Happy new year everyone! For my first article of the New Year I’m chatting with a friend of mine, Glenn Redding. Glenn set himself a serious fitness challenge for 2015 and I hope that reading his story here can inspire others to challenge themselves in 2016. I met Glenn on an overnight bus in India a few years ago. We went on to star in a Bollywood movie together on that same trip (seriously) and as Glenn said when I was chatting to him recently “I’m still kind of a big deal in Bollywood, Brian”. Glenn hasn’t let this superstardom go to his head though and in this article he answers my questions on the fitness challenge he set for himself last year. What challenge can you set yourself for 2016?
Firstly, tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do?
I am from Dublin but have been living in Amsterdam with my missus Getty and my 5 year old son Eamon for just under 7 years now. I work with the University of Liverpool as an Enrolment Advisor for International Students. I work Monday to Thursday 9 to 5 and have the Friday off to take care of Eamon, one of the perks of working in Holland.
Can you describe your level of fitness at the start of 2015?
I started 2015 in good enough shape. I would be running around 80km a month on average. I was also playing football for a Saturday league team and training once a week.
Tell me about the fitness challenge you set yourself for 2015?
So, in January after taking part in two half marathons in 2014 which I thoroughly enjoyed, I decided I would try and do one race a month, no set distances but just one race a month. I ended up running 13 races, 1x Marathon, 2 x Half Marathons, 1 x 17km, 7 x 16km, 1 x 15km, 1 x 10km.
What motivated/inspired you to complete the challenge?
I wanted to stay fit and see if I really could complete the challenge. With running on your own, compared to being part of a football team which I had been for the last 15 years, running offers you the freedom to get up and go at any time, in any weather conditions and you are accountable only to yourself. I guess it's the freedom that really attracted me and kept me motivated all the way through. Also the euphoric feeling after completing a race or good training session is something else. The feeling of the good endorphins flowing through your veins is amazing.
How did you prepare for each race?
I'm still learning and tweaking my preparations and trainings all the time. To be honest, some of the races I did this year my preparations were less than Olympian. I was out on the beer the night before for two or three of the races and it comes to kick you in the ass halfway through, I'd be cursing myself and promising myself that next time I'd prepare better. But I'm only human at the same time.
But for the second half of the year I took it a bit more seriously after reading your Race Day Nutrition Guide which I thought was great and worked very well in my performance and recovery. After taking your advice on board, I’d be off the booze for a week before a race, carbohydrate load two days before, loads of water all the way through, porridge on the morning of the race and also after the run have a smoothie lined up to help my muscles recover. Another thing would be a double espresso one hour before the race. The coffee definitely enhances the performance just make sure you plan a toilet break before you run after having one.
How did you juggle your training schedule with work and family life?
Well Getty and Eamon were my biggest supporters all the way through. I had to change my training schedule which was a soft target of 25km a week 100km per month, drastically at the beginning as I was missing family time in the evening when I would go for runs after work and the little fella would be off to bed at 7pm. So I started getting up at 6am and doing my runs before work and bringing Eamon to school after and then heading into work. This meant I could have some quality time in the evening with Getty and Eamon and also let the missus get out and play tennis or go to the gym.
Did you learn anything about yourself while completing the challenge?
I definitely learnt loads and changed in being more disciplined and taking the harder option when having the choice. For example sometimes when out running 12-30km you can take a short cut when I was ready to drop but I'd always go for the slightly longer distance. This would also be influenced by adding more kilometres to the Nike Run app I was using and wanted to do more kilometres than the month before. Also, to stay disciplined and get up at 6am during the week I would visualise how many kilometres I would run the next morning and what training I would be doing i.e. intervals or distance. This really gave me the kick in the arse I needed to get out of my lovely warm bed and face the darkness and elements outside.
What would be your top 3 tips for budding runners?
There’s so many but the main one would be stretching. There’s no point in going for a run if you are not going to stretch afterwards. You won’t reap any of the rewards if you don’t take the time after a run. I do 4 stretches on each leg and hold them for 30 seconds so we’re only talking about 4 minutes but they are vital after every run. My second tip would be to use small strides and make sure your feet are always striking the ground under your body. This will ensure you won’t get any knee injuries; you will also become quicker with these smaller strides. And the last bit of advice is planning the emptying of your bowels, no matter if it’s a small or long distance make sure you have visited the loo, you don’t want to get caught out.
Have you set yourself a fitness challenge for 2016?
The last race I did in 2015 was in December and it was a cross country Marathon, through mud, sand dunes and woods with a good few hills thrown in. It was supposed to be Holland's toughest Marathon as described by the organisers and press. I don’t know about that, but it was tough and on the day out of 67 competitors only 50 finished. It was my first cross country. I had been running road races all year but I loved this cross country buzz so for 2016 I will try and do 12 or more races across the countryside.
Finally, what would you say to any office workers out there contemplating their exercise goals for the New Year?
Stop making excuses, just go out and do it and don't listen to the naysayers or be waiting on others/friends to finally kick off your decision. The way I choose my runs is to just book them 2-3 months in advance, one every month. Make sure the date doesn't clash with any family or social engagements and just do it. Once booked, I had no more excuses, I had to get my ass in gear and train to make sure I could finish the race and not disgrace myself and walk it. Also, when people heard about my running, straight away there would be some negative comments about wrecking your knees and running being boring or not having the time. What a load of balls. It's only yourself holding you back. No excuses; get out there and challenge yourself in 2016!
A great story Glenn, thanks for sharing it on Office Worker Health. As Glenn said, he works in an office and is a busy family man. He still found the time to push himself hard in 2015 and meet the exercise goals he set for himself. What’s holding you back???
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