Interview met Veganist/Hardloper Jan Albert Veenema

Een Duitse kennis van Jan Albert (zanger van een hardcoreband/mede-veganist en triatleet) heeft een interview hem gedaan (in het Engels) waarin een beeld wordt geschetst van zijn leven als Veganist en hardloper.

Interview with the dutch vegan runner Jan Albert Veenema

Jan Albert and me got into contact through a dutch hardcore messageboard I used to promote my blog and he reads occasionally. We sort of knew each other through HC shows and just found out we got a common passion and the only inspiring, almost cruelty-free lifestyle. So i wanted to interview him since he’s such a good runner and might also inspire you. He definitely has inspired me, since I might try some of his track intervall trainings and e’ll be running a race together soon!
Interview with Jan Albert Veenema, questions by Björn Esser
How long have you been vegan?
I have been vegan for about 15 years now. Before that I’ve been vegetarian for a year, but in that time I started reading a lot about veganism and concluded that I wasn’t consistent enough. Also listening to bands like Earth Crisis and reading books like Animal Liberation and Diet for a New America contributed to my beliefs.
I actually became vegetarian through an ex girlfriend who turned vegetarian during our relationship, so I kinda got used to it and started eating more meat-free myself. The actual point for me to turn vegan was made by a friend of mine who stayed at my house for a couple of days and taught me how easy it was to cook vegan. From that point on I basically never ate animal products again. I can still remember the first time I said no to cheese: on my fathers birthday a bowl with snacks was presented to me and I said no. That was the also the first time I had to explain to my family what veganism stands for, and a lot of explaining is still necessary.
Me turning vegan kinda went together with me becoming straight edge. The only thing I did (a lot) was smoking weed and after watching a dutch documentary about animal liberation (Zembla- brandende dierenliefde, in english: burning love for animals) I decided it was enough and stopped my addiction because I thought there was something that needed my attention and that couldn’t be done while sitting stoned on a couch.
I’m not straight edge anymore, I’m occasionally enjoying a beer but I still respect and honor the values. I just can’t understand why “sell-outs” start drinking like crazy once they drop the edge. For me it stops when the alcohol takes over my concentration or control. I want to keep control over my mind and body and not want a substance to take over.
vegan back
When did you start with sports. what is you sports biography, so to say?
In my younger days I played a little soccer, but never played a game. It was because my friends went doing it so I had to do it as well. When I quit I’ve always continued playing soccer in the streets for fun though.
Later on I went on rescue swimming which included grips to get drowning persons out of the water, swimming with clothes on, swimming underwater and also diving to the bottom of the pool to collect rubber mats or a big plastic lifesize puppet.
I always enjoyed the gym classes at school but never took any action to go on another sport. My parents never pushed me to join a sport, but nowadays they’re the most loyal supporters ever!
When I was about 23 years old I occasionally went to a fitness centre but quickly figured pumping weights was not for me. I enjoyed the cardio stuff way better, and did a coopertest (12 min run) on the treadmill. I forgot about the distance I ran by the way. Two colleagues of mine did a 7km run twice a week and they asked me to join them and it went really well. After doing that for a couple of weeks another colleague told me about an organised 10km run in my hometown and I ran 41 minutes, on my Air max shoes, so a pretty fast time. Based on that he began writing schedules for me and then everyting went pretty quick. Still I didn’t really know what I was doing which resulted in running a marathon half a year after that first 10km race, a crazy thing to do especially since I didn’t run any more than 20km in training but still completed it in 3.40.
Totally wasted afterwards but found enough energy to go to a Napalm Death show in the evening.
After about 2-3 years of unguided training I joined the local athletic club where I started doing intervals twice a week, and from then on things went even faster.
So it’s been 13 years now and I don’t think I’ll ever stop running. An advantage I have is that my girlfriend is also a runner (I infected her with the virus) and if you can share such a passion it’s so great you can do it together.
snowrunning
Have you been active in the animal rights movement or in hardcore (the common bond we know each other through)?
When I went vegan I did a lot of flyering, did some distro for Animal Truth (Cindy Frey’s foundation) and the dutch vegan society, and ofcourse immediately joined organisations like Peta, both the dutch and british vegan society and also the dutch vegetarian society.
Sometimes I went out at night spraypainting “meat is murder” here and there but never got involved in any “real” criminal activities. I must admit that I used to be more extreme and outgoing, but I will never give up veganism and never avoid discussions.
Maybe it sounds strange if I tell you that I grew up as a metalkid, and am totally into black metal. But gradually discovered lotsa other styles which I loved as well such as grunge, hiphop and hardcore.
The hardcore “scene” is where I feel at home. The people, the shows, the ideals (although they doesn’t seem to be as important as back in the days) and ofcourse the music is what attracts me.
