I represent what athletes can do when they balance a healthy lifestyle with a healthful diet of lean beef. And my faith has been bolstered by the fact that many people still go by what they’ve learned from their own experiences and ignore the vocal few who tell them what they’re doing is wrong. If you’re seeing results from a certain shoe or training technique, chances are slim you’ll change it because somebody thinks their technique is better. The same goes for the way athletes choose to finely tune their bodies with the proper mixture of protein, iron, zinc and, well, the fantastic flavor of beef.

I always knew beef helped me prepare for and recover from races, but I never knew why until I learned about beef’s nutritional profile. When I tell athletes that there are more than 29 cuts of beef leaner than a skinless chicken thigh, their jaws drop. When I share that a 3-oz. serving of lean beef provides half the protein needed in an average adult’s daily diet at the cost of only about 150 calories, I sense a feeling of relief.

When I ran both the Boilermaker 15K and the Ironman 70.3, I did so having run dozens of other races this year, including marathons, half marathons,10Ks and triathlons. In neither race could I say I had specifically trained for those distances nor was I in any way rested or prepped properly. However, even constantly traveling to these races across the country never knowing where I will eat my next meal, I know that if I can find myself a steak, I will be fine.

When people say, “You run a lot – I bet you can eat whatever you want,” I always like to point out that the human body is like a well-tuned race car. Once you’ve primed that car to the point of performance where you’re depending on it to fire on all cylinders, the last thing you want to do is put gunky gasoline in it.

In finishing 143rd out of 1,212 triathletes at the Ironman event, and 299th out of 11,075 runners at the Boilermaker 15K, I know I can thank many things for getting me to the finish line. Making sure there was no gunk in my engine by eating a diet high in lean beef is near the top.

I can proudly say that I run for, and because of, beef! 

Dane Rauschenberg is an extreme athlete and Team BEEF spokesrunner.