Interview with BIX athlete Mo Devlin
Mo was born and grew up in Glasgow Scotland. Today he is calling Hong Kong his home where he has been based for the past 16 years - working as a Physical Education teacher at an ESF school.
Completing 12 races in 12 weeks (all with podium finishes!) whilst having radiotherapy treatment for cancer shows his resilience and determination.
Now, let's get inspired by diving into Mo's interview:
1. Tell us 3 things about yourself that might surprise others
I just started trail running 5 years ago. Before that I only ran and raced on the roads. Now I rarely race on the road as Hong Kong has so many amazing trails.
I grew up playing football and dreamed of being a professional player. I only ran for fun and to be fit for football. Eventually I played and coached in the USA but I wasn’t very good. I was a better runner than a footballer!
I ran my first marathon when I was 17. You had to be 18 to enter so I used my older brother’s Date Of birth to get in. It was harder than I expected!!
2. Tell us about your running/ triathlon journey - how did you start?
I had really bad asthma as a child which limited my ability to take part in sport. When I was 12 a Doctor told me that the best thing for me to do was to strengthen my lungs by running so I joined the school running club. At first I was the slowest person there but quite soon I was winning school races, and over all distances from 1500m (at which I was terrible) to marathons which seemed to suit me better. Just like Forrest Gump I have never stopped running since then! Recently I got into triathlon with my partner Janine mainly because our friends were doing it and we love cycling (swimming not so much).
3. Quick overview of your nutrition plan for a 50k trail race or a Half Iron Man - before, after, and during the race
I learned the hard way that along with training and recovery, nutrition and hydration are critical to performance, especially in any event that lasts longer than 90 minutes. In the days leading up to a long race I change my diet slightly and eat more carbs to store glycogen for the race. I also try to hydrate really well and take in some electrolytes for a day or two before the race (BIX is ideal for this purpose).
2-3 hours pre-race: I eat porridge oats with chia seeds, banana and a spoonful of Janine’s Manuka honey (don’t tell her about the honey).
30 mins before race start: I eat half a RUNIVORE with caffeine bar for an energy boost.
During the race: I use Tailwind electrolyte early on, but often switch to water and salt tablets later on to give my stomach a rest from consuming too much sugar. In a triathlon I’ll take whatever is in the bottles they hand out but try to alternate between electrolyte and water. I carry a couple of gels for later in the race and have trained my stomach to be comfortable with whatever is available at the CPs. In Hong Kong this often means fruit, rice balls, nuts and peanut butter sandwiches.
I also use Bix during my racing and training as well as for recovery. I like to pop a tablet in my soft flask and drink it while I’m running. Because it has electrolytes, BCAAs and anti inflammatory properties I find it really helps me to maintain my performance levels and reduce muscle damage during a race or a hard run.
Immediately after a race: I like to take a recovery shake and another BIX tablet to speed up my recovery and then eat a healthy meal and keep hydrating for a day or two.
4. Quick overview of your breakfast, lunch, and dinner during a typical training day
I like to do intermittent fasting so I usually don’t eat in the morning until after I train. Then I have some wholemeal bread, peanut butter and banana with a pot of green tea! I have been influenced by elite vegan runners like Vlad to become a predominantly plant based athlete so lunch and dinner consists of lots of brown rice, sweet potatoes, beans, veggies and fruits. Unfortunately I do have a weakness for eggs, cheese and yoghurt, sorry Vlad!!
5. Your 3 most important recovery activities
Being a veteran athlete I find that Recovery is more important now than it was when I was younger. Number one priority is sleep. Next is a healthy diet with plenty of protein and no sugar or processed foods. I also utilise a range of recovery modalities including cycling for active recovery, foam rolling, compression, massage, and stretching.
6. Overview of a typical training week
I run 4 times a week for around 75km including a long run, a recovery run, speed work and maybe some hill intervals. I ride my road bike 3-4 times a week for recovery and strength and also follow a dedicated strength and conditioning programme twice a week.
7. What was your biggest running/ triathlon accomplishment?
My marathon PB is 2hrs 30 minutes so I am quite proud of that but my proudest accomplishment is running 12 races in 12 weeks and winning or getting on the podium in all of them whilst having radiotherapy treatment for cancer.
8. Your 3 running/ triathlon goals for 2020/ 2021
My main goal is to remain healthy and injury free. Other goals include being able to race and get on the podium again and to be able to contribute to the running community and help support others reach their running goals because I have been supported and helped by so many wonderful people in the Hong Kong running community myself.
1. Describe yourself in 3 words: Stubborn, Disciplined and Resilient.
2. Favorite race? Country Of Origin (I love racing with friends)
3. Favorite running shoe? Salomon Sense Pro 3
4. Your most important running gear? Comfortable running shoes and ipod with my favourite podcasts.
5. Favorite snack/ gel during a run? A RUNIVORE bar and a BIX tablet in my flask
6. Are you a flat, uphill, or downhill runner? I like the flats but love the uphills!!
7. Run in the cold or run in the heat? I like running fast and it’s easier in the cold.
8. Favorite racing distance- I like the short stuff but anything up to 50km is good.
9. Trail running idol?John Ellis. He’s an elite runner but also the most humble, caring and supportive man I know. The ultimate role model.
10. Triathlon idol? Mark Allen
11. Favorite trail? Maclehose Trail in Hong Kong
12. Favorite Triathlon? Vietnam 70.3 Danang
13. Strength workouts indoor or outdoor? Indoor at Joint Dynamics
14. A quote that you would put on a T-Shirt? Inner Strength (it’s tattooed on my back)