The Real-Life Diet of an Iditarod Musher, Who Eats When His Dogs Eat – Yahoo Lifestyle

Posted: March 6, 2020 at 3:44 am


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Two weeks after moving to Alaska in August 2014, Larry Daugherty, now 44, met well-known Iditarod musher Jim Lanier at a book signing.

Like Daugherty, Lanier trained at the Mayo Clinic and worked in medicine. They hit it off immediately. Daugherty considered it fatehed always dreamed of coming to Alaska and of dog sledding there. Lanier told him to stop by his kennel sometime. Daugherty went the next day, and kept showing up afterwards.

Almost six years later, on Saturday, March 7, Daugherty will compete in the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race for the fourth time. The event features the best mushers in the world in tandem with their teams of 14 dogs, and over the course of nine to 12 days, competitors traverse through nearly 1,000 miles of treacherous terrain from Anchorage to Nome (roughly the same distance as Los Angeles to Portland). To date, Daughertys best finish is 10 days, 18 hours, 29 minutes, and 10 seconds. This time around, Daugherty is running a B team from a larger kennel so those dogs can get some racing experience. Theyre on the younger side, but the hope is by next year, theyll be on the varsity squad for an Iditarod champion.

The Iditarod is just Daughertys warm-up. Three weeks after the race, hes planning on climbing Mount Everest. Hes no newbie climber, having summited peaks all over the world, including Denali, Elbrus, Aconcagua, Kilimanjaro, Alpamayo, and Lobuche. But this marks the second time hes tried for what hes dubbed the Iditarest, which means what you think it means. His first attempt in 2017 didnt go according to plan during its latter halfhe was turned around by dangerous weather an hour from the summit.

A photo of Daugherty.

In an interview with GQ, Daugherty explains what drives him to put his body through two physically demanding events back-to-back, and how he trains for wildly different athletic feats.

GQ: Youll have less than a month between the Iditarod and Everest. Whats your strategy to prepare for both of them?

Larry Daugherty: Part of what makes the Iditarest such a challenge is that the Iditarod is pretty much the last thing a climber would want to put their body through right before an 8,000-meter climb. My primary focus in training has been to get myself in the best shape of my life. The toll on my body is severe with a 1,000-mile dog sled race. But I wont run as punishing of a race as the elite mushers. Both in the interest of the dogs, as well as myself, I plan to run a conservative racemy goal is to finish. There is certainly a risk in the Iditarod of injury or other detriments to my body that would impact my Everest climb.

What is your fitness routine right now?

A typical training routine for me is two hours of cardio per day and one additional hour of strength training or core. I spend a lot of time at the Alaska Rock Gym. They have everything I need, from a StairMaster to a treadmill to weights. Then I reward myself after my workouts with some climbingits my treat for finishing my workout. Running on the treadmill facing the climbs is a motivator for me. I also do regular hikes in the mountains near my house.

What do you do for weight training?

Primarily legs and core. Tons of squats and crunches, which I do every day. I also do upper body a few times a week. I try to constantly do micro workouts. At work, every time I see a patient, Ill go into my office afterwards and do some curls before seeing the next patient. I also installed a pull-up bar in the clinic, so every time I walk by I do some pull-ups.

One thing I know about expeditions is that the food isnt exactly gourmet. What do you pack to eat to fuel yourself?

On the mountain there's a lot of meat and rice, some of which we get at tea houses on the way to base camp, and some of which our expedition cook makes. I bring plenty of snacks from home. Primarily things that give you energy. Im a big fan of peanut butter and Snickers bars. When the altitude starts to hit me, I find I cant choke down a Clif Bar or protein bar, so its usually softer stuff that Im taking in.

I assume that differs from your diet at home. Youre probably not eating Snickers every day?

Yeah, thats for sure. Ive been in training for the last year, so Ive really tried to clean up my diet a lot. I eat very little sugar. Mostly vegetables, lean meats, and protein shakes.

When youre mushing, youre responsible for feeding both yourself and the 14 dogs. How do you juggle that? Ive heard the dogs need roughly 10,000 calories a day when theyre racing.

On the Iditarod trail, I eat when the dogs eat. The dogs primarily eat beef and fish. Thats also how the dogs get a lot of their water content, because the protein is frozen, and we essentially make a goulash for them by heating snow until its melted and boiling. I cook their food in that. They usually eat four times a day. At that point, its easiest for me to heat vacuum-sealed meals for myself. Things like shepherd's pie, pasta, and soup. Im focused more on the dogs' nutrition on the trail.

Whats the biggest challenge associated with running in the Iditarod?

Sleep deprivation. Thats really the hardest part. I usually stop for six hours at a checkpoint, which is considered a large amount of rest; the elite mushers will take between two and four hours at a checkpoint. At least two hours of that time is spent taking care of the dogs and melting snow to get water. Taking care of each and every paw. Rubbing sore muscles. Just really obsessing over the health of the dogs so they can get you through this thousand mile adventure. You just don't get a lot of sleep. You also can't plan on storms that are going to hit and how that might affect your race plan.

How do you come down from events of this magnitude? A Netflix binge? A half-marathon?

Ill sleep for 12 hours a day for two or three days after the Iditarod. I feel like I cant get enough sleep and cant get enough food. I usually lose five to 10 pounds on the trail. And being a father of five whos gone for this event, coming down usually means reconnecting and spending meaningful time with my family.

Whats next after the Iditarest?

Im taking my daughter and her friends up Mount Rainier this summer. Then in June 2021, my son wants to climb Denali for his senior trip, and were training to do that together. Ive already climbed it once before. After that, I have a few more of the Seven Summits to do. From an adventure standpoint, those are my big goals right now.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

Real-Life Diet is a series in which GQ talks to athletes, celebrities, and everyone in-between about their diets and exercise routines: what's worked, what hasn't, and where they're still improving. Keep in mind, what works for them might not necessarily be healthy for you.

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Originally Appeared on GQ

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March 6th, 2020 at 3:44 am

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