Martin is a teacher who competes in both triathlon and running events, aiming to achieve a sub 2.25 marathon time. He talks to Sundried about training and racing.
Have you always been into sport?
I have competed at National level in sport since an early age. I was a gymnast until my early teens, and then I transferred to athletics soon after. Running was my first passion, and still is. I competed in national level cross country for my school, and then in my early 20s I found marathon running, finishing my first London Marathon in 2007 (very slowly, I must add).
How did you first get into triathlon?
In 2010 I bought a decent road bike and soon realised I would then be able to give triathlons a go. I signed up to the London Triathlon and was hooked straight away. In my mid teens I was also an avid swimmer, so triathlons felt natural to me. Although I definitely needed to work on my cycling.
What has been your favourite race to date and why?
My favorite race so far has been the Chester Deva Triathlon qualifier that allowed me to get selected for the Team GB Age Group team. That course is a fantastic race, and the crowds/support is always superb and uplifting.
What is your proudest achievement?
I have two proudest achievements. One is being selected for the Team GB Age-Group team, the other is winning the Hever Castle Half Marathon in 2019. It is a hilly, trail course, but also really scenic too, especially the finish line that is right next to the castle.
Have you ever had any racing disasters?
In 2018 I raced the Copenhagen Ironman. I went into the race in (what I thought was) the best shape of my life. However, I had developed Coeliacs disease, which is an allergic reaction to wheat, barley and rye in your stomach, and so for several months I had not been getting the right vitamins and nutrients from my food. I felt extremely tired but I thought it was simply all the training I was doing. I got off the bike in just over 6 hours total, and headed into the marathon hoping to clock a 3 hour 15 min run time, which would bring me across the finish line in 9hr 45 mins. But after 4 miles I could hardly move. I had the fitness, but my entire body felt heavy. I dragged myself across the finish in a disappointing 11 hours. Six weeks later, still feeling exhausted but now showing other symptoms, I had a blood test which confirmed I had Coeliacs disease. During the ironman race I was severely anaemic, but I didn't know it. I was lucky to have been able to finish. I'm now on a gluten free, vegan diet, and in far better shape than I've ever been in.
How do you overcome setbacks?
Setbacks are part of the process. Recently I raced a half marathon, aiming for a 72 min finish time, but the wind was not in my favour and I lost two gels on the course so my energy levels were depleted by mile 11. I crossed the 10 mile marker in 56 mins, which felt fantastic, but I knew I was way off my target finish time. In the moment you feel very low, but I'm always able to take some positives from every race, even if things don't always end the way I'd planned. Sometimes you have to be aware that you can't perform at your highest level every day. Listen to your body, work hard, rest hard, and take things one day at a time. If you have a training plan then trust the process and you'll be sure to see improvements along the way.
What advice do you wish you'd been given when you first started out?
I'd tell myself to be patient, and to stick to the training plan, and always remind myself that running is the thing that nobody is asking me to do. The only person in the way of me achieving my goals, is me. So get up, get out, and get after it.
What are your goals?
I'd like to race on the elite stage. I'm currently in a process of transitioning to faster marathon and ultra race times. I'm reading more, researching more, and planning strategically, in order to run faster and be more competitive. My marathon goal is to run a sub 2.25 marathon time. Personal running goals for me are divided into a few categories. Long term: To enjoy running as part of a healthy, adventurous lifestyle, for as long as I can, and continue to promote the benefits of running in terms of mental health. Short term: Currently, they are training focussed and involve building up strength and fitness, with the aim to establish myself as a competitive long distance runner at the next given opportunity.
Who inspires you?
I am a teacher, so everyday I am inspired by the younger generations I teach, and their resilience in the current world we live in. In terms of running I look up to Tom Evans (ultra runner), Kevin Seaward (marathon runner), Carla Molinaro (endurance runner), and Lee Grantham. I reached out to Lee earlier this year and he was kind enough to arrange a Zoom chat with me about inspiring younger generations to get into running. He's awesome, and has a crazy dedication to his running.
Why work with Sundried?
Sustainability is very important to me. Also, at the heart of my running philosophy is the connection between physical and mental health. Sundried has always placed the running community and the runner, no matter the level you are running at (be it elite, Parkrun, club level, jogger) at the very centre of their brand message. It's a brand for every runner, which to me is something I truly identify with. Running is a personal journey for every individual, and a brand that encompasses this is one I like to associate myself with.
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