How I trained for my first 10k in 3 weeks as a Vegan

As a self-professed gym junkie, I struggle between trying out new things and being repetitive with my routines. I thus took the chance in training for a 10 k with only three weeks of training. My levels of fitness are pretty much fit as I lift weights around 5-6 times a week and have for the last three years. I was worried that I could not run a 10K because I was never interested in running.

I was also terrified that it would be too overwhelming on my body. I needed to know that I could master my mind when race day came with the least amount injury. I managed to run the 10 k in 52 minutes, which I was still surprised by. With a week of swelling and tension in my legs, I finally have found the time to write about my experience and how becoming a vegan actually may have helped me perform better on race day. If you are a vegan and are worried that you will not be able to perform pretty neat and cool things in the fitness department, I urge you to take a look at some readings regarding why it is that a diet low in saturated fat like Veganism can actually allow for your system to function at higher levels of athletic performance. (https://www.pcrm.org/news/blog/six-reasons-athletes-are-running-toward-vegan-diet)

On top of increasing my mileage and busting out some of my old fun playlists to run to, I managed to channel my inner child athleticism on race day and accomplishing my goal to run. Here are a few tips that I would have recommended to myself, and thus to you my readers in order to have improved recovery and performance. I broke down the tips in a small Q&A.

  • Advice for Vegans on quality foods for running and performance? I urge that Vegan athletes take the time to meal prep, it helps save time and it helps get those quality proteins (chickpeas, kidney beans, tofu, lentils, quinoa). Eating frequency is important, every two to three hours should probably be windows that require some food. Also, eating more is important, nuts, fruit and veggies are good to have on you in case you start to lose energy. Fiber also has its drawbacks in terms of bloating and yes, even on performance, the stomach will not feel good when it is so full so try to space out eating times and training otherwise you will get nauseous. I recommend not eating any huge meals at least an hour before training.
  • Advice for combating nerves for race day? I did it like this. 1) I visualise myself running the race a few days before I ran it, doing that daily and with great details, how the race looked like, what the place would feel like, etc. I recited affirmations separating me, “tara”, from my performance, it helped alleviate performance anxiety. A good affirmation is “every day, and in each and every way, I am getting stronger”. I repeated that like 10 times in front of a mirror. Once race day came, I looked around and noticed how I was strong enough to even participate in something I had just started training for, and I managed to separate the race from my misconceptions about athletic performance being something people are born having.
    • I thus channeled my inner super athlete, the inner kid who believes anything is possible and managed to sprint my way through the finish line. Training was still important, I was strict with my running and my sprinting prior to race day, I still learned how to do accelerated sprints and had practiced high intensity intervals, yet I was not so caught up in it once race day came because I was passionate. I was passionate and I no longer believe any misconceptions about physical strength being innate more so than a skill to be developed. My affirmation helped me tap into what I think athletes and runners love the most about their sport, a zone I would call flow but without the associations that it would normally have. Regardless, I learnt that limitations are in the mind. By adopting an athletic mindset, I overcame self-doubt and accomplished my goal, it was super rewarding.
  • Best advice I could have given myself on race day would be to have warmed up and stretched like it was my job. It would have helped with the soreness I experienced the next week.

Future plans for inner child superstar athlete: to run my first half marathon in 2 hours. I will be running on top of my strength training program, I will also prioritise mobility and stretching as part of the equation for success.

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