemistry reality. But what people often refer to when they use the phraseology “keto” is somewhere between “low carb” and “no carb.” And even these have different definitions for different people. But let’s just assume something in the ballpark of Wilder and Peterman’s definition, and place the number at less than 25 grams of net carb (everything that isn’t fiber or sugar alcohol) per day.
The beauty of this is its simplicity. Thus, it CAN work. But it’s missing vital specifications, like how many grams of dietary fat, fiber, protein, and micronutrients. Therefore, some people can thrive in the simplicity if they naturally hit the other checklist items. Everyone else, if they’re going to become more healthy while “keto,” needs to pay attention to the other nutrient sufficiencies. My primary concern in wanton keto dieting is that people degenerate their gut flora in the absence of sufficient resistant starches and fiber. My secondary concern is the possible absence of omega 3s (or so-called “dirty keto”). My tertiary concern is one I’ve tested firsthand: insufficient protein leading to loss of strength and lean mass. I tested wanton keto (ie - no special attention paid to protein sufficiency) for over a year. I was able to easily stay lean; but I could not maintain as much muscle mass or strength. We’ll table this piece of the discussion for now, because dietary sufficiencies are a massive subject in and of themselves (see here: https://www.elev8wellness.com/…/food-how-much-to-have-of-wh…).
Can keto really cure cancer, diabetes, obesity, alzheimer’s, epilepsy, etc.?
Let’s try to keep the discussion on known biological mechanisms, not anecdotes.
Regarding type 2 diabetes and obesity, the answer is a definitive yes. As you deplete the body of energy, glucose transporters will become more sensitive (curing both), which IS going to be a state of ketosis.
Regarding epilepsy, the answer is NO. It cannot cure epilepsy. It is an effective treatment for many. In fact, it’s the only way to reduce seizure severity for the anti-epileptic drug non-responders. Why? Because seizure IS imbalance of the inhibitory and excitatory mechanisms. The cells which govern those mechanisms, when relying on glucose, have variant energy availability (and therefore erratic responses). The cells which govern those mechanisms, when relying on the never-ending and steady stream of ketone fuels, don’t experience variable operation. One of the coolest facts about ketogenic dieting for epileptics is that some of the benefits PERSIST after discontinuing the diet.
Regarding Alzheimer’s, there is promise here, but the implementation must be specific. Dr. Mary Newport created a buzz around this when her husband’s rapidly declining health and advanced Alzheimer’s was reversed by raising his ketone levels. Unfortunately, people erroneously took from this story that coconut oil cures Alzheimer’s. Even she seemed confused by the outcome, spending a lot of energy on talking about coconut oil. The issue with Alzheimer’s is accumulated products and inability to get energy into brain cells. Simply eating fats won’t necessarily accomplish either. Fasting, followed by an emphasis on ketone fuels IN THE ABSENCE OF INFLAMMATORY FOODS, will help the underlying pathology. But simply adding fats to an already-unhealthy and overly carb-laden diet will not even reduce symptoms, let alone cure the disease. This is yet again where there is a monumental difference between two people’s definitions of “keto”. We don’t need merely to eat a bunch of medium chain triglycerides. We have to clear the body of excess energy, cell waste, and reset counterproductive processes. Follow-up research on Alzheimer’s in recent years, has, therefore, emphasized the fasting component more than the addition of oils. And the fasting (which, by the by, invokes internal production of ketone fuels) does reliably improve memory in Alzheimer’s patients: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29307281
Regarding Parkinson’s, ketogenic/high-fat dieting does reduce symptoms and severity of the disease: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30098269. My suspicion, however, is that the clearance of energy will play a more vital role. Thus, like with Alzheimer’s, I believe we will begin moving the discussion toward intermittent fasting, since we’ve already seen that brain cells improve when we temporarily reduce or clear energy. The issue with studying long-term effectiveness, like any study on nutrition, is long-term compliance, which we’ll return to at the end of the post.
Regarding cancer, does keto cure it? Nope. Well, sort of. Not exactly... Here’s the deal: there is an ever-piling body of evidence which shows that the vast majority of tumors are inhibited with ketogenic dieting: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6375425/ .
The likely mechanism is that most cancer cells do rely heavily on glucose. After all, they GROW. Therefore, any effort (including keto) which works against growth works against cancer... up to a point. There’s no easy answer here. Cancer cells will grow to the detriment of the host. So the host’s tissue is already starving in comparison to the cancer cells. The benefit of ketosis is that you will upregulate the glucose transporters in host cells. That is, your other cells will be more capable of “eating” available energy. But, how do we support children (who need to grow) or cachexic patients (who need to gain weight) with wasting as a concern? Interestingly, researchers in the 1980s already showed you could slow tumor growth WHILE increasing healthy body mass with classically ketogenic dieting: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/m/pubmed/3620317/. Just add more fats.
