Article / Photo by Jiang Yanjun 蔣燕駿
Jiang Yanjun is a biological vaccine factory worker, who was born in the 80s in Nanning, Guangxi, He practices a fruit-based diet and long-distance running on a daily basis. He often participates in marathons and trail running races. Having suffered from allergic rhinitis and asthma for more than 20 years, he managed to turn his health around using a low-fat vegan diet.
Many people have misconceptions about a vegetarian diet, feeling that it may lack in nutrition and thus be ineffectual in building endurance or explosive power. I myself adopt a vegan diet and do lots of exercise, including running. My amount of running, speed, medical reports and overall feelings have been very good so far. I will keep this lifestyle. Now let me share how my plant-based diet is helpful to my exercise.
I began my vegetarian diet in November 2011. Later, it took me three months to transition from a vegetarian to a vegan diet. Then I began a slow transition from vegan to a fruit-based diet in May 2015. The article "A Step-by-Step Approach to Transitioning to a Raw Food and Fruitarian Diet" helped my transition. The article views a raw and fruitarian diet from a different perspective that really interested me and I started to slowly adopt a fruitarian diet.
I had no model to follow and had to find my own way and I made many mistakes during the process. At first, I ate only one apple and one orange for a meal and felt very comfortable and light. But after a while, my hair was falling out and I often felt tired. I had many random bruises that took a long time to go away. It was because I did not pay attention to my calorie intake. I was anxious at that time, and then I did some research through various websites, QQ groups, WeChat groups, etc. Finally, I understood how important it is to have adequate calorie intake.
Later, I slowly increased my daily consumption of fruits. Many problems just went away. Now fruits provide 90% of my calorie intake, and my strength and energy levels have improved a lot.
I used to eat cooked food for lunch and felt sleepy sometimes without a break at noon.
However, after I switched to a vegan diet, I don’t feel sleepy in the afternoon anymore.
My breakfast includes fruits that are juicy, rich in vitamin C, anthocyanidins, and omega 3, such as apples, oranges, longan, kiwifruits, dragon fruits, mangos etc. These provide sufficient calories. I feel refreshed immediately after eating them.
My lunch includes mostly fruits high in calories. Bananas are a very efficient choice, one of the few fruits relatively rich in a range of nutrients perfect for athletes and sports lovers. I sometimes eat durians, especially at those times of the year when they are cheap.
Late in the afternoon, after work, I'll eat some high-calorie and high-carb fruits as snacks to keep my calorie intake up.
Next comes my dinner, which includes cooked food like various vegetables, tofu and grains. I ensure I get sufficient calories at night. To help digest the cooked food and sleep better at night, I don’t do intensive exercise after dinner.
My daily calorie intake is about 3000 kilocalories according to one health application.
I would like to talk about my exercise program now. I've always enjoyed working out, but not in an organized way. A year after starting the fruit-based diet, I chose to run, as I felt energetic and wondered about how far a fruit-based diet would take me. Running is a sport that combines personal endurance and strength. My first race was a half marathon in the mountains.
After that, I started to take part in trail running races of 50 km or more and full marathons where I managed an average running pace of no more than 5:50. I have been running for 3 years now and my amount of running has been increasing. I completed 3,105 kilometers in 2019 with an average pace of 5:45. This is thanks to my fruit-based diet that allows my body to recover faster, and also thanks to my organized training.
It is inspiring to see the training plan of Yuki Kawauchi, who is known as "Japan's strongest civil servant" amateur marathon runner. His coach does not ask him to do high-intensity running training like other athletes, but only asks him to do two focused training sessions a week. The rest of the time is spent on recovery training so that the muscle tissues can have enough time to recover.
It's a very scientific way of thinking. High intensity training on a daily basis does not allow the muscles to fully recover and can easily lead to overexertion of mitochondria in the muscle cells, which will cause fatigue or injuries. It is not worth it to get hurt that way.
Of course, as runners, we must do some strength training that will help our capacity to run, instead of just running.
Strength training not only makes us stronger, but also prevents injuries to the knees. So besides running, I do some strength training favourable for runners. Here are some examples:
1.Standard deep squat - Squat until it your thighs are parallel to the ground. Note that the knees do not go over the toes. Keep your chest out and abdomen in. Use thigh and hip muscles as sources of power.
2.Advanced burpee jump --- Do push-ups with bobby jumps. They will build your leg muscles, as well as chest and arm muscles.
3.Pushup and high knees- These strengthen the core and hips.
4. Hip thrust - They can effectively build the hip and thigh muscles, which are essential for runners.
These are just some tips on raw vegan diet and running. I will continue to improve my vegan diet, using data from science combined with personal intuition to make my fruitarian life more scientific and realize my ideal lifestyle gradually.