veggiefueled.

adventures of a plant-based athlete


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Drop and give me 20!

Sorry I’ve been M.I.A. – I got my wisdom teeth out last Thursday and have been kind of loopy. Other than not being able to eat any food that wasn’t pre-mushed or liquified, I’ve been bummed that I had to postpone my insanity workout schedule. I’m hoping I’ll be able to bounce back into the groove of things pretty quickly!

All this got me thinking: it’s really quite a recent development that I actually want to sweat and push myself to exhaustion. I was never really the “work-out” kind of girl. I played sports and stayed fit through activities, no gym in my routine. In fact, the typical things I associate with working out (push-ups, jumping jacks, running, etc.) were used as punishments by coaches.

“Drop and give me 20” something I’m sure many young athletes have been told while participating in their high school sport’s teams. I still remember running laps around the track when our softball team did something wrong. Unfortunately, I think it’s engraved in people’s minds at a young age that physical exhaustion is a negative thing, a form of punishment. When in reality, it can offer some of the best satisfaction, both physically and mentally.

Luckily, nowadays it seems the running world has embraced this concept, “My sport is your sport’s punishment.” It seems there is a certain pride that goes along with running. Maybe it’s the sense of awe you experience when people question you about your training and distance races. Or maybe it’s that feeling you get at the end of your new longest or fastest run. Either way… it’s an awesome feeling to be able to call yourself a runner, an athlete.

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After I ran my first half-marathon I was so incredibly proud of myself. At that point I had developed a willingness to “work-out.” I was skipping Saturday night parties with friends for early Sunday morning runs alone, and really I couldn’t have been happier. I was running in the cold, running in the heat, running in between class. I didn’t want to skip a training run because I had a goal that I wanted to accomplish… finish my very first half-marathon. The best part is that with all this training I also started to get into great shape. I lost some weight, built muscle in my legs, and would later-on incorporate weight training to tone my upper body. Then as a I got healthier through physical activity, I started to eat better so that I could fuel my body for runs (which eventually transitioned to a vegan diet). It also lead to me training for my first full marathon and a 2:02:18 half-marathon in my future.

Now, what I didn’t mention earlier was that not only did I not “work-out,” but I despised running. When I first started the half training I could barely run a mile without walking. It was miserable. I would never choose running as my first option to get into shape. I think what made the difference was running to accomplish a goal. When you change running from a work out to a sport you will unlock the key to success.

So my number one tip on getting yourself into shape is to make it fun! Find an activity you enjoy like yoga, boxing, cycling, running, etc. For me the best activities are those that have some kind of culminating event, like a race, for which I can train. But find out what works for you and stick with it.

If you want to start running, here are some tips I either would have or did, find useful when I started out as an endurance runner:

Start smart, start small – So we’ve all heard of “go big or go home” but that’s the wrong advice when it comes to distance running. Running a marathon is an incredible accomplishment, one I will always encourage. However, while your ultimate goal may be to finish a marathon you may want to consider adding smaller goals in between to help you attain your main goal. If you can’t run 3 miles, you may want to make a goal to finish a 5K or two before that first marathon. And I would strongly encourage a half-marathon before attempting a full. Not only is this a good way to build up your endurance, but competing in 5Ks and shorter races will help you get used to the running community!

Follow a training plan – If you’re not a schedule-follower, now is the time to change. If you’re a more advanced runner you may know your body and abilities enough to create your own training schedule (you’re also not likely reading this post, hehe). But as a new runner it’s probably best to use someone else’s “tried and true” plan. For both my half and full marathons I used Hal Higdon’s training schedule. A training schedule helps to ensure that you’ll be prepared for your race, as well as keep you motivated.

Know the difference – No pain, no gain, right? Well… sometimes. Be prepared, training will be tough. Sometimes even hell. It’s not easy to train for a 26.2 mile run (especially with that thing called life in the way). You’ll want to quit and skip runs, but you need to push through and stay motivated. But what you shouldn’t do is push through injury. It might be difficult, but try to learn the difference between true pain and just extreme discomfort. Forcing yourself to run with an injury will do more harm than good, possibly preventing you from finishing (or even starting) your race.

Fuel Right – When you start distance running you’ll find that there’s more to it than just lacing up sneakers and heading out the door (although sometimes those are the best runs). During marathon training there will be some long distance runs that will take more than an hour to finish. This is when you need to start thinking about fueling and hydrating. There are many different energy gels on the market: Hammer Gel, Clif Shot, Powerbar and Gu. You can get more information on energy gels here. But in my opinion the best option is a bag of raisins. I swear by it! It gives you energy without the upset stomach! Whatever you choose it’s important to fuel and hydrate your body!

Learn the lingo – So you want to run a 13.1 mile marathon? WRONG! When you use the term “marathon” incorrectly you’ll find that some people are very sensitive about it, myself included. It’s not that the 5K/10K/Half you ran (or are planning to run) isn’t impressive, I’m proud and happy for you (sincerely). But I worked my damn ass off to run those 26.2 miles, it’s a badge I’ve earned to be able to say that I finished a marathon.

And just a side note: if you don’t know the distance of a marathon, you most likely aren’t ready to start training for one… But that doesn’t mean you CAN’T start to get ready!!!!

