Thursday, 12 September 2013

What about the vegan-friendly running snack?

A few weeks ago I started an experiment in eating vegan.

I've been corrected on the terminology - the first time I caught up with a friend and said I'm having a try at being vegan, he nodded whilst clocking my leather shoes and my handbag. You're trying out "eating" vegan he said, a smug hearty carnivore himself.

So I stand corrected, and apologies to anyone with the far more admirable grounds for their lifestyle choice.

It's interesting what you want when you can't have it. Previously I would have eaten pizza maybe once a month, but now? I WANT CHEESE.

And what do you do when you have a hangover? I had a rather decent one the day after I wrote about the experiment. I took the sparkles and the wine, but didn't end up taking the cake with cashew frosting. And I did eat pulled pork, and potato salad lashed in mayonnaise, and pudding. And the next morning I needed eggs. Poached eggs on pesto bagel, my standard weekend brunch. And then I needed pizza. With bacon.

I had it, all, and didn't feel too bad about it because this an experiment. And because I was training for a 10km race, so figured I'd run it all off.

So last Saturday I did the Women's Running London 10km event. I tagged along with the Write This Run crew, who showed their experience by having Prosecco at the finish line and breaking a few PBs.

I'd started the 8 week training programme to make 50mins at week 4, so the time target was probably a little ambitious. The last time I ran a 10km event I clocked just under 60 mins, and that was quite a few years ago.

Anyway, I figured I hadn't had meat or dairy so my body wasn't lugging around all that hard to process stuff - it should all even out.

The course, described as fairly flat on the registration website, had about 200m of flat. There were seven uphills in one lap of the two lap course. I hadn't done any hill running. But I stuck with Lucy, the 50 mins pacer, and at 6km, knowing there was a long hill coming up, raided my stash: jelly babies.

I've always used jelly beans or babies as the hit you need in a run - the sugar goes straight to my legs, and a little to my head, settling the XXX rated inner monologue. But I kept thinking about the tendons, ligaments and bones that had been boiled up to give me my hit. I couldn't think of a vegan substitute, and was too shattered to worry by 7.5km.

So when I came home, and ate a large slice of lentil loaf, I looked for my vegan equivalent.

It's called agar-agar, made by boiling several types of seaweed together. I thought oh yuk, eating boiled seaweed. And then I thought of the hoofs.

I looked for some recipes using this appealing ingredient, BBC Foods came up high in the search list, and I found Ham hock with parsley jelly and pease pudding.


So the best tip I've found is to substitute gels/jelly bs with shelled sunflower seeds and raisins.

I'll be the one training with tupperware. 

At least, like the beans/babies, they'll get stuck in my teeth and give me something to focus on other than pain, fatigue, sitting in my reading chair with a book.

If you have any alternative ideas for keeping the energy levels up on a long run (not including kale chips, roasted chickpeas or Mary's Gone Crackers), I'm really keen to find something I can put in my mini-pocket in my running shorts.

Help greatly appreciated. The experiment continues...with a few minor deviations.

Oh and I made it in 50:59. Should have taken those seeds.

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