Next up in Be Inspired, on a well earned rest, we managed to catch up with Luke Zwalf who had just finished a 31 day run streak in July (RED July)!
1 - How long have you been running for?
Properly(!) a couple of years but I did my first ‘run’ (Great North Run) in 2005. However, I most certainly didn’t have the bug then and it wasn’t until I started training for a half Ironman in 2016 that I was caught! My first marathon was in April this year, by the end of the year I hope to have done 4.
2 - What got you in to running?
I fell in love with it when training for the Ironman and started to realise how much I gained from it on a personal level – time, head space, enjoyment, fitness. Now I’m hooked. Obsessed some might say! I’ll think about routes to run when at work, drive past places and want to run there, consider races on a daily basis….think that’s an obsession.
3 - What’s been your greatest achievement to date?
Staying in teaching as long as I have! Running-wise it has to be the Ironman 70.3 (mainly because of huge stomach issues during the run!) but my first marathon (Manchester – April 2017) will always feel special.
4 - Do you have any rituals before or after a race that must be stuck to?
They all revolve around the toilet! Minimum two pre-race otherwise panic sets in.
5 - What’s your favourite post run meal?
FOOD. Anything, everything… I love food and post race believe I deserve it! If it’s been a particularly hot race then I love something refreshing. After Shrewsbury half this year (hotter than the actual sun) all I wanted was pineapple and lots of it!
6 - What’s the best thing you’ve witnessed at an event?
The running community is simply wonderful. The tweet-ups at races, the encouragement on Twitter, the fact that people finish their race and then immediately go and cheer others on. All of it is superb to witness. The guys who waited for Carl at Shrewsbury and then ran in with him sum up this wonderful community.
7 - You recently completed RED (Run Every Day) in July. Why did you decide to take it on and how did you find it?
I love and need challenges to keep me motivated. When my mate Martin started RED May I was instantly jealous and started planning my own Run Every Day (tip – running every day requires planning, especially with a family and a job!). It started well then at day 5 it became a struggle for a few days. Thankfully the wonder of Twitter kicked in. The support and encouragement was amazing. Offering limited edition garments, money to charity and running company all pulled me through the dip. From there it was wonderful. I didn’t want to stop. I knew there’d be a few difficult days at the end of the month but after a drive from York to Portsmouth, I met Craig from Runr for a Southsea run, and when I arrived at our gite in France at 9pm after a days travel I was chomping at the bit to get out and run. On day 31 the support was huge. My wife and sister ran with me, the last section was done with a beer and all my family and around Twitter others were following suit! What an amazing experience. I did stop though – the pull of beer, wine and croissants was too great!
8 - When you’re not running, what’s your favourite past time?
Spending time with my family is huge – Harry Potter and footy feature highly! I love reading and watching films. I’ll read anything but love crime fiction. However, ‘Born to Run’ by Christopher McDougall is my current best book. Oh and I’m a politics nut – sorry, not sorry.
9 - If you could run in a race anywhere in the world, where and why?
I lived in Oz for sometime and would love to run a race in Sydney as it holds so many wonderful memories for me. If it took in the Olympic stadium and the Harbour bridge I’d be ecstatic!
10 - If you could host a dinner party with 4 other runners (famous or otherwise) who would they be and why? And most importantly, what would be on the menu?
- Christopher McDougall of the above book fame – I have a zillion questions for him.
- Michael Johnson – hero worship time and a true superstar of running (though it’s a tough call with Usain Bolt – entertaining, funny, the face of running).
- Eilish McColgan – just coz she makes my eyes turn to hearts like an emoji!
- Dina Asher-Smith – hysterical, cute and likely to be one of the greatest British athletes ever.
(and as an extra I’d have to have Martin Waite, he’s the one who inspires me the most. Plus he’s my best mate and laughs at my jokes!)
We’d eat Thai as it’s the food of the gods. Washed down with Singha beer and an Ainsty Ale from the York brewery.