Plant Based Diet: An Experiment in Long Run Recovery

Mangoes encourages me to eat more plant-based foods. At 8 weeks out from the Boston Marathon, I'm logging 75-80 miles per week, so it's been a hard sell for her. I need a lot of calories right now! One aspect of training, however, that I have found especially hard is the Monday morning run. Saturday is always a long run (currently 22 miles) followed by a rest day on Sunday. Despite (or because of) the rest day on Sunday, Monday I typically feel extremely sluggish on the 10 mile easy run. Awful might be a better description. By Tuesday, I'm usually feeling better and ready for the week's workout, but ugh, Monday!

I'm pretty depleted in every way Saturday and Sunday and eat a lot of food both days. It seemed like a good opportunity to experiment with plant-based food and see if it improved my performance, or at least how I felt, on that Monday run.

Feb 2, the long run was 21 miles--nothing abnormal apart from really cold temps (around 0F).
Feb 3 (Sunday Rest Day), I ate the following.

6:30am 5% whole milk Greek yogurt - 1 serving, with blueberries, 1 banana, and a little honey, 2 cups of black coffee
8:30am 3 homemade ginger snap cookies
9:00am 1 cup black decaf coffee
11:30am 3 servings cheesy potatoes, 3 servings apple cobbler, 3 sausage links, 5 slices bacon, 3 servings egg bake, 2 servings Swedish meatballs, 2 Swedish pancakes with lingonberries, 2 servings bread pudding, 2 cups of black coffee
1:00pm 1 serving carnitas (pork) on corn chips with cheese, sour cream, green onions, fresh salsa and cilantro
5:00pm 6 slices cheese and sausage pizza, 1/2 cup soda, and 1 piece of candy (Superbowl Party)

Monday, Feb 4, I ran 10 miles at 5am. I felt horrible

The next Sunday, I didn't make it through Sunday plant based. I crumpled before a delicious grilled chicken dish... The run pattern was the same: 21 mile LR Sat. 10 mile run Mon @ 5am. Felt pretty bad. 

Feb 16, the long run was 22 miles. A little warmer, 10F, but pace a little slower (week's workout was also much harder).
Feb 17 (Sunday Rest Day), I ate:

9:00am 1 cup oats, 3 dates, honey, fresh blueberries, banana, 2 cups black coffee
10:45am Clif Bar
1:00 Avacodo and hummus sandwich on fresh whole wheat bread, broccoli, carrots, 3 rice crispy bars, 1 cup decaf black coffee
5:00pm Spaghetti squash with chickpea tomato sauce, 1 vegan banana muffin
7:00pm Handfull of mixed nuts. 

I felt full all day Sunday and the only challenge of the day was passing on some barbecue at lunch. 
This morning (Monday), I will admit I felt better than 2 weeks prior, but still tired and sluggish. About 6 miles into the 10, I got fiercely hungry. Typically I don't eat before morning runs, even the 20+ milers, and I feel fine. I load up on whatever's for dinner the night before. So... this little experiment didn't yield a miracle recovery, but it did seem to provide marginal benefits. I will have to discuss with Mangoes how we can explore further whether the "normal" animal-product-based diet stacks up against a plant-based diet for a middle-aged amateur athlete.  


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