Erskien Lenier: Healed And Fueled By Fruit

Erskien Lenier is among the growing list of people healing their bodies and becoming athletes with the help of a healthy lifestlye and the right raw food diet.

Many people in their 50s consider their best years behind them. They consign themselves to ever-decreasing health, vitality, and athletic performance as they slide into old age, not knowing there's an anti-aging diet that can keep them young.

But Erskien is among those who realize many of the symptoms of degeneration people experience as they get older are brought on by poor diet and lifestyle choices, and that if you do things radically different than the status quo, getting older doesn't mean giving up on ambitious dreams.

In the interview below, I ask him how he got onto raw foods, and what he plans to do with all his new found energy.

Erskien Lenier Barefoot Run

Erskien Lenier: Quick Questions

Full Name: Erskien Lenier
Home City: Corona, California
Age/Date of Birth: 54 (8-3-57)
Single/Partnered/Married: Married
Occupation: Lifestyle Coach, Fitness Trainer, CRM Consultant
Weight and Body Fat percentage: 168lbs & 8% BF
Height: 5'10"
Been on a low fat raw vegan diet since: July 2009
Longest Distance Run: 57 miles Barefoot

Erskien Lenier: From Sickness And Injury To Raw Food Vitality

Andrew Perlot: Tell us a bit about your history and how you ended up on a low fat raw food diet.

Erskien Lenier: I grew up pretty much on home grown organic produce, locally caught fish, fowl and beef. At aged 13 I came down with appendicitis and nearly died. When they removed my appendix they found a chunk of rotting beef in it that I ate 5 days prior. That was the beginning of my pursuit of not eating red meat. Which later in my teens moved onto not eating any meat.

I got into Bicycle Road Racing as a teen and quickly climbed the ranks to find myself bumping shoulders with some of the best roadies in the world. Bicycle Racing is an expensive sport and I never could dial in the sponsorship part of it to make into the Pro levels of the game.

Over the span of many decades I logged over 750,000 racing and training miles pursuing that aim.

Erskien Lenier: An injured Knee

While taking time off from bicycle racing at the end of the summer season in the 1970s I damaged my right knee with too many miles too quick when I decided I wanted to run a 26.2 mile Marathon just one month away.

Erskien Lenier
                            OutsideI ended up with a respectable time of 2:32:30 which at that time was only 2 minutes 32 seconds off qualifying for Boston. So my ego stepped in and told me I had potential and I should let my legs recover and go do some real training and more racing.

Three weeks later I entered another marathon. Much hotter temps, rolling hills, wind, finished but way off my prior time and very noticeable knee pain. I tried running for about another 3 weeks but saw I was digging a hole. I ended up in several doctors offices and they told me I was a good candidate for an artificial knee!

That was all I needed to hear to go get back on the bike and abandon running for decades to come.

Erskien Lenier: The Forest Gump Moment

One day about 4 yrs ago I had a "Forest Gump Moment" and realized I had turned my last pedal! I parked my bikes and sold them off. Soon I felt a calling to return to running which was something I had a passion for too but way back.

Something cracked open in me that told me I could return to running despite my initial attempts resulting in the same pains, burning sensations, grinding and clicking noises developing in my right knee.

I bought the most expensive shoes money could buy (every 3 weeks as I was grinding the corner of the heels off in that little time! I even recall questioning shoe design as I thought the idiots who made shoes were not putting enough rubber in the outer heel area just to force runners to have to replace them more often!)

After creating a small mountain of shoes in my closet with just worn outer heels and investing in orthodics, special socks, and still coming home in pain it was back to the Internet to reach out to live humans about what they knew about these problems.

That's when I began to encounter barefoot runners. One by the name of Ken Bob Saxton of Huntington Beach told me after I spelled out my symptoms to "Lose the Shoes!" "Run away from them!"

I thought he was a bit weird for even saying that, but as he explained running bio mechanics to me in regard to where my center of gravity is (pelvis), where my feet were supposed to land (under my pelvis) proper use of the body (shifting weight from one side of the body to the other and not using muscular force to push or pull myself across the land instead use gravity primarily through a slight lean forward from the foot or ankle area only while shifting weight from one side of the body to the other kind of like a unicyclist does)

Erskien Lenier
                            FamilyA couple nights later I was restless as his words rattled in my soul like a bee in a jar... I needed to run... I went out without my shoes on but brought them along just in case. It only took a few steps to quickly realize how good it felt to be shoeless!  The coolness of the clean, smooth concrete was heavenly, the landing was much softer than I expected. There was no "clop, clopping" of the waffle soles of the running shoes, only silence and sensations

That run was only a few blocks but it changed my life forever... I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that I would heal my knee. I longed to be able to run all day and 150-200 mpw (miles per week) which would be the running equivalent to riding a bike 350-500 mpw which was what I was used to before. I knew I'd resolved the pounding issue and it was a matter of developing healthy feet, ankles, legs and hips.

