Ultra-marathon running on a plant-based diet!

A few weeks ago, one of our amazing Hemp Homies, Karin (@karanth87) took on the 100km Ultra Marathon in the Blue Mountains on a plant-based diet!

We sat down to chat with her about her journey, training and diet.

Q. How does it feel now that the marathon is finally over!?
A. OMG, so many emotions and learnings! This race was my first attempt at a 100km trail event, without coaching, crew and just going through it from scratch. Even though I only got to the 90km mark, it was such a fantastic experience and event!

I learned so much about my body and my mind (what pulled me out at the end). Now I know what I need to work on for the Great Ocean Walk 100 and of course, UTA 2019, to get my redemption haha :)

I just feel so happy with how my body responded not only to the training and race but the recovery. I only felt sore for two days, and now that the first week after the race is gone, I have fresh legs again!

I met incredible people, caught up with my trail family and ran through one of the most scenic places ever, the Blue Mountains. Ultrarunning has taught me to enjoy the journey, not only the destination.

Q. How long have you been training on a plant-based diet for?
I have been on a plant-based diet for about 4 months but went vegetarian in 2017. I started the transition to a more plant-based lifestyle about 2.5 years ago after I watched Cowspiracy. I started realizing there were so many endurance athletes out there doing the same, I had to give it a go!

Q. How have you managed to keep healthy and strong while training on this diet?
I consider myself a bit of a healthy foodie, to be honest. I have always loved cooking and learning about the best ways to fuel my body for the challenges I put it through.

As I was getting into this plant-based diet, I did proper research on the best sources of proteins, good fats, and nutrients. This was not easy at the start. However, I was so amazed by all the new ingredients I found cooking in a vegan-friendly way!

My primary preference is whole foods over processed as much as I can, but I still enjoy ice creams and sweet potato chips every now and then, haha. Finally, keeping yourself active outside in nature is such a massive immune boost! That is why I love trails so much!   

Karin Ultra Marathon - Australian Primary Hemp

Q. What does a normal day look like in terms of meals and snacks?
Ok let’s be clear, I eat A LOT. Endurance sports take so much energy from your system, you need to be able to fuel it properly.

My day usually looks like this:
I will start with an early breakfast consisting of a protein shake and fruit on weekdays, with insta-worthy smoothie bowls on the weekends (when I have the time to cook)! I love using the Australian Primary Hemp protein and nut butter to add some good stuff first thing in the morning!

Then mid-morning I will have some nuts and fruits.

Lunch and dinners are quite similar:
Good carbs (black rice, quinoa, grains, sweet potato, etc.) + plant-based protein (bean sprouts, legumes, tofu, tempeh, etc.) + assorted veggies ( greens, carrots, tomatoes, you name it) + sprinkle seeds (hemp, chia, teff) and nutritional yeast = BOOM!
All the right things in just one plate :) During winters I prefer making soups and curries though.

Mid arvo I’ll have more fruit as a snack, plus 2 litres of water through the day to keep myself hydrated.

Q. What does a normal day of training look like?
My training schedule is a bit full on. I train 5 - 6 times a week, alternating short and fast runs with bouldering sessions to work on my strength, with long runs on the weekends.

As you can see, I am a super active person! Mixing it with work and study, training is my “me-time” to have fun. It brings me energy and peace of mind when things are a bit hectic.

Q. How do you make sure you are getting enough protein?
I make sure I get some kind of protein in every meal, spread out across the day. There is this misconception that humans need a lot of protein, focusing a big part of their diets in this component. As a female endurance athlete, I only need around 70g of protein a day. Just with a vegan protein shake in the morning, I will be getting 20-25g. If we count nuts and legumes through the day, achieving this is super easy. I have personally found plant-based proteins easier to digest, it makes my body feel and perform better.

Q. How have Australian Primary Hemp’s products benefited your diet and training?
A. It was through my research and experimentation with new products that I discovered the benefits of Hemp! I couldn’t believe the amount of protein and good fats they have in such a small size haha.

As I’m a super picky and fussy eater in terms of quality, I loved the fact that Australian Primary Hemp was super transparent with their products, sourcing locally and using 100% natural ingredients. This convinced me to give them a go! I just love using them in everything! From salads to protein balls, seeds or powder goes with so many things!

As an endurance athlete, I need to make sure I get all the nutrients my sport requires, and I am sure these products have helped me a lot in doing it, allowing me to follow my training and proper recovery.

Q. Now that the marathon is over, do you think you will continue the plant-based diet?
Definitely, I will! Having a plant-based diet has not only helped me nutritionally. I am a wildlife veterinarian currently studying Master of Environment, so I know pretty well the environmental and ethical effects our food choices can have. While I agree a nutrition like this might not be suitable for everyone, I totally recommend to give it a try. For me, it has been an amazing “experiment” that will stay with me for the rest of my days. 

Q. What has been the best thing about this experience?
A. I think the whole process of listening to my body and following my heart has been the best part of this experience. The entire endurance ultramarathon thing has been quite a journey for the last 7 years. I wasn’t born an athlete, I hated running when I was a kid and quit smoking 3.5 years ago (yup, I ran and smoked! Gross!). Having my nutrition in sync with my values couldn't be better!

We would like to extend a big thank you to Karin, for sharing her story with us! We hope you all found it fascinating!