From a 40 cigarettes a day habit to completing 19 marathons, 53-year-old Tom Doyle, from Kildare, transformed his life through running, and has now come further than he could ever have imagined – in more ways than one.
In 2005 Tom found himself at his heaviest. He weighed over 16 stone, was smoking 40 cigarettes a day, and doing little or no exercise.
At the time Tom owned a mobile phone shop. He routinely travelled around to various factories. Then, upon talking to someone on his travels, the idea of running entered his mind, and he was inspired to enter the New York Marathon.
From then on Tom’s life drastically changed. he quit smoking and started running. His athletic transformation, and the changes he made in his life, from this point, were astounding.
The New York finish line is probably one of the most iconic in all of sport. It was here that Tom first caught the marathon bug
In 2006 he ran his first marathon, the world famous New York City Marathon. Despite not being a runner for long, he finished in a very respectable time of 4 hours and 24 minutes. The training, and the race itself, helped Tom to shed 3.5 stone, and from then moment on he was ‘hooked’.
For Tom the ‘buzz of the crowd’ is what keeps him running. And the crowd at New York is like no where else on Earth. The race passes through each of the city’s five boroughs, and each one has its own flavour, vibe, and way of celebrating the big day. The finish line for New York, set in the iconic Central Park, is the stuff of running legend. If any finish line feeling is going to get you hooked, this one is sure to.
The years after this followed and Tom ran the Paris and New York Marathon in 2007, the London and New York Marathon in 2008 and the Madrid and New York Marathon in 2009.
“The first time I raced was unbelievable. Once you finish it doesn’t end there, people who see you with a medal come up to you afterwards to shake your hand and give you coffee,” he says.
New York is not just a race. It’s a celebration of the entire city, and everyone is invited to the party. Through his running adventures, Tom has had the pleasure of meeting some incredible people, and now has friends all over the world. He has continued to run the New York City Marathon annually, and has now crossed that finish line 15 times. The only races he has missed in New York are the ones that didn’t happen (one because of a hurricane and then, in 2020, because of COVID).
His total of marathon distance races now stands at an incredible 19. All of this experience has paid off for Tom though, who has some top tips for beginners to marathon racing…
Tom, front left, is now preparing for his 16th New York City Marathon, which will be the 50th Edition Event in 2021!
Tom’s Top Tips
Run Your Own Race
Passing people cheering, making food, and live bands, is part of what makes the atmosphere at the New York Marathon great. Tom says the events are ‘run to perfection’ and the urge to stop and party with passers-by is high. “It can be so easy to get carried away – don’t ignore the crowd, but be careful. You don’t get too into it as you’ll loose your pace.”
A Bridge too Far
His other top tip for the New York Marathon .. Be prepared for the bridges.
“The bridges are the killers, you really have to psyc yourself up” he says. “They put carpet down, because of the metal, so you lose the sound of all those feet pounding the ground and it just suddenly goes quiet, then you swing round the bend, and then there are nearly a million people on that street alone.”
Just get over the bridges, and the crowds will get you going again on the other side!
Not all Races go to Plan
Not every New York Marathon Tom has run has been plain sailing. In 2010, when approaching the 26-mile marker, Tom suffered greatly.
“Some marathons you go out and you’re high fiving people and you’re getting into it, and then others, just don’t go to plan, this time I just hit a wall and suffered big time”.
“I staggered over to the crowd and someone passed me a sachet of salt and I just downed it with water and vomited. A marine even ran down from the finish line to try and help me. He kindly walked me to the finish line. That day I learnt the importance of hydration,” he said.
The Future of Marathon Races for Tom?
Tom has now set his sights on the New York City Marathon 2021, which will be the historic 50th edition of the event. To ensure that everything for this landmark run goes to plan, Tom will be travelling with Sports Travel International. He was ‘delighted’ to hear that the race is set to go ahead.
For his training Tom runs in the evenings and early mornings around the local park, and to the hospital he works in. He also spends a month each year training in Cuba, where they go to visit his wife’s family.
“I get a lot of miles done there” Tom tells me
In 2008 Tom invested in some online coaching and introduced more structured training runs into his routine, which he said has made a ‘massive difference’. The change in his training helped him to achieve his best time of 3hr 53min, in 2008.
Tom now includes a weekly hill sessions and fartlekking (speed interval work) . He finds hill running particularly important to his training, for the impact they have on your overall aerobic capacity and fitness.
He also incorporates swimming to mix up his training and increase more resistance and strength training into his week. And, even with all this, he remains adamant that rest days are just as important as quality training days.
Tom’s Quick Fire Five for Marathon Training…
Get plenty of miles in the legs .
But start off nice and easy. It’s important to build good foundation.
Fartlekking/speed sessions once a week.
Take your time getting into it.
Through his marathon running Tom raises money for the Children’s Health Foundation (formerly CMRF). Over the years, he has raised an amazing 40,000 Euro. You can support Tom’s fundraising for this year’s event by following THIS LINK
To find out how you run with one of our Charity Partners, please see HERE.
For more information about running the TCS New York City Marathon with Sports Travel International visit the full event page HERE.
Here at Sports Travel International, we are proud to be part of the Sports Tours International Group. We are extremely excited by the announcement of the new Senior Management team, with Fidelma Alford appointed as Territory Manager for Ireland.
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We're all rooting for Emma Slevin as she takes on the AA finals of the World Gymnastics Championships this morning! 👏 She is the first Irish gymnast to qualify- what a fantastic achievement!💪🇮🇪