Desmond Keuken

We start 2018 by interviewing the man who has started 2018 with a BANG.....clocking up a massive 1,000+kms for the month. Desmond Keuken is probably a name you’ve seen a lot – at the top of each week’s leader board. We thought we’d delve into what makes him tick, and also answer the question I’m sure you’ve all be dying to does he do it??

I’m personally fortunate enough to see Des’ activity each day, and I know he is an avid walker......taking every opportunity to complete a structured walk as part of his journey. So the fist thing I ask Des is about his activity, and he replies.....”First things first. I’m a walker not a runner. Other than the occasional quick shuffle when I misjudge the traffic while crossing the road, I’ve walked every step of my RDU journey. But I’m a reasonably fast walker when I choose to do so".....something I can vouch for!

Des’s main goal for the year is to complete RDU by the end of 2018 and move on to the next region at a much reduced pace for 2019. Des tells me “Other than Run4theKids, which I have entered every year since its inception, I don’t really do any events. Last year, as well as aiming for a consistent weekly RDU total, I set myself the goal to complete a Marathon. I achieved that bucket list item in November at the local “Run for the Youth” and this year will probably enter again but this time for my first half marathon. And the surprise packet last year was signing up for Run Against Violence. I got randomly selected for the “Good Deeds” team and met an awesome bunch of people who logged K’s they didn’t even know were possible. I made some friends and still keep in touch with a number of them.”

So the million-dollar question Des - How do u manage so many K’s? “Routine, planning and a good dose of stubbornness (obsession ;)” Des states. “I always have a rough goal for how many k’s I want to achieve each month and every Sunday I set a target for the following week that works towards that monthly goal. Then based on what I have on for the week and the weather forecasts I set daily targets. I do my very best to stick to the plan for each day. I draw the line at going out in 40+ degrees but will either do the k’s in the days leading up or head inside to the treadmill. Not something I particularly enjoy, but it does give me a chance to watch a movie. Not something I get to do a lot of these days. Before RDU I used to attempt 3k’s before work every morning and in the evening took the dog around the block (1.7k). Sometimes parkrun on Saturday and often a hike on Sunday.

Des continues by saying “Since I’ve been consumed by the RDU bug, my morning routine is about 15k, I schedule my working day so I can get out at lunch for a walk and the poor dog now gets dragged along for 10k each evening. After parkrun each week I do a 7k cool down and Sunday I walk to my favourite breakfast place which is a 20k+ round trip. That is my baseline every week and so far in 2018 I’ve managed to add extra K’s onto that. And RDU is the motivator for all that. Before it was just so easy to stay in bed on occasions, now RDU is often the sole reason I get up in the morning. I’ve always been an early riser for work, being gone before the rest of the household stirs. It’s no different now, except that I’m up before 4am to get the extra k’s in before I start work. And I’m at a point now where the kids are rarely around in the evening’s, so I generally have time after work to get as many k’s as I need to achieve my target.”

With all these kms I needed to know what “Body Maintenance” Des does. He replies “I treat my feet like kings :) I spend a small fortune on new shoes and socks and every 3-4 weeks I have a deep tissue massage to deal with the niggles that start to build up. Every couple of weeks, I like to have a rest day on the Sunday. Possibly 10-20k’s (have to at least get my 10,000 steps a day) early in the morning but then nothing for the rest of the day. It makes such a difference to starting the new week with some energy..

Des began his journey with Run Down Under in April 2017. “It is all my son Zach’s doing” he smiles ... “as was finding out about parkrun the year before. I was travelling home on the train with him after Run4theKids. He mentioned this thing he had been doing since the start of the year. He showed me the app and where he was on the lists. I was intrigued and had signed up before we got off the train. It took me a month to get fully into the swing of it but a little while after that I was apologising to him for passing him on the list and haven’t stopped since. I’ve always enjoyed being challenged to improve my results in whatever endeavour I’m doing.

Have you always been a walker Des? “About 8 years ago I had a knee op and it took about 12 months to fully recover” he explains. “Every time I ran after that my knee complained so I decided to keep it low impact and walk only. I don’t want another knee op and I feel that walking is something I can try and keep up forever (more so than running at least in my case).” Des continues by outlining “From early childhood I had always played team sport of some sort for fitness. Tennis, soccer, cricket. But in my late 30’s both my indoor cricket and soccer teams folded due to lack of numbers.

I did nothing about it and 18 months later (due to a reorganisation at work) I found myself just like the title of the book “40, Fat and Fired”. Figured I had to do something about it. I tried the gym (various serious attempts), swimming (great health benefits), mixed netball (awesome sport) but I simply couldn’t find the motivation to keep at them. So I took up running and hiking. Loved it. Then I had the knee op, caused by the running. Once the recovery period was over I decided to create a new book title for myself “50, fit and fantastic”. I took up walking regularly, climbing hills and a year or so later had achieved something I was happy with. And I kept that routine up until my son involved me in RDU.”

Where do you get your inspiration from I asked? “Once again my son” he states proudly. “Both directly and indirectly. I’m continually amazed at what he is achieving with his running, an ongoing reminder of the importance of keeping fit. Also, after being in RDU for a couple of months he introduced me to his running group as they have a large number of people also doing RDU. “Up n Active” is a fantastic group. The nicest people and they achieve so much both together and individually on the track and trails. When I joined, some of the members had been logging huge k’s and the inspiration to do the same came directly from their achievements. Even though I’m a walker only, they have been very welcoming.”

And My favourite walk is The Warburton rail trail is just 400m up the end of my road. It is 40km long and provides me with so many options for short and long walks. My 50k strolls have come from leaving home, walking 10k to one end then walking the entire length before catching the bus home. It is a beautiful track and one of my favourite views is to be about 20k towards Warburton at sunrise. The kangaroos and foxes are out and about and the view as the sun crests the hills is awesome. My favourite hiking/climbing spot is the Cathedral Ranges. One of Nature’s gifts and less than 90 minutes away."