Today Alan looks like a different man — he has shed over eight stone, is drinking three to four litres of water each day, and will be attempting his first ever marathon in Cork City this bank holiday weekend.
“I used to be athletic enough when I was younger but I damaged my knee and couldn’t play sports any more,” said Alan, who is from Ballintemple but now lives in Carrignavar.
“Then I met my wife and we became very comfortable very quickly. Lots of takeaways, going out drinking every weekend, unhealthy living basically.”
Man, 62, plans to finish his 250th marathon on Monday .
Alan knew he needed to change his lifestyle, but lacked the motivation.
“I went to Vietnam with my wife on our honeymoon and the Vietnamese were coming up to me and rubbing my belly, saying I was a happy Buddha and that it was good luck to rub my belly,” he said.
“Then my wife, Mags, said she wanted to go on a diet and she asked if I would do it with her. That was a nice way of bringing up the subject of my weight I suppose.”
In the first week of his low-calorie diet, which he found online, Alan lost 15 pounds. The second week he lost 10 pounds, and then the weight loss slowed down to a couple of pounds each week.
“The biggest difference for me is that I have so much room on the plane. I used to have awful trouble fitting into the seat and getting the tray table down. It wouldn’t go over my belly. And I could barely get the safety belt around me and I’d be too embarrassed to ask for the extension.
“The secret is just drinking loads of water. Around three or four litres a day. I think in general people don’t drink enough water. The more you drink the less hungry you are, the better you feel, the better your skin feels,” he said.
Two Christmases ago, Alan completed his first big run and now spends his time running 10km with his Great Dane Lola.
“I’ve done a good few road races now with the Cork BHAA. They have a race every two weeks or so, it’s great,” he said. “I did the Cork to Cobh race last year and the Great Railway Run which was 25k. I did 30k a few weeks ago and that was fine so I should be in flying form for the marathon this weekend.”
Alan said running has made a huge difference in his life. “I never thought I would ever be doing a marathon, but here I am. And I think this is only the beginning, I don’t think this will be my last. I’m not going to worry about my time too much. I had four hours in my head, but if I don’t make that it’s ok.
“I’m just going to soak up the atmosphere and really enjoy it.”