If you enjoy running, then entering a race, especially a half or full marathon, is a worthwhile endeavor. The discipline, the energy, the mind/body connection, and the accomplishment are all excellent rewards. I love to run causally but occasionally I enter races for the increased self-discipline, the joy of getting into shape, and the rush of being with other runners.
Running also fits well with a healthy, vegan lifestyle. It clears the mind, keeps the body streamlined, and flushes out unwanted toxins. Running can also lift depression and neutralize anxiety. Therefore, it’s good for the body AND mind. Best of all….running gets you outside and moving which can combat the sedentary screen time that accounts for so much of our time. For many runners, the rhythmic breathing and cadenced pacing make it feel like a moving meditation.
Training and Self-Discipline
In March, I’ll be running my 4th half marathon (I’ve also completed a full marathon). I’m excited about this goal and enjoy the self-discipline that’s required to run 13. 1 miles. It is said that, “Discipline is the master key to success”. Here is a more detailed description:
Self-discipline appears in various forms, such as perseverance, restraint, endurance, thinking before acting, finishing what you’ve started, and the ability to carry out one’s decisions and plans, in spite of inconvenience, hardships or obstacles.
Training for a half or full marathon increases self-discipline and self-control. As a result you are more likely to welcome responsibility, avoid unhealthy excesses, become more organized, have more grit, and work towards personal goals. Self-discipline builds character and is is a one of the great benefits of training.
The Vegan Runners Guide to Training for a Half Marathon
Over the years, my running has improved and just a few hints can make a big difference. Here are my tips to train successfully:
- Commit to a 3 month training program. Hal Higdon’s online schedules are FREE. He has options for beginners, intermediates, and advanced runners that you can download. He also offers excellent tips for what to expect and how to prepare. Knowledge is key. It’s comforting to know when you experience something weird during training that it’s completely normal.
- Eat for optimal nutrition. If you are vegan, you will want to make sure you are getting enough Iron, Protein and Vitamin B12. I take a liquid B12 daily, I eat a ton of dark leafy greens, lentils, almonds and seeds like quinoa, sunflower, pumpkin and chia seeds for protein. If I start feeling fatigued, I bump up my iron intake with Floradix Iron and Herbs formula or blackstrap molasses. I also make kale iron smoothies. I like to keep healthy prepared salads and soups (especially this protein rich lentil soup) in the refrigerator. Usually after long runs I am not hungry so I have to make myself eat something so I can recover. If I don’t, I crash in a few hours.
- Running can be emotional. Don’t be surprised if you start experiencing more emotions than usual. The “runner’s high” is amazing but there is also a”runner’s low”. Don’t give either too much attention. Simply observe these ups and downs and say, “Oh yeah, this is part of the process.”
- Endurance is a mental challenge. Running over 2 hours is physically difficult but it is also hard mentally. It’s important to prepare your mind. For example, there will be times when your mind will want to give up….what do you do?? If you are prepared for these thoughts, it is easy to address them when they occur. “Ah yes, here are those self defeating thoughts, I’ll just ignore them and stick to my training schedule”.
- Rest. Rest days are as important as run days. I tend to be an over-preparer so it’s important that I have rest days built in or I would likely overlook them. My mind likes to think that, “the more I do the better” because it appeals to my fear of failure but I know this is faulty logic. You can’t run well if you’re not well rested.
- Good music. Tons of people run without music. This is unfathomable to me. Running without music would be like running without sneakers (some people do this too). My teeny ipod shuffle is my BEST FRIEND. Always there for me, encouraging and supporting me. There is Pavlovian conditioning too. Whenever I start my playlist, my legs know exactly what to do.
- Water. It’s essential to stay hydrated. This flushes your system of toxins that can build up. But drinking a ton of water in the winter is hard for me so I add Ultima Replensher it’s a powder hydrating mix that is vegan, caffeine and sugar free and tastes pretty good.
- Go slow on long runs. The pace on long days should be slower than your normal “comfortable” pace. Running a slower helps preserve your energy so you can increase endurance. This way, you won’t fade and your last strides will be as as strong as your first
- Invest in good socks. When I found these Drymax socks at Road Runner Sports, I thought I found heaven. Good socks made a huge difference for my feet. There was no blistering, no slippery nylon feel, no stretched out jumbled up cotton. These socks are amazing and the only ones I will run in.
- Have fun running. Enjoy your runs. Map out a few pretty running routes or join a running club so you can meet other runners. If you have to run on a treadmill, then vary your workout with intervals and hills. (Always keep the incline at a minimum of 2.o). Find a running time that works for you. I prefer running early in the morning after I’ve had a cup of herbal tea. The sun is rising and it’s still fairly quiet out. I focus on breathing steady and observing the thoughts in my mind.
I would love to know what running tips you have and what works best for you.