Tim VanOrden - Running
Hometown: Bennington, VT
Current Residence: Venice, CA
Sport(s): Mountain Running, Track and Field, Stair Climbing/Tower Racing, Marathon
Pro/Elite since: 2006
Date of Birth: 5/3/68
Favorite fruit: Banana/Kiwi
Favorite veggie: Romaine Lettuce
Hobbies/Other sports: Outdoor Photography, XC Skiing, Inline Skating
1. When and why did you choose to stop eating animal products?
I switched to a vegan lifestyle in 1998. At the time, I was an actor in Los Angeles and was concerned with keeping the signs of aging at bay. Since that time, I have experienced a complete physical and emotional transformation. I could now cite numerous reasons for choosing this lifestyle, such as animal cruelty, health, environmental impact, and most recently, improved athletic performance.
My transformation took another leap forward in 2004 when I became a raw vegan, excluding all cooked and processed foods. This choice was motivated by a desire to improve my health, but the impact has been all encompassing. The vitality and energy that I now experience are remarkable, I feel like I'm twenty years old again.
2. What has been your experience as a vegan athlete? Have you noticed any performance or health benefits or problems?
Moving to a raw vegan diet was the best choice I've ever made as an athlete. My endurance has dramatically improved, and I recover from hard training and races in less than half the time. Iâ€™ve had to stop doing upper body workouts at the gym, because I now build muscle too quickly, which slows me down as a runner. My asthma is gone and I'm no longer troubled by joint pain.
3. Have teammates and other athletes been supportive or critical?
Initially other athletes were critical, but seeing my rapid improvement has made them very curious. Now I get frequent inquiries about what â€œpower foodsâ€ to eat during training and racing. I tell them that it's not what you eat but rather what you DON'T eat that makes all the difference.
4. A brief history of your athletic career.
It seemed as though my dreams of athletic glory as a runner and cross country skier had come to an end in 1989. Chronic knee and ankle pain, caused by numerous injuries, coupled with a severe case of exercise induced asthma, finally got the better of me. Over the next several years, I made a few attempts at training, but would quickly succumb to my injuries and asthma. In the mid 90â€™s I finally gave up any hopes of ever competing again, and sadly, of ever being in any kind of shape again.
It wasn't until November 3rd of 2005, my one year anniversary of becoming a raw vegan, that I decided to give it one more try. During the course of that year, my body had completely transformed. I was experiencing levels of energy equal to or greater than those that I had felt in my teens. Was this real or was it all in my head? I needed to find out. So at the age of 37, with nearly two decades of sedentary living as my base, I began to train. At that time, I hadn't heard of any other raw vegan athletes, and had only heard of one vegan athlete. I had no examples to follow or mentors to advise me, just lots of questions, and a burning desire to see what was possible.
Within my first week of training, I realized that I was onto something big. My speed and endurance were far beyond what conventional wisdom deems possible in such a short period of time and after so many years of inactivity. More importantly, my asthma was gone and my knees and ankles were free of pain. I decided to test my limits and took to running up the steep mountains of the Los Angeles area. Within three months of beginning my training I had established myself as one of the best Mountain Runners in California. In the next six months, I had become one of the best Mountain Runners, and one of the top stair climb/tower racers in the country.
My next goal is to break the world outdoor mile record, and be the first person to break the four minute barrier at 40 years of age. This is not a personal goal, but a wake up call to all the cynics who believe that world class results are not possible on a diet of whole raw plant foods.
5. Most memorable results or achievements.
• 1st - US Bank Tower Stair Climb 2007
• 1st - Palm Springs Tram Road Challenge 2007
• 3rd US Bank tower stair climb - 2006
• 4th American Trail Championships - 2006
6. Why did you join OA's PRO-Activist team?
My mission is to show the world that athletes who eat exclusively raw, whole, plant foods can not only stand atop the world stage, but can achieve levels of performance not possible on a conventional diet. I hope to inspire other athletes to take up this challenge and leave doping and steroids behind. As this movement grows, my dream is for these athletes to become role models for children, and help to educate people around the world about the benefits of choosing this lifestyle; for athletics is a language that transcends, race, religion and politics. It is a universal language capable of inspiring all that witness its expressions of grace, power and speed.