Logging a Raw Vegan’s Marathon Preparation

Well I’ve decided to get started with this blog, finally. It’s been prepared and ready to go for a long time, but somehow I kept procrastinating the real writing. Am I afraid to fail? How could that really happen? I imagine the initial readers will be people I love that care about me. How could I go wrong?

What can I write about that’s interesting? I’ll write about my attempts to live a healthy lifestyle: to follow a low-fat, raw, vegan diet and run a marathon in March 2008. What is a low-fat raw vegan diet you ask? It sounds pretty restrictive. Well, I don’t look at it that way, but instead focus on what I can eat: many amazing raw fruits and vegetables, in quantities that satisfy and nourish my body. Of the numerous books on eating raw foods, by far my favorite is Douglas Graham’s, The 80/10/10 Diet. He’s in amazing physical condition and has been eating this way for over 25 years! I want to be like that!

I first heard of raw foods from Victoria Boutenko, at a small seminar at Cafe La Vie in Santa Cruz, California. Phillip and I went there on a whim, to hear her speak about green smoothies and better health. Cafe La Vie is a wonderfully positive and alive place and her one-hour talk was inspiring. I bought all of her books that day and started to read and study. The story of her family’s improved health through diet change is fantastic.

An older picture of me running up at Rancho San Antonio parkAnd what’s this about a marathon?! Well, I’ve run many races and half-marathons and love running. This is something I really have needed to do for a long time, in order to properly call myself a runner. And it’s a great way to keep from putting on too much holiday cheer this season, ho ho ho! I don’t want to be asked to play Santa Claus at the next party (sorry Santa, but you can keep your jollies!)

Marathon training actually began weeks ago and I have already made long runs of 8, 10, 12, and 14 miles on the last 4 Sundays. This Sunday it’s time for 16 miles. The 14 mile run took 147 minutes to complete and included a big hill at Wilder Ranch State Park. Hills and ocean go together and getting out there really motivates.

A great run is exhilarating. That 14 miles felt like 3 separate runs. The first third was up hill, slow and easy, felt like a lot of work, but well worth it. The second third was downhill, running fast, an amazingly great feeling, with beautiful views, this should never end, feeling great. The third was flat, around the top of ocean cliffs, wow how long is this going to take, only 5 miles left, wow this is a long way, chugging along, feeling okay but getting increasingly tired.

I was a happy man when I finally got back to the car. And I couldn’t afford to give up early, because it was a big loop, and it was 5 miles to the car at the beginning of that last third and walking it didn’t feel right. I’m glad it wasn’t an out and back from the parking lot, because I admittedly would have been tempted to skip it.

Running for more than 90 minutes is a different kind of feel than 30-45 minute runs. It’s long enough to get a runner’s high in the middle of the run, and that feels great for as long as it lasts. Once over 2 hours though, and high fades, the end of the run feels more like work.

So what do I eat before a 14 mile run? Lots of fruit. Sunday it was orange juice at 8am, followed by 12 oranges at 9am (erm, that’s a lot of oranges!). The run began around 11am. Two hours between eating and running helped, I felt really energetic. Energy is easy to come by if I’m eating just fruit and salads for at least 36 hours before a run. This one worked because although it was on the Sunday after Thanksgiving (ug! and my eating on Thursday on Friday was the worst its been in a long time), I cleaned up on Saturday, and felt really good by Sunday.

Two-thirds of the way through the run, I ate 2 oranges I hid 90 minutes earlier, near a road I crossed in the car on the way. Could I “refuel” during the run? I ate these when I still had 5 miles left. I stopped running completely for 3 minutes to eat them and the next 10 minutes I felt slow, not sure if from stopping or from eating. After 10 minutes, strength returned, and it helped during the next 45 minutes to have those sugars. I would have felt more depleted at the end without it, so on my next run, I’ll experiment with placing the oranges earlier in the run, or putting fresh squeezed orange juice into my water bottles. About 1 part OJ to 4 parts water should do the trick nicely.

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