Damian, a runner, father and entrepreneur

by | Oct 27, 2023 | case study

Many recreational runners want to improve their times, run faster and further.

Damián: “My original motivation, to run longer or to improve my time, seems not to be why I do it. My nature is numbers, numbers, numbers, and you taught me not to look at those numbers only, everyone is different and works differently… and put it in the overall context of stress, work, and family.

Now I can better prepare, evaluate, design the activity so that it fits my goals, which are a little deeper than achieving the best pace for 10 km. And in the context of my lifelong effort to be healthy, fit as long as possible. That’s total well-being. It’s no longer about running, but a part of life, a lifestyle.” 

Damián shared with me after 9 months of coaching. At that time, he did not know how his life would completely change in 9 months with his firstborn child.

Damián: “Even though I have more demanding conditions in terms of recovery and space, I feel that I am still improving, that it is going in the right direction. I see that it’s not like I didn’t sleep and suddenly I can’t do anything. Even in my diet, I stopped counting calories, , I stopped eating at night and even lost a few hundred grams. So I’m paying attention, I keep an eye on it so I don’t overeat when I don’t need to. I was surprised, in the positive sense of the word, that Ican still improve.”

Today we will look at the story of Damián – an entrepreneur, a runner, and now also a father. It is March 2022 and Damián contacts me

Damián: “I run, I also bike, I eat a plant-based diet. I don’t need to lose weight or anything like that, but I want to adjust the diet in such a way that I supplement the appropriate nutrients after training, so that it’s not like I’m just hungry, I order a pizza and it’s done. Rather, practice conscious eating, gradually master it and  learn how much, what , and how to eat, whether before training or after training 

And as long as it is not time-consuming, I’d like to improve my running, get faster.”

Like many goal-oriented people, Damián was aware of the importance of movement and an appropriately planned diet not only for his hobby.

Damián: I’m interested in health, well-being, not medals for participation. I have a better day when I run in the morning. It gives me energy, I’m in a better mood, I enjoy doing other things and I feel better about myself. My head will rest, I want to overcome myself. and I would like to continue doing it for a long time.

He tried different training plans and was improving, but he wasn’t sure of himself.

Damián: I’m not a professional athlete, but for the last few years I’ve been running Kamzík-Baba-Kamzík a 50km trail in the spring and the Košice Marathon in the fall. I have such waves that I train more, I train less, and so it goes in cycles However, I don’t feel that the performance is increasing rapidly, so I would like to take a more comprehensive look at it with someone, whether I am making a mistake somewhere or it is the way it is and that’s the way it will be.

One of the main reasons why he approached me was the lack of time for self-study and trying new things in his busy daily schedule.

Damián: Maybe I’m trying too hard or structuring it differently, but I have so much work and other responsibilities that I don’t have enough space to educate myself about it, to help myself.

Another reason was diet, which plays an important role in his life. Damián paid attention to his diet, but he was not sure if he was giving his body everything it needed and when it needed it on a plant-based diet.

Damián: I don’t want to cook food for three days in advance, but maybe there are tricks to make it easier and have things ready. I like the food you post on IG, it’s colorful and I want to learn how to prepare food so that it’s fun to eat and nutritious.

Since Damián travels and sports is not his job, he has limited time for training, which he wanted to maximize. During our cooperation with Damián, we adapted training to his current capabilities.

Damián: The fact that you download a 10-week plan or training does not take into account your mood. How much time do you have, when do you have that time, how much energy does your job drain, are you flexible, are you not flexible, do you have any responsibilities?

Like many recreational runners, Damián had the idea that he had to run a certain number of kilometers per week. These ideas are mostly based on comparing yourself to other runners who have completely different lives and different training goals. In addition, they don’t realize what effect everything they do outside of training has on training, recovery and if they improve.

When Damián discovered that an appropriate amount of training made him not only a better runner, but also a husband, father and boss, it was a liberating feeling for him.

