Catharsis on the Trail
The role of diet in my running transformation is a theme I’ve visited often here at Eating Plants. The physical and emotional empowerment that comes through food reminds us that so much personal improvement is literally right at our fingertips. Since starting to eat a nutrient-dense vegan diet my long distance running–as well as recovery from all strenuous distance runs–has gone from dreadful to nothing short of astounding.
This morning I ran a very technical and hilly 30K trail race just outside of Austin. Beforehand I ate a piece of wheat toast with avocado and nutritional yeast. The day before I ate a great deal of quinoa and arugula and pumpkin seeds. Soon afterwards, I ate upwards of six vegan breakfast tacos stuffed with spinach, black beans, tofu, and salsa; two smoothies with bananas, blueberries, almond milk, hemp seeds, and cocoa; a cup of homemade granola; a bunch of nuts, a carrot, and some dulse. I was starving. But as I write, there’s no stiffness in my legs, no fatigue in my joints. No dehydration ache in my head. (Although my feet are pretty banged up.)
Feeling energized on this run was especially important. I’ve been trying all week to make sense of the events in Boston. They touched a raw nerve for me because marathoning—as well as trail races such as the one I did today—are events where everyone there is there to be good. It’s a simple truth. The bombing at the finish, and the violence of the aftermath, left a black mark on my most sacred of physical and emotional places: the finish line of a marathon. All week I kept having to stop what I was doing and react with one emotion or another, or a weird sort of amalgam of many feelings. The communal run today was my catharsis. My catharsis was made possible by my energy and attitude. My energy and attitude were made possible by plant-based foods full of stuff that helps make us become better and better at seeking the goodness that’s in all of us.