Though this sentence is anecdote, I’ve also personally tested and succeeded at the idea of gaining healthy tissue and no body fat with a ketogenic diet. It can be done. You can shut off unhealthy inflammatory processes while enabling healthy tissue to thrive.
This is the bugbear. Before we get to it, however, I think it stands to note that the vast majority of people doing “keto” are not even close to the parameters set up by medical researchers. And when they are, like I said, I still have a few concerns about protein, fiber, and micronutrient sufficiency. Once we get clear on those, we’ve reduced opacity along with some of the compliance factors. That is, I believe strongly that when people are sufficient across the board, hunger, cravings, and self-sabotage get as low as we can get them.
So what might a genuine ketogenic diet day look like?
For a 220lb individual:
15g net carb (w/ 25g fiber)
204g fat (this isn’t the 4x macro weight number, but a 4x kcal tabulation)
Immediately, you can see the miss. People don’t even begin to approach the dietary fat number. Even when they go “low carb,” they tend to not even approximate the 15g (and sure as heck don’t get enough fiber). And I’ve seldom found a “keto” adherent who made the protein number. That’s to say nothing of the fact that you must eat more sodium when in ketosis, since insulin is suppressed, and insulin is THE sodium retention pump. And that’s really to say nothing of b vitamins, vitamin c, d, other minerals, etc.
Largely, most people arguing against keto are working against a straw man. They sure as heck aren’t educated on the medical definition, and certainly aren’t abiding by sufficiency guidelines. Mostly, they “tried reducing carbs” once, which is the vaguest and most banal sentiment possible. Thanks a lot, influencers and popular health and fitness celebrities.
Back to compliance:
With sufficiencies, I find that compliance is incredibly high. Where people tend to get tripped up the most is “hearing” some contrary health and fitness advice (ie - fat is evil; sodium is bad; protein hurts your kidneys; it’s all about calories-in/calories-out). When we control for the contrary nonsense, compliance approaches 100%.
But “approaches 100%” is still not 100%. This is where I find it’s helpful to recall that the whole point of developing a ketogenic diet was to get the benefits of fasting without the struggle of having to fast. True ketogenic nutrition is at a level convincing the body that it is fasted. Physical activity may necessitate more food. A slip in carb compliance may require higher activity for a few days. Cravings or negative emotion are a “check engine light” for micronutrients. Did you get your omega 3s, your fiber, your minerals, your sea salt, your fat grams high enough?
Lastly, with regard to compliance, there is the ownership component. You must take ownership of your program. You can seek input, coaching, guidance, direction, advice, tips, and tricks. All great. But if you are looking for a food template or diet plan, you’re already screwed. It’s ultimately a matter of becoming efficacious and educated enough to find ways to meet sufficiencies and requirements with infinite food options.
I realize that people want it simple. “Just tell me what to eat,” they say. Or “just tell me what not to eat,” they say. However, as I excruciatingly detailed above, “ketosis” is an aggregate outcome of body mass, lifestyle, stress management, and eating. If you have a lot of muscle and you want to do hard workouts 2 hours per day, you may be “keto” at way over 300 grams of carbs.
If you aren’t very active and don’t have a lot of muscle, you may well want to abide by the Wilder and Peterman guidelines. Add to that fiber and micronutrients sufficiencies, and you’re on your way.
I used to hear this from clients. Nowadays, I catch my kids say it from time to time. What we the coaches hear is, “I need to stop seeing the tutor until I begin understanding the homework that I don’t understand.” If you struggle in a college class because the reading assignments and homework don’t make sense to you, the answer isn’t to quit attending the lectures and the tutoring until they make sense. For some people, it’s just going to take a very long time, and you may still be a C- student. You may have to retake and retake. But it’s ridiculous to stop practicing scales with your piano teacher simply because you’re messy with them when you try at home. It doesn’t click for everyone. And, when it does, certainly not at the same rate.
Clients have seen me gain 70lbs of muscle and lose 70lbs of fat. They’ve seen me live this. They’ve seen me work with clients who lose 150lbs. They’ve seen me work with clients who have every possible health challenge imaginable. They’ve seen me drag my ass in to work when I’ve been at the hospital all night, nearly losing my son, REPEATEDLY. They’ve seen me drag my ass in to work when I had left side paralysis, Lyme disease, muscle tears, surgery, or a business loss in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. They know that whatever bullshit excuse they have, I or another client of mine has one 100X that we aren’t using as an excuse. I KNOW what it means to work harder AND smarter than everyone else and NOT get the reward I “should’ve.” That is no justification for giving up. A lot of success factors are outside of our control.
