Plant-Based Running by Rebecca Garcia

I ran my first half marathon in 2007, this was quite the accomplishment for me because I was in a near fatal car accident in 2003 where doctors told me I would never run again. I have since run 50 half marathons and I am about to run my 6th marathon. Earlier this year in late March I made the decision to commit to a plant based lifestyle. Eating a plant-based diet attracts a lot of questions like, “Where do you get your protein” or “How are you getting enough calcium?” When you are a running several half marathons a year and take on a plant based diet these questions move from curiosity to disbelief.

Eating a plant-based diet can offer many advantages to endurance athletes. Plant based foods offer an abundance of nutrients, vitamins and minerals, which can actually improve performance and allow for shorter recovery times. The transition from the standard American diet to a plant based vegan diet has allowed me to experience these benefits. Two weeks after I made this lifestyle change I ran a half marathon. I was slightly weary as to how it would go, as things were still very new for me and I was getting used to my new lifestyle. I found that the run was just like any other.  I didn’t feel weak and I wasn’t tired. Plus, the recovery was very quick. The following month I was able log over 170 miles, the most I had ever ran in one month. I began to have more energy and became more focused with my running.

Over the past several months my health and performance have improved dramatically. I was presented with the opportunity to run the Berlin Marathon as a charity runner, raising funds for Farm Sanctuary, an organization which aims to protect farm animals from cruelty, inspire change in the way society views and treats farm animals, and promote compassionate living. This really struck a chord with me because my decision to adopt a plant-based vegan lifestyle was motivated by my love and concern for animals. The last time I ran a marathon was in 2012 and, for me, the recovery was no easy process.  This can be demonstrated by the fact that is has been such a long time since I have taken on running such a long distance. I would have ventured to say that I was no longer up to running any more marathons. After much consideration I decided that I was up for the challenge of a marathon.

This past month I ran two 18 mile training runs in preparation for my upcoming marathon, the longest distance I have tackled since 2012.  Much to my surprise the recovery for these runs was almost nonexistent. It was almost as if I hadn’t run at all. I am overjoyed proclaim that I am a vegan runner, and I advocate that anyone can allow compassion into their diet and become plant-based and still be a bad ass. I want to share with anyone that will listen that you do not need to harm beings in order to live a happy healthy life.

I follow a diet that is varied, balanced and provides adequate nutrition. I burn a lot of calories while I am training so I make sure I am consuming enough calories throughout the day by getting them though a variety of different plant-based foods. I am a fan of smoothies, because it is an easy way for me to incorporate fruits and vegetables. I do love to eat! I snack a lot throughout the day on high-energy foods such as nuts, fruits, veggies and hummus and other nutrient dense foods. Daily I start my day with superfoods which guarantees that get a good helping of vitamins and minerals, I also take a plant-based protein simply because I am running so much and I don’t want to have to worry calculating my day out.

One of the biggest challenges I have faced is actually going out to eat. I have though become accustomed to bringing food with me so that way I am never a burden, and that I am never in a situation where I am hungry without any options. I am comfortable, confident and polite about asking about items on the menu and working with kitchen staff regarding and explaining my dietary restrictions. I quickly google anyplace I am going to be going to see what vegan options I can find in advance. I typically don’t dine out so it is not that big of an issue for me. Especially when it compares to the devastation and trauma that countless animals go through.

Rebecca Garcia believes every run is a blessing. Besides compassionate living and running her passion life with God. She strives to lead a cruelty free life that shows mercy in the same way she has been shown mercy.

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