Damián: It’s such a liberating feeling not to think that I haven’t run for a week and it’s a disaster. But when you miss the a because some situation arises or I’m more tired than I had expected, I don’t take it as tragic and it doesn’t have any negative impact.

Then his child was born and with it Damian has less time for training, disturbed day and sleep schedule. The results that Damián observed were all the more surprising.

Damián: Even though I have more demanding conditions in terms of recovery and space , I feel like I’m still getting better, that it’s going in the right direction. I see that it’s not like I didn’t sleep and suddenly I can’t do anything. I was surprised, in a positive sense of the word, that I can still improve.


As for the nutrition, we made gradual changes. 

Damián already ate a fairly balanced diet in the beginning. He had enough vegetables in his diet due to the fact that he is a vegan. He was a little worried about the lunches he gets delivered or eats at a bistro. However, we found that these lunches are not problematic at all in the context of the whole day. However, we made a few substitutions.

Before the morning training, Damián included fruit juice for energy. Right from the first training, he noticed increased energy, and at the end of the run he didn’t feel so exhausted.

When composing regular meals, we focused on higher protein intake and conscious eating. Damián began to be more aware of when, how much, and why he eats and he started to regulate his intake without unnecessarily counting calories and restricting himself.

Damián: I gave up counting, even what we had fun with – I gave up eating at night and even lost a few hundred grams. So I’m careful, I keep an eye on it so I don’t burn it unnecessarily.

He began to enjoy food more. He also discovered that when he watches TV, he tends to eat much more than his body asks for and needs. During Christmas, he also indulged in desserts without any regrets or any negative consequences🙂

An unexpected moment occurred with coffee. Conscious eating led him to think about why he actually drinks coffee and whether it benefits him.

Damián: I like the approach that I want to skip coffee, but I’ll have it when I want.
Now I had one in the morning, then when I wanted a second coffee, I told myself that I would drink water, and the desire for coffee completely passed me. Perhaps I often compensated for the fact that the body needed water with that coffee. So I blocked something to make myself feel less tired. Thanks to the fact that you wrote in your notes that you are not forbidding yourself any food –  I’m not going to do it and that’s it – but instead, notice what’s happening when I want coffee or when I don’t want it, or what coffee does to me. Such a simple thing to think why I am going to do it, before I do it.

… I drank water, then my colleague brought me coffee, and put it on my table, and I didn’t even drink it, until three hours later I took a sip and poured out the rest. Not that I didn’t like it, but it was already three in the afternoon and I knew I didn’t want to drink coffee.

To summarize, here are some observations from Damian:

  • If I didn’t start with you, maybe I would have fallen to such a stage that I would have stopped running, I would have told myself that it is not worth it and I didn’t want that. I didn’t even know that I found what I really wanted, because I didn’t know what I wanted. It added another dimension to the exercise.
  • It is, in my opinion, difficult to gain such insight through self-study or from common sources such as social networks. The fact that you download a 10-week plan or training does not take into account your mood. How much time you have, when you have that time, how much energy does your job drain, are you flexible, are you not flexible, do you have any responsibilities? The kid is really a big bang, it will brutally mess up absolutely everything and generalized plans don’t account for that.
  • Maybe my initial expectation was that the coach would tell me what to do today, tomorrow, the day after tomorrow, but if I cut him out of it, I won’t know what to do the next day.  And during the process, I realized or understood the value of learning it myself, so that when I eliminate that external factor, that I will be able to continue, or I will have the foundations that will stay with me forever.

    What would you say to a friend?

  • “Definitely try it. You (Daniel) know how to find time and listen and ask the right questions. If a person is open to it, and has some expectations, you have to try it. Because good questions mean hard work, but then when you have the answer, it is of better quality than when you just say to yourself that I’m going to improve my time for 10 km.
  • I appreciate the most that you listen and can ask a question based on what you hear. You don’t go by the questions on a paper and you have a personalized approach.”

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