Friday, January 18, 2008

Vegan-Friendly Coaches and Coaching

One of the more interesting things that has come out of conversations with lots of junior cyclists (racers under 19) is that often they've been discouraged from going or staying vegan by their coaches . Most of the time these coaches have little or no actual training in nutrition.

I imagine this holds for many aspiring athletes over 19 as well.

With the growth of personal coaching through the internet, many people who have never been coached are hiring coaches to help guide them through their training.

What I'm interested in is finding vegan-friendly coaches or coaching services.

My experience is limited the very (very) small world of cycling, so I welcome hearing from athletes from all sorts of sports about their experiences.

I've been lucky and have worked with coaches from Cycle-Smart since 2004. Cycle-Smart president, Adam Myerson is a pretty outspoken vegan and his coaches are all very supportive of my dietary choices.

Adam has also written a few articles on vegetarian sports nutrition from his own experience as a supplement to the Cycle-Smart training manual.

The Vegetarian Athlete, Part I: Rules of the Road for the Meat-Free Cyclist

The Vegetarian Athlete, Part II: Micronutrients

The Vegetarian Athlete, Part III: Eating on the Road

More Articles

So, if you're coached, or have been coached, what has been your experience as a vegan athlete? Was your coach supportive? Unsupportive? Any recommendations for those in the market?


Vegan Run Amok said...

Mark, those are great articles, thanks so much for posting! I learned some things I didn't know.

My long-time personal trainer wasn't supportive of my veganism, exactly, but he was at least pretty tolerant of it, which I really appreciated. He understood that dairy was non-negotiably off the table for ethical reasons and he never really pushed me about it even though I know from oblique comments he would make from time to time about research this or that person he knew was doing that he thought I would be able to improve my body composition more/faster if I would at least, you know, drink a couple of whey protein shakes a day.

One of my concerns about starting triathlon, honestly, is that if I end up having to find a coach, that I won't be able to find someone as respectful as my trainer was. I hate conflict, and the thought of going to train even once a week with someone who's going to give me a hard time about my diet is pretty upsetting. :( I hope I can find someone who is supportive, of course, but I guess that if not, at least I now have the articles you linked to as... armor, I guess.

Veg*Triathlete said...

I agree, these are great articles! Thanks, Mark! I didn't know about that coaching service. It's great that you get to work with a vegan—and that you get to be a vegan coach, too, with your cyclocross team work :-)

I've never worked with a coach, per se, but the trainer I sometimes workout with is very supportive of my veganism, even though she's not herself a vegan. It was one of the first questions she asked me, and her response was really positive.

VRA- Take up triathlon!!! Worry about the coach later. The cross-training is great for preventing running injuries and for giving you something else to do while you recover from the ones that couldn't be prevented :-) Plus, you have Pirate on your side!

Vegan Run Amok said...

Hey, V*T! I'm sure you're right - just make the jump and deal with any problems as they arise. :)

I still really want to reach my goal of running a sub-30:00 5K before I start working on something new.

I know you're right about the cross-training/injury prevention and recovery thing, though, too.

And anyway, you'll be amused to know that *just this afternoon* I found myself scoping out local pools online, ha. There's an indoor city pool not too far from my house that looks nice in the pictures, anyway. I'll have to scope it out in person soon to see how crowded it is and whether the water's clean or... you know... obviously peed in (ack).

Crystal said...

My only experience with a coach was an overall negative experience, but I am not opposed to coaching. My coach and I talked very little about nutrition because she had very little knowledge about veganism and nutrition. but had lots of experience in the realm of cycling. However, I am very limited in my city for coaches. Knowing some online vegan coaches would be very useful for me. I generally do my own nutritional coaching, but it would be so great to have a coach who knew about veganism and could make suggestions.

So thanks for those articles and bringing this up!

Mark said...

for multi-sport coaches, check out Kurt Perham at Personal Best Multisport ( Kurt also coaches for Cycle-Smart. One of my teammates (who just got a rocking tri sponsorship deal!) has been coached by him for about a year and a half and has nothing but good things to say.

the little one said...

My coach doesn't really support or not support my veganism. He's only a couple of times said something that I could possibly have interpreted as being negative and I might have just been being sensitive. He's the coach for a large group of women with very different goals, backgrounds, experiences, and talents. Maybe he talks with others about diet but he hasn't brought it up with me. In general, I have to admit to thinking he's the tops (even if he is a beefer)!

Matt! said...

Organic Athlete is an obvious place to look. Bradley was/is trying to start a mentor-like program through OA and it specifically mentions coaching. Us vegans have to be on our toes so we can educate them about nutrition. On a side note I met Molly Cameron at a CycloCross race over the weekend. Skilled elite cross racer and owner of a vegan bike shop in Portland called Velo Shop.

regina said...

I use CTS and my coach has always been very supportive of my food choices. He's always will to offer suggestions or get me in touch with someone who can answer my food concerns if he's unable to.