No matter how good an excuse sounds, YOU make the CHOICE to quit. That is YOUR choice to be below YOUR average. Some people will still end up below an expectation average, but at least with the honor and dignity of having put in the sweat equity, and knowing they did everything WITHIN their control, including having the patience to let something take the amount of time it will require. Don’t give up. Don’t give in. And sure as hell don’t catch yourself saying, “I give up until I’m good at this.”
The summers after 11th and 12th grade, I worked my way up to 60 miles of running per week. It failed to get me shredded. Thin? Yes. What I think of as a good body? NO.
On top of failing to deliver results of a desirable physique, it also gifted me 10 years of “inexplicable” orthopedic pain and issues, for which, in hindsight, I am now thankful, since it educated me on pain science and therapeutic techniques long before they trended in the fitness industry. I’m genuinely puzzled when people talk about their aching “old bodies.” My body always feels awesome nowadays, but I was in constant pain from 16 to 26 years old. Getting better as we age is how it SHOULD be, thanks to strength training. Thanks to understanding body mechanics. Thanks to everything in my mind that represents the opposite of average American fitness expectations.
When you suffer needlessly for a decade, you develop a strong resent. I did "everything right" from the perspective of popular running culture. But it hurt me physically and prevented a lot of health and fitness goals; and that took a major emotional toll. When explaining this to people, it's hard to drive home just how much potential life I lost by running. TEN YEARS of chronic pain. Dozens of medical appointments. At 26, I was ready to get a hip replacement if that's what it was going to take to wipe away my pain. Think about that. I never stopped acknowledging the personal achievement of running enthusiasts. I've always thought their discipline is honorable. I revere the accomplishments of competitive endurance athletes. Absolutely. BUT, let me be very clear: for most body types, most builds, most people, distance running is a very bad idea. If I had known this earlier in life, I could've saved myself at least ten years of pain and frustration. And until my dying breath, I will spread the word in order to prevent others from wasting precious time on a fruitless pursuit. Repetitive impact reinforces asymmetries, postural distortions and muscular imbalances. Very few people can get away with it. Very few.
According to very giving statistics, there are 60 million Americans who engage in a jog, a run, or hiking. That's less than 1-in-5. And when we look at those who are "built to run," we get down into fractions of fractions of a percent of the population. Since 1975, only 84 American women have broken the sub-4:30 mile, while 562 American men have broken the sub-4:00 mile (https://bringbackthemile.com/history/sub_4_sub_430#:~:text=The%20mark%20listed%20for%20each,30%20seconds%20in%20the%20Mile. ). As distances of running increase, the average size of the elite runner decreases. ZERO outliers. It's a perfect linear relationship. The average body weight of the top male marathoners in the world is in the 130s, while the female average is around 100. And make no mistake: running doesn't create this build. This build creates a runner.
I'll not go deep into the intricacies of muscle fiber type and other genetic and epigenetic factors. Running in order to achieve health and fitness is like practicing basketball in order to become seven feet tall. Can a short person become proficient at basketball? Absolutely. And if he loves it, more power to him. Can a larger person run? Absolutely. And if he loves it, more power to him. But the activity has no inherent value for achieving a certain look or capability. And there are risks involved with impact. As body mass increases and angles of force are suboptimal, those risks skyrocket. Multiply by the number of steps involved. Though now revised, there was a reason why exercise science guidelines required people to achieve a solid 1.5x bodyweight backsquat before BEGINNING plyometrics (this includes the bounding that is a jog).
So, any chance I’d get, I’d make sure to showcase my disdain. A typical exchange might go like this -
They: my friend ran a marathon yesterday.
Me: so he won?
Me: oh... so he lost?
They: well, he completed it.
Me: right. Like the many many other losers.
I found a lot of people too thin-skinned to enjoy the word play. And trying to explain the whole back story on why a society should not hold on a pedestal self-inflicted damage takes more than 15 seconds of attention span. So most of the time I’d just ask why, if the goal is simply completion, anyone would “train” for it. Our ancestors and forebears frequently covered distances much greater than 26 miles as just every-day practicality. Read the Anabasis: 2,000 miles with heavy armor and no water stations or gel packs. Even in the modern world, around 2 billion people have to cover 10 miles per day just to find potable water. The excessive leisure of our modern western lifestyle oddly holds up nonsensical brags which are both inefficient and unsafe.
