I’m not ashamed to admit I became a vegetarian (really pescatarian) because I wanted to run faster. Here was my thinking behind the change:
- I’ve read enough running books to know that many elite athletes are vegetarians.
- Jon Odgers told me he lost weight and his times got faster.
- I had gone to see Matt Frazer, No Meat Athlete and read his first book, No Meat Athlete.
- After running my first full marathon at City of Oaks in 2013, I decided to run Myrtle Beach Marathon 3 months later thinking I was already trained and it would be easy.
Not a great idea for me: my body hurt a lot; I had a hard time sleeping; I had cranky knees and plantar fasciitis. I realized very quickly, to become a Marathon Maniac would not be a goal for me.
“You know the quickest way to get faster, don’t you? Lose 5 pounds.” ~Jon Odgers, @beerandracing
So, in an effort to complete my second marathon, I decided to give up meat for the month of January and see what happens. It was too soon to really say whether it made a difference or not but I did PR by 9 minutes. Elevation between Raleigh and the beach was a factor.
Overall, I have been satisfied with my veg decision. There are times it hurts: smelling bacon, BLT’s in the summer, Chic-fil A sandwiches and my fave after a long run or morning after a night of drinking: a Bojangles chicken biscuit. I haven’t found the perfect vegetarian foods for these occasions yet.
Fast forward 6 full months as a vegetarian and training begins for my fall marathon. My training for Richmond went great; I trained smarter and harder, never felt aches and pains, no cranky knee, slept like a baby, and PR’d my full again by 18 minutes.
Most notably in terms of running performance, my recovery from long runs is hands down easier and quicker as a vegetarian. I can run 20 and easily run the next day–on tired legs but able to run. As a carnivore, I needed about three days to recover from a 20.
My only disappointments are I didn’t lose 5 lbs and I was hoping for more energy. Neither of those things happened. I still have adjustments to make to my diet and overall fitness to get faster, have more energy and discover the fountain of youth.