‘Thrive’ Author Brendan Brazier’s First-Marathon Advice and Vegan Nutrition Tips

When it comes to taking on a challenge as big as training for your first marathon, you don’t want to go it alone.

My first marathon was anything but a success.  Sure, I finished the race (2002 Rock ‘n Roll San Diego), but I took so many missteps throughout the training—and even on race day—that it’s a joke.  To this day, I’m amazed that I had the determination to run a second marathon four years later, but I know why I did: I had to get it right.

So where did I go wrong with that first training?  How did I end up with a stress fracture in my shin, and instructions from the doctor not to run the race at all?

(In case you’re wondering, I did eventually get it right.  I ran that second marathon a whole hour faster, and eventually took over an hour and forty minutes off my first time. :))

The trouble started with the first step I took

And it’s probably the thing you did when you first thought about a marathon—I Googled “marathon training plan” and went with the first thing I found.

“How tough could this be for a fit college kid like me?” I thought.  “What more do I need to know than how far to run each day?”

Turns out, a lot.  For all I knew about nutrition for weightlifting, I didn’t have a clue about how to safely build up the endurance required for a marathon, and it was a huge mistake to think that a single chart would be everything I needed to know about training for it.

Marathon training with a vegetarian diet doesn’t have to be stressful

In training for your first marathon, you can save yourself a ton of worry, stress, and even physical pain by learning from people who have done it before.  And in your case, you want to learn from people who have figured out the best ways to make endurance training work with a vegetarian or vegan diet.

One of those people is Brendan Brazier, vegan former professional Ironman triathlete, author of Thrive: The Vegan Nutrition Guide to Optimal Performance in Sports and Life, and formulator of the Vega line of sports nutrition products.  Many vegetarians, myself included, look at Thrive as the vegan-sports-nutrition-bible, and the diet Brendan prescribes there as the benchmark of an optimal diet for energy.

An 11-minute sample of my interview with Brendan Brazier

As you probably know, I put together a vegetarian guide to your first marathon called the Marathon Roadmap.

But here’s the cool part: the program includes a series of interviews with some amazing vegan and vegetarian athletes, all of whom were once in that same position of staring down 26.2 miles for the first time.

These interviews focus specifically on advice for the first-time marathoner, or anyone who may have already run a marathon but wants to run their next one on a vegetarian or vegan diet.  And that’s what I mean by learning from people who have been there before.

To get you started, here’s an 11-minute sample from my interview with Brendan:

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

In addition to talking to Brendan, I had the pleasure of learning from these other amazing plant-based athletes, each of whom sat down for an interview to share their advice for first-time marathoners looking to do it without meat:

  • Rich Roll, the vegan Ultraman (that’s a double Ironman, spread over 3 days) and finisher of five Ironman triathlons in under a week.
  • Matt Ruscigno, a vegan Registered Dietitian who worked with Veganomicon author Isa Chandra Moscowitz on her latest cookbook, Appetite for Reduction, and three-time finisher of the Furnace Creek 508, a 508-mile solo bike race through Death Valley.
  • Scott Spitz, one of the world’s fastest vegan marathoners, who ran a PR of 2:25:55 at the Chicago Marathon (his first!).
  • Robyn Flores, a vegan ultrarunner who is attempting to set the American women’s 24-hour treadmill record, running 86 miles in her most recent attempt.
  • Ed Roshitsh, a vegetarian who will be running across the United States starting in March, averaging 50 miles a day for 50 to 60 days.

Click here to learn more about the Marathon Roadmap.

Enjoy the interview clip with Brendan, or check out the related posts below to read some other interviews I’ve done with him!



Dig this post?
Spread the word!

Keep in touch:

Everything that Might Be Missing from Your Plant-Based Diet (and Nothing Else!)

complementI believe that plant-based is the healthiest way you can eat -- both for how you feel and perform in the short term, and for long-term health. But there are a few nutrients that are hard to get from plants, and I didn't want to take a whole multivitamin with so much extra that I'm already getting from my food. That's why I created Complement Plus, the perfect nutrient formula for plant-based athletes.

Complement Plus brings together, in one place, the essential nutrients that are missing from a reasonably diverse, whole food plant-based diet:
  • B12
  • D3
  • DHA/EPA Omega-3s
  • K2
  • Minerals like zinc, iodine, and selenium
It's everything that might be missing from your plant-based diet, with nothing extra. Click here to learn more.


  1. Awesome. Excited for you man!

  2. Jon Weisblatt says:

    Hey Matt,
    will your book be focused on plant based diet or will dairy and fish be involved. I’m going to run another marathon in the coming year and it will be my first(hopefully anyway) on a primarily plant based diet. (Last year’s did incorporate quite a bit if fish and dairy). Thanks for all you’re doing with this website. I’ve been hooked for a while, checking it almost every day.

    • Jon, the diet I describe in the book is entirely plant-based, but with a focus on food that isn’t too out of the ordinary and is accessible to people who are new to it. Obviously you could adapt it to include fish, but since that’s not part of a vegetarian diet, it’s not included in the book.

      And thanks for reading and your comments about the site!

  3. Thanks for the information. I’m looking forward to hearing Brendan Brazier talk at an event in Florida here in a few weeks.

    Also, I’ve had the pleasure of working with Ed Roshitsh throughout his journey training for his Run Across America. I helping him link up with running groups along his route.

    If you are interested in running with Ed for a few miles or having him talk with your running group during his journey – please contact me at eatlivebewell@gmail.com.

    Be well,

    • Hey Carolyn, thanks for your comment. I didn’t realize you had been working with Ed. He’s great! I’ve actually been talking to him a little bit about that, trying to do one of the legs with him as a training run for my 100-miler. I’m not sure if it’ll work out, but I’m still looking at the calendar to see if it will.

  4. Awesome, Matt! Although I haven’t had the courage to actually go veg yet, since I started reading almost a year ago, you’ve certainly made me veg-curious. I’m excited to hear more about the program.

    On a side note, do you ever get nervous talking to all these high-profile running types? I don’t know if I’d be able to form a single coherent thought. 😉

    • Hey Tim, thanks a lot! Glad to hear you’re interested in trying a veggie diet, or something close to one. I suppose that’s the point of the site!

      To answer your question, yes I do get nervous when talking to these people, because I’m pretty shy about that sort of thing, especially knowing it’s being recorded. But the more I do it, the easier it gets. And I’ve talked to Brendan enough times now that it’s like talking to someone I know. Now, if I ever start talking to Hollywood actresses, then I might have a problem. 🙂

  5. Hey Matt, I’ve been following NMA for a while and think it’s really great! I am still a newbie runner (my longest run so far was 4.5 miles) but there will be a marathon somewhere in my future -I know…think ‘Awaken the Giant’ and make the decision/commit 😉 . Your new book/program may just be exactly what I am looking for 🙂 I am excited to learn more about it…the interview with BB is such a teaser…
    Sorry if I am not making much sense here; just wanted to say hi and thank you for putting so much work and effort into NMA!

  6. Matt, good luck training for your 100 mile race!

    Thanks for sharing your vegetarian nutrition tips! I’ve been ultra running for about 4 years, but last year I began experimenting with a vegetarian diet. Last year my diet was mostly plant based, and I had many PRs. This year I plan on becoming stricter in my diet, and hopefully this will carry over to my race results.

    Thanks again for the tips!

    – Sean

  7. Looking forward to the new ebook! It sounds like a lot of work. I’m doing my first marathon on May 1st. I liked Brendan’s idea about thinking of the the distance in quarters… good advice.

Leave a Comment