Erskien Lenier: Back In The Game

As I got to the point of running more than 1 1/2 hrs at a time fueling came into play again and I realized my gargantuan bicycle built thighs were too large for really long runs as they rubbed so much that I burned up even compression shorts in as little as 6 weeks of running! I needed to not only drop more body fat but excess muscle or protein too.
I started researching what other "Ultra Runners" fueled themselves with. Most of what I found was powders, potions, gu-type crap and a hodgepodge of table foods that made me ill to ponder consuming.

Then I reached out to Scott Jerek an extreme high level Ultra Runner living in CO. who ran huge miles consistently. After sharing my current diet of confusion and the stuff I'd gleaned from others he shared with me what he consumed.

I was surprised to find it was mostly fruit! He suggested I get a copy of "The 80-10-10 Diet" by Dr. Douglas Graham to fully unpack my understanding of human biochemistry, design and all the other marketed "diets" out there including my traditionally high cooked food carb focused diet.

I got the book... I literally "absorbed it! I was inspired by every word Doug wrote! I dropped 30 lbs in the first 6 weeks of going 811 and my tempo speed over 15 miles increased by 2.5 mph with no other changes!

I went from going aerobic at 6.5 mph to bumping my threshold at 9 mph with some miles in the 10+ mph range! My thigh diameter has continued to come down to where I am now wearing traditional running shorts instead of compression bike or tri shorts.

Erskien Lenier: Raw Food Changes

Erskien Lenier Distance Stand
                              TallAndrew Perlot: What physical and mental changes did you notice when going raw? Was it dramatic?
Erskien Lenier: I dropped 30 lbs in the first 6 weeks, I can run all day in the mountains and do speed work the next day! I have no more cravings. My mind is sharp, focused, I can juggle long chains of numbers (of which I have never been able to do my whole life!) My senses are all amplified or more accurately restored to what they are supposed to be! I sleep much better and wake up feeling fresh and lively.

My skin looked decades younger and I tan the color I used to when I was a teen. I was tanning all blotchy for a long time and I was concerned I'd over taxed my skins ability to adapt. I feel more and feel more capable of handling everything. I am much more in the moment. My body seems so quiet for long periods of time.

Andrew Perlot: Have you been able to put on muscle while raw, or found you lost some? Have you had to work hard to bulk up to your current size?

Erskien Lenier: I now realize how unnatural "bulking up" is. It's more of a liability than an asset as you lose the ability to do so many things when your bulked up. Nice statue! Big thighs are like trying to run with gallon milk jugs strapped to your thighs! Not fun... But I've pretty much fixed that.

Andrew Perlot: Did you find going raw to be socially or professionally isolating? Have any of your friends and family embraced your diet since you made the switch?
Erskien Lenier: I've never been much of a social butterfly and being a full time cyclist I've always been considered weird anyways. I was surprised at the resistance my wife and teen kids put up to considering living Frugivorously or reading Doug Graham's book.

My youngest daughter wants to go for it but my wife is struggling to convince her that what I've done is not "how it's supposed to be!"  My youngest is vegan already. Its a matter of time for her.

My son will consume my Juice Plus caps of veggies and fruits and occasionally eat salads, fruit and such raw but is still under the "tribal spell" My oldest daughter who is the house rocket scientist (very mental in focus) who struggles hard with foods is fighting knowing anything new almost as much as my wife.

So that's all fun and weirdness. I think time will sort them out. We can con ourselves only for so long before we run out of genetic reserves and symptom management gets old. My position with them is like water flowing over rocks!

Erskien Lenier: Barefoot Running

Andrew Perlot: Under what circumstances do you choose to run barefoot vs wearing minimalist footwear?
Erskien Lenier: I have a couple pair of Huaraches and a pair of Newton's.
Erskien Lenier
                            Running Jersey Fruit LogoI bring the huaraches along in my Hydration Pack for when I know I am going to either be traversing extreme hot temps on asphalt or jagged rock or thorn infested trails.

They usually come back off after getting past the danger zones. If I know there will be multiple such areas I just keep them on. The Newtons I use only for recovery runs over thorn infested areas I know the thorns are long enough to go through the huaraches into my soles.
Andrew Perlot: What are your favorite types of minimalist footwear?

