Went to a working lunch today at a burger joint; I was excited because I had heard their veggie burgers were good.
We all sat with our burgers and I guess I was distracted and began eating. And you know what’s coming next… I took two bites and decided that either it was a great imitation or not a veggie burger. Not veggie and didn’t freak out. I only took two bites; I wasn’t worried about it.
Now, 7 hours later, I hurt so bad I feel like my stomach needs to be pumped. Could it be the two bites of beef?
I’ll never know but I learned that I don’t miss meat as much as I thought I did. Before every race, I imagine how good a juicy cheeseburger reward would taste. I never give in to it but now I know: It sounds better than it tastes and feels.
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.
Richmond is my 3rd marathon almost exactly one year after my first at City of Oaks. I made several changes in 2014 that contributed to my success at Richmond.
After City of Oaks in November, I decided to run Myrtle Beach in early February. For me, there was not enough recovery time in between. Even though I PR’d Myrtle by 9 minutes, my legs and feet hurt every day and I wasn’t sleeping well because of the pain. At the start of 2014, I had decided to try a vegetarian diet for one reason: Faster recovery from runs and consequently be able to run more. One month of training as a vegetarian wasn’t enough time to determine whether the diet worked or not.
The more you run, the faster you get.
The first real test of recovery was Black Mountain Monster ultra. My family travelled with me and I told the kids that I didn’t know if I would be able to do any touristy things the next
day, let alone walk. To my great surprise, my legs and feet felt really, really good after 40 miles. After that, I knew the vegetarian diet was making a difference in how my legs felt.
In July, I started ramping up my miles before initiating Hal Higdon’s 18 weeks Intermediate 1 training plan. I signed up for Fleet Feet’s Summer Speed Series meeting 2 times a week for track workouts for four weeks. I learned a lot and made an adjustment to my running form by distributing my weight more evenly over my knees and cranky knee disappeared.
During the weeks of training, I tried to make every run count; not just running to get to the weekly mileage. I ran lots of hills and tried to stay off the flat greenway as much as possible for my long runs. Training went well without aches, pains or injury.
I was ready for Richmond and legs felt perfect. Starting temps were in the 20’s but it was sunny; it would be my coldest marathon. I found friends in the 4 hour coral and off we went. We stayed ahead of the pacers until we finally lost them. I refrained from music so that I could be present to the run and have something to look forward to if I needed it.
I ran without music for about 16 miles. At mile 19 is when I started to realize that if all kept going as it was, I would run sub 4 hours. At this point I’m starting to get dazed and confused about my time. It seemed so unreal. When I got to the clock at mile 20; I knew for sure I would run under 4 hours and could even qualify for Boston. I only had 6 more miles to go. It was an exhilarating thought and I took off feeling tired but good and strong. I crossed the finish line in shock. I spent the whole next couple of weeks in shock.
I have a lot of people to thank; most importantly the people that live with me and my running friends. I can run alone but it’s so much more fun and easier with friends. Thanks @thillruns, who rode her bike with me for 3 hours, to everyone who would agree to meet me at Umstead for torture, to @nanfbd, @easymiles, @chasingoprah, @triangleexplorer @smilinsasquash, Julie and River Run Club.
Richmond 26.2: 3:51:54, 8:51 average pace, AG 28th