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.

Beautiful Hackney running

Another week where I achieved my Jantastic run target.

Another week where I achieved my Jantastic run target.

Consistency matters! I am generally ok at getting my weekly mileage in but this week boy did I not want to run. Most of my runs this week came after hours of sitting around in my running gear, only the embarrassment of having to change out of it got me out the door.

Luckily being my own boss means I can pick when I run, which generally is when the weather is at its mildest and driest. And as always I was rewarded with stunning scenery. East London was recently described in a survey of Londoners as ‘grimy’ but the East London I see has everything you could want. Culture, marsh land, huge parks, independent shops, canals, great places to socialise. I also think it is pretty darn good for running; a couple of extra hills wouldn’t go amiss but when you get treated to views like this when you’re running you can’t complain.

Clissold Park on Monday afternoon as the sun was coming down.

Clissold Park on Monday afternoon as the sun was coming down.

Leyton Marsh taken on my Saturday 7 miler.

Leyton Marsh taken on my Saturday 7 miler.

Like pretty much every week, I did my Monday run, this week a 4 and half miler to Clissold Park. I then ended up not  running again until Friday when I ran to and from my personal training session with Ade. This week we again focused on core work and running posture and form. I was back on the treadmill again and things are lining up quite nicely with my running. She has given me more exercises to work on improving my core strength and posture.

Saturday saw me embark on another epic episode of procrastination before heading off on a lovely run to Hackney Marsh, it was 7 miles my longest since my injury and simply beautiful weather and thoroughly enjoyable.

My Saturday run

My Saturday run

My mind is starting to turn to marathon training which I start on the first Monday in February. I am feeling nervous but excited, so if you’re in London and training for a marathon and want a running partner please give me a shout.

Thanks for being amazing and reading my blog. Your comments and support always inspires me.

Damien xx