Meat Dodging Week 1 – 2 sucky marathons

game-changersSo I’m trying to be vegetarian – Yes I’ve watched “The Game Changers”.

It happened by accident. Also happened on probably the least suitable week with two marathons, loads on and family away so I was relying on eating out and ready meals. Hence why the hardcore vegetarians will cry at this haphazard attempt at starting meat dodging.

Saturday – After beans and hotdogs for lunch (not had it in years, had a strange urge) I sit down with a poorly son for some sofa time. He’s fiddling on his phone so I wander around Netflix and flick on The Game Changers. Never heard of it. Something about athletes and running. Turns out I’ve accidentally hit the zeitgeist and it’s THE film everyone is talking about.

For a decent objective review of the film (it is pretty one sided) then I’d go have a look here –

In a slightly biased presentation it makes a good argument for a meat free diet (and veganism), with examples of athletes who haven’t just managed without meat, but gone on to improve and be world class. I’ve been pondering vegetarianism for a while partly for environmental reasons, partly for the animals themselves, partly to avoid being such a hefty lump around the marathon course. On a recent holiday the restaurant had a suckling pig on the carvery and the full honest presentation of a cute baby animal on a chopping board was enough to turn my stomach and made me question why eating piglets felt abhorrent yet I could happily tuck into bacon for days. The film re-awoken the quandary in my brain.

The chicken we’d planned to have for dinner is out of date so it goes in the bin and we order pizza. I make a concession to meat free and go for tuna rather than the usual meat feast. It’s no less tasty.

Sunday – Cereal and toast for breakfast and I miss lunch as out for a 11 mile run with dog and Gary. For dinner we have cheese tortellini. No meat. Son kicks off and has some ham on his for a version of carbonara.  I’ve had my first intentional meat free day and feel OK.

Monday – 3 mile pre-work dog run, bagel and banana breakfast, with a Pot Noodle lunch as everything on the sandwich van today is meat based. Dinner was a spinach and ricotta cannelloni as rushing out to cinema. I didn’t think I like spinach. I was right. It goes in the bin (well dog). It’s not terrible but I’m simply not hungry enough to eat it which is probably a sign I over eat. The wife points out a dislike of vegetables may be an issue for an aspiring vegetarian. At the cinema I manage to avoid sweets and junk and have just a white filter coffee.

Tuesday – Banana breakfast after a 6 mile dog jog. Mid-morning cereal. Cheese on crumpet for lunch. Not hungry for dinner so have a slice of toast and peanut butter after supervising the daughters pumpkin carving and make a start on decorating.

img_4116Wednesday – 9 mile run in the hills, banana breakfast, apple for snack. Hunger builds and on the way between sites I call into a McDonalds as there’s little else around and I wonder what options they have in my new meat free lifestyle. I pick the veggie burger which has two chicken goujon looking fingers of breaded ‘stuff’. Seems to be vegetables and pesto and tastes pretty great. I’d even chose to eat this over a beef burger on occasion. Energy wanes over the afternoon of teleconferences so I have a chocolate bar. For dinner the kids have already eaten, wife gets stuck on a piss poor train system and eats on journey home. In between coats of emulsion I wolf down a tin of baked beans with grated cheese. Eating straight out the microwave just like a student.

Thursday – no runs planned for today just work and decorating. Breakfast apple and porridge. Lunch of egg mayo sandwich and crisps (athlete) as nothing much else on the food van and not organised a packed lunch. Wife and kids have popped to Ireland for a family party so I’m on my own until Sunday. Consequently I’m not sure I even had dinner as busy decorating and annoying the dog with 90s rap music until 1am (her favourite is Biggie Smalls and for a tangent she’s partial to House Of Pain).

Friday – It starts with vomit. It ends with vomit. Early morning 10k dog jog, after which Gary’s dog regurgitates his breakfast just by my car. Lovely start to the day! Apple and banana breakfast. So hungry at lunch I go for another McDonalds Veggie Burger.

img_4138What should be a quick pint with Redway Runners after the evening run turns into five. The dinner of veggie curry tastes great but is soon experienced again as I hug the toilet and wonder why I thought five pints before dinner was a good idea. Maybe meat is the secret to handling your beer? I’m also on close to 14 miles for the day which is probably another bad idea before a marathon.

