search of a dietary master often find themselves outnumbered by masters in
search of disciples, and nowhere so much as in sport. Consider the poor runner.
He suspects that there is a connection between what he eats and how he
performs. He watches frail-looking Olympians tear through staggering interval
workouts and wonders at their secrets. But whose formula for fitness should he
Percy Cerutty, a
theorist of rather stunning originality, coached Australian Miler Herb Elliott
to world records and Olympic gold and then put out a book entitled Be Fit or Be
Damned. One of the things he damns heartily is milk. Any runner who still
drinks the stuff has not been properly weaned, says Percy.
Regarding milk as
something of a menace may seem startling to the uninitiated, but so goes the
eccentric course of athletes' diets the world over. For example, according to
The Runner's Diet, a booklet produced by Runner's World Magazine, there is
something called the Are Waerland Diet in which milk is de rigueur—as long as
it's sour—but one must shun meat, fish and eggs because they provide a
"culture medium for putrefactive bacteria." A day's ration consists of:
Breakfast—fresh fruit and sour milk. Lunch—whole grain cereal. Dinner—potatoes,
baked or boiled in their skins, or mashed and topped with grated raw beets and
carrots; salad greens, and sour milk.
there are other gurus among whom one may choose. For instance, Ernst van Aaken,
a German coach and M.D. whose prot�g�, Harald Norpoth, is a three-time Olympian
and perennial German champion at 1,500 and 5,000 meters. The doctor doesn't
much care what a runner eats as long as it amounts to less than 2,000 calories
a day. Since the average American consumes 3,300 calories a day, one begins to
understand Norpoth's eerie resemblance to a cadaver. Distance runners, van
Aaken says, should be 20% below the average weight for their height since the
greater a runner's heart volume in relation to his body size, the more
endurance he has.
average weight, according to one formula, men should start with a base of 5
feet and 110 pounds. For every inch over 5 feet add 5� pounds. Women start with
5 feet and 100 pounds, adding five pounds for every inch over the base
Medalist Frank Shorter, at 5'10�" and 134 pounds, is exactly 20% below the
average weight for his height. So is my husband, fourth in the Munich marathon,
at 6' and 141 pounds. On the other hand, Jon Anderson, 1973 Boston Marathon
winner and Olympic 10,000-meter man, is 6'2" and 160 pounds, 10 pounds over
the 20% mark, and says he likes to be even heavier for a marathon.
Another critic of
van Aaken's theory is Steve Prefontaine. "He doesn't take into
consideration a person's bone structure," argues the three-time NCAA
cross-country champ. "I happen to have very heavy bones." At 5'9"
Pre should weigh about 128 pounds, according to the German doctor. Instead he
weighs 145 and says, "If I get under 138 I lose strength."
however, believes that a runner can train his body to run on its
"reserves." To do this, as well as to eliminate extra weight, he
strongly recommends fasting while training and racing. There are trackmen like
10,000-meter-runner Jeff Galloway who substantially agree with this theory.
"I'm convinced you run much better the skinnier you are," Galloway
says, but he questions the wisdom of prolonged fasts while training hard or
Whether they fast
or not, world-class runners appear decidedly ectomorphic and generally use
weight as one measure of fitness.
diametrically opposed to van Aaken's call to deprivation is the Carbohydrate
Loading Diet developed several years ago by Swedish doctor Per-Olof Astrand to
use in preparation for a particular race. The underlying theory is that energy
for an exercising athlete comes not from protein but from a mixture of
carbohydrates and fats, especially carbohydrates. Since carbohydrates are
stored as glycogen in the muscles and liver, an athlete whose event takes
longer than 30 minutes suffers pronounced discomfort when muscle glycogen is