Plant-Based Athlete

From cheese addicted to

plant-based athlete

I thought I was in pretty good shape.  I went to the gym, ran at least three times a week, and ate what I thought was a healthy diet.  Over the years I noticed my run times progressively getting slower. The annual 10 mile road race I have completed for years went from 80 minutes to 85 minutes and then all the way up to 90 minutes a couple of years ago.  I was working just as hard training and was beginning to think that I was just slowing down because I was getting older. 

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I first heard about plant-based nutrition from my girlfriend who had transitioned to a plant-based diet from a vegetarian diet.  Relaxing on the couch on a Friday night watching reruns of The Office on Netflix become a thing of the past, as we now were watching documentaries and webinars about plant-based nutrition. Although this new information about nutrition and health was intriguing

 I thought “There is no way I’d be able to do that.  I’ll never be able to give up dairy and meat.  Where will I get my protein?”

 

Throughout my life I had been addicted to dairy.  Milk, yogurt, and (especially) cheese were staples of my diet.  I was going through at least a pound of cheese a week and a couple of gallons of skim milk.  My protein shake after a workout was filled with whey protein powder and skim milk.  When I decided to try out a plant-based diet I was 34 years old, weighed 215 pounds, and could only muster a nine-minute mile on average.  I didn’t dive right in to this new way of eating.  For me the process was one step at a time.  I started with meals at home. The deal I made with myself was that I would eat plant-based at home and eat whatever I wanted when dining out.  But after a little bit of time had passed I started noticing that anytime I ate out I was more sluggish than when I was eating my plant-based meals at home. This eventually turned in to an all plant based diet for me even when dining out.

The hardest thing for me was to give up was cheese.  It was my last stumbling block, the one thing I just couldn’t shake completely.  I grew up putting cheese on everything. About a year after I began going plant-based I was finally able to kick the cheese habit. I started eating cheese less and less and using plant-based substitutes like nutritional yeast or cashew cheese on foods I would normally have put cheese on.  

The results of my new food choices were remarkable!

I was then 36 years old, weighed 175 pounds, felt stronger then ever and recovered faster between workouts and runs.

The real results were in my running times! 

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That annual 10-mile road race that I last finished in 90 minutes, I crushed at 77 minutes and felt physically great after!

This new running time was exactly what I needed to fulfill my bucket list wish of running the Boston Marathon. I had never run more than a half marathon in my younger days, and that left me with shin splints.

I can now happily report that in my five months of training for the Boston marathon I have set personal records in both speed and distance.

So it turns out that I wasn’t “just getting older” as I had thought.  My food choices were setting me further and further back.  No amount of training could offset the unhealthy animal based food I was eating.  I now enjoy a wide variety of vegetables, fruit, grains, beans, and nuts.  As my marathon training has progressed I have been eating non-stop (or so it feels) and I feel great after every meal. I remember feeling sluggish, grossly full and tired after those milk based protein shakes that I thought were healthy. Even with the increased workload from my marathon training, my body has never felt better or stronger.

I can fully thank my plant-based diet for helping me to fulfill one of my life goals, running the Boston Marathon. 

And that nine-minute mile that I was doing on short runs two years ago?  It’ll be down around eight minutes flat for the 26.2 I’ll complete on April 16.

 

Are You Ready to be a Plant-Based Athlete?