Q&A With Alex Gulyaev On Running 1000 Half Marathons
Alex is the CEO of Russian running magazine 'Marathon Journal' and has taken on the epic challenge of running 1000 half marathons all over the world. We talk to this running enthusiast about why he's doing it and some of the amazing experiences he's had so far.
What inspired you to run 1000 half marathons?
I love the runner's way of life: travelling, exploring, and meeting new people. I also like to collect the finisher medals, I think they are wonderful reminders of bright and memorable moments in my life. Being among like-minded active people gives me a lot of energy and inspires me and positively affects other parts of my life.
How are you training for this epic adventure?
I usually train 3-4 times a week for 30-50 minutes to be able to run this many half marathons without injury. I am not a professional runner; my main goal is to be healthy and have fun during training and running adventures. I also include basic core exercises to prevent injuries and try different sports like basketball, swimming, skiing, and cycling to train different groups of muscles and not to get bored.
Do you follow a specific nutrition plan? If so, what and when do you eat?
I don't have any special diet, I just try to drink more water, include more vegetables and fruit and avoid junk food. Before I cook something, I always try to remain mindful about whether this food is good for my body or not.
Which has been your favourite race so far and why?
That would have to be my 100th half marathon in Saint Petersburg, Russia. It is my fastest half so far (1:19:34). Moreover, my father ran his first half marathon there, so that made the day special and memorable.
How have you found half marathons differ around the world?
I have Russian, European, and Asian halfs in my collection and I'm happy that the quality of running events is getting better every year. Asian events usually start before dawn, from 3 to 5 a.m. to avoid heat. This is very unusual. And the weather there is really hot! You can't achieve the same results as in Europe or Russia, and in general Asian runners are much slower than in Europe.
There's a lot of food provided by the organisers of Asian half marathons after the races. You have a great choice of local meals (sometimes very strange) included into the starting fee, so you can indulge yourself after a hot race.
European events are predictable, but in a good way: you know what to expect and you get it. Most big European events have very beautiful courses and a lot of supporters along the way. I love the architecture, views and ambience on the courses.
Russian organisers pay much more attention not only to the race itself but also to an entertaining program: they provide a show before and after the race including local dancers and singers on stage, so your friends and family will never be bored waiting for you to finish the race.
No matter where I am I prefer small events rather than big ones that gather more than 6-8 thousand runners, because the smaller the race the more welcome you feel. But it doesn't mean I will never advise such events like the Marathon Majors - you may run them once or twice to feel united and be a part of something really great.
How long do you think it will take you to complete this mission? Have you given yourself a time limit?
I think about 20 years! I haven't set any time limits. I want to stay injury-free, relaxed, and take as much pleasure from my challenge as I can.
What has been your greatest challenge so far and how did you overcome it?
Running in South-East Asia. The weather there is very hot and humid, almost unbearable for running. It is easier to run a half marathon in -20 than in +30 and high humidity. To beat the heat, I tried to drink more, take cold sponges on refreshment stations, and run slower than usual. But it was still really hard each time; you just can't get used to it. It's also difficult to eat properly before the race, as the starts are very early in the morning, so your body doesn't want to accept any food.
What are your plans for once you have completed this challenge?
2000 half marathons... just kidding! I think I will try something new like triathlon, swimming, or skiing. Time will tell.
What advice would you give to someone thinking of undertaking a similar challenge?
Be consistent and don't hurry. Аnd, of course, do your best to stay injury-free.