A chat with vegan athlete Andrius Jaksevicius, winner of the Surrey Half Marathon

A chat with vegan athlete Andrius Jaksevicius, winner of the Surrey Half Marathon

Andrius Jaksevicius, a competitive vegan runner and strava addict, likes running cross country races, and is chasing a marathon time of 2:20. He lives and promotes a vegan lifestyle, care about animals and the environment, and has been a vegan since 2008. He has a BSc in Nutrition, and currently working towards getting his PhD.

What brought you to running? Do you think that a sporting background as a child is important in order to be competitive in racing?

I started from probably 15-16yo at school in Lithuania, just wanted to win some school races. Then run for university for a couple of years, but at that time I didn’t know how to train properly, wasn’t eating enough, and to make things worse, got meniscus injury and had a chipped part removed surgically. And after that I decided to just run for myself to maintain fitness without competing. Then at around 2011, here in UK, I started doing park runs, which are great events. Once I got better Will Cockerel asked me to join the Belgrave Harriers, which gave me a good platform to compete at the higher level competitions like XC (cross-country). I also started doing some interval training sessions on Tue with him, while gradually increasing my mileage. Strava is a great tool to share runs, and also seeing how some other runners progressed (Jasson Cherriman, Steve Way and many others that I follow on strava), gave me a belief that I also could achieve something special.

I had a reasonably good year in 2015 at XC, did my first marathon at Richmond park with 2hr 33min, then most of 2016 was ruined by another injury, but back running again in the summer, and then from Nov 2016 been in a very good form, had some good xc races, finished 2nd at SOT 5m, won surrey league XC 2nd division overall classification, with three 2nd places. From beginning of 2017 started marathon training, increased my mileage averaging over 130miles per week for the last 9 weeks.

Where do you live now and what benefits and/or limitations does your area have for training?

I live in Kingston and have Richmond Park 10min away which is a great location to train. Most of my training runs are done there, plus we do an interval session that is run by Will Cockerell from Belgrave Harriers in different locations on the road or track, on Tuesdays.

How many hours do you train per week? Do you also work fulltime? How do you manage to balance everything together?

At the moment I'm doing about 14-15hs a week of running on average over 130miles per week for the last 9weeks, as preparation for the Manchester and London marathons.  Otherwise, 80-100 miles per week with a bit of cycling, which is a good way to maintain cardiovascular fitness without so much impact on the body. Here is my entire training log from strava 

I am a PhD student at Kingston University, currently writing up my thesis, so have some flexibility. I usually run in the morning, then do some writing and another easy run in the evening. I also work part time mainly in the weekends. I am single, so that makes it easier to find time to train.

Do you feel that running eats into your social life? 

Actually, I am not very social person, don’t spend much time socializing, I don’t drink or go to pubs or night clubs. I like spending time online, read a lot about healthy living, personal development, some other things, and share information with likeminded people on social media.

Was there ever a time when you were close to quitting? What keeps you going through the tough times? (injuries/bad performances etc)

Like I mentioned earlier, due to injury in my early twenties (around 2000), I quit competitive running, and only ran a bit to maintain my fitness, but then got back to running in 2011, after a popular vegan youtuber During Rider asked his viewers to share their best 5k time, as a results I started doing park runs.

I like running so don’t need some special motivations, but for sure, having some goals helps. In addition, strava segments and distance challenges are very good tools to run more and faster. To be honest, I hardly ever feel like not running, or that saying to myself that I am not going to run today, don’t think it happened over the last few years, and only some injuries prevented me from running. I eat pretty healthy, no junk food, follow vegan diet, get 8-10hours of sleep for good recovery, don’t drink coffee or use caffeine for training (just a little for competitions with gels).

Do you have a visualization/race specific meditation routine? Would you mind sharing it with us if you do?

Nothing major, just if I run a race that I feel I can win or rank highly, I try to visualise that I cross the line first, stand on the podium or something like that. Also for some target races, like marathons, I usually write a goal with specific time or place or both depending on competition.

How do you spend your off-season? Are there sports that you enjoy doing that you feel compliment running?

I do some cycling, I did a lot when I was injured, clocked up probably 10000+ km over 6 months last year, did some good strava times on some local climbs at Surrey hills, like Boxhill, for example, done 5min 11s 2.5k strava segment (one of the most popular strava segments in the world, and the time is very close to what professionals do during Surrey classic road races). At the moment, I cycle just for commuting, as I run twice a day, but probably after the marathons will do a bit more cycling, like doing some laps in Richmond Park or go to Surrey hills for some local climbs.

What is your favourite race and why?

I dont think I have one particular race, I like XC races, especially hilly ones, which suits me best. Marathon is kind of Holy grail of running, so far run two in competitions, first at Richmond park was ok. Then last year, Vilnius, Lithuania was very disappointing time-wise (only sub 2hr 40), but preparation wasn’t ideal for it. Ran another two or three races just as training runs on my own in Richmond Park (2.45-2.50).

Share with us any unexpected/funny events that happened during racing or training?

Seeing a man running with a Fridge on his back at Surrey half was a bit unusual, but these days people chasing all kind of strange records.

This season nearly missed surrey league XC race, Will Cockerell was due to pick me up, but couldn’t make due to traffic. Managed to get a lift by a neightbour taxi driver, and then finished 2nd at the race.

What are your next goals?

Have a goal to run a good marathon this spring, would like to do 2hr22min. I would like to crack sub 2.20 or even 2.19 in upcoming years, but remains to be seen if I am good enough to do it, as marathon is a tough race. If the body can handle it, I would like to try some ultras too, like 50miles or 100km.

For XC, I would like to get a medal at Surrey county XC champs, which I was very close in 2016, finished 4th losing a medal in a final few hundred metres. But it is a strong field, and it is not easy.

Major race achievements in the past

4th place at Surrey County XC champs in 2016

First place at Richmond park marathon 2015, 2hr 33min

Won 26 park runs at Bushy Park with best time 15.31; 2nd place by the most number of wins.

2nd place at South of Thames 5m XC race 2017

Won Surrey league XC 2nd division overall classification 2016/17, with three 2nd place finished during this XC season.

1st place at Surrey Half marathon 2017 (1.09.50)

You can follow Andrius on Facebook, Twitter, instagram and Strava

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