As I prepare for my 1/2 Marathon this Sunday, I am thinking about what I’m going to eat before and after the run.
I am a big fan of Brendan Brazier who is a professional triathlete (can you imagine?!?) and a two-time Canadian 50 km Ultra Marathon Champion (that is OVER 100 miles, in case you were wondering!).
In addition to his studley athleticism, he is also a vegan. Super cool Silver Lining. Talk about a deflection to all of those naysayers who so fervently believe that an ultra athlete must eat animal protein.
In his book, Thrive: The Vegan Nutrition Guide to Optimal Performance in Sports and Life, he gives fantastic recipes for fueling, in general, but also for athletic endeavors. While I’m HARDLY the ultra runner, I am definitely following his suggestions for eating before and after my 1/2 marathon!
Brendan has great suggestions about timing of when & how to eat, which I also appreciate and will be following! For example, I will be eating this super yumma chocolate pudding before the race. By the way, how can a race be bad when it begins with chocolate? I’m just sayin’…
- 1/4 lb. medium firm tofu (for protein, calcium)
- 1 banana (for electrolytes) The riper the pear and banana, the sweeter the pudding.
- 1/2 pear* (for natural sugar)
- 1/2 T. hemp oil (for essential fatty acids, omega 3 + omega 6)
- 1/2 T. cocoa powder (for natural flavor)
- sprinkle sea salt (for sodium lost in sweat)
- Blend all ingredients together until reaching a consistent texture. I recommend a food processor.
In terms of recovery, Brendan has some great recommendations. Recovery, by the way, is as important as the preparation (though I wish I would have known this 10 years ago, I’m so glad to know it now!).
For example, once about an hour and a half has passed since finishing the recovery snack (of fruit, ideally), he recommends a nutritious blender drink containing all the components of a complete meal. The reason he recommends a liquid meal is to help reduce the strain on the digestive system. When the body is pooling all its resourses to help repair damage done by training, it needs all the help it can get. The best sources of protein are hemp, pea and rice in powder form, mixed with water. Brendan likes hemp because it is very high in vitamin E, a powerful antioxidant that helps further speed recovery. Hemp also contains anti-inflammation properties that help soft tissue repair, important after exercise (Silver Lining).
Another important factor to consider when making a recovery “meal” is pH. Lactic acid is produced by exercise. The consumption of alkaline producing foods will help to neutralize the typically acidic pH of a fatigued body, thereby speeding recovery. The most alkaline foods are those with the highest chlorophyll levels–dark, leafy greens.
Brendan ideally recommends a daily salad for this. However, since dark, leafy green vegetables aren’t great for making blender drinks, he uses chlorella. Chlorella is a fresh water algae from Japan. It possesses the highest amount of chlorophyll, more than any other plant or animal. Also, chlorella has a large amount of vitamin B-12 and is almost 70% protein, which is an excellent addition for anyone, especially a vegan athlete (or aspiring athlete!). Brendan recommends 1 to 2 teaspoons in each blender drink.
Maca is also an excellent food to help speed recovery and promote energy. Grown in the Peruvian highlands, maca is a turnip-like root vegetable. Available at many health food stores in powdered form, maca helps to nourish and rejuvenate the adrenal glands. After training or any other type of stress, the adrenals become fatigued. If the stress becomes chronic and not enough time is allowed for recovery, common symptoms of stress become apparent. As with Chlorella, he recommends 1 to 2 teaspoons in each blender drink.
- 3 cups water (or 2 cups water and 1 1/2 cups ice)
- 1 banana (for electrolytes)
- 1/2 cup blueberries (for antioxidants)
- 1/2 pear (for natural sugar, fiber)
- 1 T. hemp oil (for essential fatty acids, omega 3 + omega 6)
- 1 T. ground flax seeds (omega 3, fiber)
- 2 T. hemp protein (for complete protein)
- 1 t. (2.5 grams) maca, powdered form (for sterols, alkaloids, glucosinolates)
- 1 t. (2.5 grams) chlorella, powdered form (for vitamin b12, chlorophyll, nucleic acids)
- Blend together.
- For variety, add either a tablespoon of raw pumpkin or sunflower seeds. Raw carob powder is also a good addition.
The task ahead of you is never greater than the strength within you.