Monday, June 9, 2008

A Moment in a Vegan Athlete's Life

My road season has been quite up and down lately. I started racing a few weeks ago, much later and more out of shape than most of the other racers due to a slow recovery from a really bad concussion I got during cyclo-cross season. (Unfortunately my diet doesn't protect me from knocks on the head!)

When the racing is going well, it's easy to assume everything i'm doing is correct - training well, eating well, making all the right moves during the race, etc. But when the bad days occur, I've always been a bit of a drama queen. Luckily it's usually balanced a bit by an athlete's innate ability to be in denial of everything that is amiss.

What happened to me this season was something that's never happened before. When the races went bad, I didn't attribute any of it to my diet. It's not that i have been overwhelmingly unsure of my vegan diet for sport in the past, but i think recent events made it so that my diet didn't even enter my mind. It was no longer in the forefront of my mind.

A major difference compared with years past is that i am no longer constantly questioned about my diet. Thanks to an increasing amount of forced public awareness regarding correct diet - due to increasing rates of heart disease, cancer and other illnesses - combined with the growing number of plant-based athletes, I feel I'm no longer viewed as a freak (for my diet at least!) There will always be naysayers (until another seventeen mad-cow-disease-type catastrophies occur squelches - or kills - them all) but the direct assaults on me have greatly dissipated.

The slowing of "in my face" attacks combined with my own extensive research backed by "field experience" over the years has helped solidify my confidence in my diet.

By the way, many of the pro teams are now starting to accommodate the riders who opt for a more healthful diet. Soymilk is popping up at most team breakfast tables here in Belgium, along with non-meat sauce for pasta at dinnertime. Maybe soon the French will catch on and offer more than just French bread to vegan racers!! (Last year, while racing for a French Pro Team, i had to subside mostly on French bread while contesting the Womens Tour de France. )

Anyway, I'm thrilled that my choice of foods is becoming a non-factor. Now all focus can be directed where it needs to go - on the racing!

As of yesterday, I think i'm back on track. I even found myself at the front a few times chasing down breaks!


Vegan Run Amok said...

That's awesome that the pro teams are becoming more accommodating. I can't believe you had to race on French bread, good grief!

PEANUT said...

I did get overcooked stringbeans at every meal as well. But after a couple of months of racing in france where they think vegetarian means stringbeans and french bread, I was a bit burnt out on them. Even their pasta is always slathered in butter the moment it is taken out of the boiling water.