Last year, Donato launched a personal project called #55Alive to inspire people of all ages to challenge themselves and to be more active. Over the next five years, he will do challenges to help raise awareness and vital funds for many worthy causes. One of those challenges is to become a RUNNER!
From a starter who barely managed to run for five minutes to a first-time marathoner who finished with an astonishing time, Donato has run a long way to prove that when you’re determined to pursue something, age is really just a number.
The Finish Line is immensely grateful to have our good friend from United Kingdom share to the Filipino running community what running means to him. May his story give you strength and endurance, and inspire you to bring out the runner in you. Please enjoy!
Donato Esposito, welcome to The Finish Line! Tell us something about yourself that the world doesn’t know.
I can speak fluent Donald Duck.
When did you start to run and what motivated you?
I started towards end of June 2015 and what motivated me was to train for a half marathon race to raise money for a charity. (Read the story of his amazing journey to help The Hibbs Lupus Trust, a dedicated team of volunteers whose own lives have been affected by lupus.)
At first, what problems did you encounter or what physical complaints did you experience? How did you take care of those?
When I started, I barely managed to run for five minutes. My ankles and knees were aching and I had sharp chest pains from breathing. To cope with these, I just slowly increased the time I run as my body would not feel so much pain until I was comfortable to run for 15 minutes. And I would slowly increase the times I would run for each week.
Do you run individually or in groups? Tell us something about your running community if you have joined one.
I only run on my own as I work in different locations, so there’s a difficulty to find any running buddies or groups who run at 6am.
Please describe your typical training ground. Where do you usually run?
I train wherever I am and always run on road and footpaths. No trail running as most places I work at are in cities and towns.
Which running shoes are you using? Please share some personal tips on how to choose the right shoes for optimum performance.
I currently use Saucony Glide 9 and prior to that I had Brooks Ghost. I would always recommend to go to a professional running store and have a full gait analysis. From that analysis, the store should be able to recommend a range of shoes to best fit you. For me, it is essential to have the right fitting running shoes for comfortable running. When you have comfortable shoes, you can then get the best running.
What other running-must-haves do you wear or carry with you and which you cannot run without?
The other must haves are socks that help your feet breathe and reduce risk of blisters, and shorts and shirts that don’t cause chaffing. There are also some times which are not so much must haves, but more for adding to my experience. I have a Garmin to track my running times and distances, a Fitbit to track my steps, and also a GoPro to record my VLOGs for YouTube as I do enjoy my running and want to record some of my special races. And last, but not least, I have a Spibelt to carry my iPhone, as sometimes I may record a quick VLOG on my iPhone for my Instagram followers to enjoy.
How do you prepare for a major running event? Tell us about the details of your training plan.
For my first marathon, I just downloaded a 16 week training plan, made some edits, and followed that. Sometimes, I change long runs to Saturdays instead of Sundays, depending on what family plans there would be at weekends. I would also have yoga, rowing, and spinning added for my gym workouts.
Donato conquered the longest distance of his life to help Cancer Research UK raise vital funds for them to beat cancer. Watch his video and be inspired!
How often do you participate in organized fun runs? What is your most favorite running event and distance. Why?
I don’t take part that often, but in build up to my first marathon, I ran three half-marathon races. I have now ran five half-marathon races, which I would say is my favorite distance as it is a long distance to challenge me, but not too long to drain me like a marathon distance.
My favorite was Great Birmingham Run 2015 as the support was amazing almost all the way round the course. I also ran it with a London Olympic torch (used for the London Olympics relay in 2012), which made it extra special.
During the race, how do you keep yourself motivated and strong to reach the finish line?
I film myself for the VLOGs to stay motivated and just chat with other runners. Just seeing the finish line makes me feel strong.
Can you think of an embarrassing moment you had while running? Do you mind sharing it with us?
Not really, but then I’ve only been running for 11 months.
What is the first thing that you do after finishing a race? Give us also some methods that you found effective for your post-race recovery.
I always eat everything that is in the goodie bags at finish line. I aim to also have a protein shake, as well as food intake. I make sure I do correct stretches for whole body. When I get home, I also foam roll.
Share with us the benefits you have gained from running ever since you started.
There are so many benefits, with the main one me now being super fit! My rest heart rate before running was 67bpm and now is 53bpm.
Inspire us with the greatest accomplishments you had so far achieved in running.
Naturally, my greatest achievement so far is finishing my first marathon in an astonishing time of 3hrs and 46mins in only nine months after starting running at the age of 54. And if you have seen the VLOG, you will see that I also filmed along the whole race, gave running commentary, and sang along at some parts! Second to this would be my PB of 1hr and 36mins for half-marathon.
Looking back, how has running changed or impacted your life as a whole.
It has made me feel better about my life and appreciate how lucky I am to have my good health. Also, I am so pleased that I am inspiring so many people around the world to be more active and take up running.
We’re interested to know your future goals as far as running is concerned. It can be something else that you want to do more.
I want to run another marathon and see that I can improve my time.
Finally, please give a personal message or advice to inspire and encourage those people who are about to start running.
The best advice I would say is to enjoy it. If you don’t enjoy or it hurts, STOP. A journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step. Sometimes, we may have to walk before we can run [Tweet This].
RunnersPH Interview features inspiring stories of Filipino runners. It is a series of conversations where they share proven tips, personal advice, lessons learned, and gainful experiences that show the delightful ways that running can intersect with life.