11 QUESTIONS TO THOMAS UNDERBJERG
Have you ever struggled with finding the motivation to go for a run? Or having trouble with losing weight? We have interviewed the Danish marathon runner Thomas Underbjerg Olesen and you can read all about his amazing journey below!
1. Would you like to introduce yourself?
My name is Thomas Underbjerg and I am 40 years old. I live in Aalborg with my girlfriend and my daughter – when she is with me. I work as a teacher for children with special needs at a state school in Aalborg and I have been running for almost 6 years. Actually, I have been running even before then, but then I quickly dropped it again. Back in the days, I had never really found the motivation, urge or happiness about running. But 6 years ago, it all changed and I have been running ever since.
2. How and when did your passion for running start?
My passion for running started back in 2013. I had just recently divorced from my partner, whom I was together with for 14 years. I was quite overweight and in very bad shape. In the middle of my life crisis, I felt the need to create a change in the way that I had lived so far. A quite concrete and foreseeable change was to lose weight and that is why I started to run. It seemed an easy and flexible way to exercise because it was not very time-consuming. The first weeks were horrible. AlthoughI was only capable of running 500m, I fought my way through a 5km run three times a week. Through this process, I could slowly but surely feel that my training became less and less exhausting and one day I spontaneously decided to run 10km. I was completely high on happiness when I arrived home and I was so proud of myself. That was the first time I really felt the joy of running.
3. Has running changed the way that you live?
On a practical level, running has changed the way that I live, because I am way more active than I used to be. I have completely changed my focus on keeping my body healthy and strong. The whole experience about being capable to do things with my body in connection with running – that I previously considered as impossible – has made me both happy and proud, and I am so grateful that I have succeeded in creating a positive change in my life. Additionally, running has also changed the way I perceive different aspects of my life – things that are not always related to running. Through my years as a runner, I have endured so many things and hard battles that have changed the way I perceive challenges today.
4. How does a typical day look for you?
Typically, I wake up at 6.30 in the morning. I run to work many times a week – and that’s a distance of 11km. I plan my weeks so that I can change and shower before work. When I am off work, I will run home and then the training is done for the day. Otherwise, I will run in the evening or at the weekends where I am usually meeting up with a group of runners in the morning.
5. How much does endurance mean to you, when you are running marathons as your main distance?
There is no doubt that my primary goal in my training is to enhance my endurance. I can simply feel that I will perform better, the stronger and more enduring my body is. That is actually the reason why I am so attracted to marathons as a distance – they give me the opportunity to explore how much I can endure. That is why endurance takes up a lot of space in my training.
6. What motivates you to train so hard?
Right now, my motivation is to see how far I can push my body on the marathon distance and see how fast I can run the 42 km. When I ran my first marathon, I didn’t know if this was going to be my first and last marathon and I have never believed that I was capable of running a marathon below 3 hours. But I was actually capable of doing this! And now I am curious to see how much I can improve my performance in the future. Maybe there will be a time where I am more motivated for other aspects about running, but for now, this curiousness motivates me.
7. Have you ever had any challenges with running?
Sometimes I haven’t been good with listening properly to my body’s signals concurrently with running/training more and more. I have achieved some form of positive addiction to running. But the risk is that sometimes I have overlooked and not listened to my body needing a break. As a consequence, I have had minor injuries. Luckily, I feel that as a runner I have become a lot wiser.
8. Do you have any hobbies besides running?
I play guitar and piano, and I really enjoy spending time with this. Furthermore, I like to play Xbox, which my dad tells me I am too old for 😉
9. What is your next goal/race?
My next goal is to run the Copenhagen Marathon in 2019. Then, I hope to have the opportunity to run the Berlin Marathon in fall 2019. My biggest goals for 2019, is to run a half marathon below 1 hour and 20min, and on the marathon distance, it is to run 2 hours and 50 minutes. Whether this is possible or not, I am not sure about. But I believe that with hard work, I can succeed.
10. Which product from DANISH ENDURANCE is your favorite?
My favorite product at the moment is, without doubt, your Quarter Pro Socks. These are perfect for the fall season, and they keep my feet dry. They fit really well without annoying stitches that irritate during my run.
11. Do you have any good advice to others that are in the same position as you or who want to run a marathon?
My best advice to others, who want to run a marathon, is simply to enjoy it! Enjoy that you dared to have a marathon as a goal. Enjoy the training on the way towards your goal. Enjoy the training in the sun, and the training in the rain and wind. Enjoy the excitement that builds up towards your marathon. Enjoy the expectations when you stand on the start line among thousands of other runners. Enjoy the support from the audience and enjoy the sound from all the running shoes that hit the ground. Enjoy the easy kilometers at the beginning and the harder kilometers, when your body is tired. Enjoy everything and enjoy to feel the body overwhelmed with pride after you finish.
Follow Thomas on Instagram!