In part two of the marathon series, Shaun Cleghorn tells us about his journey through a marathon. He is 39, a cost manager, has a delightful sense of humour and is the proud father of a beautiful little girl.
‘Awesome! He’s married to a dietitian.' I remind myself. 'So will he have the perfect diet..’ I wonder. ‘Or will he surprise me through this interview process..’ Surprisingly, through-out the line of questioning, he was funny, warm, honest and just himself. ‘Ah, this is going to be good,’ me thinks and ‘yes, you don’t want to miss Shaun's words of wisdom.’
What inspires you to run?
‘It’s a combination of things; to keep fit, watch my weight and generally stay healthy. It also appeals to my competitive nature and I enjoy pushing myself.’
In your opinion, how important is food in relation to performance?
‘I wouldn't say I place a lot of emphasis on food to improve my performance. However, I am very conscious before I run or play any sport that I have eaten correctly and what I have or haven't eaten won't negatively affect my performance.’
Is there any food or drink that can increase your speed?
‘Again I don't think there is anything that I think makes me go faster but I find that if I haven't eaten properly or hydrated well beforehand then I won't be as fast as I could be.’
How do you eat during training?
‘For breakfast I'll have a bowl of muesli and the only thing I'll vary is the number of bowls I have. This is my most important meal and can't leave the house without it.'
Why is breakfast so important to you?
‘It kickstarts my metabolism and also sets me up for the day. If I start out healthy and structured I’m more likely to follow that behaviour through for the rest of the day.'
What do you eat for lunch and dinner?
‘For lunch I'll have either pasta or a noodle salad or a whole wheat baguette. In addition, I may also have some fruit or a nut / dried fruit snack.’
‘For supper it really depends on how well stocked the fridge is. Generally it involves chicken, fish, pasta, vegetables and occasionally red meat. This is followed by a yoghurt and sometimes chocolate. I tend to get quite a sweet tooth when I'm training. There are obviously occasions when I eat out, in which case I don't tend to worry too much about what I eat.’
Have you ever felt any pressure when eating out?
‘The way I look at it is I try and eat healthily when I can but I’m not obsessive about it. I realise that one’s lifestyle is not conducive to doing this 100% of the time and I suppose going out is a kind of ‘reward’. I’m more conscious of doing a workout beforehand to earn the credits rather than burn it off afterwards! The more I exercise the easier I find it to eat healthier.'
What’s your favourite recipe?
‘I don't have a favourite and I like most things cooked well. For me the enjoyments from food come from the occasion and the company you are sharing it with.’
Well said, so what did you eat the night before the ‘big day’?
‘I had a large bowl of pasta with a simple light tomato sauce. I was quite bloated afterwards but felt fine by the next morning. Throughout the day I ensured I was well hydrated.’
Tell me about breakfast on the day.
'In the morning I had a bowl of cereal (what else!) and about 1/2 litre of water. About half an hour before the start I had a bottle of Lucozade Sport.'
Do you take any supplements?
‘I didn't this time but in the past I have taken anti oxidants to help with my immune system as it tends to become less resistant when I'm training hard.’
Interesting, tell me more about the antioxidants? Did anybody recommend it?
‘I didn’t get any specific advice from anyone but did do a bit of research. Not specifically aware of the products but used Zinc and Vitamin C to boost my immune system and Vitamin B to help with muscle repair.'
‘I didn’t mention it before but for this marathon I had a Lucozade recovery drink. This had 25g of carbs to help rebuild lost glycogen stores. I also had an ice bath after every long training session which helped ease muscle stiffness.’
Do you count your carbohydrates during training?
‘I did have a diet drawn up for me by my personal dietitian to increase my carbohydrate intake. I found it quite difficult to maintain it as I had to eat a lot more than I normally do. When not in heavy training I try to maintain a balanced diet and let the carbs take care of themselves.’
How much carbs were you aiming for per day?
‘I was aiming for about 550-600g carbs per day which was based on 3 main meals a day as well as a mid-morning and mid-afternoon snack. I struggled a bit to follow it during the day as it made me feel quite full and I really felt like I was eating too much.’
What are your top three advice to other runners?
‘Stay well hydrated before, during and after your run.
Ensure your carbs intake is sufficient for the type of running you are doing.
Practice your race day fuelling strategy during training so you know what works for you.’
Finally, how long did it take you to complete the marathon?
‘I finished it in 3 hrs 54mins which was slower than I had intended but probably reflective of the amount of training that I did. I didn't run for any charity as I had a ballot place. This was my second marathon and I hope to do some more in the future, provided that I can set aside enough time for proper training.’
Thank you so much to Shaun who has just inspired me to consider running a marathon next year! He makes it sound effortless and 'do-able' don’t you think?