What led you to take up running?
My first introduction to running was through my primary school, where for a few weeks leading up to the county school’s cross-country championship, the coach of the local running club, Shannon athletic club, came to our school every lunch time to coach us. I think that was when I was in 5th class and I thought it was absolutely brilliant, I came tenth in that race and enjoyed every second of it. After that I actually got into triathlons first because it was something my parents were starting to get into at that time, so it wasn’t actually until a couple of years later that realised I much preferred running to the other two disciplines so I decided to just stick with running when I was about 16. I have been running with Ennis track for about 6 years now.
What does a typical training week look like?
At the moment I’m running about 110 kilometres week with key sessions being speed work on a Wednesday, usually between 400 and 800 metre repeats at race pace and then tempo work on a Saturday which is a little bit slower than race pace but for a longer distance. Every second week then is a fast and hard run which is 15 miles at a 6-minute mile pace. As well as running I would typically do at least one weights session a week and a couple of kilometres in the pool, and maybe some time on the bike as well.
What is your favourite training session?
My favourite training session is either a progression run, typically around 8 miles and picking up the speed every mile, I love the feeling of getting quicker and stronger every lap and getting to that final mile where you can really push yourself and finish strong. I also love a regular slow long run, between 12 and 15 miles just along forest trails or with a group, I find it very relaxing and a great way to end a week of training. Food and coffee always taste the best after a long run too.
What is your least favourite training session?
Fartlek sessions, a bit of a weird one but I have thing against fartlek sessions because I don’t like running based on time rather than distance. I much rather run a pyramid session of 800m, 600m and 400m than running a fartlek session of 2 min on 1 min off 90 sec on 1 min off…etc. It’s a just a weird quirk that I have.
Do you follow a strict diet plan?
I would be quite strict with my diet, my main focus with my diet is getting my nutritional timing right so that I’m eating the right meals before a session to fuel me and have me feeling fresh and energised and then the right meals after to boost recovery as much as possible. I think knowing the difference between what meals are better for pre training and which ones are better for recovery is key. I also do love a good pizza so it’s definitely not a perfect diet either.
What are your main targets for this season?
My goal race for this year is the national senior cross country. It will be my first year running at a senior level, so I am very excited for the challenge and giving it my all to get a coveted spot on the Euro cross u23 team.
What are your long-term goals in Sport?
At the moment my short-term goal is to progress to running the half marathon distance because I have always felt that my strength has lied in the longer distance. My long term goal is to start competing at a international level at the half marathon to marathon distance. Representing Ireland has always been an obsession for me so the long-term goal is to earn that opportunity.
Who are your sporting heroes?
My greatest sporting heroes are Muhammad Ali and Steven Gerrard. I have never been a huge fan of boxing but it’s the mentality of Muhammad Ali that’s been a huge inspiration for me, like all great sportsman such as Michael Jordan, Steve Prefontaine and many others, he had an unwavering self-belief in his own abilities and believed above all else that he was the greatest athlete to ever live. To be able to have that mentality every single day is hugely inspiring to me. One my favourite quote from Ali is “The fight is won or lost far away from the witnesses, behind the lines, in the gym and out there on the road; long before I dance under those lights”
What is your favourite training location?
My favourite training location is St. Flannans in Ennis. It’s just a mile loop around pitches at the back of a secondary school but it’s always been my favourite place to run because its where I first started running for Ennis track and I spent years there training nearly every day after school. I have definitely run more miles there than anywhere else and always barefoot there too, but I’ve just never got sick of it.
How has covid impacted your training?
I was lucky enough to be in a sport like running where you don’t need any facilities really to train, there will always be a road to run on no matter what. I kept training as usual all the way through covid, but it was a lot harder having to train on my own constantly for a few months and not being able to use a track or go to any trails. Gyms not being open didn’t help either and I struggled to motivate myself to do proper gym sessions at home. From a recovery perspective, covid didn’t help either because I have always used the local pool and sauna as much as I can for recovery and although it’s probably a placebo effect more than anything else, I’ve always believed that using a sauna boosts my recovery exponentially.
How has covid impacted your motivational level and goals?
Training during covid was a big mental battle for me, it was months of training on my own and no races in sight to aim for and keep me focused. Motivational levels did drop and raise quite a bit but I feel that I did really good job of persevering through it and giving up or slowing down was just never an option that I could take. I believe I came out of lockdown stronger and more motivated because of that and I was also very grateful that I had running to keep me focused and give me something to plan my day around. Overall I believe that I am now mentally stronger and have bigger and more ambitious goals than I did before lockdown.