I also go to metalshows because I want to see my favorite bands on stage but I like the atmosphere at HC shows way better.
As far as the HC activism concerns I did a magazine once (in the year 2000, it was called Truce and had interviews with Shockwave, Spirit 84, actually the first Heaven Shall Burn interview and more). Never been in a band but a very regular visitor of shows and buyer of records.
running
What is your week like? How much, what, when and how long do you train?
That depends on where I’m training for but mostly I’m doing 5 sessions a week, divided in 2 track sessions, a short (8-15km) and long distance run (>20km) and a race or forest/hill training.
The average kilometrage ranges from 60-100km and sometimes even more.
It takes a lot of my time but that’s what hobbies or passions do and I couldn’t imagine living without running.
Here’s a recent week from my log:
mo 12km 58min
tu   track training 6x1000m in 3.35 with 400m recoverytime after each one. Also long warming up with stretching, groundwork (core-stability, push ups and sit ups) and running technique. Total 16km, 2 hrs. I always run to the track and back home which is 3,5km one way.
th  track training 3 series of 400m-300m-200m-100m in 75sec-56sec-37sec-18sec. After each tempo 200m pause and in between series 400m. Again long warming up. Total 15km, 2hrs.
sat  10km race personel best time 33.27, 8th place overall. Total 16km
sun  32 km long run for marathon. 2hrs 20min.
So that’s a weektotal of 91km divided into 5 sessions.
racesupport
What do you usually eat or what is integral part of your nutrition? Any “secrets” you now want to share?
I’m a pretty conventional eater so to say. Lotsa potatoes, pasta, chinese noodles, curry’s, beans and so on. Anything rich in carbohydrates is good. Also any kind of vegetables suits me fine and I try to eat carrots, spinach, sprouts and so on for the necessary nutrition.
I’m convinced that a vegan diet can replace a meat/dairy based one without a problem, as long as you eat healthy and varied. And if you compare the diet of any pro athlete with ours there are way more similarities than differences so that means we’re on the right track!
I’m taking some B12 vitamins on an irregular basis, but I’ve never experienced any sufficiency of any kind and also a sport test didn’t conclude in a shortage of anything. I think my body adapted to eating vegan and sporting so much.
The day before a race I always eat pasta, maybe that’s a mental thing but it never proved me wrong. During long runs or races I take gels, any brand will do, but lately the SiS ones are favorite here. Also their sportsdrink is very nice.
After racing my stomach can’t take too much sweet drinks or food, I’ve experienced some breakdowns after finishing, once even resulting in first aid help. So I wait until my body is kinda calm again before refilling my energy.
Being not straight edge anymore I really can enjoy a nice Belgian beer, but no more than two, because I just can’t handle it.
What are your personal bests so far?
3000m track 9.33
5km 16.33 (during 10km race)
10km 33.27
15km 52.37
21.1km (half marathon) 1.14.36
30km 1.52.58
42,2km (full marathon) 2.49.28
50km 3.45.27
60km 4.58.25
What are your expectations and goals for 2012?
My main focus in the first half of this year will be the “Slachte marathon” overhere in Friesland which is organised only once every 4 year and runs from point to point. It goes over an old in-land dyke and includes a few miles off road and two steep bridges. I’m training for a time sub 2.45 or even 2.40. But that also depends on the weather since it runs from east to west and if you have 42kms of headwind it gets difficult.
I have to say my preparation is going very well, since I ran personal best times on the 10km and half marathon lately so the main thing is to stay healthy, sharp and be in the best shape on june 16th!
This fall I’ll probably be running another marathon and the 50km race in Winschoten as preparation for that. Next year I’ll be starting for the second time in the “60 van Texel”, a 60km race on the island of Texel and heavy as fuck! Last year I made my ultra debut in this race and it was one hell of a debut. The hottest easter weekend in 100 years and I decided to run 60km!
The course included about 12km of sand/beach, dunes, forest and endless-looking roads with constantly the burning sun on your head. The goal was to run 4.30 pace but after 5km when we reached the beach we had to let go of that schedule. Finishing was the most important thing and I managed to just finish sub 5 hours.
The training for it went great. I prepared with a friend and together we did a lot of training including a 4 hour beach run and a trainingweekend in which we ran the whole course in 2 days, so 30km on saturday and 30km on sunday.
The only thing you don’t have control over is the weather so hopefully next year it is on our side!
What sponsors do you have and do they also know about your vegan way of life or even support this?
I’ve been lucky enough to get sponsored for my shoes and clothing by Running Center Leeuwarden, a specialized running store, together with Mizuno sportswear. For an almost symbolic low amount of money I get 3 pairs of shoes and a complete outfit every year and lots of discount when I need accessories or sportdrinks. The sponsorship gradually grew since I was a regular customer and running pretty much upfront in races so they decided to sponsor me which ofcourse I couldn’t refuse!
They are aware of my veganism but are neither judging nor supporting it. Thing is that if they didn’t met me they wouldn’t know any vegan, and same counts for my family and colleagues.
At least I’m creating some awareness.
Final words?
Go vegan and keep on running!

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