Interview: Jeff Hunt Talks Marathons

This is a copy of the interview I had with my good friend Dave Byrne over at thelongrun.com.au. Dave has been doing a pretty good job with the website, and there is always something interesting to read. If you are interested in the interview because you haven’t heard of thelongrun.com.au, then keep on going down the page and enjoy it.


As Australia’s fastest ever debutant over the marathon, there was quite a bit of excitement around what Jeff might achieve. Several years on he’s been to Commonwealth Games, World Championships and Olympics, however recently he’s become a father, changed jobs and somewhat drifted away from running. But the fire is still in the belly and Jeff is hopeful of making the team for Rio in 2016.

Source: Michael Steele/Getty Images AsiaPac

In action at the 2010 Commonwealth Games | Source: Michael Steele/Getty Images AsiaPac

You’ve been off the radar since your 4th at the City to Surf, what’s been happening?

Well, I was actually lucky to even get to run the race! I’ve been battling sickness since March, and have only had 3 weeks where I wasn’t sick. It was right around the time of the City2Surf, fortunately. A couple of days after, I started the roller coaster of sick, but not sick. Finally, the body gave in early September, just after that horrible week of rain we had. I managed to tear my soleus, and then got really sick, and missed pretty much all of September running. I’m healthy and back into it now, but man was that a downer month. That’s why I’ve been off the radar. :-)

Do you have any races in mind before the end of 2014?

I did have a few lined up, but have had to reassess in the wake of September. I have locked in the Asics Bolt in Noosa, and the JP Morgan Chase Challenge corporate race in Centennial Park. I may line up for the NSW 3,000m, but it is unlikely, given that I wont be able to get on the track before it. I simply can’t risk injuring my soleus again while its on the mend. I’m just trying to get fit again.

  1. The 2012 Olympic Games Marathon is number 1. I may have ran terrible (due in part to it being my 3rd marathon in 24 weeks or so – I’m no Yuki Kawauchi, lets just say that), but the atmosphere out there on the course was second-to-none. I thoroughly enjoyed all of the support from the crowd. What many people don’t know was that I stopped twice right around 32km. I was done, or so I thought. However, the crowd was having none of it. They are the reason I got to the end. It was that extra lift I needed for my mind to win over my body.
  2. The 2010 Beppu Oita Mainichi Marathon. It was my debut marathon, enough said. Ha. I came in with a goal of running sub-2:14, and blew it out of the water. It is one of only a few times I have exceeded my own expectations.
In action at the 2012 Olympic Games

In action at the 2012 Olympic Games

At peak training, what did a standard week look like?

A lot better than what it does now. Total mileage would be around 180-190km per week in full volume. Weekly structure looked something like this:

Monday – AM 8km, PM 16km

Tuesday – AM 8km, PM Session: Fartlek or Longish rep session

Wednesday – AM 8km, PM 1hr 40mins

Thursday – AM 8km, PM 1hr run with 20min at MP

Friday – AM 8km, PM 16km

Saturday – AM Intervals (e.g. 10 x half-lakes, 6 x lakes), PM 10km

Sunday – AM 2hr 15mins (occasionally ran 2hr 30mins)

What is your favourite session?

Um, none. It’s not really a favourite, but rather a session that works really well: 1hr with 20mins at MP. I would run 20mins @ 4:00/km, then 20mins @ 2:55-3:00/km, then 20mins @ 3:30-3:40/km. I did that session almost weekly for 5 or 6 years before my marathon debut. I think it had a large part to play in my debut result.

What 3 tips do you have for aspiring marathon runners:

  1. Preparing for a marathon is a long process. If you want to achieve your very best, you can’t prepare effectively for a marathon in less than 18 months. I strongly believe my debut success was because my training was geared towards running a marathon long before I knew it. it was consistent training, week in, week out for YEARS AND YEARS!
  2. What works once won’t always work, so try to mix it up and introduce new stimuli so your body continues to adapt, and it keeps your mind fresh
  3. Train with people better than you. Get beaten in training. Just by trying to keep up, you will realise how hard you can push yourself. On race day, you will know that you have more, and will have the mental strength to continue when the going gets tough.
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