Alan Murphy (40) from Mallow, Co Cork, started running to lose weight – now he runs six days and between 100 and 120 miles a week.
When did you start running and why? I started running more than four years ago in 2008 to lose weight for health reasons.
I had reached 21 and a half stone. But to say I started running is a lie – it was a very slow walk. After six months I lost five stone. So I felt strong enough to start jogging and, at that stage, I decided I needed a challenge to keep me motivated and thought there was none bigger then a 26.2-mile marathon in my home city of Cork. Eleven months of hard work and training later – and eight-and half stone lighter – I lined up for my first marathon and have been addicted ever since. I have lost a total of 10 and a half stone and have never looked back.
Where’s your favourite place to run? There is an amazing 18-mile training circuit I run most days – sometimes twice a day – around Macroom that takes you out towards Killarney and then circles back into town passing the beautiful Lee Valley and the Gearagh, which is a wildlife sanctuary in the remains of an alluvial forest. On a sunny day the views are stunning. I have run in many cities around the world as well, so it’s hard to pick a favourite.
What keeps you going when things get tough? I always try to have something planned, such as a marathon or ultra marathon. The days I don’t want to go for a run are the days I need it most and usually that gives me the motivation to get up and out when it’s getting tough.
What’s the biggest challenge you’ve taken on? There have been many – from losing the weight to my first marathon to my first ultra marathon, but last December I took part in the Marcothon, which takes place every year in December where you have to run every day for 31 days, including St Stephen’s day, Christmas day and New Year’s Eve. I ran a total of 530.8km, averaging 18km a day.
What’s your proudest achievement? Finishing the Connemara 40-mile ultra marathon a few months ago – from being barely able to walk two miles four years ago and feeling wrecked after it, to running 40 miles non-stop in six hours and still feel great after it. It was a very proud day for me.
What are you training for? I am currently training for the Dingle Ultra 50 Marathon on September 1st ( dinglemarathon.ie). I’m doing 100 to 120 miles a week for that on the road and treadmill, and then I have four more marathons planned for October, November and December.
Are you a morning or evening runner? Being the head chef in Barry’s of Douglas, I run whenever I can, be it early in the morning or at 11pm when I get home from work, but I always make sure I get out at least six days a week.
Good or bad diet? Good diet – well, I try anyway. Some days are harder then others, and being a chef I am constantly tasting dishes.
What do you wear on your feet? At the moment, Nike Pegasus 28. I go through five or six pairs a year.
What’s on your MP3 player when running? I’m a big podcast listener but I listen to a lot of audiobooks as well. They are great when you’re on the road for four or five hours at a time. You can fly through the books.
Ever been chased by a dog? Yes, the route I take has four or five dogs, so you’re pretty much guaranteed to have one of them run out at you when you’re passing by – it helps with the speed work.
Any niggly injuries? No, touch wood. I’ve been very lucky over the past five years, and the right shoes have been very important in that. If you’re starting to run, it’s good to go get checked out to see if you’re a neutral or pronounced runner, and get the running shoe that suits.
Favourite running tip? If you’re running for more than an hour, take in about 100 calories worth of fuel (GU, Gatorade, and so on) about every 60 minutes. I do it every six miles.
Alan Murphy blogs at chef-alan.blogspot.com