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Episode 21: Couch Potato to Marathon Man

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Chris Bunker shares his journey from couch potato to Marathon Man on this week’s episode of Supplementing Health.

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The content of this podcast has not been evaluated by Health Canada or the FDA. It is educational in nature and should not be taken as medical advice. Always consult a qualified medical professional to see if a diet, lifestyle change, or supplement is right for you. Any supplements mentioned are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Please note that the opinions of the guests or hosts are their own and may not reflect those of Advanced Orthomolecular Research, Inc.


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Welcome to Supplementing Health, a podcast presented by Advanced Orthomolecular Research. We are all about applying evidenced-based and effective dietary lifestyle and natural health product strategies for your optimal health. In each episode, we will feature very engaging clinicians and experts from the world of functional and naturopathic medicine to help achieve our mission to empower people to lead their best lives naturally.


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This episode of Supplementing Health is sponsored by AOR’s SuperFocus™. It offers a balanced combination of botanicals and vitamins to both stimulate and calm the mind without the jittery feelings associated with energy drinks. In a world of overstimulation and pressure that taxes our mental faculties, SuperFocus™ is a reliable alternative for anyone looking for a focus or performance boost.


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[1:28] Cassy Price: Hello, and welcome back to Supplementing Health. I’m your host, Cassy Price. Today I’m very excited to be chatting with Chris Bunker, a local marathon runner who has gone from living a life where health was not at the forefront, to a man who has fine tuned his body for optimal performance. Welcome, Chris, and thanks so much for joining me today.


[1:45] Chris Bunker: Good morning, Cassy, and thank you. I’m looking forward to chatting with you and sharing my journey and looking forward to it. Thanks for having me.


[1:54] Cassy Price: The first question that’s kind of been plaguing me since I knew that we would get to have this chat is, what was the catalyst for you getting started on your marathon journey?


[2:03] Chris Bunker: You know, this has been a two-and-a-half to three-year journey for me, personally. It actually started when my aunt, unfortunately, passed away with Alzheimer’s in Philadelphia. From there, I decided to do my first 10K run and raise some money for the local Alzheimer’s Society of Calgary here, and it went on from there.


[2:30] I did my first 10K and raised almost $3,000 through the help of friends and suppliers. That set me going from there, and one thing led to another. So, yes, it’s been quite an exciting two-and-a-half years, and I feel totally different. 


[2:49] Cassy Price: What does your training regime look like?


[2:53] Chris Bunker: I started with a 10K. It was quite a feat for me. Then, I built on it from there through the local community through running, meeting different people, focusing on heart rates, keeping that to an optimal level, before the lactic acid kicks in. You must make sure your body is completely refuelled with electrolytes and salt to avoid muscle cramps, and basically get the respiratory system working in its full capacity.


[3:34] Cassy Price: Did you do all of your own research and studying to get to where you are or have you worked with professional trainers, or how did you go from couch potato to marathon, essentially?


[3:49] Chris Bunker: Yeah, good question. It’s interesting. The local community here, the running community, the triathlon community here, which I’ll get to in a second, has been a fantastic resource. It actually started from a local chiropractor in Calgary. I was having some issues with my back due to training for a 10K and then putting me in touch with a local running store, looking at how I run, looking at my wear and tear on my shoes, to custom orthotics, to then being introduced to a gentleman here that definitely put me on the right track in regard to the training and what I need. 


[4:30] So, all the people here in the running community or the triathlon community, they just want to help you. They’re great resources, and they want to share their stories and help you reach your goal, whether that’s running your first 1K, or 5K, or 10K marathon, or Ironman, whatever the case may be, everyone is super, super helpful.


[4:56] Cassy Price: What kind of things did you learn about diet and nutrition that have helped you further your abilities?


[5:02] Chris Bunker: Yeah, good question. Basically, over the last two-and-a-half years, when I was leading up to a 10K, I completely switched the way I eat and the way I look at certain things. A good part of that is I’m down 58 pounds in total. When I put my old clothes on now, I just can’t believe it. As far as the nutrition goes, I’m really, really careful with what I’m putting into my body.


