From Plate To Pace: How Prepped Nutritious Meals Helped Me Crush The Malta Half Marathon In 1 Hour 45 Minutes

Keith Demicoli finishing the Marathon on Fortify Meals
Keith Demicoli running the Marathon on Fortify Meals

In 2015, I stumbled upon the exhilarating world of running by chance. Surprisingly, a friend of mine had approached me to run the Malta Half Marathon for charity. Little did I know that this would ignite a newfound love within me. Despite being a mediocre and inconsistent runner, eight years later, I am hooked on the thrill and joy that running has brought into my hectic life.

Finding time for running has become more challenging since I decided to become my own boss in 2021. With busy schedules and tight deadlines, I was often resorting to quick, unhealthy meals that would harm my body and well-being in the long run. Luckily, I recently realised that implementing a healthy food regime can lead to increased productivity, better health, a happier lifestyle and a good time to finish a half marathon. 

Going back to running, back in January 2020, I ran around 250km prior to completing the February 2020 half marathon in a personal best of 1:40:55. In stark comparison, in January 2023, I only managed to run 14km. The good news is that last month I still managed to complete 21.1km in 1:45. You might genuinely get intrigued by how I managed to run at an average pace of 4:57 sec per km without much running training prior to race day. Reflecting on my recent changing lifestyle, I might have discovered a new way to remain strong and healthy at the age of 40 – fitting two to three 40-minute sessions of strength/conditioning training a week and eating prepared nutritious meals.

Keith Demicoli starting the Marathon on Fortify Meals
Keith Demicoli celebrating the Marathon victory on Fortify Meals

Building Up Your Fitness and Strength

When I first set out to run a half marathon, I knew that I would need to put in a lot of work to make it happen and be physically and mentally prepared for it. I had always enjoyed trying out new sports, but I had never attempted anything quite like running 21km before. I vividly remember starting gently by running very slowly a few times a week and gradually increasing my distance and speed. My running schedule and overall lifestyle changed significantly following my career change in 2021. I quickly realised that something had to give to meet new demanding deadlines as a freelance presenter and communications specialist.  

That’s when I decided to join Malta’s first fully fitted training studio (Un1t) and focus on two to three 40-minute condition and strength classes a week. With limited time for my usual morning runs, I needed something more structured, something that would help me build up my strength and fitness in a more targeted way. These classes are designed to improve my overall fitness and strength, with a particular focus on the muscles and movements used in running. Each class includes a variety of exercises, from cardio to strength training, all designed to help me become fitter rather than a better runner. They’re pushing me to my limits and helping me become stronger and more confident in my abilities.

Fortify Meals

A Balanced and Healthy Diet is Key

Alongside my classes, I knew that my diet would play a crucial role in my ability to run a half marathon without running training. In mid-November 2022, I started eating prepared nutritious meals by Fortify. Their offered meal plan provided me with the right balance of nutrients and energy without overloading on calories or unhealthy fats. I also made sure to stay hydrated, drinking plenty of water throughout the day. Over the course of 90 days prior to my half marathon, I could witness a few results following my new holistic approach to fitness, one that includes both strength training and healthy eating. 

When race day finally arrived on the 26th of February, 2023, I felt nervous but excited. I knew that I hadn’t put in a lot of hard work, but I was ready for whatever challenges lay ahead the next two hours or so. 

Over the course of the next 21.1km, I pushed myself and felt a sense of pride and accomplishment with every step from Mdina to Sliema. When I finally reached the finish line and could hear my selfless wife cheering me on the less painful metres, I was exhausted but elated. I had achieved my goal of running another half marathon in an unexpected time of 1:45:13. I soon realised that it was all thanks to the changes undertaken in my diet and fitness routine over the past 90 days. 

If you’re a busy person and looking to achieve a similar goal, I would encourage you to consider targeted classes and a good meal plan. The latter is proving to be a real lifesaver because having a nutritious meal ready and delivered conveniently at home twice a week is saving me a lot of time and hassle. By making healthy eating a priority, you can also improve your overall health and well-being, allowing you to perform at your best all the time and achieve your desired success in your career and life.

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