MARATHON runner Brady Threlfall was elevated to rock star status at his most recent race in Japan — and he wants more.
The rising long distance star is just home after running the Nobeoka marathon in 2.21:41, his second best time over the 42.2km.
But it was his treatment pre-race that has seriously whetted his appetite for the big time.
“It was just amazing,” Threlfall said. “One day I was teaching primary school students in Tongala and the next I was being interviewed live on Japanese TV by that country’s equivalent of Karl Stefanovic,” he said.
“And my interpreter got an even bigger kick out of it than me — after the interview finished he got flooded with texts and messages from around Japan by friends who had seen him with me.
“The effect all this has on your adrenaline is incredible; there were posters up around town with my picture, and the other top Japanese runners.”
Threlfall said there was even a major function the night before with the Japanese runners and himself hit with spotlights and getting endless applause.
But he admitted with a grin the Japanese might have overestimated the invited Australian runner — the only non-Japanese in the field.
“The top 12 or 14 guys all had better times than me, some of their half-marathon times were sizzling compared with mine,” he admitted.
“It was great to be representing Australia but I have to admit I felt a little bit out of my league when I first got there.”
But that all changed when the race began.
This was the first marathon Threlfall had run since a massive overhaul of his nutritional plan in partnership with Monash University.
After testing his cardio capacity on the treadmill they started measuring everything, from his lactates to his sweat. And they almost immediately diagnosed the problem causing Threlfall’s marathons to fall apart in the final five to six kilometres.
“My carb management was all wrong,” Threlfall said.
“I wasn’t even carb loading properly in the days running up to a marathon, I guess these are the little one percenters you learn,” he said.
“The experts there worked out I was burning 280g of carbs per hour in the race and the most you can consume in the same time frame is 90g.
“When I ran the Berlin marathon in September I was working on using 50g, which might explain why I kept hitting the wall at 35-36km — I was burning all my glycogen and that means it’s all over,” he laughed.
“So I was put on a program of 600g of carbs for the Thursday, Friday and Saturday before the race and topped that up with gels and drinks while running.”
Threlfall admitted until Japan the marathon was daunting enough, but the final five or six kilometres actually scared him.
He said pace was never the problem; he actually gets to run slower in the marathon than in the 10,000m or half-marathon.
The killer was the ‘wall’ — when he hit that he felt like giving -up as he watched his times blow out and the target disappear over the horizon.
“In Japan I got to the danger zone and kept waiting for it all to happen again — and it didn’t,” Threlfall said.
“It was amazing – and better still after running from the 8km mark to 35km on my own I suddenly started to reel in some of the guns from the breakaway,” he said.
“But all that time I was running on my own, in a wind that was smashing the whole field, I started to wonder if I was on the right course because I could not see anyone in front of me or behind.
“In the end the split I did for 0-10km I was able to match from 30-40km. I felt as though I had unlocked the secret of the marathon.
“Now I can focus on picking up a few seconds per kilometre with speed knowing I will have the energy to maintain it — even my recovery has been heaps better; it’s brilliant.”
Threlfall said he was still shaking his head about the whole experience, despite his late call up for the run. “I was thinking to myself, if this is life as an elite runner then I want more,” he said.
“It has really motivated me to take that next step and my nutrition success has excited me about the future — now I need to pick my next run and start working on that A qualifying time of 2.19 to get the eyes of the national selectors.”