It’s never too late with Mered­ith Quin­lan

Outer Edge - - Contents - Words Shane Downey

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”.

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