Gary Morton is an athletic inspiration.
Working for the DW family for over 20 years, he’s accomplished some incredible feats in that time, and his latest is just as impressive. Running a full marathon every day for a month (during a year-long 10k a day challenge), Gary has achieved what most people would think of as impossible, and all for a good cause.
We sat down with the man himself to find out what running a marathon a day really feels like, and to learn more about the equipment and nutrition needed to pull it off:
Have you always had a keen interest in fitness? What got you into it?
I was a keen golfer when I left school. I played of a handicap of +1, I have one England cap and 20 caps for my county (Lancashire). I stopped playing golf in 2004 and went into triathlon.
I’ve completed two Ironman events (Ironman Austria & Ironman Frankfurt), both in less than 10hrs 30mins. I swam the English Channel in 2014, and two years ago I was part of a team of six who broke the World record for the Arch 2 Arc (87 mile run, English channel swim, 197 mile bike) in a time of 33 hours.
You've raised an incredible £43k for the Clatterbridge Cancer Centre. What made you choose here? What will the money you've raised help to pay for?
When my Mother-In-Law got skin cancer (which later developed and spread to the lung, liver & kidneys), I felt like I had to do something to raise awareness for the fantastic support the Clatterbridge Cancer Centre has given her. The money will be used to buy four chemotherapy chairs (costing £10,000 each).
What made you decide to do a marathon every day for a month?
I needed the challenge to be high profile, something with the ‘wow’ factor.
I decided to go for 31 marathons in 31 days, and to try and raise £30,000. I was already running 10k a day for 365 days, which started on the 1st January and will finish on the 31st December.
What was it like stacking this challenge on top of your daily 10k challenge? Did you ever consider giving up, or was that not an option for you?
By doing the 10k-a-day, I knew that the foundation levels of fitness were there. I just needed more mileage on the legs, so I decided that as part of the build-up I would run 13 miles a day for 13 days, then 18 miles a day for 18 days. In doing so, I was ready to take on the marathon challenge!
There were definitely times that I did want to give up, but thankfully I never did!
How did you keep yourself mentally focused?
I’m very strong mentally, but until you start something like this you never truly know how this will affect you mentally & physically. You have to take each day as it comes.
What physical toll have these challenges taken on you? Have you suffered any injuries? What prep do you do to avoid injury?
Day four, day 12 and day 14 were the hardest by far. I suffered a number of injuries including shin splints, swelling ankles, blisters, achilles pain, hamstring issues & really sore thighs. Having two ice baths, two hot baths and a soft tissue massage every day helped to treat and prevent any further pain & stress to the body.
Tell us about your nutrition plan. What do you eat to prepare and what do you eat to refuel?
The first point is around balancing calories in to calories out. An individual can burn 2500kcal. In addition to a 2000+ kcal metabolic rate, this makes total calorie burn 4500+ throughout each day. During each run I burned in excess of 5,000 calories. To balance things out, I had to try and consume around 8,000 calories a day.
My diet is pretty good. I continued to eat eggs, brown bread, chicken, fish, steak, vegetables, pasta bolognese, porridge, fruit and honey. I also needed to include three high carbohydrate snacks between my meals. These contained 20g of protein and 30g+ of carbohydrates.
My daily nutrition to-do list during the challenge was:
- 20-25g of protein every three/four hours (including pre-marathon and immediately post). Use whey shakes, SiS REGO and/or food to get this.
- 500-1000ml of SiS Go Hydro pre-marathon.
- 100g carbohydrates (from normal breakfast foods) pre-marathon.
- 40-60g of carbs per hour during marathon (I recommend 2 isotonic gels per hour). 200ml of fluid per hour (if possible).
- Post marathon (probably the most important) - Immediately consume a REGO shake. The next 4 hours are really important to ensure you can perform the next day. This may be hard to prepare, but I recommend taking on 70-80g of carbohydrate (in a meal/snack) every hour for the next 4 hours. This is more effective than having one large meal.
And here’s a list of the SiS products I used during the month of marathons:
- Rapid Recovery Vanilla & Strawberry Powder – Post marathon (or as a between meal snack).
- Overnight Protein Powder – I’d recommend taking this every night of the marathon.
- Chocolate Fudge & Red Berry Mini Energy Bar – Ideal pre or post run and between meals to up carb intake.
- Go Energy + Immune Cranberry Gel – Use in combination with the isotonic gels during running.
- Go Electrolyte Raspberry Powder – Use pre run/during.
- Go Energy & Caffeine Berry Gel – Use this in the last hour of the run.
- Go Energy & Electrolyte Raspberry Gel – Use one of these in the middle of your run.
- Go Hydro Tablets Pineapple & Mango – Consume 2-3 of these per day (before and after).
How did it feel to reach that final finish line? Do you miss running a marathon every day?
The feeling to finally finish the challenge was fantastic!
The fact that I had to still work was very tough. Getting up every morning at 2.45am, starting my runs at 3.30am, then doing a full day’s work from 9am to 5.30pm was so hard! I certainly don’t miss that side of it.
What I do miss is the buzz, hype & support I received from so many friends & family. It was truly outstanding and something that I will never forget.
What would you say to anyone looking at your amazing achievements and thinking they'd never be able to do it themselves?
There’s only one word, your body is amazing and you just need to ‘BELIEVE’. If you’re mentally prepared, you can achieve anything!
What's next? Any other huge challenges lined up?
I’m having a couple of years off now but maybe a return in 2020! Who knows!
Tell us about the kit you used. How do you stay comfortable? What trainers do you recommend?
I used a number of clothing brands, including Nike, Adidas & Puma.
I wore Nike Vomero 12 running shoes. In my opinion, these are the best neutral shoe on the market, and as a road shoe (not suitable for rough/trail terrain) with a focus on high mileage, it’s honestly like wearing a pair of slippers. For me, this shoe offers great cushion without being too springy under the foot. This, in particular, was great for eliminating any lower back pain.
I also wore compression socks from Nike & Hilly, used a Salomon SLAB hydration pack and a Petzl head torch.
How does good kit improve your performance?
The right kit is so important. You need to feel comfortable (with no chafing!), and you also need to be able to manage your temperature.
You don’t want to be too cold or too hot, so you need to adjust to the climate. If you don’t, you can sweat too much and dehydrate, or you can be too cold and suffer from injuries.
How far did the challenge take you in total? And how many pairs of trainers have you been through doing it?
My stats for the challenge are:
- 812.2 miles total
- Average 4 hrs 4 mins per marathon
- 125 hrs 24 mins total running time
- 4 pairs of Nike Vomero trainers used
- Total mileage this year 2,901 miles (target to December 31st is 3,300 miles) the equivalent of running from Wigan to Russia.
If you'd like to help support Gary and the Clatterbridge Cancer Centre, donations can be made over on his Just Giving page.