Friday, September 2, 2011

Run Lola Run

I run. A lot.

Ever since the age of about seven, I've been running. A big part of my childhood was Saturdays spent at Little Athletics competing against other gangly-limbed kids all entertaining thoughts of becoming star olympians on the track circuit. I still remember how proud I was of my ribbon collection, counting my blue red and green ribbons monthly and comparing my times for each of my 'star' events!

I was never a long distance runner, sprinting was my forte. Hurdles predominantly. However, fast forward a number of years later (a lot of years later!) and I love my longer distances. 5km/10km races and occasionally a half-marathon. I have sometimes thought about doing marathons however love the challenge of putting in a lot of speed in the shorter distances, so until I can 'race' a fast 21km, then marathons will be on hold for the moment!

I run 5 days a week: 2x speed sessions, 1x easy run, 1x tempo run and a weekly long run of about 15km-20km. I go the gym twice a week for a weights session and about once a week I try and do an easy yoga class. To some people it might sound like a massive effort, but when you've been running for a long time and really enjoy it it almost becomes something you can't live without.

The great thing is I do it all on a plant-based diet AND have almost double the amount of energy doing it, than I did in the days where I ate meat and dairy! I often get asked the usual questions: what do you do for protein, what about your bones (calcium), how do you manage to run that far on 'nothing'?! I would be lying if I said those questions didn't get tiring after a while, but answering them has almost become a memorized dialogue so I tend to tune out a bit when entering the discussions!

So, my can't-train-without food ingredients that I wanted to share with you that are essential to my training diet/nutrition, are:

Whole grains! Barley, brown rice, millet, amaranth to name a few. Not only do they all contain an essential blend of vitamins and nutrients, they also provide a stable supply of fuel and energy for training.

Sea vegetables! Not appealing to everyone's taste, but these super plants of the sea have done wonders for my energy! Wakame, arame, kombu, hijiki, dulse and of course nori. Full of iodine and calcium they are great to add to soups, salads, stews or even eaten toasted. Eat in moderation.

Adzuki beans, lentils, tempeh, tofu, chickpeas, black-eyed peas, split peas...! That will silence the protein questions :-)

Coconut water! An excellent source of electrolytes and potassium. Great for a post-run recovery drink.

Kale! Of course there is an endless list of tasty and fantastic vegetables that any vegan eats, but I have to say that kale is an essential on my weekly shopping list. Purple, green or dark kale -I love them all. Raw is my preference, either in a smoothie or in a salad, but steamed with a drizzle of umeboshi vinegar is delicious also. Full of antioxidants and jam-packed with calcium, I would say I eat/drink kale daily. I am also really loving  Loving Earth raw kale chips! Mmmm.

For something sweet, I make these fantastic little energy balls of dates, shredded coconut, activated walnuts and raw cacao. I blend them together and then store them in the fridge and they are a great snack throughout the day, and also satisfy my sweet tooth.

Last but not least, I am not usually a fan of sporting supplements however I have to say I am a fan of Vega Wholefoods products and occasionally when I'm running out the door in the mornings, or if I feel like an extra recovery drink after a hard session, I will blend up a Vega Whole Foods Optimizer Smoothie.

There are so many inspiring athletes out there that excel at what they do and don't consume any animal products in the process. Brendan Brazier, Carl Lewis and Rich Roll to name but a few. And then of course there's the every day runners like myself that do it for fun and fitness (and still, somewhere, in the back of their minds, entertain thoughts of being an olympian runner in their next life)!

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