How I Ran It Off

Los­ing over three stone helped 1983 Lon­don Marathon champ Mike Grat­ton re­dis­cover the joy of run­ning

Runner's World (UK) - - IN THIS ISSUE -

1983 Lon­don Marathon win­ner Mike Grat­ton


As an elite ath­lete I could eat al­most any­thing with­out af­fect­ing my weight. My diet was quite ba­sic – I ate pasta and chicken the night be­fore I won the Lon­don Marathon. But I prob­a­bly drank too much al­co­hol. In those days we liked to go for a cou­ple of pints af­ter train­ing.

I never of­fi­cially re­tired. I was still run­ning quite well in my late 40s and early 50s but then I started to get a few nig­gles, which meant I ran less and gained a few pounds.

Run­ning a sport­ing-hol­i­days com­pany ( meant I was trav­el­ling a lot, too. Even a trip to Lon­don for meet­ings would in­volve a cou­ple of milky cof­fees, a sand­wich and prob­a­bly a cake. It was that typ­i­cal mid­dle-aged thing where en­ter­tain­ment be­comes fo­cused around eating and drink­ing.

Over the next seven to eight years, the bal­ance tipped to the point where my weight was im­ped­ing my run­ning. I’d gone from do­ing 60-70 miles a week in my late 40s to around 15 miles a week in my late 50s. I was just jog­ging – the in­ter­vals and all that stuff had gone. I didn’t look or feel very healthy, but I kid­ded my­self that I was OK.

The turn­around

In July 2016 I was run­ning the Swiss Alpine 30K with clients and it was the first time I’d strug­gled in a race. After­wards, some­one posted a photo of me on Face­book and I thought ‘Is that me?’ I hadn’t weighed my­self in years but I stepped on the scales and was shocked to find I weighed al­most 16 stone.

I de­vised a diet, sub­sti­tut­ing green veg and salad for carbs and re­duc­ing or cut­ting out the things I was clearly hav­ing to ex­cess, like milky re­cov­ery drinks and wine. Within two months I’d lost a stone and a half and could see my body chang­ing. Once I reached my tar­get weight, I went back to a more bal­anced diet, with pota­toes, rice and, oc­ca­sion­ally, pasta.

From the day I started the diet, I also be­gan do­ing a mini cir­cuit ev­ery morn­ing of 25 press-ups, dips, sit-ups and bridges to kick-start my me­tab­o­lism, and in Oc­to­ber I be­gan to at­tend interval ses­sions at my lo­cal run­ning club. By Christ­mas I was run­ning twice a week with them and see­ing my times drop.

The fu­ture

I feel so much more alive. Run­ning isn’t a strug­gle any­more and I’ve got my com­pet­i­tive in­stinct back – I’m en­joy­ing the cut and thrust of rac­ing. My goal with ev­ery race is to fin­ish as high up the field as I can.

I’m still main­tain­ing my goal weight so I ap­pear to have reached a point where my en­ergy ex­pen­di­ture matches my in­take. I’m eating much bet­ter now, but I’m not fa­nat­i­cal. The odd glass of wine, or a cof­fee and slice of cake are still on the menu.

I’ve had such a pos­i­tive re­sponse to my weight loss. Peo­ple have said how well I look and some older run­ners have said it’s in­spired them to start run­ning again. For seven to eight years, I wasn’t re­ally a run­ner. I’m 62, but I’m run­ning quicker than I was back then and it just feels right.

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