FSF Interviews – Gerry Duffy
GERRY DUFFY – INTRODUCTION
It seems that there aren’t many challenges in the endurance world that an Irish Gerry Duffy couldn’t tackle. From being 25 kilograms overweight and having a pathological fear of public speaking to running 32 marathons in 32 days and becoming one of the most wanted public speakers in Ireland, Gerry has gone through many miles.
Outside of sports Gerry has been self-employed for the last ten years, and currently he does motivational speaking to companies and clubs.
“I want to talk about goal-setting and make people realize that we can do more than we think we can achieve. My goals are beyond conventional but I like to challenge the conventional wisdom. I’ve realized that I’ve done things that normally people think they can’t but if I could have done those, other people can as well”.
Gerry was an overweight, 27-year old chain-smoker when he saw a photo of himself with his golf idol Seve Ballesteros. That photo changed everything as a sight of a chubby man next to his idol shocked him:
“I just felt I was better than that. I said to myself, ‘I have to do something about this’”, Gerry remembers and from that month on he started running.
Gerry and Seve Ballesteros
32 MARATHONS IN 32 DAYS
Gerry did 32 marathons in 32 days around the same number of counties in Ireland in 2010 together with his good friend Ken Whitelaw. The challenge wasn’t limited to running as he also needed to organize the logistics, recruit people to run and handle the media relations behind such a massive series of events. However, the challenge went perfectly and over 1000 people ran with them, they raised over half million euros for Irish Autism charity, and on the personal note he ran his personal best (3h 17min) on his 29th marathon.
However, Gerry considers his biggest achievement in sports to be the finishing of the UK Deca Enduroman Challenge in 2011:
“That was the biggest achievement both in terms of mental and physical perspective”, Gerry says.
People can hardly question his opinion as Deca Ironman distance included 10 Ironman distance triathlons in 10 days. To bring this to a context, think of swimming 3.9 kilometers (2.4 miles), biking 180 kilometers (112 miles), and finishing with a marathon of 42.2 kilometers (26.2 miles) every day for ten consecutive days. Even Gerry won the race by 22 hours, he still was on the “road” daily from around 6 am until 9 pm some days ending as late as midnight which doesn’t give too much time for nutrition, recovery or sleep
FRUIT AND VEGETABLE DIET
Gerry takes care of his diet by observing 80-20 –rule:
“I’m a firm believer of 80-20 rule that means that 80% of the time I do that is best for me as this used to be only 20%. I follow this principle as a norm. Life is meant to be enjoyed so sometimes it’s alright to slip on the diet but this rule keeps me in good shape”, Gerry guides.
Readers must be interested what this 80% includes?
“I tend to avoid high-sugar foods. Generally I eat a significant amount of fruits and vegetables especially on the first part of the day. I like to add goji berries, honey and other natural foods to get the most out of every day. I’ve noticed that it’s as easy to buy the right things as bad things when for instance on the supermarket”, Gerry summarizes.
Running 32 marathons or 10 Ironman distance triathlons in consecutive days makes one wonder how it is possible to keep an athlete nourished. Nutrition is extremely important to be able to survive extreme events but according to Gerry it’s more about the consistency before and after the event than only the exact food on the day of the race.
“We can significantly increase our energy levels by eating natural foods. That’s why I eat a lot of fruits and vegetables, and I eat around 50 percent more greens than most people do. Combination of all these is a kind of jigsaw puzzle and with consistently eating natural foods we can increase our energy levels and get most out of our days”, Gerry tells from experience.
Gerry has been fortunate enough not to have too many colds or flus despite his unusual sporting challenges. One of his tips to stay healthy is ginger:
“I take ginger periodically in the form of a smoothie, and I add it to recovery proteins and smoothies. I learned a lot about ginger during the marathons, when I used it to boost the immune system”.
ENERGY FROM TRAINING AND OTHER PEOPLE
Even Gerry gets natural enjoyment of crossing the finish line, his bliss comes from ultimate training:
“I get the real balls from hard training in extreme weather conditions like on the runs of 20-25 miles at 6 am. I love to do things that some people might think are totally crazy. In Ireland the weather can get rough. Early morning sessions in toughest weather conditions when it’s pitch dark are the ones that I love the most”, Gerry confesses.
Even Gerry considers his parents to be his biggest inspirers, he has many strong idols in the sports arena. In the early days he looked highly of Canadian humanitarian athlete Terry Fox, who died at the age of 22 while running across Canada. He can’t also speak highly enough of Nick Vujicic, who doesn’t seem to have any limits despite of being born without limbs.
NEW CHALLENGES AHEAD
Gerry is a person that can’t stay still but he is not ready for the event for the magnitude of the previous years in 2012. For his friend it took 12 months to recover from the similar event even he was 16 years younger than Gerry.
“My immune system took a severe hammering in Deca Enduroman Challenge Ironman, and I still have unbelievably low immune levels. It’s been around 10 months from the event and I still haven’t recovered fully. I want to be 100 percent fit before going after new challenges of that magnitude”, Gerry admits.
However, Gerry is back in ultra marathons for fun. He has already done three this year and will probably do three or four more. After getting back in full fitness he will do something big maybe in 2013 or 2014. There are one or two unusual challenges in his head:
“It takes around 12 months of committed research and preparation to prepare for a large event so I don’t want to commit before I know it for sure,” Gerry says mysteriously.
Let’s see what this crazy Man from Mullingar has in mind but if I would have to guess it will be something that we can’t even think of yet.