Interview with Plant Based Olympic Athlete - Izzi Batt-Doyle
Interview with Izzi Batt- Doyle. 26 YO, Adelaide based, Plant based Olympic Runner and co-founder and coach at RunAsOne.
As a plant-based triathlete myself, I was super excited to be able to interview Izzi Batt-Doyle this week. She is a 26 year old, Adelaide based, plant based professional runner who recently attended the 2021 Tokyo Olympics and competed in the 5000m running event.
Izzi is the co-founder and coach at RunAsOne; a recreational running group and online coaching service that her and her partner started during COVID. They now have over 200 members in their community.
I asked Izzi some questions and here's how it went :-)
Tell me more about you? Age, where you are based and what you do for work in Adelaide? What are your Athlete achievements? How long have you been a runner?
My name is Izzi Batt-Doyle, I am 26 years old and live in Adelaide. I am a professional runner sponsored by ASICS and 2XU, and I am also the co-founder and coach at RunAsOne which is a recreational running group and online coaching service that my partner Riley and I started last year. RunAsOne grew from a hobby just coaching some family and friends during COVID, and has grown into a business with over 200 members in our community. I have been running since I was eight or nine years old when I started Little Athletics following my older sister Immy. I made my first state team when I was 11 years old representing South Australia for cross country in Hobart in 2006. I continued to represent SA in cross country and track during school, and after school I accepted an athletic scholarship to run and study in the American collegiate system (NCAA). I moved to New York when I was 18 years old in 2014, and spent 18 months at a University called St John's University and then transferred to The University of Washington in Seattle in 2016. During my time in college I lowered my personal bests significantly and represented Australia in the World University Games in 2017 in Taiwan and 2019 in Italy where I placed 6th and 7th respectively. I broke multiple school records and finished my collegiate career placing third in the national championships in the 10,000m. During this time in college I had an unfortunate string of injuries, suffering from 6 stress fractures in my feet over two years. Back in Adelaide at the end of 2019 I rehabbed an injury and returned to form in 2020, going on to have a breakthrough season lowering my personal bests across all distances and qualifying for the Olympics in the 5,000m. My biggest athletic achievements so far have been:
Representing Australia in the 5,000m at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 (in 2021!) where I placed 15th in my heat and 28th overall
Breaking the Olympic standard of 15:10 running 15:04 in May 2021
Breaking South Australian Records in the 3,000m (8:51), 5,000m (15:26, 15:11, 15:04)
Runner up at 2020 Australian National Championship 10,000m (held in 2021)
Runner up at 2021 Australian National Championship 5,000m
Representing Australia at the World University Games in the 10,000m in 2017 and 2019 placing 6th and 7th respectively
Third place finish at the 2019 NCAA Track & Field National Championships in the 10,000m
University of Washington i5,000m (15:40), and 10,000m (32:20) school record holder
2019 PAC12 Conference Champion 10,000m
How long have you been plant based? Are you vegetarian or vegan? For what reasons are you plant based? I have been vegan since about November 2014 so almost seven years! I first went vegetarian when I was about 11 years old because my older sister was, but this only lasted for a year or so. I was brought up not eating a lot of meat, mainly just fish and chicken. During my teenage years I jumped between a vegetarian diet, to eating "normally" and then spent a number of years pescetarian. I wanted to go vegan when I was about 17, and I did it for a week but my coach at the time voiced concerns for my athletic performance. When I moved to America at 18 years old and started college there, in my first semester I did a research paper on the meat and dairy industry in the US and I was disgusted. I decided then that I really didn't want to have anything to do with it! I went vegan then, however it was only really eggs and fish that I was giving up at the time. I had been off dairy since I was 16 years old and hardly ate any other meat. The main reason I went vegan was ethical and environmental, however I have always enjoyed plant based food more, and the reason I will stay vegan for life is for my health and the way I feel.
Give an example of your favourite meal and snack?
A few of my favourite meals to make for brunch are tofu scramble with avocado toast, a big smoothie bowl with frozen banana, berries, almond milk, protein powder, and topped with homemade granola, favourite dinner meals are lentil bolognese with spaghetti- I make this with onion, garlic, grated zucchini and carrot, passata sauce, lentils, dried and fresh herbs, chilli, s&p and topped with homemade vegan parmesan/nutritional yeast! Other favourites are making vegan mac and cheese with a pumpkin based sauce, veggie and chickpea curries or just roast veggies like potatoes and sweet potatoes with baked tofu. Some of my go-to snacks are rice cakes with peanut butter and banana, dates stuffed with tahini and chocolate, fruit and popcorn.
How has being plant based affected your training and performance? Positive/negative /any issues you have run into and how you have managed it?
I think that being plant based has positively affected my training and performance, over the last seven years I have improved significantly as an athlete due to age, training and other factors but my diet has definitely helped. In the time I have been vegan I have only been really sick once! It seems like my immune system is a lot stronger than it previously was. One of the main things in terms of my training and performance is that everything I eat is pretty quickly digested and it isn't too often that I have gut issues or feel heavy after a meal and not able to run again in a couple of hours. I remember previously having heavy meat dishes and feeling lethargic and not being able to properly process the food for a while which leads to issues in training and recovery. Some issues I may have run into from my diet is eating a lot (maybe sometimes too much!!) fibre!
Any easy tips for those wanting to start a plant based diet?
My tips for someone wanting to start a plant based diet would be that you don't have to go vegan overnight, just focus on eating more plant based foods. Try and think of it about adding more to your diet rather than taking away or eliminating. Also, vegan or plant based food doesn't have to be super expensive! Sometimes it is marketed as being so but just focus on simplicity. Think about what foods you like and learn to cook with them, sometimes it's just adding the right spices and seasoning to bring a meal to life. Also a big tip would be to come prepared, if you are serious about giving a plant based diet a go you will often have to say no to foods that are offered to you when you are out, so coming prepared with something you can eat and always having snacks on hand is important. Especially as an athlete, making sure you have snacks to fuel after a run. Look up recipes on Instagram and online, there are great meals out there that can be made in 30 minutes or less (see minimalistbaker.com for some of my favourites or Deliciously Ella's App).
Have you seen a dietitian for support with your eating and sport?
I have had occasional advice from a sports dietitian, but it is something I am planning on working on for the future.
Thanks for your time, Izzi! Keep smashing those run goals and for anyone interested in starting up some running and needing a run coach, check out the RunAsOne website for more details, I've attached the link below:
Likewise, for anyone needing individual nutrition advice regarding progressing to a plant based diet, this is our specialty area so please feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Until next time...
Accredited Practicing Dietitian