Gra Grinrod shares passion for running, nutrition and helping others achieve
In this runner interview, I chat with Gra Grinrod. He shares his passion for running, nutrition, an all-round healthy lifestyle and helping others achieve.
Gra is a really positive person who I met through our running club. I hope you enjoy this interview as much as I did 🙂
So Gra, introduce yourself to our readers 😊
Hello Jeff! Good to speak to you buddy 😊 I hope your training is going well and you’re keeping injury free. Well…. were do I start! I’m Gra/Grez/The Running G depending on who you ask (Graeme when addressed my mum!)
Might call you Graeme when I’m coaching you on track then! When and how did you get into running?
So…. I played football at a decent standard and around 2008 I had fallen out of love with the game due to always getting injured/being fouled (still love the game as a fan!). I decided to start running and entered a local 10km with having no expectations, I said I’d be happy going under 50 minutes for the race. Well I ran 45:20 minutes and then began a new found love for something other than football. I just loved putting on my running shoes and getting lost in each and every new route/run I would find.
You’ve always been a member of a running club. What’s the benefit of that for you?
Well following my new found love I joined Salford Harriers and soon starting enjoying running with others from the running club. I enjoy the structure, the sessions and the LSR (Long Sunday Run) that was socially great when starting out on my running journey. I’m now attached to Rochdale Harriers having moved to Norden and love being part of this friendly and family orientated club with like minded runners who want to improve and progress.
Those LSR are great for a social catch up while building the aerobic base. What’s your ethos for running?
I love training and training with purpose. The younger me (the Ironman triathlete) would always train hard, hard and harder. Over time I have learned to understand the importance of recovery days, when to incorporate speed or tempo days. Running is definitely an escapism for me, it’s the place I like to go when I switch off from the world.
It’s so important to vary training isn’t it. Easy recovery days mixed in with speed or tempo days. Helps with building fitness and injury prevention.
A few years ago you had a health scare. Could you tell us more about this and how it changed your perspective on training?
Thanks for asking Jeff. Yes, after London Marathon in 2018 I became ill and spent a bit of time in and out of hospital having test after test to determine what was happening with my body. After time I was diagnosed with a condition known as Achalasia, which effects the speed in which I can digest food in my esophagus. Due to the nature of my condition I was operated on a couple of months later and then would start the re-build of core stomach muscles/ability to run hard and compete again.
Goodness! And how do you feel you are doing now, in general health and in running?
Well it’s safe to say it took me 7 months to get back to any normal sort of training and I entered the Rochdale Harriers 6 miler race in June 2020 achieving a time of 41 minutes which I was buzzing with given my return to running 😊 Now I a new father and look to incorporate my running and sessions around family time. I now feel around 85-90% in decent shape but like all runners I’ll never be happy!!!
Yes your training has been going really well. What does your typical training week look like?
Pre-COVID I would be running to and from work, a great way to build my strength with double days resulting in around 12-13 miles daily. During COVID and back to work, my typical mileage for the week varies from 35-45 mile depending on intensity and tiredness. I always complete x1 tempo a week and a little speed work when I can (in fact I’ve got speed training at track on Weds and a 5km TT this weekend to look forward to). Fast forward a couple of months and I will be aiming for 50-mile weeks to get me in good shape for Manchester Marathon 2021 this October.
I know you’re really passionate about nutrition. Could you tell us a bit more about: ensuring you eat healthily throughout the week; favourite ingredients and meals, hydration?
I try to follow a set routine each week if possible and with having a young family this means preparing and batch cooking wherever we can. Having little man (Bobby is 14 months now) means we always think about meals a week in advance to ensure he has the best start possible in life and this is also essential for my training/medical condition. I always start the day off with a coffee, splash of honey and milk – this is usually my only source of energy prior to running to work (I use the previous evening’s nutrition as a fuel source) and eat breakfast once in work. This will look like natural fat free yoghurt, nuts and seeds with fresh fruit. If at home this could be peanut and banana on toast, porridge with fruit/nut/blueberries.
Favourite ingredients include fresh ginger, lemon, turmeric, cinnamon and use of most spices – key to aiding recovery and ensuring I’m able to train as efficient each day and the next. A great meal that I and the family love is homemade turkey meatballs with ginger, garam masala and turmeric alongside a Moroccan style super salad containing cranberries, mango, nuts and traditional salad aspects.
Making me hungry! How do you ensure proper nutritional intake for training and recovery?
Always think in advance about the quality and quantity of your intake – this is something that I teach and educate people about on a daily basis but is essential for me to be able to train as I do. Before a key session I will always intake the following:
- Coffee with Honey/Milk
- Homemade sports drink – orange juice, electrolyte solution, water, pinch of salt
- Recovery always go for lean protein mixed in with fresh smoothie (peanut butter/blueberries/banana) and eggs/salmon/nuts a good source of protein/good fats
Some excellent little tips. Any other recommendations to help with getting the most out of your training?
I love taking on board Beetroot juice twice daily on the leading up to a race or key run (nitrates help with availability of blood production) as well as using magnesium spray every evening on the part of my legs that require this – often I will self-massage to ensure I am less stiff and more supple the next day.
What’s your favourite training session?
Tempo or x5/x6 1km reps. Both these sessions allow for maximum effort for that particular session. Tempo is a good way of holding the pace comfortably but will become more uncomfortable as the time increases – good for building the engine. A great way to become more familiar with pacing which can help in all types of races.
It really can. A weekly tempo has helped me massively too. What’s your racing distance and why?
I love the 10km distance – it’s a tough but very enjoyable which you can push and pace well enough to find that ‘hurt locker’. However, I have a soft spot for the Marathon distance and really love the training process and training ‘bubble’ it brings – I will return to this distance this year and can’t wait to start increasing the intensity and frequency of my training runs.
You’ve recently set up your own personal trainer website. What was the purpose behind that and what’s your coaching ethos?
Yeah, it’s something that started during lockdown 1 and really took flight towards the end of last year/new year. I’ve always worked in FE and training young people/adults to become Personal Trainers and thought that I would take the plunge with my own running coaching service – I love helping others and seeing students/clients achieve something that they thought was not possible. My own coaching is very much tailored around the specific needs of the runner, considering the working and home life of each runner whilst catering for the healthy body and healthy mind approach that running brings.
What kinds of clients have started working with you and what kinds of goals do they have?
I’ve really got a great mix of clients so far – some training for their first 5km, others training for their first marathon and some who are looking to increase their running fitness for the career path they have chosen (getting into the fire service for some). It’s great to see the effort and determination shown by all is bringing good improvements already.
Brilliant. What are your own goals for this year?
Personally, I would like to achieve 2hrs50 for the marathon, under 35mins again for the 10km and run sub 16:45 mins for 5km this year – all goals I feel are achievable if remaining injury free and recovering well 😊
Indeed! Really hope you achieve those targets. And looking further ahead?
To continue enjoying my running, running well for Rochdale Harriers and continuing helping people to hit their own personal targets within running and everyday life. Simply put, “Make people question if they could be better than they were every day?”
That’s a great approach. Where can people find out more about you?
Thanks for having me, great catch-up!
Absolute pleasure Gra! Thanks so much for those insights into your own running journey. Also for some very useful nutrition tips for runners. See you soon!