async="src="/ Taking the Long Way Home: Book Review: The Vail Method

Friday, February 21, 2020

Book Review: The Vail Method

Disclaimer: I received a copy of The Vail Method from the publisher in exchange for my honest review. This post contains affiliate links.

As an aging runner who would love to continue to stay active, I was intrigued by The Vail Method. I'm not a fan of fad diets or methods that promise to make me feel 20 years younger. So when I was asked if I wanted to read and review The Vail Method, I was reluctant. This is a running blog! Did I really want to go down this path and review this kind of book? But after reading a little bit more about Dr Ehrlich and his book, I realized that I was actually the target reader for his approach.

In his ophthamology practice, Dr Matthew Ehrlich observed many older patients who were struggling with health issues. Experiencing some age-related health changes himself prompted him to help middle aged and older adults stay active and healthy. His passion for fitness and healthy eating led him to complete a fellowship in antiaging medicine. Using evidence-based medicine, Ehrlich developed his plan, a holistic and practical approach to getting and maintaining fitness, increasing energy, and peace of mind.

Sounds good? Let's dig in.



Dr Ehrlich lives in Vail and was inspired by the people and surroundings to develop a positive and healthy lifestyle plan. As an avid cyclist and runner, he is passionate about aging healthly. He shares examples of how following his method has changed his own health and life for the better. He also shares stories of patients and others who have followed his methods, resulting better health. While the book is directed at the active aging athlete, he states that anyone who wants to feel better would benefit from his method.

Throughout the book, he outlines his plan, which contains 4 core components:
  • plant-based diet and nutrition
  • aerobic exercise with lactate threshold testing and heart-rate based training
  • rest with avoidance of overtraining and sleep
  • mindfulness and relaxation
He shares information about each topic, including recipes and ideas to incorporate a plant-based diet into your life. He covers the topic quite thoroughly, including addressing protein needs for athletes as well as supplements that he feels are important. I found this section interesting--I learned a new word: ergogenic, which means 'intended to enhance physical performance, stamina, or recovery'. There are a lot of items that could fall under this category, which he mentions, including water, carbohydrates, caffeine, leucine (a BCAA), and creatine. He also mentions HMB, which is a controversial supplement, ginseng, and turmeric. Dr Ehrlich states that protein supplements are not necessary for recreational athletes, a statement which I am not sure I agree with as there is literature to support the need for increased protein in older athletes. There may be other supplements that weren't listed in the book that could be beneficial to athletic performance. I found a great summary of supplements for exercise and athletic perfomance on the NIH website, if you are interested in learning more.

Dr Ehrlich is a big proponent of heart rate-based training but feels very strongly about lactate threshold testing as a measurement of your fitness. That test is not readily available in most medical offices, so interested readers would need to seek out a provider who can perform the test. He also discusses other tests that he feels are important measures of health and fitness in the older athlete, such as body fat analysis, hormones (for men and women), and cardiac risk measures. Another test that he mentions, an ultrasound to measure muscle glycogen, seems extreme. While this test may be as accurate as a muscle biopsy, I can't imagine why a recreational athlete would need either of these tests.

In addition to nutrition and exercise, Dr Ehrlich also stresses the importance of sleep and avoidance of overtraining, sharing the example of how elite athletes take time off after a hard training cycle and/or a goal race to allow their body to completely recover. Meditation and relaxation are key components to stress reduction; he provides resources and ideas for the reader interested in learning more.

While some of the recommendations made in the The Vail Method seem a little over the top, I found a lot of sound information in the book. You know I'm all about science, and Dr Ehrlich shares plenty of evidence to back up his method. I think most of us know the importance of good nutrition and exercise, getting plenty of sleep, and reducing stress in our lives. In his book, Dr Ehrlich puts it all out there in an easy to read reference that won't overwhelm the reader. He encourages flexibility as you adapt to a more healthier lifestyle and provides examples of how he's made these changes too.

