I am not someone who will follow ‘fad’ diets, for a long period of my life I was too picky with my food choices to be able to do so anyway!
Over the last four months now I have been ‘experimenting’ with a Plant Based Diet. This, for me, has basically been following a vegan diet with none of the ethical reasons for doing so. Anyone who knows me realizes how big a shift in my eating habits this has entailed. My previous diet was heavily protein based, mainly meat based but supplemented with Whey Isolate.
I have always been ‘one of those people’ hated by others! By this I mean I have always been able to eat what I want, when I want and in whatever quantities I wanted without the risk of gaining weight. My weight did however fluctuate up and down by 10lbs over the course of a week, but no conscious effort was needed to lose / gain this weight.
When this was my diet I always found that I was sore after races. Stiff joints after a half marathon, having to walk backwards downstairs to protect my legs after marathons, curled up in a fetal position the day after a 50 mile run. But this is surely to be expected after putting the body through a certain amount of stress, just something that had to be accepted if I was going to be a runner!
IT IS POSSIBLE TO RUN FAR AND LIVE A PAIN FREE LIFE!
I started having smoothies for breakfast and lunch and continued with my usual diet for the rest of the day. By ‘usual diet’ I mean whatever was quick and easy to cook based on family activities for the night. ‘Food prep’, surely that takes too long! I now realize that ‘Food prep’ is a long term investment. Yes, it takes a chunk out of my Sunday, but it frees up time for the rest of the week and eating actually becomes enjoyable rather than an additional stressor!
As I started to run more often and further distances, initially as a means to help with my mental health, I realized that I actually enjoyed the challenges that running brought. I started reading more about ultra running and three biographies really stick in my mind.
- ‘Nowhere Near First’ by Cory Reese. Quite possibly the greatest, most inspirational, book I have ever read!
- ‘Finding Ultra’ by Rich Roll
- ‘Eat & Run’ by Scott Jurek
Cory somehow convinced me that running ridiculous distances was the most rewarding and enjoyable past time that has ever been invented! Rich planted the idea of a Plant Based diet in my head and Scott pushed me over the edge to fully commit to, at least trying, the diet.
There are always placebo effects like ‘if it works for elite athletes, of course it works for me’, that convince you that you must be doing the right thing when you make big lifestyle changes. The moment I was convinced that a Plant Based diet is actually beneficial to endurance athletes was four months after starting. The day after completing the 100km Diez Vista I was actually able to move! It was by far the longest and most gruelling race I had ever been part of, but somehow I could function as a ‘normal’ human being the day after, I was blown away.
The Diez Vista wasn’t a one off occurrence either. This time last week I had just completed my first 100 Mile run at the 24 Hour Cedar Ultra Endurance Run. The only pains that followed that run were the massive blisters that formed between my toes and feet (technically turning me into a platypus!) but no muscular pains.
I no longer have fluctuations in my weight either, I have finally reached a point where my weight is stable and I fulfill all my nutritional requirements through my diet rather than supplements.
A Plant – Based Diet will never turn me into an elite athlete, a time machine and a magic wand may be the only way for that to happen, but it will ultimately increase the longevity of the sport that has saved me in so many ways.
I’m definitely converted!