Erkien Lenier: The huaraches: http://www.InvisibleShoe.com/go/LandSurfing

Andrew Perlot: Do you think the minimalist/barefoot runner ethos melds well with the simplicity of a healthy raw food diet? It seems like an unusually large percentage of raw foodists seem to be barefoot/minimalist runners, or at least highly interested in the topic.
Erskien Lenier: Yes, If you have self examined and questioned the appropriateness of traditionally offer foods or shoes you will find yourself questioning the validity of the other. They go hand and hand. What I don't understand is how so many barefoot runners get stuck believing the Paleo thing is optimal and natural for human fueling.

The technical gymnastics those folks go through to make their foods attractive to their tongues says it all. I always suggest they go try taking down big game with their "claws and teeth only" and try consuming it right there on the spot with no fire. Carnivores relish the thought. No carnivores are disgusted with the idea or the act.

Erskien Lenier: Food and Exercise Routine

Andrew Perlot: What does your exercise routine look like?

Erskien Lenier: I do spontaneous push ups, chin ups, climbing trees, fences, bars and walls for body weight calisthenics.

Andrew Perlot: How many miles do you average in a week?

Erskien Lenier: A low mile week is 85 and a high mile week is about 150... so far...

Andrew Perlot: Do you know how many calories, on average, you eat per day?

Erskien Lenier: Depending on miles, temps, loads I'm carrying in my hydration pack and altitude gain a low day is about 2500. A high day is 5000 calories.

Andrew Perlot: What is your fueling/ refueling regime for long runs? Some raw long-distance runners find that eating anything during runs run gives them cramps. Others eat one date every 10 minutes, or something similar. How do you refuel, if at all. How do you carry this fuel with you?

Erskien Lenier: Any run over 1.5 hours burns off all the body's stored glycogen reserves. I begin refueling at that point with water rich, ripe, sweet fruit that I have scooped (with an old fashion ice cream scoop) out of it's rind, into gallon sized reusable ziplocks. I put about a quarter to 1/2 gallon of fruit in each bag. My favorites are honey dew, Jamican red papaya, mango, or watermelon.

I Also bring along from 8-16 ripe (with lots of spots) bananas sometimes also or instead. On the scooped fruit I usually take a take the ziplock, open the top, and while holding the other end pour the juice into my mouth first (My God, this is the most sensuously delicous way to take down "living water" there is!) then I tilt a bit higher to begin eating my fill of the bits mouth sized chunks of fruit.

Sometimes I just slow down to a trot to refuel, and sometimes I fully stop and take 3-5 min to relish the moment. I find that in stopping, not only am I fresher on take off again but my overall average speed especially in the mountains is higher.

If I run out of fresh, water rich fruit I keep a small ziplock of fluffy Mojool Dates in my pack too and will have them with plenty of water to rehydrate them during digestion.

Once I begin refueling I eat a bit more about every hour or so until home again.

Andrew Perlot: Favorite Fruit(s)?

Erskien Lenier: So far: bananas, honeydews, watermelons, Jamican papayas, prickly pears, peachs, persimmons.

Andrew Perlot: Favorite raw recipe (or favorite of the moment)?:

Erskien Lenier: I eat my fruit as they were made. I might cut them into bite sized pieces occasionally. My veggies are pretty much eaten the same way. Not much of food prep person!

Andrew Perlot: What are you passionate about? What makes you excited to be alive?

Erskien Lenier: I absolutely love to run, eat fruit, and help others learn about natural running and frugivorously fueling their lives.

Erskien Lenier: The Future

Andrew Perlot: What are your goals for the future?

Erkskien Lenier:
Become financially independent so I can focus just on running and teaching others. I want to travel the USA and the rest of the world meeting with groups of passionate people who want to know more from someone who has taken the back country road to usual insights into optimizing life for fun, fitness, and expanded family.

Andrew Perlot: How about your plans to run across the country barefoot?

Erskien Lenier: I had hoped and planned to set out this past spring but funding didn't pan out as hoped.

I've since set up new funding tools to grow a back ground income stream that will not require me to actively daily work to regenerate it. The speed of its growth will predicate when I reset the new date for the crossing.

I really want to do it barefoot all the way. I think if I can free up enough time to train, fuel properly and perfect my form a bit more I can reach the condition needed to do so.

I believe I can get fit enough to handle 35-40 mpd. Not sure how often I will need to or if I will need rest days for the soles of the feet. Perfecting my running gait further will reduce the gradual wear of the skin. I have to get it perfected enough in both form, nutrition and amount of rest to regenerate each night what I have worn off each day.

Erskien Lenier: Following Up

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