10 lessons From A Vegan Marathoner


IT entrepreneur & Animal Activist, Rajat Wadhwa, offers fitness enthusiasts practical tips from his personal life after losing over 20kg in less than a year. Here is how he did it.


He has been in the Mumbai vegan circuit for over two years, quietly lending his support to the rapidly growing vegan community. We first saw him at an outreach programme in a suburbs and after introductions, we found out he was an IT professional. Since then, he consulted and supported our group from tasks as mundane as pinning up event posters, accompanying us for venue recces and guiding us through the most frustrating IT issues patiently over hours of con-calls. Back in 2017, we recall the athlete-built foodie who loved to pick up a range of favourite chips of every flavour and a handful of vegan bourbon biscuits on every trip.

Less than a year later, we barely recognised his new lean avatar at an event, as he had lost over 20kgs in six short months. Who is he and what was his magic formulae? Meet Rajat Wadhwa, the quintessential boy next door who has been vegan for over 4 years. He has won no sports medals in college, he is not even on the top five winners of any local marathon run ever. Yet, ask us about what this city boy can teach you about running and fitness? The short answer – everything!

We pick the brains of Rajat Wadhwa, epitome of what a vegan foodie-cum-runner can do with hard work and intelligent training. Rajat shares how he learned to stop eating junk food, adapted his food habits by consulting experts, trained meticulously each day, and the mistakes he’s made to prevent you from repeating them.


1. Motivated To Improving Family’s Health

My mother had diabetes so I spoke to a number of specialists who advised her to go on raw food for a period of time. To help her step into the process, I decided to go raw as well. Today, my mother’s health is much better, and I have seen a dramatic improvement in her overall health and vitality.

Action Point: Our families can be our strongest support systems. Take care of their health and the results can take an unexpected turn for you as well.


2.  Network With Dynamic People

During the Ahimsa retreat in March 2017, I was inspired by experts like Kuntal Joisher, Dr Rashmi Menon, Mayavi Khandelwal and a few others. Being marathon regulars themselves, I spoke to them regularly and they strengthened my belief in attempting the 21km marathon and training for it.

Action Point: Surround Yourself with positive and dynamic people. Their energy is contagious and this will motivate you to aim higher.


The vegan marathoner, after completing Tata Marathon in January 2018. He emphasizes on not giving up and taking baby steps towards your goals everyday.

3. Take Action

My biggest weakness was foods like vada pavs and samosas. Being a Punjabi munda, I had a huge appetite for fast foods, but I got into the science behind food and learnt that beyond 108 deg C cooked the food has zero nutrition, and weening away from junk food was much easier after that.

Action Point: Set health goals for yourself and stay on track. Substitute healthier foods for junk food and never go hungry. Keep your fridge stocked with tasty and healthier alternatives so as not to get tempted. 


4. Set Baby Steps To Achieve Goals

I had only 6 months to prepare for my first 21k Tata Mumbai Marathon in January 2018. At first I did not think I had enough time, but I started small with jogging for only 1km and increased the distance slowly. The first 10 days were the toughest, but with steady progression, I moved towards my end-goal. I first went raw for 21 days and then I became a fruitarian for the next 21 days. After that there was no looking back. Now when I eat cooked food, I feel so sleepy as my stomach is using up more energy to digest the food. Also, I reverse planned my goals and planned backwards to help ensure I stayed on track of my sub-goals.

Action Point: Break down your goal into smaller steps, and your targets will seem a lot less overwhelming. Plan backwards to help stay on course.


5. Believe In Yourself

At times, I could not believe that I could achieve my dream, as I had very little time. But my friends encouraged me a that inspired me to believe in myself and stay on track. I took breaks every 500m as I would get breathless, before continuing running. This way, I steadily reached my smaller goals of 5km, 10, 15km and finally 21km. At the early stages I used to dip me feet in hot water with salt, to energise them

Action Point: The key to achieving your biggest dream is to believe in yourself. You will experience fatigue along the way, but don’t let this fatigue shake your confidence. Stay connected with your circle of friends who will help motivate you further. 