So that last one might be just a little pet peeve of mine… hehe. Hopefully you’ve been inspired to run your first race! If you’re interested in finding a race in your area you can find a good list here, at Active.com.

Happy racing!

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veggiefueled, a testimonial.

Every year Mercedes Benz puts on a 5K for the corporate world. It’s called the Mercedes Benz Corporate Run. There is one in West Palm, Fort Lauderdale and Miami. The Miami race is huge; there were about 25,000 runners last Thursday night! (That’s a lot for a 5K!)

I had a great run and was the second place female and 13th overall in my company with a 25:40 minute time. I set a new personal record! That always feels great…

But I can’t take all the credit. So I wanted to explain how I got to this point in my running “career.”

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(Ok so not from the Corporate Run – but they haven’t posted the pictures yet.)

Running has really been the catalyst for my current healthy vegan lifestyle. I decided to train for the Disney Princess half-marathon a few years ago and…long story short… here I am.

Hehe just kidding, what kind of blog would this be if I didn’t tell the whole story?!

Because of running and training, my husband (then boyfriend) and I started to transition to healthier eating habits. First it was learning about trans fats, eating organic, counting calories, and eliminating processed foods. The full transition to veganism really has taken about 3 years. That’s not to say it can’t happen faster, we just weren’t really aware or considering it at the beginning.

But the main points I want to get across in THIS post are what I believe to be some of the results/benefits of my newly vegan diet in relation to running. (I’ll post later about the transition to veganism!)

Injury

Since high school I have had lower back and knee pain. So bad that I missed a season of cheerleading and had to go to physical therapy to help alleviate the pain. Then when I started running, the pain returned. After my first half marathon I couldn’t run for months. I had a horrible pain in both knees and was on prescription NSAIDs to help suppress the inflammation. I went in and out of physical therapy trying to figure out how to run without pain. Unfortunately, because I had to wait so long to start running again I wasn’t able to stay in peak shape. I figured it was the cost you pay to be a runner. Then I injured my foot right before my full marathon but luckily recuperated in time for the race. Where again after the race, I was out of commission for months. I thought that was the way it was going to be… race… recovery…start all over.

Since cutting meat, dairy and eggs out of my diet I have competed in a half marathon and two 5Ks without injury or discomfort. (KNOCK ON WOOD!!). After I completed the half marathon I was able to run within 2 days (only because I decided to rest, not because I wasn’t capable). The whole time during training I hadn’t had a single issue with my back or knees. I felt and feel great!

Speed

My fastest half marathon before going vegan was 2:12, about 10:04 min/mile. My fastest 5K before going vegan was 26:39, about 8:34 min/mile (mind you this was in the midst of my FULL marathon training). My typical 5K time was closer to 28 minutes. If I ran my training run at a 10 min/mi pace I was happy… that was a great run!

After becoming vegan, I set a P.R. with my last half marathon 2:02, about 9:18 min/mile and past two 5K’s at 25:43 and 25:40, about 8:16 min/mile (without major training – 1 to 2 runs per week, slacker I know…). All you runners out there will know that a 10 minute improvement on a half marathon is HUGE! And the best part is that I know I haven’t yet reached my peak speed. I feel it in me… I know that I can hit the under 2 hour mark for the half and run a 24 minute 5K!

Before keeping a vegan diet I swore I was a 10 minute/mile girl… now I start my training runs at a 9 min/mile pace and that’s taking it easy!

I know that the above has not been scientifically proven to be a result of changing to a vegan diet. But it’s an awfully big coincidence. And really, the point is that I feel better than ever, stronger than ever and happier than ever with my new eating habits. I feel like a true athlete and am so glad that I’ve learned how to properly fuel my body… veggiefueled.


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My First Marathon

Such a terrible story about the Boston Marathon. My heart goes out to the family of those who lost their lives and those who were injured.

Here’s a link to the news: http://usnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/04/15/17764747-explosions-rock-finish-of-boston-marathon-2-killed-and-scores-injured?lite

In honor of those affected by today’s events at the Boston Marathon:

My First Marathon

Charlene Kurth

 

The decision’s been made, registration complete

Most think I’m crazy to attempt this feat.

 

It won’t be too easy, to train and to run

It won’t be too easy, but it’ll be fun.

 

I’ve got some time to get myself ready

Breathe in and out, keep those legs steady.

 

Water bottles, iPods, sneakers and Gu

Bodyglide and chafing, this is all so new.

 

Race day is coming and I’m getting so scared

What do I do if I’m not prepared?

 

Thirteen point one wasn’t quite all that bad

At the halfway point now and I’m so glad

 

It’s starting to get hard, really getting rough

“Keep on going” they yell, “You can do it, be tough!”

 

My knees are in pain and feet swollen large

Please stay strong brain; you’re the one that’s in charge.

 

I’m not going to make it; I’m gonna collapse right here

“You’re almost there, so close, the finish line is near”

 

Never again, what the hell was I thinking?

I should be with my friends, at the bar drinking.

 

Wait, what is that? Only a mile to go

Pick up the pace, you’re running too slow!

 

I cross the finish, clock shows 4:43

Eyes well up with tears, my heart fills with glee.

 

I actually did it, I finished the race

My medal hangs proudly with a grin on my face.