|Kyle on Skorarunning.com|
Kyle Kranz is a kindred spirit. He lost a bunch of weight and is now a distance runner, I lost weight and became a distance runner. He eats a plant-based diet, and I eat a plant-based diet. He is a natural running advocate, and I am as well. He is a fan of Skora Running, and they are one of my favorite up-and-coming minimalist shoe companies. He is an ultramarathoner with a hundred-miler in the bag, and I'm an ultramarathon finisher as well, though it was only a 50k for me and the 100 miler is still to come.
Kyle is a great guy and someone I made a connection with online through our mutual dealings with Skora. The more I clicked on his blog, the more I realized that Kyle may not WIN his next ultramarathon, but his is a story that should be told, and his example is one that should be followed. I asked him to be my interview subject for my first-ever "Above Average Athletes" interview, where I hope to do a recurring series of Q and A sessions with inspiring runners like Kyle, and folks from all walks of life and across all the family - cancer - ultramarathon - minimalist running topic areas that we cover here at Average Guy Hits the Road. You can catch Kyle on his own blog "Running on the White Line." Click "read more" to get to his fantastic interview below.
Kyle Kranz: I know exactly when I became the athlete I am today. During winter break of my freshmen year at college I stopped lifting weights and stopped eating meat. By this point I was down about 60 pounds from my high point in college, but I had not yet made that transition to an endurance athlete. My knees were starting to hurt from performing squats and I decided it was time to stop. I spent the entire winter doing spin classes and sitting on stationary bikes before I even purchased a road bike!
Average Guy: Like me, you are also eating a plant-based diet. Can you describe any challenges or advantages you perceive unique to your experience?
Kyle Kranz: My diet is primarily raw vegan for the first meal or two of the day. Dinner will generally be something cooked, such as rice and veggies, soup, Mexican, etc. I find that eating raw vegan in the early part of the days leaves me feeling light and clean, along with there not being any dishes to wash!
My main challenge has nothing to do with what I eat, but how much I eat at each sitting. From my history with food, a decade later I still have issues with eating until I am completely stuffed. Literally, to the point that I will occasionally burp a little bit and feel a very small amount of food come up, or I am just about in pain from the amount of food in my stomach. This last year I have been working very hard at eating until I am satisfied, not full. That has been the best advice I have ever received about over eating, and since that has been my issue keeping that in mind has helped immensely. I still run into over eating issues once in a while while at social gatherings, but it is coming together.
Average Guy: What convinced you to commit to a plant-based diet?
Kyle Kranz: Originally it was ethics based, as I believe that is the best reason for avoidance of animal products. This is due to there being such a huge amount of conflicting information about which diet is better for people, and some people not doing well on this or that diet. In my opinion, choosing to not contribute to the mass captivity, horrible treatment, and mass slaughter is always going to be the ethical decision.
However, the more I read and research now, the more I am becoming increasingly convinced that a plant based diet is the ideal human diet. Most diets are going to be an improvement compared to the Standard American Diet (SAD), however if you want to take the "this is the diet we are meant to eat" stance, plant based even trumps the paleo diet. Paleo quotes a period of 10,000 to 2.5 million years, however if you look at the diets of higher primates, it spans a history of 65 million years.
Average Guy: How and why did you convert to barefoot/minimalist/natural running?
Kyle Kranz: I originally bought them as simply a strength training tool even before Born to Run came out, and never really thought about doing real run training in them until after I read the book. I really did not use them very often and they just collected dust in the closet. However a few years ago right before my first marathon I developed plantar fasciitis and took most of the summer off from running. I did just about everything I could find but nothing seemed to solve the problem. At the end of the summer after months of no running I still had PF pain but started slowly again in Vibrams. I noticed the pain would literally go away within a mile into any run. I then went minimalist with my day to day shoes as well, and the pain I experienced from simply standing at work went away quickly.
Average Guy: You mention in your “about me” that your blog started essentially to document your progress. How do you see your blog now? What is its role in your fitness and running career?
Kyle Kranz: A blog is a fantastic tool for an athlete to look back at his or her training and races to see what has worked and failed. I still go back to race reports and posts to review what I have done in the past. However now I have been working more so on writing better quality material on subjects other runners may be interested in. Some examples of works in progress are articles on The Central Governor Theory, Fasted Training, Swing Phase Muscles, How to Pace a Race, as well as about 55 other drafts in my blogger! By working on and writing these, I am learning so much and I can take what I learn and pass it on to others.
Average Guy: How did you hook up with Skora?
Kyle Kranz: I actually emailed David from Skora in November of 2009 to tell him how excited I was to learn about what he was doing. We occasionally emailed back and forth, and he kept my contact information and recommended I participate in the wear testing program.
Average Guy: Are you running exclusively or almost exclusively in Skora BASE and FORM these days? You seem to put on a lot of miles.
Kyle Kranz: The Skora shoes are my full time shoes, and I even wear them around casually as well. I do also own a pair of Newtons but run very little in them. If someone is new to minimalist/midfoot running, the Newtons would be an excellent choice as they are slightly more conventional.
Average Guy: How long into your running career did you decide to run a 100 mile race?
Kyle Kranz: First I was a cyclist, then a triathlete, now I consider myself a runner. I did my first 26.2 mile run (not during a race) in 2008 while I was still a triathlete. I ran 11 miles to the start of a race in another town and then ran the 15.2 mile point to point race, which happened to end very close to my house! In December of that year was when I decided I wanted to do an ultra marathon in 2009.
Average Guy: Describe your 100 miler training.
Kyle Kranz: I am not sure if I have found my ideal training yet. I have followed the Maffetone Method of training for a few years now and love it, however I am still working on finding a week/month/year running format that I will sustain for a long time. I failed at my first 100 mile attempt in 2010 after having a great winter and summer of running. In 2011 after a very depressing summer of running I decided only a few weeks before the same 100 mile race that if I could do a 100 mile week and not suffer or slow during the week, I would sign up for the ultra marathon. The week went well so I signed up and instantly went into the taper for the race! Experience trumps training in my case apparently.
Average Guy: Were you ever worried that 100 miles was too far in a shoe as minimal as the Skora BASE?
Kyle Kranz: Shoes are a tool. If I were to do a race that was super technical rocky trail, I would use shoes that would serve as the best tool for that race. Luckily for me I am primarily a road runner so the Skoras worked great for my ultras and my road running in 2011.
Average Guy: What is the coaching business like? Tell us about your approach.
Kyle Kranz: I only very recently created the WhiteLineCoaching.com. I figure that since coaching is something I would love to do in the future, I may as well do a bit of it now. My approach to running is consistency, recovery, and nutrition. Practice those well and you will run well. Coaches are not meant to tell you every little detail about your training (unless you want them to). They are a guide to walk you through the process, they can see little things that you may miss. Such as when I was doing a ton of training on a short indoor track. I did not think twice about it and believe I developed ITBS from it, but a coach would have told me to get the heck off the track!
Average Guy: Do triathlons feature prominently in your future endurance plans or are ultras more your speed these days?
Kyle Kranz: I would like to do an Ultraman or double Ironman within the next five or seven years. If this happens I predict last place in the swim, last place in the bike, and I would go for a great run.
Average Guy: Tell me about the “coins of the world” project. Sounds fun.
Kyle Kranz: This was just an idea I had one day. My goal is to collect a coin from every sovereign nation in the world. I have picked up a few from ebay for a couple bucks each, and some friends and family have given me some as well.
Newton Natural Running Coach
Thanks, Kyle! - Zak
Thanks, Kyle! - Zak