Naomi is a runner who has rapidly improved to become a nationally recognised force over 5k up to marathon distance.
Enjoying competition on a regular basis, she had a pre-COVID lockdown half marathon personal best of 1:15:19. this was from March 2020 and she’s since improved on it. She’s also excelled over 10 km with a time of 34:17 from a road event in February 2020. This has also beaten in lockdown. Quick over a relative sprint, Naomi recorded a blistering 16:18 over 5 km.
- Third British woman in 2019 Frankfurt Marathon
- Second Brit at London Marathon 2020
- Impressive times over half marathon, 10 km and 5 km
Naomi was the third British woman in the 2019 Frankfurt Marathon with a time of 2:37:51. She was one second faster in the British Olympic Marathon trials in March 2021, although her highlight was a different marathon.
“Finishing as second Brit at the 2020 London Marathon in 2:33:23 was definitely one of my best and favourite achievements in running” she told Great Vegan Athletes. “I was so grateful to get to race during a year of lockdowns and was also pleased to PB in some tough weather conditions.” The time remains her marathon personal best – for now.
In 2020 she ran a European and Commonwealth qualifying time in Manchester (more here).
Naomi turned vegan in 2015. It was a decision her and her husband made shortly after getting married.
“My husband was learning more about the ethical and environmental benefits of veganism and so it was a decision we made together.”
“I had decided to run my first marathon in April 2016. As someone who didn’t buy or eat a lot of meat, I was interested in how best to balance my nutrition to allow for adequate recovery during my training.
“At the same time my husband was learning more about the ethical and environmental benefits of veganism and so it was a decision we made together. We pretty much started trying a vegan diet overnight. It was tough at first to know what to cook and what to buy, but within about two months it was very natural.”
Food now plays a key role in refuelling Naomi through her demanding training schedule and enabling recovery.
Key components include “beetroot, spinach, nutritional yeast, hummus, marmite, chickpeas and peanut butter!”
It seems to work! Naomi’s schedule includes running around twelve times per week.
“About 70% of my time is spent on easier miles and the remainder will be a speed session, a threshold session and a long run with marathon pace included.
“I also will do two strength and conditioning sessions and 1-2 additional core sessions in the week. Prior to my marathon block I work more on speed and strength, running a few less miles but with more time running on the track and running hills.”
It’s a programme of training and fuelling which has seen her speed soar to current levels. Unsurprisingly she has the full support of her coach and team.
“I started working with a new coach about two years ago” she says.”Although they may have had some questions around it, they saw I was training well and recovering effectively which was the important thing for them.
“Now a fair few of the athletes I train with are embracing more plant based eating as they see the benefits for the environment and in their own training. Over the last six years I have seen a shift from scepticism over a vegan diet to many runners embracing it.”
More to come
Current times leave Naomi as one of the fastest marathon runners currently active in Britain. She has plans to take them even further.
“I am hoping to run under 2:30 in the next year and target some of the championship races coming up in 2022 and beyond” she says.
Vegan food will be part of the plan, and Naomi has advice for anyone wanting to learn from her experience.
“My top tip is to cook from scratch as much as possible and learn about what is going in to your meals. I was never much of a chef before I turned vegan but have learnt so much from trying new things and putting in the time with research and practice. It makes vegan eating exciting and helps me fuel appropriately for training.”
We’ll be watching Naomi’s progress with interest as she takes on new challenges and continues to push the boundaries.
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Alberto Pelaez Serrano
Vegan cyclist, fighter, runner