Last weekend, for the second year in a row, I ran in the Front Runner’s New York LGBT Pride Run — 5 miles through Central Park. Just before leaving, I posted to my Facebook page that I was heading there, and asked if anyone else would be taking part. To my surprise, several of my Facebook friends, all fellow vegans, said they’d be there. During the event itself, as I ran amongst 5,000 others, I found solace knowing that dotted throughout the park were other passionate vegans, also making their way to the finish line.
I had a similar experience last fall, when I ran my first half-marathon. Somewhere around the lull of mile seven, I spotted a couple in front of me sporting “No Meat Athlete” t-shirts. I started cheering for them, yelling a little too boisterously how I was vegan too, and then they started cheering me back. It was a mutual admiration society, and a memorable moment. I’m sure that those around us thought we were loopy. Perhaps we were. But, you know vegans. We can be a supportive bunch, and spotting another across a crowd can feel like finding long-lost family.
Since I started running two years ago, I’ve noticed that runners are another sort of family. It’s inspiring, to be involved with a sport and not feel like the next guy is simply trying to beat you. That’s the impression I’d always had about running, and about all sports, for that matter. As I explained in my article, Put Me in the Running: Animal Rights, Veganism, and a Race Against Time, running kind of snuck up on me. When I started, which was sort of a fluke and a result of an off-handed comment I’d made when I was a guest on The Dr. Oz Show (on the air, I boasted how I was training for a half-marathon — but until that moment I was not), I barely knew how to put one foot in front of the other. Though I managed to figure that part out on my own, I credit my ability to actually complete a long race (to the tune of 13.1 miles) to VegRun, which I first reported about last year.
VegRun is a marathon and half-marathon training program and support system for vegan runners who are seeking community, support, expertise, mentorship, and a safe space to get ready for that long run. Last year, the cost to join was $50, but this year they have dropped it to an affordable $25, all of which goes to support the life-saving work of Physician’s Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM), which is the proud mama to VegRun. (Don’t miss PCRM’s director, Dr. Neal Barnard, on our podcast.) Once you join, according to VegRun:
… you will immediately gain access to the VegRUN site to view the week-by-week training schedule breakdown, the comprehensive list of training tips, and plant-based recipes. You will also have access to: expert nutrition facts from a dietitian; a Facebook group where you can interact with fellow runners; and weekly e-mails leading up to your race with helpful information from a featured celebrity coach and your mileage for that week.
Plus, for those of you who tie your running into your advocacy and your advocacy into your running, you will be given a donation page and encouraged to ask your family and friends to support your training efforts by also donating to PCRM, in your honor. And for those of you who dream of one day bringing your vegan athleticism to the next level and going pro, allow yourself to be mentored by one of VegRun’s celebrity coaches, including Scott Jurek (who was a darling on our podcast), Brendan Brazier, and Christine Vardaros. In other words, if you’re into running and you’re vegan, VegRun is pretty much the deal of a lifetime. Lace up those hemp sneakers and run, don’t walk …