Powered by Plants: Vegan Endurance Runners

Most people will have heard of extreme sports. Many will have heard of the X-Games – which of course is the pinnacle competition spectacle for extreme sports athletes. But it’s likely that very few of those same folks will be aware that extreme endurance running is also a sport, or have ever heard of the likes of the Ragnar Relay Series or – the Mother of all extreme endurance races – the vaunted Barkley Marathon.

So when you’re required to push past the limits of human exertion, burn many 1000s of calories in a day, deprive yourself of sleep, and generally ‘run on empty’ for obscene stretches of time, it’s not difficult to comprehend that these athletes are going to need some serious energy-source supplementation to go along with a LOT of calorie replacement via eating – if you can find time for that!

VegaRunner1.jpgMost protein powders, recovery formulas, and energy bars contain some type of animal or dairy by-product, and oftentimes those ingredients are fairly integral to the efficacy of the product. It’s long been assumed that carnivorous – or at the very least omnivorous – athletes would be most successful in extreme endurance sports based on the nature of the ‘fuels’ they’re open to ingesting.

So let’s ask the question. How about plant-based vegan performance supplements for extreme endurance sports? Will they cut it, and will someone on a vegan athlete diet be as likely to cross the finish line as someone who has no such diet restrictions?

The answer is a resounding yes! Look no further than vegan runner ultra-marathoner Scott Jurek , and – if you’re really into vegan endurance training – check out his book Eat and Run too, which includes extensive information on vegan athlete nutrition. There is nothing holding these folks back based on their entirely plant-based diets, and there are definitely advantages to vegan sports supplements!

Farthest Thing From A Casual Jog

Regarding the aforementioned events, the Ragnar is an overnight relay running event that is hosted in different locations around the US throughout the year. The daunting Barkley Marathon, however, occurs only once a year in early spring in Frozen Head State Park in the rural Tennessee hills. The Ragnar – while still demanding – is quite the social event, usually timed with warmer weather, and well-suited to your average well-adjusted endurance athlete.

The Barkley, on the other hand, is brutally demanding, not particularly social at all, typically involves inclement to downright nasty weather, and is more suited to semi-crazy freaks who actually welcome the thought of being pushed to brink of physical and mental failure with plenty of pain, disorientation, and sleep-deprivation. Only 14 runners have completed the 5-circuit course in the mandated less-than-60 hour time period, and yes, one of them was a vegan endurance athlete, Jamil Coury.

Vegan Supplements for Extreme Endurance Running

Given the nature of the sport, following a vegan runner diet for extreme endurance running events will nearly always involve emphasizing anti-inflammatory nutrients to optimize your recovery from all the wear and tear you’ll be subjecting your body to, along with rehydrating and replenishing your electrolytes – which will be leaving you en masse via profuse perspiration! You should also be consuming foods that are easy to digest and nutrient dense.

In the same way that once you start feeling thirsty you are already dehydrated, once you start feeling depleted you are unlikely to get your energy levels back to where they need to be for competing at your best. With that understood, you need to pre-fuel before beginning the race. Vega Sport Pre-Workout Energizer is a great choice, pairing complex carbohydrates from sprouted whole grain brown rice syrup and organic palm nectar for high and low-glycemic carbs for the perfect mix of quick and slow burst energy. You get immediate energy boost AND sustained energy levels.

Now it’s not nearly as much of a challenge to line up foods and other consumables that meet this criteria before and after the races. But DURING the race or a brief reprieve from pounding the trail, that’s where you need plant-based performance bars or similarly compact and ready-to-eat products that give what you need and still stay within your commitment to eating clean. Vega Sport Protein Bars are ideal, formulated to keep you going AND prepare for the recovery stage for your muscles that will come once you’re done for the day (or night in the instances we’re exampling here)

Once you’ve come to a rest (for however long, but generally for a period of 6 hours or longer) you need to optimize your muscle and system recovery. And should you be participating in some event along the lines of a Ragnar (or, if you’re certifiably nuts, a Barkley Marathon) this part of the supplementing process is very important – because you’re going to be back at it in the AM, whether you ‘feel’ like it or not.

Vega Sport Recovery Accelerator is formulated to maximize your recovery process. It features an innovative blend of 23 synergistic plant-based ingredients, including glucosamine, maca, and L-arginine. It has the nice distinction of being the first all-natural, plant-based recovery drink mix specifically developed to address all six key elements of post-workout recovery. Muscle glycogen replenishment, muscle tissue repair and protein synthesis, hormonal support, soft-tissue repair (huge for hardcore runners), immune system support, inflammation-reduction, and rehydration.

Interested to learn more about extreme endurance races around the world? Check out this very brief but informative article with images written for the Matador Network, and don’t let anyone tell you that vegan runners can’t be the ones pushing the pace!