100-miles fueled by plants.
On August 5th my partner in crime and life, Alex, ran his first 100-mile race. Not only did he finish the challenging and mountainness Angeles Crest 100, he came in 28th place with an incredible finish time of 26 hours and 21 minutes.
Alex’s training and race where completely fuelled by plants. Only relatively new to this lifestyle and plant-based eating, Alex shares how the past 8 months have been a change that has bought so many benefits.
So how do you run 100-miles only on plants?
Let’s ask Alex and find out straight from the source.
Thank you Alex for joining us for this Q&A on how you fuelled your latest race purely on plants.
So, how did you fuel your long training runs leading up to Angeles Crest 100?
Before my long 7-8 hour training runs I would always have my almond butter and fruit spread sandwich on whole grain bread. It’s the perfect mix of easy to digest carbs and a little bit of healthy fats and protein.
I wash this down with a coffee that includes ½ a teaspoon of my homemade turmeric latte mix (turmeric, cinnamon, black pepper, vanilla extract & ginger) with a dash of vanilla soy milk and honey. Caffeine gives me an energy boost and the turmeric mix is a great anti-inflammatory.
What is your favorite recovery drink and food?
I love making my own fruit-based electrolyte drinks. I currently love the Switchel drink from the No Meat Athlete cookbook.
It’s super easy to make and replenishes your body.
4 cups of water, 1 cup of fresh, fruit juice – I like watermelon, pineapple or kiwi fruit. Add 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar, 2 tablespoons of maple syrup and ¼ teaspoon of sea salt.
Food wise, I love to eat my usual turmeric rice, (oil free) refried beans & potatoes. I also love a good Mexican veggie bowl with beans, rice, tofu, guacamole and salsa!
Okay, now to the question we all want to hear the answer too – what did you fuel with during the 100-mile race?
I had a nutrition plan ready for race day. This helped my crew be prepared with the foods and hydration that I needed at each aid station and it also set out a fuelling plan that would nourish my body and provide the energy and calories it needed to get through 100-miles of running.
For hydration I had a carbohydrate powder called CarboPro (glucose based supplement) mixed with water. This was an easy way to get calories during the race. I also added some electrolytes to the mix from GQ-6. I used GQ-6 hydration base, green apple flavor, and re-ful endurance – it kept me hydrated during the warm parts of the day. This mix was always in two 500mL bottles that I carried in my hydration pack. I also had plain water in the larger 1.5L water bladder.
At each aid station I had a cup of the Watermelon Switchel drink. This was so refreshing and hydrating.
Aid station food, supplied by my crew included; boiled potatoes dipped in salt, fresh watermelon, medjool dates, banana, almond butter and jelly sandwich, veggie broth and lentil soup.
I also snuck in a couple of cups of Coca-Cola in the last 25 miles when I needed that perfect mix of sugar and caffeine to get me to that finish line.
My crew had a range of food options available to me to choose from as I reached each aid station and refuelled. I liked this as it allowed me to consume the foods I felt I needed at that time during the race – whether it was some fruit to give me a refreshing burst of energy, or something a little saltier when my body was craving salt.
I also learnt a lot about what works well for my body under the stress of running for 24+ hours – the medjool dates didn’t go down too well and I ended up only eating two. Perhaps too much fiber and sugar for my stomach while running.
You recovered extremely well from the race – what foods helped with this?
Immediately after the race I was so exhausted so I didn’t eat a lot of food. I had some almond milk with my usual almond butter and jelly sandwich. After I got some sleep I had a more substantial meal with the veggie Mexican bean and rice bowl.
The days following I kept to my usual foods of oatmeal, beans, rice, steamed veggies, fresh fruit and also snuck in some coconut chocolate ice cream, dark chocolate covered berries and chocolate chip cookies from my favorite café – Joi’s Café!
Do you have any tips for someone interested in starting out on a plant-based diet?
Keep it simple. Don’t buy a fancy cookbook with strange ingredients – it’ll be overwhelming and hard to follow. If you enjoy cooking – pick simple, 5 ingredient recipes and make these in bulk so you can have easy go-to meals during the week. The Forks Over Knives cookbook is great.
If you are craving a particular food, find the alternative vegan version – It may not be the healthiest but it will keep you on track as you make the transition. I love ice cream, so I bought an ice cream maker and occasionally make my own coconut based ice creams and they satisfy any cravings I have.
Do you feel that changing to a plant-based diet has helped your athletic performance?
The benefits of eating a plant-based diet have definitely helped my athletic performance, indirectly I have seen some really great improvements in my overall health that have impacted my training and races.
I’ve lost over 20lbs since January and eating plant based. Eliminating saturated fat and processed foods high in fat and refined sugar has helped get my body to the weight it is meant to be at. Being lighter of course helps you run faster.
My recovery between workouts has been a lot quicker. Eating lots of fruits, vegetables and whole grains which have anti-inflammatory properties has allowed my muscles to recover and repair in between the long training runs and days on my feet.
Lastly, I’ve really noticed that eating more plants has helped my energy levels. I wake up in the morning feeling fresh and ready to go, my sleep is so much better and I can push myself more during workouts without feeling drained or exhausted.