Chapter Ten – Vegetarian Times – Being a herbivore and a runner!

Being active is important. It makes us healthy, it helps us feel better, it gives us more energy and allows you quality time with yourself. However, being active takes work and preperation. You need to find time, you need to have the proper equipment and you need to have the proper fuel.

Fuelling, as discussed in a previous blog post, is a huge concern and factor in my training for the Niagara Falls Marathon at the end of October. As a vegetarian athlete, I have advantages and disadvantages. I eat lots of fruits and vegetables. I love the taste of most fruit and vegatables and try hard to get them into my diet. I love soup so it is a great way to eat leafy green veggies, legumes and beans. However, the disadvantage of being a vegetarian athlete is protein.

Getting enough protein is a constant stress. Without eating meat, it can be challenging to ensure that your meals have enough protein. I try to add protein rich foods to my diet, but sometimes it can be a challenge. I regularly try to eat tofu, beans, eggs, (I recently started to eat eggs again . Nothing against eggs, but the texture of eggs makes them difficult to eat. I need them to be ‘over hard’. Flat. No yoke!), eat seeds and nuts (but not at work…allergies of the people that are around me), greek yogurt, peanut butter (at home only), add protein powder and protein rich veggies to smoothies (spinach and avacado are my favourite). But the reality is kids, tastes, schedules, summer eating and eating out can create problems for the vegetarian athlete fuelling when training for a large race.

I am very blessed and lucky to like cooking so since I am passionate about cooking, eating processed foods is out of the question. Foods need to be fresh and not come out of a package! I love making soup, love trying different vegetables and don’t mind making something that is so damn awful I wouldn’t cook (or eat) again.

Part of a successful diet comes with successful planning. So I plan out a weeks worth of meals and ensure that I have all the ingredients and that is what I shop for. I need to be cognizant of protein in all my meals (because I live with carnivores, I make them carnivore meals). That is the challenge!

Why is protein so important? As an athlete, protein is needed by your body. To make a complex answer simple, when you don’t have enough protein, your body will find protein, often in your muscle, which means exercise is more taxing on you and your body, affecting your ability to recover, which effects training. That is why I am concerned with my protein intake as I prepare for the Niagara Falls Marathon. However, before we get there, I look forward to riding my bike 94km as part of team triathlon this upcoming weekend at the 70.3 Half Ironman event in beautiful Muskoka! However, that is a story for next time!

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