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From 40 cigarettes a day habit to completing 19 marathons, 53-year-old Tom Doyle, from Kildare, transformed his life through running, and has now come further than he could have ever imagined – in more ways than one.
In 2005 Tom found himself at his heaviest. He weighed over 16 stone, was smoking 40 cigarettes a day, and doing little or no exercise. At the time Tom owned a mobile phone shop. He routinely travelled around to various factories. Then, upon talking to someone on his travels, the idea of running entered his mind, and he was inspired to enter the TCS New York Marathon.
From then on Tom’s life radically changed. he quit smoking and began running. From this point his athletic transformation, and the changes he made in his life were astounding!
The New York finish line is probably one of the most iconic in all of sport. It was here that Tom first caught the marathon bug.
In 2006 Tom ran his first marathon, the world-famous New York City Marathon. Despite not being a runner for long, he finished in a very respectable time of 4 hours and 24 minutes. The training, and the race itself, helped Tom lose 3.5 stone, and from then moment on he never looked back!
For Tom the ‘buzz of the crowd’ is what keeps him running and the crowd at New York is like nowhere else on Earth. New York is not just a race, it’s a celebration of the entire city, and everyone is invited to the party. The race passes through each of the city’s five boroughs, and each one has its own flavour, vibe, and way of celebrating the big day. The finish line for New York is set in the iconic Central Park. If any finish line feeling is going to get you hooked, this one is sure to.
“THE FIRST TIME I RACED WAS UNBELIEVABLE. ONCE YOU FINISH IT DOESN’T END THERE, PEOPLE WHO SEE YOU WITH A MEDAL COME UP TO YOU AFTERWARDS TO SHAKE YOUR HAND, CONGRATUALTE YOU AND GIVE YOU COFFEE,” HE SAYS.
Through his running adventures, Tom has had the pleasure of meeting some incredible people, and now has friends all over the world. He has continued to run the New York City Marathon annually and has now crossed that finish line 15 times.
All this experience has paid off for Tom, who has some top tips for the NYC marathon..
1) RUN YOUR OWN RACE
Passing people cheering, making food, and live bands, is part of what makes the atmosphere at the New York Marathon great. Tom says that the event is ‘run to perfection’ and the urge to stop and party with passers-by is high. “It can be so easy to get carried away – don’t ignore the crowd but be careful that you don’t get too into it as you’ll lose your pace.”
2) A BRIDGE TOO FAR
Be prepared for the bridges on the course! “The bridges are the killers; you really have to psych yourself up” he says. “They put carpet down, because of the metal, so you lose the sound of all those feet pounding the ground and it just suddenly goes quiet, then you swing round the bend, and then there are nearly a million people on that street alone. Just get over the bridges, and the crowds will get you going again on the other side!”
3) NOT ALL RACES GO TO PLAN
Not every New York Marathon Tom has run has been plain sailing. In 2010, when approaching the 26-mile marker, Tom said that he hit a wall and suffered greatly. “I staggered over to the crowd, and someone passed me a sachet of salt and I just downed it with water and vomited. A marine even ran down from the finish line to try and help me. He kindly walked me to the finish line. That day I learnt the importance of hydration,” he said.
4) MIX UP YOUR TRAINING
Tom has now set his sights on the New York City Marathon 2022. Tom will be travelling with Sports Travel International. Tom runs in the evenings and early mornings around the local park, and to the hospital he works in. In 2008 Tom invested in some online coaching and introduced more structured training runs into his routine, which he said has made a ‘massive difference’. The change in his training helped him to achieve his best time of 3hr 53min, in 2008.
Tom now includes a weekly hill session, fartlek king (speed interval work) and swimming to mix up his training. He finds hill running particularly important to his training, for the impact it has on your overall aerobic capacity. Tom also mentioned that rest days are just as important as quality training days, so make sure you include them in your training plan.
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