Get to know Kieran O’Brien – A quick run-through Q & A

The Brisbane Trail Ultra Festival team nabbed Kieran for a few on-the-run questions. He is one of our race ambassadors for the BTUF 100 miles and we wanted to find out a bit more of what motivates him, and what he does to keep himself in tip-top shape to run the ultra distances he runs.

Kieran, what attracted you to running? and specifically trail running? “I don’t often tell people the real reason what got me into these ultras as there’s always too many questions to follow but after not running at all since high school I decided to do a Marathon exactly a year after having surgery for a Stage 3 Melanoma. I was told by doctors there was an 18% 10 year survival rate for where my melanoma had spread to. I remember seeing the advert in the paper for the Brisbane Marathon and thought what a great way to celebrate the 1-year anniversary. I did 3 weeks training for it with no training run longer than 8km, I was just about dead by the end of it but fell for running there and then. The people involved in the trail community drew me to trail running. 3 weeks after the Brisbane Trail Ultra I will celebrate my 10 year anniversary since that first surgery!”

What are your most memorable races and why? There was something very special about the race ‘Coast to Kosci’ which has you starting on a beach in Eden and finishing 240km away on Mt Kosciuszko. I was lucky enough to share this with 2 of my brothers who crewed and paced for me in 2016. Although it turns out you can’t please everyone as after beating my goal time by an hour and a half, beating my previous year time by 5 hours and finishing 2nd overall the first thing the eldest brother said to me when we got back in the car to go back to hotel was “What went wrong?”

Kieran at Coast to Kosciuszko Ultramarathon 2015

You’re a seasoned 100+ mile runner and you’ve been on the podium a lot! That’s some distance and huge results, what do you do to prepare your mind for such long races? what are your motivations to stay focused? Training the mind for 100 Milers I find is just as important as training the body. I regularly use meditation, yoga, practice breathing exercises and ice baths to strengthen the mind. My motivations to stay focused are simply to thrive to be the best person I can possibly be, to push all of my boundaries to see if I can go faster or longer. I promised myself about 5 years ago that I will never waste a single day again and running allows me to achieve this goal.

How do you find time to balance all your work, training and personal commitments? This is possibly the hardest part, most ultra-runners including myself have a tough time with the word balance, it simply doesn’t suit our personalities. I have a Plumbing business which takes up most of my time during the week so I am up at 4am to get a run in on weekdays and use weekends to get my long runs in.

What is your nutrition plan during a 100 mile race? Infinit Nutrition is my one constant during a race. I will also have some gels and solid food periodically throughout the race depending on what the body feels like at the time.

Do you have a specific daily diet you follow to keep you in peak training and racing shape? Not by choice as the only thing I can cook is meat on a BBQ which I have alternating between steak and chicken each night with a large salad.  Sometimes I get really creative and replace salad for some vegies just to spice things up a bit.

Crossing the line at Mt Sonder, stage 4 Run Larapinta 2016

Any shout outs to sponsors? Infinit Nutrition Australia help me out with race nutrition and have a great range of proteins and recovery blends. The best thing with Infinit is you can customise your blend to suit your requirements, I can’t recommend them enough to people. A big Thank you also goes out to my brother Brendan who for the last 5 years have given me a strength program for every race I have been in during that time, I wouldn’t be able to consistently perform how I have done with his help.

What advice would you give someone that is running their first event?Really know your “why” before you get to the start line. Knowing your “why” will keep you going when the mind is telling you to quit and legs are yelling for you to stop.

Do you have any specific training tips for reducing your chances of injury while running ultra distances?Strength Training. I do 3 sessions a week and it is the reason I have never had a major injury. I will also do 3 yoga sessions a week which helps look after the nervous system which is also something I can’t recommend enough.

what is on the horizon for 2019? My ‘A’ race for 2019 has always been the Brisbane Trail Ultra 100 Mile so am just focusing on this for now. It is likely I’ll head back to the Glass House 100 Mile in September for the 5th year in a row but will worry about that later.

It was great to get an insight into why you run and your motivations to run such long distances. Also thank you Kieran for the great advice. We’re very inspired by your determination and we look forward to celebrating your 10 year anniversary with you. We can’t wait to see you take on the Brisbane Trail Ultra Festival 100 miles.

Happy Trails as always,

Shona Stephenson, David Eastman & Cora Lau

The Brisbane Trail Ultra Festival Team

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