I only found out about Doug a few weeks ago when life’s co-incidental circumstances led me to connecting with his beautiful sister who is based on the Sunshine Coast. And once I read about Doug I was blown away. Doug is a wonderful example of someone who has overcome adversity and gone on to achieve what was thought to be impossible. I am a big fan of his You Tube Channel and have recently subscribed so I can follow all his upcoming adventures (think running a marathon through the Namib desert one day, then running a marathon on a frozen river in Mongolia!!) Doug is based in Melbourne but I really hope I get to meet him one day as I am sure we will have a lot to talk about.
How long have you been vegan?
Over 3 years as a vegetarian with an on/off approach to a vegan lifestyle for over 2 years that continually progresses toward a totally plant based diet free of animal products and refined sugar.
What made you decide to become vegan?
Initially I became vegetarian for health reasons which opened the door to a new way of looking at food which led to a more compassionate view toward animals and ultimately the exploration of a vegan lifestyle.
What differences have you noticed with your training or lifestyle?
It’s amazing how much food impacts my overall mood and ability to perform at a high athletic level. My training and performance show how effective my diet is and when I introduce foods containing animal products my performance drops off noticeably along with my overall wellbeing.
Tell us about your chosen sport and training. What does it involve?
I’m an endurance runner that competes in some of the toughest marathon events in the world. It takes me to really challenging environments like Antarctica, The North Pole, arid deserts and glaciers.
How often do you train?
6 solid sessions per week involving 100+k of running and around 25 hours of strength/core training done through methods of yoga etc
Tell us about some of your achievements to date?
In 2013 I was diagnosed with a life threatening brain tumour that required a risky 13 hour operation that nearly cost my life. Subsequently I suffered extensive cranial nerve damage with life long complications like Single Sided Deafness and loss of my right side balance functions which required me to learn to walk again. I left hospital in a wheelchair with doctors advising a 12-18 month recovery period and that “I’d never be the same. ”I took recovery on with a big factor being a vegan diet. As a result just over 12 months post surgery I became the first person to complete a competitive marathon on each continent in under 7 days. A feat recognised by Guinness World Records as “Fastest time to complete a marathon on each continent (male).” I was amazed how effective the dietary change was and evolved it which led to more success competing in marathon/ultra marathons around the world achieving good results in events like the North Pole marathon, Volcano Marathon and recently winning the Victorian Trailsplus Garmin 50k Mountain Series (3 races).
How do family and friends react to your vegan lifestyle?
They’re great. A few family members follow a vegan style diet along with some friends. We are seeing a big shift toward this kind of diet as it supports our health & wellbeing and is more sustainable for the environment. Whenever we go out for dinner etc with friends we always go places with vegan options.
How do you promote your vegan lifestyle?
I don’t often talk about it or try promoting it through social media etc. The word vegan can lead to conversations of a diet that’s weird and reserved for hippies so I don’t call myself a vegan. I focus on eating the most healthy food available to me which has been provided by mother nature for millions of years. If someone asks about my diet I tell them organic plants sourced from local farmers markets seem to work best for my health. If they’re intrigued and want to know more I offer advice based on my experiences.
What do you eat in a typical day?
Morning is a veggie/fruit smoothie consisting of dark leafy greens with assorted veggies like capsicum, cucumber, beets and a variety of seasonal fruits which at the moment is oranges, lemons, mandarins and topped off with frozen ginger & berries, cinnamon and Planticious Alkaline Balance Super Greens for an added boost. This smoothie alone provides enough nutrients for my day. Post training I have a recovery smoothie of bananas, Planticious plant powered protein blend and more frozen berries mixed with nuts and almond milk. Lunch is often grains like quinoa or brown rice with some kind of vegetables either stir fried or roasted with beans or legumes thrown in. Dinner is much the same as lunch but trying to keep the serving sizes smaller to allow time to digest before bed.
What is your favourite food or recipe?
I am really enjoying a simple dish lately of quinoa with roasted vegetables. Once the quinoa is cooked and veggies roasted I throw it all in a wok and cook it in coconut oil then season it with salt, pepper and lemon juice. It’s simple but delicious, filling and an awesome source of nutrients.
Do you take any supplements?
No oral supplements but once a week I have a magnesium chloride bath to help with muscle recovery and energy levels.
What advice would you give to people thinking of going vegan?
Definitely give it a go and don’t be discouraged if it doesn’t take first time round. Diet is a lifestyle choice that requires constant effort to change. Start slow and gradually add seasonal fruits, veggies, seeds, grains etc while removing processed foods and animal products. Take time to learn new dishes starting with one a week and go from there.
What events or other exciting things do you have planned in the next 12 months?
Training hard for the 6 foot track, a 45k Trail Ultra Marathon in the Blue Mountains. I’m also working on setting up two new marathon events.. One during Africa’s summer on the western coast in the Namib Desert with a follow up race a few days later on a frozen river in Mongolia. We go from 40+C to -40C offering the biggest temperature shift for a marathon double in the world.
What do you do outside of your sport/training for fun?
I teach yoga & meditation which have been huge factors in my recovery. I really enjoy photography/videography and am working with some great people to make cool content for our social media channels. Recently my Mum and I did a run through the Namib Desert, Africa and we are putting together a mini documentary of the challenges we faced. https://www.youtube.com/c/KundaliniRunning
Who are your biggest motivators in life?
I find motivation in many ways. Recently the Olympics have been a great source of motivation. Watching so many people perform at the top of their game after a life time of dedication is really inspiring to me. One of my biggest inspirations toward a vegan lifestyle is Scott Jurek; one of the worlds best ultra runners who runs 100mile races at altitude powered by plants. The guy’s a legend.
Is there anything else that you’d like to add?
Just to encourage anyone to not be afraid to try something new. I spent most my life living in the comfort of familiarity and it took a near death experience to take me away from things I knew weren’t good for me.
If you would like to connect with Doug and find out more about his amazing adventures coming up, head on over to his social media channels. I really recommend you check at his You Tube channel-I’ve been doing some of the yoga videos and have been really enjoying them.
Thank you so much Doug. Keep an eye out on the blog every Fitness Friday for more vegan athletes.