Vegan Runners- Born to Run; Born to Eat
I live with two vegan runners: my husband Wan and our dogter Mookie. I, however, have been the kind of vegan runner that only sprints after buses. Earlier this year, Wan stayed up all night, reading Christopher McDougall’s book, Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Super Athletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen. Was is possible to write a book about running that reads like a thriller? I had previously bought Wan Haruki Murakami’s memoir: What I Talk about When I Talk about Running. He thought I would enjoy it more than he did, since Murakami’s book is more about writing than running. As an aspiring long distance writer, I do have more of an appreciation now for the process, regimen, and ritual that runners incorporate into their lives. But I’m not sure if I have enough time to dedicate to both writing and running.
But Christopher McDougall sure does make you want to try. The book tries to answer McDougall’s simple question : “Why do my feet hurt?” He ends up in the Copper Canyons of Mexico running with the Raramuri or Tarahumara, who are known to run great distances of up to 400 miles. We meet a whole cast of ultramarathoners from the U.S. There’s been a big barefoot running trend that has emerged coinciding with this book’s success. The other big secret to why and how these runners can do what they do: Joy. And Mcdougall tries to represent that as well in the book.
The book discusses some of the evolutionary theories about running (primitive men running down their prey), but the diet of the modern runner doesn’t include much meat. The Tarahumara consume little animal protein (mouse meat), and fuel their runs on high grain beer. A veg coworker of mine started taking pinol and chia seeds before his runs after reading this book. The book also features two vegan runners. Ruth Heidrich, a vegan triathlete, who gave up animal products when diagnosed with cancer, and demonstrated that a vegan diet was key to her survival. Scott Jurek, the vegan ultramarathoner extraordinaire, is also one of the main characters in the book. (See him prepare a meal for Mark Bittman here)
I had the chance to meet Scott when he visited New York last year and ran with some runners in Prospect Park. He was just as nice and generous as he was portrayed in the book. Before the park run, we talked a bit about vegan eats in New York and he asked me if I had done my first Ultra yet. Ha! (I ended up running home after only one mile of the 3 mile run in Prospect Park).
But Wan is encouraging me to give running another chance. I’ve just been sympathy carbo loading as he prepared for the NYC Marathon last week. He ran it in 3:02:59 and looked liked he was having a good time as well. Afterwards, we had a lovely brunch at Blossom with friends including 2 other vegan marathoners.
Yesterday, we checked out the Vibram 5 Fingers at Paragon Sports in Union Square. First question, are the five fingers vegan? Some are and some aren’t. The KSO and Bikila’s are. Some other models had Kangaroo leather. Boo! We didn’t find ones in our size and they were closing up shop. So we headed to Maoz for Vegan Shashuka.
We may be born to run, but we are also born to eat.