From training plans to race day, dietitian Daniel Thomson discusses his marathon challenge.

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The marathon challenge has captivated many an amateur runner and for Yarrawonga dietitian Daniel Thomson, the upcoming birth of his second child added a deadline as well. “We were expecting our second baby in five to six months and I thought I’d better get one under the belt before things got a bit more hectic in life,” he says.

Settling on the Cadbury Marathon, held in January in Hobart, he picked up a training plan off a friend, consulted some health professionals and began mapping out his exercise journey. “I wanted a challenge. I would consider myself an AA runner (Amateur at being Amateur) so for me just finishing it was the goal.”

Here he shares a little about what he learned along the way.

Creating a training plan

A local bloke up this way named Chris 'Keya' Kennedy (who recently did his first Ironman in Melbourne) gave me a copy of a few training programs that he had. One was for experienced runners, one for beginners. Before the program I got a wheel alignment from Dave the local podiatrist and throughout the training I got weekly massages from Andy Jacques, the lady with the most unforgiving thumbs/elbows I have encountered.

The training journey

I trained for about three months with the structured program but was running a bit before that. I chose the beginner training program – which had 4-5 runs per week and one long run on the weekend. The long weekly run got progressively longer over the 3 month program to a peak of 32 km, then tapered off. The other runs were mixed intensities, up to 10-12 km.

I stuck to it fairly well although I had my fair share of lame periods with sore hips and things, so missed a week at one point and also a few other sessions. I didn’t panic too much about missing a few sessions though.

Food for fuel

I ensured that I ate regularly with nourishing snacks (some kind of carbohydrate) and that I ate well in the days prior to the longer run and in the days prior to race day. I also made sure I got a good guzzle of sports drinks at drink stations on the run.

Race day

I was pretty nervous prior to the run because I had a niggling injury and I wasn’t overly confident of finishing it for that reason. But during the run I felt okay, tried to run sections of the race in certain times to get in under four hours, and finished in a around 3 hours 50 minutes. I was happy finishing. Relief, motel, sleep, bar – in that order.

Lessons learned

I think I learned the importance of building up physical activity slowly and taking care of your wheels (feet) and body with any kind of exercise.

I am doing a little running and a few sprints intervals but mostly weights as I lost 8-9 kg throughout my marathon training. When the dust settles with these toddlers, I will be locking one in again.

Follow Daniel @barefootdietitian for his insights on nutrition and health.

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