Saturday – Wake up hungover. Throw clothes together and shove a buttered bagel down on way to the marathon. Feel like death all race. Wind and rain not ideal. Try a Kendal Mint Company gel which perks me up. Don’t normally get on with gels but the mint really cuts through the sweetness. Steady stream of Jaffa Cakes help as well. Manage to hold on for a 3h50m. My original plan had been more like 3h20 and lately anything over 3h30 is disappointing so a long way off what I’d like and the comfortable 3h24 at Chicago seems a long time ago.

img_4121I spent the whole race fantasising about a fry up breakfast. Realise I don’t know where is still serving breakfast and if they do a meat free option so grab a Domino’s pizza with onion and peppers on way home and share it with dog face as I can’t face cooking. I’m cold and hungry and need to get refuelled and into bed for an hour before more DIY replacing skirting boards.

img_4132In a déjà vu moment I’m out for the evening with mates I’ve known for over 30 years. As we lament old age in Brewdog over another five pints, I decide to soak it up with a really tasty veggie burger with sweet potato chips and coleslaw. Honestly would have this in preference to a beef burger although annoyingly it costs more. It’s very meaty in terms of taste and texture.


Sunday – The previous evening burger meant the drinks stayed down so I wake up better. Bagel and banana breakfast on route to marathon and I start at a steady pace. Initially feels great, and I have brief notions of running the most even paced 3h45 marathon in the history of the world. At around mile 10 my legs go dead and I basically trudge the rest of the way whilst shoving down Jaffa Cakes. Fortunately there are a fair few runners of similar pace so I have someone to focus on. I briefly chat to Paul off twitter who looks nothing like his profile photo and I struggle to place him. He goes on to drop me like a pumpkin on 1st November and get a PB. No fair.

img_4133My headphones go skitzy and keep turning the volume up or down, then skip tracks. It’s putting me off. Eventually I give up and nearly crap myself when an hour later the voice of Rob Deering from Running Commentary podcast randomly kicks in AT FULL VOLUME after endless silence.

Eventually the headphones go flat so I grab the spare set that annoyingly refuse to connect. With two laps to go I just need some music and I’m denied. I trudge in a 3h54, pleased to get under 4hr at least.

img_4134I treat my mum to a pub lunch (one that allows dog face to attend and beg scraps). The veggie options are limited so I end up with (another) veggie burger and salad. Also very tasty and topped with halloumi cheese. After some gardening at my mums it’s back home to walk the dog and wallpaper the lounge wall. Dinner is a sweet potato version of a Chicken Katsu Curry whilst I await return of the family. It’s pretty good as well. The chicken version is the boys favourite dinner so could be an easy swap out for me.

Overall – I’ve done 8 days of being vegetarian. Avoiding meat isn’t too bad. Mostly I’ve relied on ready meals or eating out as on my own for the weekend and fitting dinners around DIY and running. Need to focus on making some dinners up and adding more beans and good stuff. Also seen a lot of recommendations to incorporate potatoes. Maybe my usual sausage and egg McMuffin before a marathon should have been kept just without the sausage so I didn’t fall apart so much.

My meals have always been focused around the meat section, so simply cutting  that out and hoping to live off the foliage that comes with it was never going to work, hence why I’ve tried to find meat alternatives to transition over. One day I may tuck into a large salad with glee, for the time being I’d be wondering why it wasn’t in a wrap with some mayo and chicken/chicken alternative.

The marathon performances where both awful. Given the self-sabotaging of heavy drinking and DIY I can’t fully blame the outcome on the diet. I do need to get a handle on eating better though.

I still love cheese and milk so very unlikely to go vegan. Even hardened vegans admit the diary free cheese is at best ‘not as awful as expected’.

Upside – well I’ve not died. Also lost about 3kg which is handy but often do on a heavy mileage week anyway as I seldom hydrate as well as required.

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