Interview: Majell Backhausen, Elite Ultra-Marathon Athlete
posted health & wellbeing and tagged fitness, running, plant-based ahtlete, athlete, plant-based, ultra marathon, ultra trail, majell backhausen, Interview, nutrition on July 8, 2016.
We recently chatted to ultra-marathon elite athlete and proud Amazonia advocate Majell Backhausen
who is taking ultra trail running by leaps and bounds with a long string of wins and placing under his belt. And, he's doing it all following a sustainable and plant-based lifestyle. Here he shares some insights into his mentality, diet, race tips and passion for living an environmentally aware life.
What started you on your health/fitness journey?
Well at a young age I got told that smoking was ‘healthy’ and ‘cool’- no joke. So I learnt how to roll a cigarette and smoke it in order to fit in. Then I started playing Aussie Rules Football and thought drinking was a mandatory part of being a good footballer. Bit by bit I kept realising a lot of people damage the most important possession they own -their body- in order to be accepted. I then realised I felt better about everything, the healthier and fitter I became and the more conscious about health and wellbeing, I was. There wasn't really a lightbulb moment but now I am grateful for the longer process of the journey and its learnings. I'm also excited for what is still to come!
What are the most important lessons you’ve learnt along the way?
There are so many- but a few favourites:
The meaning of life is not found at the finish of a 170km running race
To try enjoy the journey and not just the desired result
Helping people reach their own goals can be just as rewarding as achieving personal goals
Everything is relative to you and you only. We can take a lot of inspiration and motivation from other people, but we shouldn't continually benchmark ourselves again them. Competition can be healthy but, it has its place. Be honest and true to yourself and what stage of your own journey you are in.h
What’s your typical day on a plate?
Well, firstly I would need about 10 plates for a typical day. I eat a lot and this is probably related to running a lot. Good energy in = good energy out. Vegetables, fruit, grains, oils, legumes, nuts, hers, spices and herbal teas, all topped up with quality whole food supplements from Amazonia form the basis for my diet. It is also vegetarian and environmentally friendly.
Minimising packaging of all foods has a double benefit for the body and the environment, so they are minimised at all costs. Usually I will wake up with a warm lemon water and follow it up with Amazonia Raw Prebiotic Greens, to gently wake up the body and balance the pH.
Then there is no set food for breakfast, lunch or dinner- why should there be? If it's vegetables and salad for breakfast, I am good with that! I will always follow up workouts with a good carb and protein source, which can be an Amazonia Raw Protein-based smoothie with some, LSA, oats, and Raw nutritional powders added too.
Whole foods are always my go-to source for fuel. However, travelling is a big part of my life, so prepared containers for "on-the-go" smoothies, which just need water added, are a must.
The amazing benefits to the world and health, of vegan living, is something I would like to stick more closely too.
What are your non-negotiables when it comes to your health/race preparation?
This is a tough one, especially for me during competition. Any other day but race day, I would, at all costs, avoid highly processed, excessively packaged items which are trying to claim they are ‘food’. However energy gels, energy bars and hydration salts all fall into this category, but are such an important part of racing. So in preparation, it is avoiding all of the above, but race day, at this point in time, I have to ignore the want to avoid these items.
What do you feel is the biggest nutrition misconception you encounter out there?
These are a few things that really make me smile! I used to get frustrated hearing them, but really people who believe them as truths, are just misinformed. Some of these misconceptions are:
You need more and more protein and preferably protein from meat
If you are low on energy you need sugar and/or caffeine
Potatoes and fruit are unhealthy and created by the devil
But my favourite is that you can get away with having poor nutritional intake, and it has no effect on your mental and/or physical health... nothing is more untrue!
What are your tips for staying fit and healthy on the go, as we know your sport requires a lot of travelling?
It is just to think ahead, prepare and be organised with everything you will need on your journey. Also to be comfortable with having a home made picnic in an airport or bus shelter.
There really isn't any reason why we can't eat and drink well when we travel. We have all the man made tools, so all we have to do is not care about using them. Preparing food to take, filling up one, two or even four drink bottles if needed. Then it is simply just a case of making sure we have a walk around and stretch when we can.
Keeping it simple but effective. My Amazonia products are great to travel with for the layover hit of nutrients and colour!
Where do you find your inspiration?
We can take motivation and inspiration from everywhere, but dedication and commitment can only come from one place. The same rule applies for smiling and working towards goals!
Seriously for me, it is trying to find inspiration in anything I can, just like trying to draw positive from what can appear to be negative experiences and situations. You just need to look harder when it's not obvious and you will find inspiration everywhere!
Who do you look up to in the your industry, or who mentors you?
I respect people who are not one dimensional in their thoughts and actions. Everything we do has a knock on effect in another part of our bodies or the world, so people who realise this and balance their actions through other means have my respect and appreciation. I look up to these people and believe we can all learn a lot from them.
What one message do you really wish you could get out there to aspiring ultra-marathon runners?
Instead of it being a long run, think of it as a long picnic with some running in between. A great friend tight me that and it works.
On a more serious note; respect, enjoy and appreciate that working towards ultra-marathons and faster times is a process where consistency and patience is key. Recovery and rest sessions are as important, if not more important than hard or long sessions.
Also that being a little crazy isn't such a bad thing, because perfection is so overrated.
Can you share your favourite Amazonia product and/or recipe with us?
Green is good! Simple Raw Prebiotic Greens with homemade rice milk is simple, effective and tastes like it is meant to be down right awesome for the body and soul!
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