[5:33] Obviously, what you do put into your body fuels you, so that could fuel you for a run, a bike ride or a swim or whatever that may be. I’m definitely more on the vegan side now. I’m not 100% vegan, but I’m watching what I’m eating all the time from typical – how should I say – pub food or something like that to making healthier choices, which fuels me to reach my goals moving forward.


[6:06] Cassy Price: What would you say the biggest change is that you’ve noticed along your journey here?


[6:13] Chris Bunker: For me, personally, just feeling better – more energy. Many people say that. I’m two-and-a-half years in now. I can’t remember the timeline in regard to changing the cycle. I went out to lunch, actually with a customer yesterday, I chose to have a plant-based burger rather than a bun, or even a gluten one, I chose to have a lettuce wrap. And, instead of fries, I had some yam fries.


[6:40] Just making different choices like that rather than feeling stodgy for the rest of the day and full, and that enabled me to go on a 52K bike ride later on in the afternoon rather than just coming home, sitting on the couch, eating a typical sort of dinner – rather than just thinking about it and stepping ahead of the game in regard to the grocery list. And, meal planning rather than grabbing a lot of processed stuff out of the freezer, which, hey, I was part of that.


[7:16] Cassy Price: Yeah, I think a lot of us fall into that trap, for sure.


[7:20] Chris Bunker: Absolutely. I don’t mean to sound funny here, but when I do go for groceries now, I tend to sometimes look in people’s carts, and I’m like, “Oh, my lord.” And I was one of them. I’m certainly not throwing them under the bus – not at all. I was part of that.


[7:39] My family’s support has been amazing, too. My wife has been on this journey, too. She’s down a considerable weight, as well. We’re both fit. I’m lucky, that way, in regard to it’s not just one doing it, where it can make it difficult in your food choices in the evening in your suppers, etc. If you’re both doing it and your whole family is on board, it’s one-shoe-fits-all at the dinner table rather than making to or three different suppers. Everyone’s been amazing, and I want to put a shoutout to my wife. She’s been great!


[8:10] Cassy Price: Fantastic. Does she run with you ever?


[8:15] Chris Bunker: No, she’s not really a runner. She does a lot of Zumba.


[8:20] Cassy Price: Yeah.


[8:21] Chris Bunker: She does some Yoga, as well. We’re getting there. We’ll go on some bike rides together, which I think she’s not too keen on the bike rides, at this point, so I do tend to just go off without her, obviously, behind me, so I do have to slow down a lot. I’ve got to be very mindful of that. It’s a family ride, not an endurance ride.




[8:44] Cassy Price: Yeah. Do you get all of the nutrition that you need from your meals, or do you use any additional supplementation or products to help support your body when you’re training?


[8:58] Chris Bunker: You know, that’s a good question. Through my relationship with AOR, I did the MyBlueprint™ test, which gives me the full report on my DNA and my body’s makeup. Actually, through that, and my connection to AOR, once I got my results back, I spoke with a sports performance doctor, and he was fantastic. 


[9:26] Again, talking about resources, I can’t thank people enough there. He put me onto a conference call with him. Once I got my report back, I take three AOR products for that. One of the products is called Gandha-600. It’s great for endurance for athletes. It’s vegan and gluten-free, as well, which is great. I take an N-A-C product – great for cardio health and breathing. 


[9:54] Also, after my workout, I take another AOR product called Magnesium Synergy. It’s great for muscle function. It’s got electrolytes in it to replace those after you’ve been out on a two-hour run or a four-hour bike ride and also stabilizes your blood sugar as well. Those three supplements, for me, have been fantastic.


[10:14] Once I start going super, super hard from January and getting ready for my Ironman, there are a couple of other products I want to throw in there, as well. So, yeah, the supplements have been a great help, for sure.


[10:31] Cassy Price: Is the Ironman your next big goal?


