Q&A with Physiotherapist and Coast-to-Coast Challenger Marie O'Connell

Even those at the top of their fitness would think twice about taking on the NZ Coast to Coast challenge, but Marie O'Connell is a firm believer that with dedication, you can achieve anything.


What was the aspect of your training that you found the most challenging?Endurance was the hardest. A month before the race, I wasn't at the level I had aimed for but I also knew I would finish. One of the biggest hurdle was the holiday season happening so close to the event: when my training should have been the most intense, I was juggling family and social obligations. My new year's day morning run, for example, will forever be a tough yet cherished memory.*

You would have lost quite a bit of weight?

This was not the objective at all and I didn't. When you train for a demanding race like this there’s a change in muscle type and composition. It's important to watch calories spent. For example, a two and a half hours of training translates as an extra spend of 1,400 kcal, which must then be added to my normal daily intake.

How did you keep yourself motivated?

Every session skipped is paid for in a lot of added pain next time. On the positive side, it is essential to keep celebrating every victory. One time, I did a tough 90-minute ride uphill, which I hadn't done in ages. I went straight after a two-hour kayak session and yet that time, it felt easy! Such moments give you the measure of your progress. On an everyday basis, I always make sure to be fully present to the experience. There is pain, but so much more besides: beautiful sights, smells and sounds. Enjoy it!

Marie finished the Coast-to-Coast, ranking XX out of XXX women in the blah-blah group.

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