The day job:
Fawaz Ghali is a senior lecturer in Computer Science at LJMU within the Faculty of Engineering and Technology.
The secret life:
Fawaz is also an avid long-distance runner who recently embarked on the challenge of a lifetime – to run an incredible 30 marathons in just 30 days, all in aid of a charity very close to his heart.
After running a staggering total of 786 miles over this summer and raising over £3,000 for Alzheimer’s Research UK, we caught up with Fawaz to ask all about his incredible challenge and find out exactly what motivated him to take on such a tough feat.
Tell us a little bit about yourself
"I'm originally from Syria and came to the UK in 2006. After moving I completed my Master's degree, then a PhD in Computer Science from the University of Warwick. I’ve been living in Liverpool since 2010 and had various industrial and academic jobs before starting here at LJMU. In my spare time I’m a committed long-distance runner. I’ve ran 5,800km (3,600 miles) this year alone so far. I usually go out running in the early mornings and try to finish by 8am. I then continue the rest of my day as normal!”
What was the motivation behind taking on such a huge marathon challenge?
“In 2016 I lost my dad to Alzheimer’s disease. It was really painful to watch how the illness affected him and the rest of my family. I did this challenge to help prevent other families having to go through what we have. There is currently no cure or treatment for Alzheimer’s, but I passionately believe that through research we will change this. That’s why Alzheimer’s Research UK is such an important charity to us as a family.”
Can you describe the experience of doing a marathon every single day?
“Every day started the night before with a lot of preparation. I prepared my clothes, backpack, shoes and all the tech I need, as well as my all-important nutritional snacks. Every marathon required around 2,600 calories, so it was important for me to get the right food before, during, and after each marathon. Depending on the weather I chose different layers and changed them as the day progressed. I had different routes for the seven marathons that I repeated on a weekly basis. Once I finished each one I ate as soon as possible to start the recovery process.”
How were you able to train for the challenge?
“As I’m an early morning long-distance runner, I usually run for around two or three hours before I even leave for work. I also recently won the LJMU Building Bingo Challenge, which involved visiting 16 different buildings across Liverpool and take a selfie in front of them. I did this in just one morning run the day after my challenge was announced. I also fast before the majority of my runs, allowing me to better manage my energy and to burn fats instead of carbs for longer distances.”
Did you ever come close to giving up? If so, how did you stay motivated to carry on?
“I did consider giving up at times. The challenge was so tough mentally and on some occasions it was hard to keep on track. I found myself asking ‘what’s the point?’ a few times, but I always ignored these thoughts in the end. I guess because I was well prepared for each run there was nothing to realistically stop me from finishing them. What really kept me going was the target of £3,000 I’d set out to reach. Luckily I exceeded this on the day of my final marathon. It was a great feeling!”
How did the support of others help you to get over the finish line?
“The support from my wife and kids, as well as my local running community and friends, was a massively important factor in completing the challenge. I honestly don’t think I’d have completed the challenge without the support I received, especially from Alzheimer’s Research UK too.”
What’s the most important thing you’ve learned from challenging yourself in this way?
“More than anything I’ve learned how to cope with intense physical and mental pain through these marathons. Having completed 30 of them I now know that no matter what happens, I can achieve the things I truly set my mind to."
Are you feeling inspired my Fawaz’s fitness journey? Did you know that at LJMU we have a long list of sporting clubs and societies that you could get involved with in your spare time during your degree? If you’re interested in studying PE or a similar subject, take a look at our sport-related courses today.