It’s never too late with Meredith Quinlan
Most professional athletes start excelling at a very young age. They are pushed through their childhood, teenage years and early adulthood to be the best they can be at their chosen sport. Any parent will tell you how exciting it is to see those tiny smiles when their child wins their first race, game or fight. Unfortunately for a lot of athletes who started young, a professional career might be coming to an end in their early 30’s. For Meredith Quinlan however, this is where it began.
For Meredith, it started out of a desire to start some kind of sport that would allow her to enjoy more eating and more cooking when her metabolism started slowing.
“I started running when I was 31 years old. I was completely unfit at first it took me 6 months to progress to my first 5 kilometres fun run, starting out doing 15 minute runs at an oval near my home and progressing from there. 6 years later I found myself selected for the Australian Team competing at the Commonwealth Championships, 24 hour Ultra Marathon,” she said.
After a few years of Ultra Running, injury knocked on Meredith’s door, and she took up Mountain Biking as cross training, after solid advice from her Physiotherapist. She was also quite successful competing and racing in Endurance Mountain Biking too, setting records and winning many medals.
“A major highlight in my career in Ultra Marathon running would be competing for Australia at the World Championships 24 hour Ultramarathon in France. The Australian Girls won the bronze team medal. It was the first ever Australian women’s team to compete and we medalled as well which was an upset for the rest of the world at the time”.
On paper the USA, Britain and France had the numbers stacked for places on the podium but the three Australians came through at the end with excellent totals.
“I think it’s a real honour to compete for your country.”
Injuries are an expected part of endurance running, and Meredith believes that making the most of injury time and staying positive is the key to success.
“Taking up another sport (mountain biking) seems to have worked out well in that respect. I also have the privilege of being supported by USANA Health Sciences for dietary supplements over the past 3 years. I currently take Usana Active Calcium chewable tablets, their Procosamine for my joints and vitamin D to assist the absorption of the calcium, which definitely is a necessity in getting back me back to full training as soon as possible”.
Anyone who competes in any type of physical sport, race, trek or riding sport, knows that getting your preparation wrong can be devastating. Preparing to run a gruelling 24 hour race takes patience and knowledge and professional guidance.
During her races Meredith has a number of special tricks up her sleeve to get her through.
“Rev 3 Natural Energy Drink helps get me through those times in the night when I want to shut down. Coca Cola and chocolate (the one food I can’t live without) are essentials, and avocado sandwiches are the bomb if it’s hot”. Winding down after an event of this calibre is important. Everyone has their own way of winding down. “I usually like to go out to dinner with my husband or if away from home without him, I go out with the other competitors to have a race ‘post mortem’,”she said.
To train and compete in events such as these, you must live a healthy lifestyle. Meredith has some tips for others on healthy living.
Research suggests that you can burn up to 20 percent more body fat by exercising in the morning before your first meal. “Eat as well as you can most of the time. Take some supplements to bridge the gap when you can’t get it all through your diet - Calcium and Glucosamine are great as you are getting older, I particularly like the Usana calcium tablets as they are chewable”.
“My usual preparation is to finish heavy training a few weeks prior to a race, I then ensure the hours I sleep in the lead up to it are increased. I tend to lie low for a while too before a race, I am not keen on too much talk about what could happen or what I expect out of the race.” “Get your exercise done early in the morning. If you leave it till the afternoon you’ll come up with a thousand reasons of why you shouldn’t do it”.
As for keeping motivated to get up every day to train, a healthy mind is also very important, and telling yourself daily you can do it comes with the territory of elite athletics.
2016 is a big year for Meredith, in both biking and running. She has competed in the Cape Epic in South Africa in March - an 8 day Endurance Mountain Biking event that is possibly the most famous and prestigious event of its kind in the world.
(Meredith ran a PB of 14:08:12 in The North Face 100 in May).
Whatever your background is, whatever your age, it’s never too late to start something new. Meredith Quinlan is testament to that.
“If I could give some advice, growing up I learnt to not be afraid of failure. Also, I have never regretted getting up and doing a workout or training. I always feel better at the end.” I plan on competing in at least one 24 hour Ultramarathon to chase that elusive PB of 220 kilometres. I also hope to do a respectable time at what I would term a ‘sprint’ Ultramarathon - 100 kilometres”.