Rachel Niehuus is a member of the Impala Racing Team in San Francisco, a grad student, and Olympic Trials qualifier. Niehuus shares what life is like for a vegetarian runner, how she got into running, and what has kept her running despite numerous setbacks. Runners Feed: Take us through a typical day of your life
Rachel Niehuus: Wake up at 5:30. Walk the dog. Run with teammates 6-8 am. Three times a week this is a speed/distance workout. Otherwise, it’s just a fun run. Go to work. Three to four days a week, I do another physical activity in the evening (yoga, swimming, second run). I’m usually in bed around 11. I don’t sleep too much except for the week before a big race, when I am vigilant about getting 8 hours a night. I’m a vegetarian, but have no problems with getting enough protein (cheese, beans, almonds, etc.) or iron (lots of green things). I find that the fewer sweets I eat, the less I crave them. I drink alcohol socially, but rarely have more than a glass or two of wine. I meditate often, and this is a big part of my race-day preparation.
RF: Do you work full or part-time while training? If so, what do you do? If not, what has kept you afloat while you pursue your dream?
RN: I’m a grad student, so my days are flexible. However, that also means that I work a lot. I usually work on Saturdays and Sundays after my long runs. One day, I’d love to work part-time and run, but that’s probably a long way off. Financially, I’m supported by a government fellowship. Emotionally, I’m supported by my family, friends, and teammates. I run for the Impala Racing Team in San Francisco, which is an absolutely awesome group of ladies.
RF: Who introduced you to the sport of running? And what about running do you think has kept you coming back for more?
RN: I started running my senior year of high school. I never thought I could be fast, but I won my first cross-country meet and have been hooked on the sport since. I’ve definitely had my physical set-backs (torn plantar fascia in college, stress fractures, etc.), and there have been times when I don’t have motivation to run (when my father passed away, when I’m in Congo for my dissertation research), but one of the reasons that running is such an awesome sport is because it’s always there–all one needs is a pair of shoes, and one can run!! For me, running is rejuvenating, and the friends that I’ve made through running are among the best people I know.
RF: Sock or no socks?
RN: Definitely socks. Nike running socks, to be exact. (Disclaimer: our team is sponsored by Nike.)
RF: Breakfast the day of the race?
RN: Definitely breakfast. A bagel with peanut butter + oatmeal.