Lisa Gawthorne, vegan duathlon competitor
International Duathlon competitor and fan of vegan sweets
Lisa is established as an active multisport athlete, representing Team GB in Duathlon and competing for European and World honours.
In 2017 Lisa qualified for the European Duathlon Championships for her age group, marking an achievement that she did not think she would beat. Finishing 16th in the female 35-39 category in difficult cold conditions, Lisa later did beat the experience by qualifying for the World Duathlon Championships. She finished 10th in the world and was 3rd British athlete in her age group.
“The European Championships were pretty painful as it was held in Northern Spain in Soria, the weather was very cold and I was carrying a few injuries so it was quite tough” Lisa explained. “The World Championships however were held somewhere a lot warmer in British Columbia – Penticton in Canada where I was running and cycling around lakes, forests and mountains with the most stunning wildlife so that was pretty perfect and will always hold a special place in my heart for that reason.”
Lisa’s Duathlon races consist of a 5km run and 20km cycling before returning to running with a 2.5km section. It requires both speed and endurance, which has required dedicated training and a supportive diet.
Lisa turned vegetarian aged 6 and vegan at age 21.
“I am a huge animal lover and that was originally my reason for going veggie at the young age of six as I remember reading a leaflet that came through the door about farming and battery farming and even at that young age, I made the connection that meat was actually of animal origin and felt it was wrong to carry on eating any meat for that reason.
“Going vegan was definitely something I was working towards as I was veggie for many years and wanted to cut out the dairy, but I felt I had to wait for a time when there were adequate alternatives in the market place. It’s so much easier being vegan today than 15 years ago.”
Travelling for holidays, business and competition provides challenges, but nothing that she can’t prepare for.
“I make sure no matter where I am travelling whether it’s on business in and around Europe or further afield on holiday or racing in a sports competition, I just make sure I prep all my food supplies before I go on the off chance I won’t be able to find decent food choices when I am away. Of late, I am bringing back quite a lot as there are definitely more places to eat out now all around that world that are catering for plant based diets so that really helps when being away from home.”
Lisa’s work is in the food industry, marketing confectionery brands including some well- known vegan names.
“I also have a sweet tooth and love to try new vegan sweets, cakes, cookies and anything that is peanut butter flavoured! I also have a very soft spot for crisps especially Hippeas the chickpea based crisps, they are too delicious! I am lucky that I have a job that mixes well with my diet choice as we distribute some fantastic confectionery brands that are vegan friendly that I love – including Panda liquorice, Freedom Mallows and Free From Fellows sweets. I am a big believer that you can still enjoy treats in moderation and believe it’s important not to deny yourself that treat here or there.”
“I also love seitan, tofu, some of the new Quorn vegan products, Dees wholefoods vegan sausages, nuts, seeds and pulses as my staple foods. I add loads of veggies to most meals and tend to keep things fairly functional and green – broccoli, kale and spinach are my three go to green options. In addition to this, I love quinoa, spelt and teff grain as my carb sources.”
With standards improving and some world class times to her name, unsurprisingly Lisa hasn’t experienced any concerns from coaches.
“I really think that the increasing amount of professional athletes that are going vegan have proved to the wider world that is shouldn’t be thought of as a handicap instead it can be quite the opposite – it really can deliver benefits and advantages that will help people soar above their goals and objectives in sport.”
She has had a common question from people still mistakenly concerned about protein but in training, there are no concerns.
Education in 60 minutes
Lisa has also taken on an education role on veganism as she writes for health and fitness magazines on veganism, particularly when they’re considering the sports angle. She’s also written ‘Gone in 60 minutes’, a book which covers diet, fitness, supplements and motivation, with the whole book readable in 60 minutes.
“I decided to write the book as I have a lot of people asking for advice on these four areas” she explains.
Lisa’s diet fuels a demanding schedule of training that covers both the cycling and the running areas of her discipline as well as building strength.
“I aim for two running interval sessions weekly to build speed and also a longer, slower recovery session to build endurance. I aim for three tough cycling sessions during the week usually every other day to let me recover in between days and those sessions are designed to focus on improving speed, strength and overall power on the bike.”
Weights sessions are usually taken three times per week and based on those in her book ‘Gone in 60 Minutes’.
Understandably, finishing tenth in the world is a memorable highlight for Lisa but not the only one.
“I ran the New York Hyde Park 5k a couple of years ago and finished 2nd in that and earlier this year  I ran the Red Rock Canyon 5k in Nevada whilst out holidaying in Vegas. I didn’t just secure a 1st lady home place, I beat all the men and won the whole race as overall winner and my boyfriend was there to watch it all and captured the special moments on camera so that was extremely special. I stayed at the Wynn in Vegas as every restaurant in that hotel has a full vegan menu so it’s perfect for any vegans on vacation in Vegas!”
Talking to Lisa, it seems that there may even be greater highlights to come. “I am looking forward to training further across the running and biking disciples to improve my duathlon times – which keep getting faster and faster. In addition to that, as I have come from a classic running background I would like to continue to do well in the running distances that support and help improve my duathlon performances and they tend include 5ks and anything below that in distance. Generally, I just want to continue to inspire others in sport, fitness and business and let them see the many benefits you can attain from opting for a plant based diet.”
Lisa’s book has enabled her to do this. “Since writing the book, I have heard from people all over the world who have used it as a springboard to clean up their diets, look at vegan options, get their heads around supplements, make big changes to their workouts and implement easy motivational techniques” she tells us.