‘I snack on dark chocolate’: Daily diet of a Dublin Marathon winner

Mick Clohisey, winner of national title Dublin Marathon 2018, starts with porridge and berries

Mick Clohisey in the SSE Airtricity Dublin Marathon in 2018. He won the men’s Irish National Marathon title with a time of 2:15:57. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw for The Irish Times

Mick Clohisey in the SSE Airtricity Dublin Marathon in 2018. He won the men’s Irish National Marathon title with a time of 2:15:57. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw for The Irish Times

 

9am I’ll squeeze in a six-mile run before breakfast along the Clontarf promenade. Then it’s porridge with milk, berries and lashings of honey. Some black coffee; I’d always have a small one the morning of a race. A yoghurt (Greek or blueberry) and toast, made with batch or chia seed bread, with rhubarb and ginger jam.

11am I cycle to Ringsend for corporate training with two other coaches, Mike and Susan McGovern, for organisations like Facebook and the Central Bank. The clients tell me they are more likely to slot in a run if it’s in the diary. The urgent work is still on the desk but they return refreshed and more efficient.

2pm I’ll meet my wife, Crona, who works nearby. I love a Caprese sandwich – mozzarella and tomato on focaccia bread – and on the way home I’ll pop into Insomnia for a coffee and take time to just sit there. Some runners get bogged down with their diets. I see it on trips that many athletes have quite a complicated food regime. I keep it simple; it’s a question of refuelling for the training, and sufficient nutrients to keep me healthy, but I want to enjoy my food.

5pm I’ll have a rest and a bowl of cereal – Shredded Wheat or Weetabix – before heading out for an hour-long run in St Anne’s Park in Clontarf before more training and coaching with my own running group. I’ll bring a smoothie I prepared at home with protein milk (sometimes flavoured), blueberries, bananas, oats, honey and Greek yoghurt.

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8pm Crona will have the dinner ready. We have fish twice a week and a couple of veggie options – she makes a delicious lasagne with aubergine. I try to keep my iron levels up so we would have a good bit of red meat. A typical dinner is chilli con carne with lots of brown rice as carbs is what’s needed for long distance running.

Midnight I find it hard to turn in early. I love to snack on dark chocolate, the chilli one with 60 per cent cocoa. I’ll have another bowl of cereal as otherwise I’m waking up hungry at 4am. I’m trying to read more so don’t watch much TV, but not running books as I need to switch off. I raid my dad’s library and am currently really into John O’Donohue. At the weekend we would enjoy a glass, or I might order a Guinness if out for a meal – we love Italian restaurants and would make pizza a lot at the weekend. Some athletes don’t drink but I think it can be beneficial to relax over a weekend glass of wine. I’m signed up to the 2019 marathon and I’m excited about that; we are expecting our first baby a few weeks before – so let’s see how this one goes! I fall asleep easily, except when I have a race the next day, then I’m waking up checking the clock.

THE VERDICT

By Dr Conor Kerley, dietetics consultant, researcher and lecturer at UCD and Technological University Dublin

Greens and protein At lunch, I would rather wholemeal bread for a slower release of energy and Mick could add a side salad of rocket or baby spinach – dark green leaves are the most healthful. For most people, protein milk is not needed but Mick needs more, as well as the extra carbs, as he is exercising so much.

Iron Mick seems concerned about iron, and it is important for his immune system and to help eliminate fatigue, but remember plant-based meals can provide plenty and it’s important to note some nutrients such as vitamin C help us absorb iron from these foods. So, for instance, if having a bean stew and rice, partner with broccoli and chopped peppers. Mick’s breakfast is good as berries will increase iron absorption from porridge. Mick could consider snacking on pistachios – a source of iron and the mineral magnesium; essential for the proper functioning of the body.

Walking is underrated If, like me, you are not a runner, then a decent daily walk can provide similar benefits and might be easier to fit in.

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