How running and a vegan diet changed my life

My vegan transformation
Sometimes in life you find yourself being a passenger. The easy thing to do is to heed to the advice of Hunter S Thompson and simply; “sit back and enjoy the ride”. It is safe to say we’re all guilty of doing this at times. In this hectic world we exist in it’s easy to let malaise set in and let go of our dreams, career aspirations, relationships and our health. The last one ‘our health’, that was the one for me. I consider myself someone who lives in the present, who is ambitious, finds the courage to speak my mind and stand up for others. I didn’t believe I was a passenger but in that one area ‘my health’, I was cruising in the wrong direction.

Then about a year ago one Sunday the sun was shining and I had recently been discussing wanting to go running again. It had been 6 months since I managed any kind of run and over 2 years since I had managed more than 10 miles in a week. Somehow I made it out the door and set out for a run around a part of Victoria Park, it was a beautiful day I enjoyed that part of the run. I didn’t enjoy the constant stopping, the blisters forming on my feet and the slow speed I was running at. I think I ran about 3.8 miles in somewhere around 39 minutes, before walking the last half a mile home. Not my finest moment, but I had done the hardest thing, I got out there and tried.

“So I did what I do normally do, I made a plan. I am a big fan of plans”.

My plan was that I would run 2/3 times a week and build up to the point where I could run 5k without needing to stop. This took me about 4 weeks and was helped massively by my friend Lauren Garland who came running with me as she prepared for a marathon. I still remember some of those runs around Hackney Downs for the awful wind and rain but Lauren coming round to my flat and getting me out helped me loads, I think I will be forever grateful to you for that Lauren if you are reading this.

“Little things… Little things count”.

I then joined GoodGym and started running more regularly on my own. After a few months a injury struck not surprisingly considering  the extended vacation of over 2 years I had given my body with the exception of casual bike commuting. This led to a spell on the sidelines, I had physio, I read books (Born To Run, Eat and Run, Running with the Kenyans) and I thought about how the previous 3 months had made me feel. And the answer was it had made me feel alive, it made me start to have little dreams. Not the kind of dream where I fantasise about finding an affordable house in Hackney but the kind of dream where I push my body, my mind and my heart to achieve something memorable to me.

“Create memorable experiences, they are worth a thousand material things”.

So what happened next? I slowly recovered from my Achilles injury, I built myself up again, running exclusively 5k’s for my first month back. Just hit that 10 mile base was my mantra.

Last weekend I had came down with 24 hour fever which left me feeling pretty drained it was the first illness of any type I had endured since May 2013. I somehow managed a 3 mile run which was incredibly hard and it meant that I only recorded 11.8 miles last week. I was devastated that after the storming previous week I had fallen some 10 miles short of my Edinburgh Marathon training plan.

Then I realised that is how far I have come in the space of just over a year. I have transformed myself physically and mentally, I feel more ambitious to do good things than ever, I am far more positive person than I was a year ago, I am looking to the future not glancing at the past.

I lost about 7kg, dropping from around 77kg to 70kg today. I eat more than ever, I eat when I want, I never restrict my calories. Honestly a low-fat vegan diet has done wonders for my physical and mental wellbeing. I was a vegetarian before but when I went vegan I realised how much more efficient my body was running on plants, grains and fruits. It was a real revelation. Whatever your diet, I encourage you to eat more plants and lots more fruit, I believe going is a key reason I have improved quickly as a runner.

So yeah, running rocks! Fruit rules and so do you if you made it this far.

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Little inspirations

The Cool Impossible

Running opens our eyes to new experiences. These experiences always take different forms sometimes we learn about our body, other times our mind, I personally love discovering new surroundings in my local area.  In my mind every run is an ever evolving journey of discovery, the more I run the more I realise this. The prospect of what I might learn about myself and my surroundings in the coming years is filling me with excitement.

The prime example body wise for me has been my feet. When I was injured the first thing my physio did was to get me to take my shoes and socks off and balance on one leg. I wobbled, then I did the same thing on my left leg and I really wobbled. In my rehabilitation we talked a lot about feet and how have strong feet feeds into having strong muscles throughout your legs. Since then I have switched to Nike Free’s 5.0 which I find brilliant, the sensation of feeling my toes spring off when running was something I hadn’t felt since I quit playing football regularly 8 years ago.

I am like so many people I am someone who loved the book ‘Born to Run’. And today Eric Orton (the coach from Born to Run who took part in the race in the Copper Canyon and helped transform the running of the author Chris McDougall) new book ‘The Cool Impossible’, dropped through my door. I am only a couple of chapters through but his focus has already been on feet and achieving muscle equilibrium before my injury this was something I suffered with massively. I was totally one sided. I have worked had to address this and I know I still have work to do, so Eric’s training plan is filling me with excitement. Although the prospect of buying a slant board (basically a little wooden ramp) for $80 doesn’t so much. I think my very amateur DIY skills may get a run out. I actually found this great blog by Warrior Woman on how to make your own slant board if you also have read the book and wondered about making one.

Also this weekend I will be heading the VegFest the biggest vegetarian and vegan festival in the UK. I am excited about meeting and listening to talks from ultra-marathon legend and vegan Scott Jurek another star of Born to Run and 7-times winner of the prestigious Great Western States 100 mile race. I have read Scott’s new book ‘Eat and Run’, as a fellow vegan, a keen cook and someone who has also lost a parent to muscle wasting disease, I felt a lot of empathy with what Scott had to say. I highly recommend reading this book, if you want to achieve a life with running as an important part of it.

I have also seen these two videos today which I really enjoyed for two totally different reasons. But if you’re a runner I think you will love them as well.

Boston Men 2011 Men’s Winner Slow Motion

8 Stages of Marathon Running


It would be great to hear from other runners who are heading to Vegfest. And it would be great if readers could link me to your running inspirations. Whether they are videos, photos or books, I am always keen to learn from other runners.