I recently got in touch with one of New Zealanders top runners, Daniel Jones. If you don't know Daniel, he's pretty fast, in fact, so fast he can run a marathon in 2"16 hours (PB - Gold Coast Marathon). That's an average of around 3"14 minutes per kilometer ...ouch! Daniel is also the current Kepler Challenge champion. I was keen to kick off this new 'Fifteen Fit & Foodie" series picking Dan's brain about his approaches to training, obviously some foodie questions in there, and getting him to share some valuable nuggets of knowledge. Enjoy!
My name is Daniel Jones, I've been competing all my life, chopping and changing between multisport and pure running. Now I'm fully focused on marathoning and ultra running while at the same time coaching athletes to their own personal bests.
1. What is your favourite strength exercise for running and why?
Straight leg dead lifts - they are a great way to get a good stretch into the hammys and also to get a heavy or explosive lift to develop strength or power. The bonus is that it is one exercise where I can usually put more than 20kg on each side, so it makes me feel like I fit in a bit better at the gym.
2. Who is your biggest inspiration?
Every NZ Olympian - I feel like I put a lot into training - but to actually represent NZ at the biggest sporting event held every 4 years is next level. That workload and mentality is huge.
3. Your proudest moment (life or sporting)?
Gold Coast Marathon - huge PB.
4. Favourite recipe?
5. Favourite meal of the day?
6. Your go to breakfast?
Porridge but race day is white toast with honey.
7. What is your favourite quote that’s resonated with you for life?
"If you're not living life on the edge, you're taking up too much room."
8. What is something you have learnt about nutrition that had the biggest enhancement for you with your running?
I've swapped from having something sweet after dinner to having a protein and greek yogurt mix to help me recover better during the night.
9. Advice for someone who wants to make it to the elite level with their running?
Consistency is the key to improving. When consistency is in place you have to work out a training plan that works for you, along with all the other stimulus like recovery/nutrition that will help you stay healthy and keep you going with a high training load.
10. What has been your biggest setback in running and how did you overcame this?
The biggest setback for me would have to be Covid. I'm sure many people can relate. I've had two amazing builds since running my PB marathon 2 years ago (2019), only to have the event cancelled days before it was supposed to happen. Mentally, I had to readjust my plans, then set new goals and events to aim for.
11. If you weren’t a runner/coach, what would you be?
I've just been up the mountain so I'd say snowboarding. I'm not saying I was awesome but I did I wonder what it'd be like training on the snowboard 7 days a week instead of running. Probably tougher and colder.
12. Your favourite restaurant or cafe in NZ?
Julian's Berry Farm and cafe where I grew up in Whakatane.
13. What’s been your favourite running event of all time and why?
Tois Challenge in Whakatane - 18km of pure coastal and bush trail that I grew up training on. It was also my first proper trail race I did when I was about 10 years old.
14. When was the moment you knew you wanted to pursue running at the next level?
I never really thought I'd be able to crack it as a runner due to the dominance of African running in distance events. That's a pretty poor mindset and one that has since changed. When I debuted at Gold Coast marathon with a time of 2 hours 20 I knew I could get faster and that spurred the dream to one day represent NZ at this event.
15. What would be one thing you would tell your teenage self knowing what you know now?
Get faster now, there is always time to do longer events and develop endurance later on.
Follow Daniel's running adventures @daniel.c.jones