[10:33] Chris Bunker: Yeah. It’s funny. I finished – going back to the first 10K, I felt great when I crossed the finish line, just over an hour. From the 10K, I decided to do a half a marathon to a full marathon, just on my second marathon. I have to do it virtually this year, also due to COVID. I broke my first marathon time by 35 minutes, going back to the heart-rate training.


[11:06] Then, I went on to a half Ironman. It’s the big goal – it’s the big one. I should have been doing that in Penticton in Canada in August, but unfortunately, that got pushed back due to COVID, so I’ve got another year of this. It is part of my lifestyle, and that’s the big one for me. All I want to do is finish. I’ve got 17 hours to do all three segments, and if I can get to the finish line under 17 hours, that will be a three-and-a-half-year journey from couch to Ironman, for me, which is fantastic.


[11:44] Cassy Price: That is amazing. You mentioned heart-rate training. What exactly is that?


[11:48] Chris Bunker: Yeah. Basically, the heart-rate training – so many people think to get into running, it’s just a case of putting a pair of runners on, and off you go. It’s certainly not like that. Through my triathlon coach, what he did was, I met him over at his house, and he had a heart-rate monitor. Every two minutes, he increased the speed, and he was pin-pricking my finger and measuring my lactate acid, and when it got to a certain level, that determined my heart rate, which is 133 beats a minute when I’m running. So, what I need to do is keep my heart rate lower or at 133 beats per minute for optimum performance. 


[12:40] When I first started, my heart rate was considerably higher, and I was gasping after 10 or 15 minutes. When I found my optimum heart rate doing this, I could have continued running forever. I literally finished this marathon in 4 hours, 10 minutes back a month or two ago. I felt like I could run forever. 


[13:04] 1) Because I kept my heart rate at that level, and it’s slow and steady wins the race, in that regard. The more I tend to run, the quicker I get, and my heart rate still stays the same. So, I’m not using that blood sugar; I’m using body fat, which enables you to continue on.


[13:25] Cassy Price: Right. That’s interesting because I think – I know, for me, if I’m running, I’m trying to sprint my way as fast as I can. And it’s true; you hit a wall. You’re done, basically.


[13:36] Chris Bunker: Absolutely. Yeah.


[13:37] Cassy Price: You’ve given it everything you have. 


[13:40] Chris Bunker: It’s so funny. When I joined the very first marathon, I went off the seat of my pants and did it on my own. Then, through this gentleman that I met, he introduced the heart rate training for me. Even some of my friends are at the finish line at my first. When I came across the line on my second one, he said, “Chris, you don’t even look tired.”


[14:06] I was absolutely fine. I could have carried on and run an ultra-marathon, which is a 50K. I could run that easily. So, it’s funny how your body operates and with the right tools and the right nutritional information and heart rate information, how far you can push yourself if you’ve got that information at hand.


[14:26] Cassy Price: Yeah, absolutely. This has been fantastic. It’s really interesting the journey that you’ve been on, here, and how far you’ve come. We’re definitely going to be rooting for you for your race next year, as well, and your training up until then. If there are people in the community who want to get in touch with you and maybe run with you or learn with you further, how would they go about doing that?


[14:49] Chris Bunker: That’s a good question, Cassy, thank you. I do have an Instagram account. That’s probably the best way of getting ahold of me. My handle on Instagram is @reddevilbunks. You can always personally message me. I do typically run three or four times a week, ranging from 5K to probably 30K, to be honest with you.


[15:12] I’ve got a great community there. A couple of my neighbours are big bike riders too. We went 125K last week, 50K the week before. It’s all about your schedule and finding that balance around your family. The best way of getting ahold of me is Instagram, for sure. So, yes, thank you.


[15:32] Cassy Price: Awesome. Thanks so much, again, for joining us. To all our listeners, thank you for hopping on today. We hope that you join us again next week for more ways to supplement your health.


[15:43] Chris Bunker: Thank you, Cassy.


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Thank you for listening to Supplementing Health. For more information about our guests, past shows, and future topics, please visit or Do you have a topic that you want us to cover? We invite you to engage with us on social media to request a future topic or email us at [email protected]. We hope you tune in again next week to learn more about supplementing your health.


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