One of the youngest soldiers since WWII to achieve the rank of Major in the Parachute Regiment, McGrath then went onto to become the managing director of a FTSE-100 company. This is how he stayed fit for the boardroom and battlefield.
I live by goals. The multi-year goal I’m currently training for is the Ultra-Trail du Mont Blanc (UTMB) in August 2020, which is the pinnacle of ultra-racing, but this includes eight pre-races. I use a virtual coach to provide structure and focus for the training goals we agree at the start of the year. I draw significant benefit from having someone, who’s achieved things I want to achieve, maximize every second of my available training time along with the accountability of our weekly reviews. My longest goal is to be fit enough to pick up two great grandchildren, one in each arm, when the time comes. This inspires me to invest in both my training and nutrition, as well as being the best husband and father I can be along the way.
Like many parents balancing training with a demanding career, I need to constantly be innovative to find time; so, neither junk nor extra miles feature. I train in dead time versus prime time to maximize time with my family, which means very early weekend sessions and incorporating training into every morning’s commute.
On average I train 12hrs per week. The bulk is running (a mix of endurance, threshold and interval sessions) supplemented with bike sessions to build aerobic base while reducing impact. I do two strength sessions based on eight functional movement patterns, which I complete in 45 mins. I also include three short SMR sessions to aid mobility and recovery, but with the exception of race days, I live with stiffness every day.
I believe sleep and nutrition are 3-4 times more important than any training session and prioritize them accordingly. I go to bed early and get a straight eight every night, to fuel my recovery and provide the mental acuity to be productive. Having overcome a love for pizza, I now eat a whole foods diet, supplemented with a plant-based protein drink. I eat within an 8-hour window Monday-Friday, having read how it stimulates cellular regeneration and boosts the immune system. I find this easy do to in the office, both because I’m mentally occupied and there’s no food around. I also take a tablespoon of freshly squeezed lemon with water 2-3 times per day to aid digestion.
My purpose is to raise four daughters who thrive independently and to inspire others to improve their health and wealth. Being a positive role model is critical to me living up to this. I think children especially learn through observation and I hope my girls seeing me push myself through a progressive ladder of competition will inspire them to prioritize fitness like any important business meeting. I believe the optimism, grit and growth mindset fostered thorough a focused training regime are the key to mastery in every domain of life. I can’t imagine living without a daily dose of purposeful training and I hope my daughters and many more people might benefit from the winner’s edge it provides in the workplace, as well as the mental space to be a more present partner, parent and friend.
Be Para Fit: The 4-Week Formula for Elite Physical Fitness by Major Sam McGrath is published 18 February (Osprey, $20).