By Georges Laraque, former NHL player, Vega Ambassador
Ever since I retired from the National Hockey League in 2010, I have been looking for ways to challenge and push myself. The one thing many former athletes look for is the adrenaline rush you get when you compete. For me, I found that rush through running. But at 275 pounds, it is truly challenging to keep my muscle mass on and feel good on my runs. Since I became vegan in 2009, my goal has been to show everyone that a colossal vegan athlete can run long distances without losing any muscle mass. At the same time, by running a marathon I could prove how efficient a vegan diet is. So if you’re wondering how I’m able to keep my muscle mass, or if you’re afraid of doing long distance training because of the fear of shrinking too much, here are a few tips:
1. Make the Most of Your Miles
As part of my marathon training, I run only four days a week. Some people run much more, but since my target time is between 4½ hours and 5 hours, this is all I need in order to reach my goal. I’d much rather run a half marathon (my time being 1 hour and 55 minutes), but again, a full marathon requires much more training. To run a half, you can train up to 10miles/16K to get ready for the race but, for a full marathon, you need to be able to run up to 22miles/35K leading up to the big day. I keep two days of cross-training with a strength and conditioning workout, and always take at least one rest day.
2. Fuel Correctly Before, During and After Your Runs
My training program consists of interval runs, short and long runs (mostly on weekends). Before my run, I get an extra energy boost with Vega Sport Pre-Workout Energizer or a fresh fruit smoothie. During my run I always carry Vega Sport Endurance Gel in my pocket. I need the extra boost because of the amount of calories my body burns. If I run on a sunny day where I know I’m going to sweat a lot, I add Vega Sport Electrolyte Hydrator to my water to replenish the lost minerals. During a run, I can lose up to 10 pounds of water and the electrolytes really help me prevent dehydration. The key for me is to feed my body and my muscles right after a run. I always have 2 servings of Vega Performance Protein Powder, blended with fruit and some organic juice. If I don’t have a blender at hand, I just bring a shaker and mix 2 servings with water to replenish my body. Later, I will have another high-protein meal. I also make sure to drink lots of electrolyte-enhanced water to replenish what I lost while sweating.
3. Eat Enough Calories and Protein to Keep Muscle Mass
I need to make sure I’m both consuming enough calories and protein during training to keep my muscle mass on. These are some of my go-to meals:
- For breakfast, I always make a Vega One shake. Since I have a sweet tooth, my favorite flavor is berry. I blend it with frozen fruit and some freshly squeezed apple juice in my Vitamix blender. I usually drink my smoothie 30 minutes before my run. This way, I feel energized but not too full. If I’m not drinking a smoothie I like granola cereal with berries, or toast with organic peanut butter.
- For lunch, I always eat a quinoa salad, or a kale salad with nut and sprouts, lots of veggies.
- For dinner, my favorite meal is vegan chili, or sweet potatoes with veggies, quinoa pasta and vegan cheese
For a snack throughout the day I usually have a Vega Sport Protein Bar and I feel great.
Find a routine that works for you to keep training without losing your muscle mass. If you have any tips to share, please leave a comment below!