Welcome to The Runner Diaries, where we’re sharing a behind-the-scenes look into a week of training with runners of varying ages, paces and GPS coordinates. Get The Runner Diaries delivered to your inbox, here.
This week we have 28-year-old Max Beitel. Max is currently stationed in Crete, Greece with the United States Navy. A long time weightlifter and fitness enthusiast, Max got hooked on running as an adult and finished his first ultra marathon (a 72k) in 2015. Today, he strives to balance living a healthy lifestyle with his thirst for adventure sports like trail running, rock climbing and canyoning (more on that, later).
The Run Down
Name: Max Beitel
Location: Crete, Greece
Training For: Living the healthiest life I can, physically and psychologically.
Goal race: You never know what race may be the one.
Training plan: Just winging it.
How long you’ve been ‘a runner’: We are all runners at heart. When we are born at first crawl, then walk, and as soon as we can, we run. Many of us get comfortable and succumb to social norms of stagnancy and stop running. There is a runner at the core of us all. Some just act on it, I suppose I am one of them.
Goal weekly mileage: Erm, as many miles as it takes to get me across the finish line.
I started running because of my brother’s wife (thank you, Lily!). When they started dating, Lily got him hooked on the sport, and soon, so was I. Up until then I was strictly a weight lifter, focusing on PRs and laughing at the thought of cardio. Our first race was a 7-mile trail race. My brother Christian and I finished 1st and 2nd in our age group. We may or may not have been the only two runners in said age group, but I’ll take it…
Soon after that race, I started getting into triathlons and focusing more on endurance sports. I joined the Navy in the fall of 2015 and found myself stationed on the most incredible island, Crete. I had recently discovered the world of ultra marathons and the ever growing trail running scene, and craved the adventure. Initially upon my arrival in Greece, the goal was to run the Athens Marathon but that was soon replaced by a 72k in France. Upon finishing the run, I was hooked.
Ever since, I have been using running to explore as much as the island I am lucky to call my home. I try to stay well-rounded and am also big on rock climbing and Crossfit / HIIT-style workouts. Although climbing tends to limit my running, I think the experience it provides is invaluable and I have no reservations about nixing a long weekend run for a full day of climbing.
My workouts, both running and HIIT workouts are a combination of knowledge I have accrued over the years through reading and Instagram. Sometimes I do a predetermined Crossfit WOD, but more often I do my own thing. Anything that keeps me on my toes, and pushing myself is a good workout. I try to make every workout full body but change up the movements. Sometimes I will get hooked on a movement and incorporate several workouts in a row. As far as running. I try to alternate my “hard” runs or run-workouts with “easier” slow paced runs. At the end of the day, I strive for an overall level of fitness.
Day One – Monday
0530: Wake up eat a Banana, drink some water.
0610: My morning workout is “Chelsea,” which is Crossfit lingo for:
– @ bodyweight 5-pullups, 10-pushups, 15-squats every minute on the minute for 30 minutes.
My morning workouts vary, but I like this routine in particular because it’s quick, simple, and doesn’t require equipment.
0730: Breakfast is 3 Hard boiled egg(whites), half a grapefruit, another banana,1 avocado, half cup of coffee, one pancake.
0800: Start work.
0930: Get hungry, I have a bacon sausage double egg cheese tomato on whole wheat.
1100: Lunch time: Chicken, Rice, Large Salad
1400: Another half cup of coffee
– 5 miles total: 2.5-mile warm up; 7 strides; :30s on, 1:30 off.
1750: Dinner: Pork chop, some mashed potatoes. Salad with chicken, olive oil, lemon and some blue cheese dressing.
1820: Gym time:
– 8 Weighted pull-ups @25#s, 5 single-arm shoulder press @50#s,5 handstand pushups, decline ab work.
1920: I work on this Run Diary + have a shake (1 egg, two bananas, almond milk, orange juice) Pretzels, string cheese, more dark chocolate.
2000: Shower, stretch, catch up with family and friends back home (time difference struggle!), finish watching Dead Poets Society, and catch an episode of Bob Ross on Netflix
2200: Sleep time!
**Reflecting on the day, I realize I tend to do this — “this” meaning overdoing it. I do it to myself every once and a while when I feel good and motivated. I also eat the same things during the week so I will spare you further details. I try to eat paleo-ish but have no problem indulging. Life is too short not to enjoy the things you love.
Daily Mileage: 5 miles +/- 500ft uphill
Day Two – Tuesday
0530: Wake up, stretch out (after a full day of climbing over the weekend, and a 3-a-day yesterday, I am hurting), have coffee (with butter and coconut oil blended together), dark chocolate and a banana, while I listen to podcast. Lazy morning, but I like being up early and being consistent.
0730: Three eggs over easy, bacon, home fries, half a grapefruit.
0854: Bacon Sausage Tomato Egg Cheese on whole wheat.
– 7 miles slow, averaging a 9-minute mile pace. Taking it easy is something that is very hard for me to do — success.
1830: Greek salad. House grown from a friend: tomatoes, cucumber, olives. Mizithra cheese — a Cretan speciality. Think a pungent, almost sour goat cheese but nowhere near as acidic as feta (especially feta you find in the states).
