Vegan Running


I know you are all probably wanting to hear how the Buffalo 100 went, but I wrote this blog before the race. I figured I’d be sleeping and eating for the 24 hours after the race and blogging would not be a top priority. But stay tuned, I’ll write a report for Thursday.

I’ve blogged about nutrition a few times including low carbohydrate running and fueling during your runs. Since my lifestyle has moved to vegan, I thought I would blog about how that impacts or could impact your running.

I’m not going to get into the reasons I switched to a vegan lifestyle because it doesn’t really relate to my running. For those who don’t know what vegan is, it means I don’t eat or use products which contain any animal products. It’s different from vegetarian because vegetarians will eat dairy products and some also eat eggs and fish.

The one thing I hear the most from people is where do you get your protein?  Don’t you need protein to build muscle?  This is just a lack of knowledge. There is protein in many plants. There are the well- known vegan “meats”  tofu, tempeh, and seitan. But Lentils, edamame, and quinoa also have quite a bit of protein.

So how can a vegan lifestyle improve your running? It lowers your chance of heart disease, cancer, and other serious illnesses. It lowers your blood pressure and bad cholesterol while increasing good cholesterol. It reduces your risk of inflammation even after miles of pounding. It doesn’t decrease your energy levels.

There are many ultrarunners who are vegan: Scott Jurek, Ariel Rosenfeld, Denis Mkhaylove, Damian Stoy, and Vlad Ixel just to name a few. Scott is probably the most widely known and has taken first place at races including Western States 100 seven times, Badwater Ultramarathon, Spartathlon 153 miles, and Hardrock 100.

As far as advice about transitioning to a vegan lifestyle as a runner: make the transition slow so your body has time to adjust. You can take out one thing at a time for a week or two until all animal products are gone. Some people have gastral intestinal issues during the transition. If you take things slow, I think most of this can be avoided.

Things I have noticed: I have to eat more frequently when I am running, but it has yet to cause any stomach issues. I still recommend watching the quantity you put in at one time. It’s better to eat more frequently but smaller amounts when you are running especially, if you have had stomach problems in the past.

Give your body time to adjust to being vegan before a big race. I changed three months before a race came up on my calendar. Get some good long runs in and back to backs before race day, so you know if you could be facing some GI issues on race day and how to deal with them.


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