Eli Sapharti is no stranger to the taunts that come from cruel children and ignorant adults. Over the years he’s been saddled with nicknames like, “Fat Boy” “Bubble Butt” “Bench Warmer” and more. Now, 105 pounds thinner, Eli boasts a body fat percentage of only 10% and he’s currently training to compete in the Physique Division of a Men’s Bodybuilding Competition in February 2014. We’re guessing he’s earned a few new nicknames that put a smile on his face.
Growing up, Eli remembers always being the kid who got picked last for sports teams, the one who endured teasing, bullying and being stuck in the dreaded friend zone when it came to girls. After a growth spurt in the 9th grade, his body lengthened and lost weight, but the pounds didn’t stay away for long. “I simply enjoyed food,” he explained. “As most over -eaters, I used food as my drug of choice. Horrible eating habits and zero physical activity led me to gain an incredible amount of weight.”
Eli knew he was unhealthy, he was aware his weight had crept up to a dangerous level but that awareness wasn’t enough to spur him into action. “It wasn’t like I didn’t know that I was very overweight and needed to lose weight,” he said. “I mean, I was suffering from high blood pressure, pre-diabetes, high cholesterol, severe anxiety and panic disorder. That should have been enough to get me to do something about it, but it didn’t.”
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There are very few sports that allow for a late start in life. If you know someone who plays on a team of any sort, whether it be professional or amateur, chances are they started playing as a kid, maybe played in high school and possibly even college. Very rarely do you see athletes who will tell you they picked up the sport later in life.
The exception to that rule seems to be running. Not all runners ran track or cross country, not all runners were on a team and just opted to keep at it. No, some of the most avid runners came to the sport later in life. Because of that, most runners have a story to tell. One that proves anyone can run, if they really want it bad enough.
When people see me and learn that my life is largely dictated by the sport of running, they’ll often say, “oh, you look like a runner.” I still have a hard time believing them, as this body didn’t always look like it could run and it did a lot more sitting than anything else.
Furthermore, I’m always asked, “who did you run for?”. The first time I was asked this, I stared blankly as I didn’t even know what the question meant. People assume I ran for a university. All of these statements occur because it only seems natural to people that someone like me had a hefty background in the sport.
But, I didn’t. Not at all. Not even a little bit. That’s my favorite part of the story I get to tell these strangers.
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Long runs, any run over 90 minutes, are not your typical run. The goal of a long run is “time on your feet,” that is getting your body, especially your legs, used to running for 2-4 hours consistently and preparing for race day. To get the most benefits out of long runs requires advance planning. You want to carefully consider the route, hydration and fueling, clothing choices, safety, and transportation needs.
Although the most important aspect of these training runs is plain and simple – time on your feet – following the tips below will help you run your best on race day and feel great.
Course Simulation: Run routes that look like your race course – similar elevation changes and surfaces. You can find the race’s elevation chart on the race website or map it out yourself on MapMyFitness. This is a great way to prepare yourself, and your legs! If you have hills at the beginning or end of your course, practice starting or finishing your long runs with similar hills. If you live in the city where you are racing, practice running portions of the course.
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Lacy Hansen is a fellow contributor at Diets In Review. She’s also a fantastic mama and running fiend who spends her spare time training for marathons and encouraging other runners, especially those newbies who want to quit after the first mile. Recently, she suggested that I contact Jason Bahamundi from, Cook Train Eat Race. The blog is more than a collection of recipes, it’s a site that focuses on helping athletes improve their performance.
We asked Jason to tell us more about his multi-purpose blog and his waffle addiction -
Why did you start your food blog? My blog started out as a training log and I thought at one point: What will I blog about once this race is done? I needed to re-brand it. At that point I spoke with a web developer and out of that conversation came my passion for eating a whole foods diet while training and racing endurance events. One conversation sparked the Cook Train Eat Race brand and that is my blog today.
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Growing up, the word running was synonymous with a few different words. Among them were torture, punishment, pain, and dread. I remember trying to fake being sick on those dreaded few days each school year when we had to run the mile in gym class. I couldn’t understand why anyone would want to run – it just seemed so awful to me.
Fast forward to the year 2003 and I’ve decided to get in shape and join a gym. After a year or two of solely sticking to the elliptical trainer and the occasional group exercise class, I decided to take up running. For some reason, I always had it in my head that you weren’t a real athlete unless you were a runner. I wasn’t even really sure how one becomes a runner, but gave it my best shot. I can still clearly remember going for those first few outdoor runs.
I started off by walking for a minute, running the next, and so on. Then my runs got longer, I could run for one mile without stopping, then two, three and so on. In 2005, a friend and I decided to sign up for a 5k race. It was my first race ever and I was nervous! I set a goal for myself to finish in 30 minutes or less. I finished in 28:30 and felt great! I registered for a number of 5k, 8k and 10k races over the next few years.
I started increasing my mileage and started thinking about running a half marathon; it seemed like a really great challenge and realistic goal considering where I was at, so I took the plunge and registered for the Baltimore Half Marathon. I trained for it by running 8-10 mile runs 2-3 times a week (and shorter runs one other day). I felt good and strong and prepared for race day. On race day, my goal was to finish in two hours. The course was pretty tough with a lot of big hills. It was also great because there were spectators along the entire 13.1 miles cheering us on. I got a sharp pain in my I.T. band around mile 7, but just kept running, and my finish time was 1 hour and 58 minutes.
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