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Plant Power

Long distance running and being a vegan?

These days it’s not a huge thing anymore that someone runs long distances and “only” eats plants. But still people get confused if that topic comes up. How do you get enough protein? So you don’t really eat any animal products? But pizza?

My personal journey from ‘meat eating lazy-ass’ to ‘long distance running vegan’ started about two years ago. The main reason was that I was depressed, badly depressed, and really finally wanted some kind of change. I saw a documentary called “Hungry for Change” and something in it hit me. After that I started changing my diet, more clean and real foods, less processed and made up foods. Pretty fast I started feeling the difference. Then I felt that I have energy that I wanted to burn, what to do? I had old running shoes purely for fashion reasons, no money to go to any classes. Out the door and off to my first run I went. It sucked, big time, but something woke up inside of me and for some reason I wanted more. From then on, I ran, gradually more and noticing really big difference in my being.

But why would I stop eating animal products? For me it was as clear as that my body didn’t take meats well, I felt sick after I ate them. So for a long time I ate chicken and fish, but I felt that I don’t really need them, so gradually stopped eating them too. Milk products were the hardest. I loved cheese! If I made pizza, I topped mine with so much cheese that it was twice as much as the rest of the pizza… I loved, loved, loved cheesy things! But when I learned that milk products are sometimes a reason for joint pain, I wanted to try to go without. I did and noticed the difference, my old running injured knees didn’t ache anymore. But because old habits die hard, I went back to eating cheese.

It took me few months shy two years to really go vegan or plant based, I like the latter more. In the last month I have really focused on eating clean, fresh, plant based foods. My training has gone up a lot but I feel so much better.

At the moment I am training for the biggest goal of my whole life, and I’ve only been running for two years… In 2015 I am tackling at least three Trail Ultras. My first is going to be in April. And I just moved back home to Finland, so my training is going to be over an actual winter. Not the easiest way to train but I am excited.

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Now that I have really focused on my eating and seeing the benefits, I can train more with less rest in between. I feel really strongly that I’ve found my secret to happy and healthy runninglife.

So, what are those benefits then?

  • no more joint pain
  • recovery time between training is pretty much non existing, long runs doable every other day if wanted
  • mental health more balanced, no sugar spikes
  • no need for painkillers or such, nature fixes me pretty amazingly, and if I need something I usually take fresh ginger for speedier recovery or flu symptoms or after long runs for easing the muscle strain
  • all the excess weight is just dropping off, when there’s no extra processed foods in me
  • I feel a lot stronger, more energized and a lot calmer
  • no more bloating or heartburn or hemorrhoids, so easier to live with old super problematic stomach
  • able to do more, in general
  • sleep better and deeper, wake up rested
  • all in all happier and more balanced runner and person! :)

I really recommend a great book to get in to running on plants; Scott Jureks “Eat and Run”. This is a great book in general, but has amazing recipes and answers to those questions you may have.

And what do I eat now? Everything! The options are endless, I can eat so many things that I don’t think I will ever be able to taste everything. I like the sound of that!

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