Rajat Wadhwa, in his earlier aavtaar, over 1 year ago. A few short months later, he became “the biggest loser”, staying on course with his health goals and completing a series of marathons.

6. Stay Consistent

Take time out of your schedule every day. I started with 1 hr a day to 1.5 hours every day then 2 hours a day to 4 hrs once a week. This included stretching and sun bathing daily for half an hour amidst nature and my animal companions. Eventually, I pegged it up a notch and on Saturdays, I would run from Vashi, where I stay to Andheri, or Vashi to Dadar, finish some work, do an outreach and run back home to Vashi. Once, I wasn’t well, and another time, I had to take a break as I had to travel for an extended period for work. Both breaks affected my progress, as I had to reduce the running time for a few days before I got back on track.

Action Point: Its crucial to stay consistent with your targets, and breaks will push you back on your schedule. Training month-by-month is better in the long run, that training hard just a month prior, and risking injury.   


7. Prepare Well

I wore Sketchers which worked very well for me. But in the monsoons, I just ran with slippers, else shoes would get wet. Apart from that, for long distance running, I carried a small backpack which had a portable torch, change of clothes, toiletries, and, of course, my bottle of juice.

Action Point: Prepare in advance for your practice runs and keep yourself well hydrated.


8. Balancing Act

I stayed in touch with my goals and I didn’t let weekend socializing get in the way of taking time out for my runs. Also, I kept a steady pace and measured my progress carefully. It’s important not to compromise on the nutrition and never skipped a meal.

Action Point: Prepare in advance for your practice runs and keep yourself well hydrated.


9. Go The Distance

Following the 21km marathon, my next target was to complete the 42km Tata Mumbai Marathon in January 2019. So I started off on solo runs starting at am in the morning. Another time, I started off early to run from Vashi to Bandra (21km) to join the Navy run. Another time, I started the run 17km ahead of Vasai-Virar Half Marathon by India Bulls in December 2018.

Action Point: Stay on target daily, by exercising  or walking everyday. This is the best way to sustain your vision and achieve your dreams. Don’t just sit on your dreams. Also, do not let your health problems stop you from moving towards goals. Resolve your health issues but taking action today. 

Marathons Rajat Wadhwa has participated in:

  • Vasai-Virar Marathon by India Bulls, Dec 2017
  • Tata Mumbai Marathon, January 2018
  • Navy run BKC, Dec 2018
  • Vasai-Virar Marathon by India Bulls, Dec 2018
  • Tata Mumbai Marathon 2019

10. Running On Real Food

 (a) Rajat’s Food Regime

I mostly follow 80:10:10 guidelines, wherein 80 = fruits, 10 = veggies, 10 = seeds + nuts. Exceptions are having little tasters of cooked food at home to curb cravings, dosa with raw veggie filings, idlis and when out socializing, have some cooked food as well.


(b) What Rajat eats and drinks before a marathon

Before a marathon, about 2 days prior, I eat adequately to not feel hungry, stay fully hydrated with juices / smoothies. One day prior, I have protein rich raw sprouts / chick peas/ salad / green smoothies / coconuts / fruits. During the marathon, I carry 1 litre of fresh juice, bananas, dates with rock salt. This essential nutrition ensures staying energized even post marathon.

Check out the video (Courtesy United For Compassion) below, to learn more about what athletes like Rajat Wadhwa and his friend do to stay fit.

[yotuwp type=”videos” id=”Wj8NSGCw0Qo” ]


Compassion India Magazine

Compassion India Magazine

Compassion India is India’s official first ever vegan print publication. It aims is to bring the vegan community closer and create awareness about the ethical and health advantages of following this lifestyle. The magazine was launched on 1t November 2019, which was World Vegan Day.

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