Also, I have to add that the belief in the goodness of running is psychologically damaging. Most people never think to themselves, "maybe running is a bad fit." Instead, they see themselves as moral failures, carrying incredible shame and guilt for not "becoming a runner." I've assessed thousands of individuals, possibly tens of thousands at this point, and almost everyone has a gait problem which requires six to twenty four months of corrective exercise before they would be low-injury-risk runners. Notice I say "low," not "no." Now, imagine that same person feels the societal pressure to "push it" when she runs, and with a body mass that is fifty to one hundred pounds more than optimal runner physique. Orthopedic injury is assured. She didn't fail. The cultural expectation failed her.
People would chirp back, “well, then, why don’t YOU just show up for a marathon?” I had my reasons. There is little scientific support for exercise duration beyond 45 minutes. After 45 minutes of exercise, stress hormones dominate (which is why I could never gain any appreciable strength or muscle when I avidly ran); and this is why MOST people will never get lean from running. It is just as likely to burn up lean tissue as it is fat tissue. I have case studies of female clients who simply lost bone density and lean tissue and got fatter from their fixation on running. Personally, I was still trying to work on correcting imbalances in my gait which I’d incurred or amplified in my prior obsession with running. My hips and back were at long last consistently pain-free after leaving the running culture behind. And, frankly, I developed a physique I liked. I like being pain-free and I like being built like a man. These aren't ideal fits for running. A man's physique is a lot of weight and upper body to carry; and pain-free doesn't go together well with pain-tolerance.
Naturally, I did the marathon anyway. Though I was just wrapping up my pull-ups experiment in September 2018 (which required keeping the lower body UNDERtrained), and I hadn’t done even a one mile jog in over a year, and I was knocking around 240lbs of bodyweight, what better time to just show up for a marathon? Unsurprisingly, I, along with all of the other people who weigh more than 140lbs, lost the marathon. Finish times are linearly dictated by average body mass, predominance of type-1 muscle fiber composition combined with joint stiffness, then by sex, and a big shocker to many people is that training is a distant fifth. The top East African runners don't train as many long distance runs as semi-elites and enthusiasts. Most of their sessions fall between 5 and 13 miles.
While I took part in the marathon, even before crossing the finish line, it did engender in me a renewed respect for the running culture. I get it. The camaraderie was touching. To some people, it really represents an internal “overcoming.” And especially here in the Twin Cities, the energy for the marathon is over-the-top. Neighborhood people line the whole course, cheering for complete strangers for hours. They set aside their yards and their days to CREATE a special occasion. It was touching. It was convicting. It was... spiritual. My disdain melted. My cynicism paused. My resent remained, but lessened.
I still believe drone-like repetitive pounding/impact is risky. Cleary, there are some 0.01% of people meant for it. The rest of us have a serious cost-benefit analysis to consider before endeavoring to train distance running. It robbed me of some good years, and lots of good days. It made “getting in shape” much harder than it had to be. And I every day work with people who likewise are stalled out because of errant beliefs in fitness, mostly misinformed by “runner culture” and popular fitness culture.
I also acknowledge that people have to scratch an itch. Some activities may get people out the door, whether or not we can substantiate the activity with good science. There are these mysterious wirings in our brains and our spirits which are inspired or motivated by “total nonsense.” Look at how insane, YET effective, marketing and advertisements are. The human mind is compelled in all sorts of ways that make no logical or rational sense. And, unfortunately, it’s even more unrealistic to expect that people will robotically think clearly and execute the most practical plan. Because of that, not just running, but many other behaviors which are inherently questionable for health, may be a good toehold for pragmatic resolve.
That is, if it gets you to show up, then, by all means, show up. If it works, it works.
If you absolutely love it, and it keeps you plugged in, soldier on. There is nothing “loser” about it. But if you hate it, stop forcing a square peg into a round hole. There are safer and more efficient tactics than smashing your poor spine, hips, knees, ankles, and feet into the hard ground millions of times, mindlessly repeating what I can guarantee are improper running mechanics. Even when I observe high level athletes, it’s more common than not to see excessive adduction, limited (or nonexistent) hip extension, and zero proper force transfer in the amortization phase.
Know that you don't need to become other people's definition of fitness. I know plenty of people who are insanely fit and healthy and never run. Sprint? Sure. Run distance? No. I do know people who thrive as long distance runners. If it fits, it fits. Don't abide by anyone else's expectations. In the end, do what it takes for you to be the best and feel the best you can. If you don't want to run, don't. If you do, do. Show up. Just show up, untrained, if need be.