I recently participated in the Running and Living 5 kilo metre run. I was able to complete the run quite comfortably, and in fact I was one of the first in the women’s category to complete it. I was thrilled ! You might ask what the big deal about completing a 5 km run is. After all, people do a lot more all the time. But considering I have not done any running or major cardio vascular exercise in the last 5 years, doing this with such ease and comfort was a pleasant surprise.
In the last 3 years, one of the biggest shifts I have made is in my diet – moving to a whole foods plant based diet. This basically means I have been off the commonly known proteins such as meat, chicken, fish, eggs, paneer etc. and instead replenished with a whole lot of healthy plant based protein like sprouts, leafy greens, beans, whole pulses and grains like amaranth. Approximately 50% of my diet is raw, which works beautifully in the tropical Mumbai climate.
This way of eating had a miraculous effect on my health. I rid myself of many chronic acidity and sinus, low blood pressure and general weakness in the process. It has supported my near consistent yoga practice too. Although weight was never my concern, I have lost a few kilos and am now more slender and toned up. So far so good, however what I now wanted to test was whether this way of eating had the capacity to support active and energy expending sport like running. Completing the 5 km with such ease, that too without any practice once again convinced me that this works!
More surprises lay in store as the day progressed.
During my growing up years, running was a part of life. However we would plan 5 km runs only on Sundays, so that we could relax the whole day after the morning run. Even at the time I ran the first Mumbai marathon (Standard chartered) more than a decade ago, I needed the rest of the day to recover from the exhaustion of the run.
But to my surprise I felt no exhaustion after this run. I went in for a hearty south Indian breakfast with friends, lazed around with the newspaper for an hour or so at home and then went about the rest of the day pretty actively, like any other.
This reminded me of something a dear friend and long time marathon runner Venkatraman Pichumani had shared with me a few years ago. Pichumani has been running marathons for the longest time. He turned to a plant based diet a few years ago. I asked him what difference he felt in his running and fitness after the change in diet, since he was so fit anyway. His reply was that the difference was not so much in the running as it was in his recovery. Plant based foods made his body environment alkaline and further aided his quick rejuvenation. Proteins have never been a problem, since there are a super range of plant based proteins that take up less energy to digest and give off more life energy. He could now go running long distances in the morning, and go about the rest of the day just like any other non running day. Pichumani is in his 60s !!!
I had found his experience incredible to hear. But experiencing it first hand was even more incredible!