Anna Hughes

The vegan Ironman

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The vegan Ironman

On April 12, 2016, Posted by , In Ironman,Running,Vegan, With 4 Comments

BreakfastWhen I have taken on challenges before, I’ve shied away from my vegan diet, unsure of whether I would survive intense physical activity on a plant-based diet. This time there’s no question: I’m vegan. Even with such a gruelling training regime, I’m sticking to it.

And it is gruelling: I’m training to swim 2.4 miles, cycle 112 miles and run 26.2 miles. That’s a marathon after having been cycling all day. I’m training six days a week with a day off on Sunday to rest and recuperate before it all starts again on Monday morning.

At first I worried that I wouldn’t have enough energy to cope with all the training, but I needn’t have: my diet works for me in my day-to-day life, so why wouldn’t it work now? As long as I’m eating enough, I feel energised, healthy and strong.

I’ve never really calorie-counted so I won’t start now, but I am eating roughly twice what I normally eat. For example, instead of half a tin of beans on toast, I’ll have a full tin. I usually cook a huge meal in the evening so I’ll have enough for the next day – then I’ll end up eating the lot.

So, what do I eat?

Typical menu for the day

Pre-workout snack: banana and flapjack

Workout: 30 mins strength or 20 mile cycle

Breakfast: beans on toast

Morning snack: fruit and nut bars such as Nakd bars or Eat Natural (though these aren’t strictly vegan as they contain honey), oat bars, apple

Lunch: wrap with hummus, avocado, tomato, and whatever else I have lying around – last night’s leftovers, salad, lentils, kidney beans etc

Afternoon snack: oat cakes with hummus and salad, crisps, nuts

Workout: Run or swim

Post-workout snack: banana and flapjack/nut bar

Dinner: usually vegetables, lentils and beans, with a carbohydrate such as wholewheat pasta, brown rice or mashed potato. A favourite is vegan chilli: onions, garlic, mushrooms, aubergine if I have one, brown lentils, tinned tomatoes, red kidney beans, loads of spices and herbs.

At the weekend I’ll do a long swim or long cycle, which means eating while riding. Fuelling on the road is difficult, but it’s what I’m going to have to do on race day – if I can force down enough food that is, what with the adrenaline of the event playing havoc with my stomach as it did on the Half Iron. Food in liquid form is going to be best for that, such as smoothies and shakes made with fruit, oats, almond milk, bananas, and peanut butter (not all at once).

4 Comments so far:

  1. Simon says:

    Anna, you might like to look at the musings of ultrarunner and nutritionist Barry Murray on this subject. He’s a proponent of ‘running on empty’ and fat adaptation, an increasingly popular topic, and his advice is based on both research and personal experience. Very well worth reading.

  2. Anna says:

    Thanks for the pointer Simon.

  3. Andy says:

    Hey Anna, bit late to this one, have you read Scott Jureks Eat and Run book?

    He’s Vegan, it has tasty recipes too in each chapter, some really good energy fuels.

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