1900: Shake: 2 eggs, kale, frozen raspberries.
1930: Work on booking hotels for an upcoming trip to Italy. I talk rock climbing with a friend and find him a pair of shoes to order!
**(No I didn’t skip lunch, it was just a very forgettable meal. Definitely went overboard Monday).
Daily mileage: 7 miles +/- 600ft up hill
Day Three – Wednesday
0630: Shoot up out of bed… I forgot to set an alarm last night.
0700: Breakfast (same deal as yesterday — and the day before: Three eggs over easy, bacon, home fries, half a grapefruit).
0800: Work. Coffee, full cup.
– Chicken, rice and a Large Salad
1630: Off work and take a quick nap.
1730: Out to dinner: Fish and Greek salad. A friend was in town, so we took the opportunity to catch up and get some good food.
**Today was a rest day: Those two words rarely find their way next to each other in my life. This was much needed. I accept it. I like progress. A day off psychologically means no progress to me. I know they are necessary and good for you — blah blah blah. I am getting better at recognizing at the importance of off days. This is a work in progress.
Daily Mileage: 0 miles
Day Four – Thursday
0430: Wake up (0530 is my natural wake up time, so this isn’t that early for me). I chat with friends back home, listen to some killer throwbacks, and drink a weak cup of coffee, so disappointed in myself, I am better than this. (I LOVE coffee and nothing is worse than a weak brew. I ground free trade beans and sometime will add either nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger or any combination of the three to the grounds.)
1044: Finally, no soreness or stiffness in my legs after Monday!
– 1-mile warm up. 5 x 1-mile repeats .5-mile cool down.
Daily Mileage: 6.5 miles
Day Five – FRIDAY!
0530: Awake: pack for canyoning weekend. Banana, Chocolate and Coffee.
0900: Quick break from work to go out in town for a pulmonology appointment, apparently, according to tests, I have issues breathing? I don’t know, some things make me wonder.
1630: Off work. Dinner. Prep for the canyoning trip.
Daily Mileage: 0 miles
Day Six + Seven — Saturday & Sunday (Canyoning Weekend)
I am trying to think of the best way to describe canyoning. Imagine passing through a gorge, walls hundreds of feet high on either side, only a few meters apart from each other and there you are — hiking, or running, or rappelling — from the beginning to the end of the gorge (or canyon, if you will). Picture rock climbing equipment. Each team member carries a rope to allow the next rappel to be set up as other members are still coming down the previous, time is life. Harnesses are worn to tie into the rappels. Rappels ranging between 5 to 100 meters are commonplace and some sections do not require a rappel, but enlist teamwork to navigate a technical section.
Climbing down over your teammates like a ladder is not uncommon. Problem-solving is crucial due to the fact that canyons are ever changing in the elements and every time you do a canyon it is going to be different from the time before. The phrase, ‘Move with a purpose’ comes to mind when I think of canyoning. Canyoning is a battle against the elements. In a “wet” canyon (canyon with flowing water) you wear a wetsuit and are subject to freezing water, and if your team gets held up or any reason and you stop moving, even with a wetsuit hypothermia can settle in rapidly. In a “dry” canyon (no running water), flash floods pose a threat with quickly changing weather. Injury is a very real possibility and having an injured member of a team decreases the team’s efficiency. Therefore, time is not something to take lightly, making mistakes means grave consequences.
For these reasons, I focused less on documentation and more on ‘living in the moment’ during these two days — but you can get the gist of what went down, below:
Day ONE of Canyoning – Saturday
Canyoning all day Saturday, we take on two different gorges. Saturday night the group of us — five Americans and 10 Greeks — enjoy a group potluck in a church where we sleep afterwards. The potluck consists of Greek salad, mixed salad, various cheeses, omelets, pomegranate seeds, brownies, village sausages, oranges, and a chicken pasta dish.
Daily Mileage: Undetermined.
Day TWO of Canyoning – Sunday
We have an early wake up call and take off to another gorge, Arvi Gorge at 0620. We finish in a few hours and afterwards we eat at a very traditional, unique taverna. The only light in the place is provided via candle, the front door, and one window. For 15 Euro, it’s all you can eat and drink, 7 different dishes to order, all of which brought to us without ordering, 6 different varieties of locally made wine. Gluttony ensued. I finally get home at 2000, helped unpack and organize the gear, and got to sleep as soon as possible. A 0530 wake up in the morning awaited me.
Daily Mileage: Undetermined.
A Look Back — Thoughts On The Week
This is definitely a different kind of week for me. Not as much strength training as I would like, but with an ongoing shoulder issue this isn’t a bad thing. I try my best to live in a manner that allows me to be satisfied with my life and what I do. Sometimes that is taking a full day to read a book that I really enjoy and other times it’s taking a whole weekend and dedicating that to canyoning, meeting new people and building new friendships. If you were to die tomorrow what would people say about you and how you lived your life. That is how I strive to live.
About Max Beitel
Max Beitel is a explorer, ultramarathoner, and an experience junkie living in Crete, Greece. Running has opened his eyes to the capabilities of the human mind and body, as well as the beautiful world which we live in. You can follow along with his adventures at TheCretanRunner.wordpress.com.