Running – Older But Faster!

Running – Older But Faster!


Running began for me as a young child. I fell into it, I was a boxer first, but through my training I discovered that I was a fairly good runner too. I was one of those athletes of decent ability who fell through the cracks during college, which led to a long time out of the sport. Although I never lost my love of fitness and endurance sports. I tried my hand at triathlons for a few years, but the love of pure running never left me. I’m back running five years now, after a ten year sabbatical.

Some would consider this year a modest breakthrough year for me. I have put in some good performances across a range of distances and keep getting faster despite getting older. I have new personal bests in the 5k, 10k, 10 mile, half marathon and marathon this year. I’ve had great success in various cross country races also, with the latest in Abbotstown Dublin, where I placed just outside the top six in the O35’s which would have secured a selection to the national team.

I’m at a point in my running that my 39 year old self would show a “clean set of heels” to my 19 year old self. It’s very satisfying and not uncommon for older athletes to keep progressing. Only last year Gary O’Hanlon of Clonliffe Harriers set a marathon Pb of 2:18.53 at the age of 43. This is just one example, there are many more out there. It is great to know that a consistent approach to training, encompassing all its elements can lead to improvement.

As a self-coached athlete I have to be able to read myself and my body very well. The training methods I have put in place have worked perfectly for me, as they have for others that I have helped to reach their goals. In my eyes improvement is about continually adapting and changing things to get a better response.

When I took up running again 5 years ago, I was in no rush. Being a Physical Therapist I constantly looked at research papers related to my field to get the best evidenced approach to any condition. I took this approach to my running as well.

What I came to understand is that to see improvement you need to view running as a long term endeavour. Don’t be in a panic to see positive results too soon. Enjoy the journey and the experience of training your body and mind. Set yourself up for success by surrounding yourself with good training partners and a knowledgeable coach that takes the time to understand your individual goals.

Five years ago, I knew that I would be at this point in my running. And, I know where I will be in another five years. Continually adapting and layering different elements (strength, speed, flexibility, endurance, etc) efficiently has led to greater progress. Each year that has passed I have added in something different to my training. Elements that I have added into my routine and provide for others are, Strength/personal training, Massage, and individualised Training programmes. 

Understanding the event you are training for and what attributes you need to allow for improvement are key. I have a bunch of other ideas to put into my training over the next few years, so I will keep changing and adapting and see how far it will take me.


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Marathon Week

Marathon Week – How to manage your thoughts & feelings


Marathon week is probably the hardest week of all the weeks leading up to the race. This is the time when you starting doubting yourself, feel niggles, thinking  your legs are heavy and have a general lack of energy. The upshot of this is, its normal to feel this way. In fact if you aren’t feeling a little off-centre, I would question if you are truly switched on for what is about to come.

These feeling are a result of nervous energy. If you let them get on top of you they can rule you and potentially lead to a poor performance. However, if you can turn them into a positive, it can enhance your performance. You can do this by banishing the negative comments from the internal dialogue going on in your head and replacing it with some positive self talk. In a recent study (source) the effects of positive self talk has shown to significantly reduces perceived exertion and enhances endurance performance.

This is the time I ask athletes to leaf back through their training diary and see all the training they have completed, prep races run and, splits achieved. You can get so much positive reinforcement from your training diary, so much so, it is an essential tool in your marathon success.

If your legs are feeling tired and heavy, this can be simply your body adjusting from a higher mileage back to a lower mileage as you taper. This is why it is good to keep a bit of snap in them with some race pace intensity, even if it’s just some strides. The marathon is a long and hard race but getting to the start line fit and healthy is half the battle. If you have done the miles (which is the cornerstone of marathon training) and prepared well, be confident in your ability and go after it. If negative thoughts creep in, banish them and tell yourself your strong and able.

Best of luck to you on your journey and I hope you all achieve your own personal goals.

Build Your Aerobic Base!

Aerobic base

An aerobic base is the cornerstone of any running related sport. You cannot build a sound physical condition without a sound aerobic base. The natural progression of movement from birth is to roll, crawl, walk, run. Endurance sports are no different. Weather you play football, soccer, hurling, running, triathlon, tennis, it is irrelevant. The basis for achieving your potential is grounded in a solid aerobic base. Only then should you engage in anaerobic training. Continue reading “Build Your Aerobic Base!”

Ankle Sprain – Physical Therapy

Ankle sprains are common place in both a sporting environment and during everyday life. The most common types of ankle sprains are an inversion ankle sprain and an eversion ankle sprain. With an inversion ankle sprain, the anterior talofibular ligament is disrupted and possibly the calcaenofibular ligament on the outside of the ankle. With an eversion ankle sprain the medial ligaments are damaged.

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Junk Miles – Running

There is no such thing as junk miles.

Junk miles have been talked about for years with various perspectives on them. Often junk miles are viewed as running for the sake of running, with no particular target or goal in mind for that run. They are the fillers around the speed sessions and long run. For me those fillers are not junk. They provide and important function by adding to your aerobic base, if carried out correctly. Continue reading “Junk Miles – Running”

Core Stability For Runners

Core Stability, What is it?


Core stability, why do runners need a good core? Mention core work to most people, and they think of crunchers/sit ups and planks. How do we define our core? These should be easy questions to answer as core stability is everywhere, from GAA training to pilates to boot camps. However defining what your core is and how it works is more difficult than you might think. The most common location of the core encompasses from your sternum down to creases under your buttocks. Therefore supposedly, all the muscles in this area make up your core. Continue reading “Core Stability For Runners”

Training Diary

What’s A Training Diary?


A training diary is an important element of a comprehensive training plan. We get so much information from our own personalised training diary. What we put into it is our own choice. With modern gps devices, a lot of informative data is recorded and displayed for you. This is nice as the readability and accuracy of it is clear and concise. You can add whatever fields you want to keep track of. Linking your watch to apps such as Strava, Training Peaks, Garmin Connect etc makes this information easily accessable on your phone, laptop or PC.

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Training LCHF

Training LCHF


Training for endurance has been part and parcel of who I am since I care to remember. I have competed in various different endurance events over the last 25 years. Starting off in schools cross country races so many years ago, has led me on an educational and experimental journey. The transition from an ordinary healthy western diet to a low carbohydrate high fat (lchf) diet is part of that journey. Continue reading “Training LCHF”

Low Carb High Fat (LCHF)

Low Carb High Fat

Back in May 2015 I was waiting to catch a plane to New York for my sister’s wedding. I had some time to kill in the departures lounge so I ambled into the book shop. I’m always drawn to the sport or non fiction sections. Within a couple of minutes browsing I came across Christoper McDougalls’ latest book, “Natural Born Heroes”. Having really enjoyed the concept of his previous book “Born to Run” I decided to give this one a shot. Continue reading “Low Carb High Fat (LCHF)”