I’m very excited to announce the first episode of the Everyday Heroes series! You may remember that a couple weeks ago I’ve invited the readers of Vegan Runner Eats – that’s YOU! – to send me their stories about how they manage to combine their busy lives with following a vegan diet (even taking it one step at a time) and being active.
Today I’m delighted to introduce you to our first hero, Laura. She recently embarked on her vegan journey to improve her health, and even successfully ran a half marathon! Laura tells us her story in her own words below (with a tiny bit of editing by me):
I’m in my mid-forties, married with two awesome middle schoolers. I live in Aurora, CO, right outside of Denver and have a desk job with an investment company.
Why did you decide to go vegan? What changed for the better/worse once you did?
Two years ago my cholesterol jumped from 199 to 249 for no obvious reason. When I trained for a 100 mile bike ride and a half marathon at the same time, I was able to get it back down to 210, but as soon as I stopped training that hard, it went back up to 249.
I’m now on Lipitor. Because I don’t want to remain on medicine, I went vegan to see if I could drop my cholesterol and get off the medicine.
I’ve been vegan for just 6 weeks. I’ve dropped 6.5 pounds already. I feel lighter and seem to have more energy all around. I believe it has helped in recovering from exercise quicker. Muscle soreness doesn’t last long and I can run again sooner than before.
One of the first things that I struggled with was getting used to the amounts of veggies that I needed to eat to feel full. Going from a calorie-dense diet to a nutrient-dense one took a bit of time to figure out. I don’t measure much of my food anymore – I’ll measure my grains every now and then – but mostly I just fill my plate with plants and add either seeds or grains, or both.
How long have you been a runner? Have you noticed any improvement in your athletic performance since going vegan?
I’ve been running consistently for about three years now. I have done three half marathons, and have signed up to run my first full marathon in October. Since I’ve gone vegan, I’ve noticed that I have more energy while running, and it stays with me longer during my runs. I recover from runs much faster. I just recently ran a half marathon on Sunday, May 18th, and then ran again on Tuesday.
Tell us about your recent half marathon.
This was my third half marathon. I felt I didn’t put in enough base training for it. I was slower than before. At the same time, I felt great during the race, the first 9 miles passed easy and I kept on my pace. My legs and feet got tired and hot, so for the last four miles I took a few walk breaks. Thankfully, I had great energy and no GI problems for the entire race. I was only a bit sore afterwards from pounding the pavement. I got home and did some stretching. As the day progressed, my soreness began to vanish. By Tuesday morning, I was back running and even was able to push my pace a bit. I felt great the rest of the week, too.
Did you experience any setbacks when first switching to a vegan diet?
When I first started the vegan lifestyle, I was worried that eating only plants would be difficult, but I kept going, and it’s become easier. I have the Veganomicon cookbook and I bought the The Engine 2 Diet book. I find the Engine 2 cookbook to be a bit easier to use. I’m also finding that most dishes can be converted to vegan quite easily.
What are your favorite vegan foods these days?
I start almost every morning with a green smoothie. It is quite satisfying and keeps me full for more than three hours. I find I really like to sauté large bunches of veggies together. I do add a grain to my lunches and dinners, like quinoa or brown rice. I love to eat a banana with peanut butter and jelly before my week day runs, they give me great energy and are easy on the tummy.
What have you learned as a vegan runner so far?
I think the biggest thing I’ve learned so far is to prepare large portions of veggies and realize that because you are eating nutrient dense, not calorie dense, you need a larger portion of food. I love how I feel now. I feel good and have more energy, even after a long hard run. I think even if you don’t want to live a totally plant based life, just increasing your greens each meal will make a big difference in your energy levels.
Laura, thank you so much for sharing your story with us! Best of luck on your vegan journey!
If you’d like to be featured in the Everyday Heroes series, check out this post for details.
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