While I've been already working on changing my diet and improving my sleep, I've still got a little work to do! Reading The Vail Method was great timing for me. If you are looking to making a change to live a healthier, more active life or if you're already active but want to improve your health, The Vail Method will certainly provide you with plenty of information and inspiration to get started.


Do you want to stay active as you age? Check out my review of The Vail Method /via @oldrunningmom @booksforwardpr #runchat #running #bookreview #runningbookclub

What healthy changes are you making in your life? Have you noticed an improvement in your athletic performance? Are you interested in reading The Vail Method? Right now, it's available on Amazon for the kindle at $1.99!

I'm linking up with Fridays with Fairytales and Fitness.


19 comments :

  1. Interesting book review, thanks!
    I turned vegan after I read "How not to die", but lately I have introduced dairy back into my diet. I felt I wasn't getting enough protein. And I agree with you, I think as we age we need to increase our protein-intake.

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    1. I haven't read that book, but I definitely lean towards plant-based, with a few exceptions. I still eat eggs on the regular and I do use cheese. I guess I'd be more of a flexitarian, since I do occasionally eat meat too. But I find that my RA symptoms are much quieter when I stick to this diet.

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  2. This does sound very interesting. I am on board with the plant based eating and have seen a bunch about it's efficacy lately. Overtraining is something I am definitely prone to and I think so are a lot of recreational athletes. Sounds like a good read!

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    1. I have been moving towards a plant based diet as I work to reduce inflammation in my body. Interestingly, I've been feeling bettter overall!

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  3. interesting!! I think without even reading his book, I've already been changing a lot of things in my life to make things better for myself. I'm becoming more and more plant based, I'm really seeking to get better sleep and more quality type relaxation and rest and I'm not overtraining anymore. Time will tell if and how much it helps. I plan on keeping on this track for as long as I can - I am not afraid of getting older but I don't want to FEEL old.

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  4. Wow! You can't beat the price on Amazon. I may have to buy that. I am pretty active and healthy but I think we could all benefit on ways to improve our sleep!

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    1. I was pretty surprised at the price but you can't pass that up, right?

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  5. OK I was eating leftover brisket and smoked turkey breast as I read this, so obviously I'm not quite ready to go to a full on plant-based diet. But I do agree that more natural foods are definitely better for you, especially as health issues crop up. Great review; I am glad for your synopsis as I can't get through science-y things.

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    1. I won't go 100% plant based either! But I do try to avoid beef and only eat meat on occasion. I definitely notice a difference when I do.

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  6. This book does sound like an interesting read! I can see the benefits of plants IN our diets but still appreciate good ole meat :)

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    1. The research really supports a plant based diet. But yeah, I can't totally give up meat or fish.

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  7. I may have to buy that -- it sounds really interesting! I eat predominantly plant based -- except for Mr. Judy. He's really the only reason I eat poultry and some red meat.

    I feel so, so strongly about rest & recovery. It's what drew me to Yin Yoga in the first place. The whole "I'll sleep when I'm dead" mentality is just so unhealthy.

    I'd love to do lactate threshold testing, but you're right, that's no easy to come by and probably not so necessary for recreational runners.

    Thanks for the recommendation, Wendy!

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    1. I love Yin Yoga too. It's really difficult to hold a pose for 3 minutes (or longer) and that is a good reason to do it!

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  8. I have not ventured into the heart rate-based training, yet. I'm intrigued by it. So much of my training is based on "by-feel," I'd be curious to find out how close/off I am. Sounds like an interesting read!

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    1. I tried HR training-it worked well for me in the summer, when I struggle more. I was able to run better when I kept my HR below the red zone.

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  9. I'm working on my sleep which gets wrong and that gets me wrong, but that's more a mental health thing for me, I think. I'm just trying to keep active and well-nourished and hydrated as I live in fear of being like my grandma, being bed- or chair-bound for about the last 15 of her 104 years!

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    1. Oh gosh, I hope that doesn't happen to you or any of us, for that matter!

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    2. it's a good motivator, that's for sure!

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