Guest Post: How an Old Timer Keeps Up His Fitness Regime

Author bio: Gary Baker is the proud founder of, a blog dedicated to encouraging others to stay healthy and active. He writes on various hobbies he has taken up to achieve this, as well as product reviews such as his recent Callaway Supersoft review.

I am quite old. In fact, I am currently in my 50s, and I did not begin truly unlocking my body’s potential until a few years ago, when I was in my late 40s. Back when I started, it seemed to be at an age that many considered too late to begin. Who starts exercising after their physically prime years have passed anyway?

Well, I am proud to point out that I have maintained an enjoyable and highly beneficial daily jogging routine for a couple years now. It keeps me in shape, avoids issues men my age typically run into, and is leagues better than letting my body fade away due to age.

Today, I have the opportunity to share with you all how I kept up with my fitness goals and routines. Certainly, my experiences can be greatly applicable to yours. These are lessons I personally learned, but lessons that can be applied practically to anyone who has set a mission for themselves. With that said, let’s begin.

Set up proper preparation

 Setting up the appropriate steps to prepare yourself for the journey ahead is a huge part of the battle for general fitness. It is especially important if you have had years of inactivity and are just now stepping into the game with a head full of ambition and seriousness.

The first thing I would do is analyze what you need and want. You cannot make goals if you don’t know where it is you’d like to be. Take time with this, since it varies from person to person. Some people desire incredible strength while others want to simply be quicker or more mobile. Some want to bulk up while others just want that lean body. Figure out first where you are and what your body is at the moment. Then evaluate the potential places you can go from your current state. For example, it is impractical to go from “skinny-fat” to “lean body with muscle definition”. The most efficient way to go from point A to point B in this case is to bulk up in muscle, then cut down on fat. Likewise, wanting to go from an already-heavy body to a bulkier, stronger body is manageable, but not ideal. Optimally, you would shed some fat first, then slowly put on weight in the form of muscle mass..

Take it slowly

I cannot stress this enough. Too often, especially if you’re like me and had a rapid burst of obsession with fitness after years of idleness, people ignore the bigger picture. When I first began jogging, I was exhausted only a few minutes in. This happened each day for at least 2 weeks. Especially at my age, I felt very little willpower to move on. But I looked at what kind of change I wanted to implement with my life and what kind of effort and time commitment that entailed.

Take it day-to-day. Each struggle is just one battle of many in your path to success. Whether it be failing a set while lifting weights, accidentally binge eating 1000 extra calories over your daily limit, or waking up weighing a pound more than expected, take these failures with stride and carry on.

Do some research every now and then

I don’t see this being recommended enough when talking to others about reaching my goal. Doing your own research on ways to help you personally reach your own goals is far more important than understanding basic information that may or may not be relevant to you. Search on Reddit (their /r/fitness and /r/running subs are my most-visited places) or other discussion hubs for people similar to you, with body compositions and/or goals like yours.

Truthfully, most people trying to jog daily are not over 50. Most are actually 18-30 year olds. Of course, that information is valuable to me, but what’s even more valuable are documented journeys of people actually my age that also want to accomplish the same goal. I used Reddit’s search function and found many similar people. I tried to find people facing the same struggles I faced in my journey (losing too much water weight was one of them, for example) and learn from them.

Make sure you’re having fun

The last thing I learned from my continuous journey is to keep doing what you love to do. I love every moment of putting jogging in my morning itinerary. I love plugging in my earphones and listening to The Beatles or a podcast on my phone. I love the burst of oxygen and the fresh air I inhale from my increased heart rate.

I know some parts of fitness are simply dreadful. I could see myself getting tired of lifting weights or consistently tracking my food intake. But I’d say learn to love it. Try to make it a passion of yours. One easy way to begin is to understand why you’re doing it. Then look beyond simply doing it for your goals. Start considering your daily habits as part of your lifestyle, and the whole concept of doing it could change for you.

I hope I have informed you all of useful advice. I have certainly learned plenty in my bumpy journey to a more active lifestyle. These lessons have helped me get through it and truly enjoy what fitness means to me personally.


5 Tips For Runners Tackling Their First Marathon

This is a guest post by Shaun Dixon, who is an elite runner and head coach at Let’s Get Running. A self diagnosed ‘run-addict’, he uses his experience of training and competing over a range of distances to coach runners of all ability levels. Shaun is training me for the 2017 London Marathon.

Thinking of tackling your first Marathon? Here are 5 tips to read before you kick off your training.

1. Be patient.

Don’t take on too much too soon-you’ll find quickly find yourself injured, ill or both. Give yourself some time, and slowly build up to it- you need to be fit at the end of the training period not the beginning.

There is a fantastic stat about Marathon running. 95% of those who line up on Marathon day will complete the race but only 72% of those with a place actually make it to the start line. Your number 1 goal should be to get to the Marathon fit and healthy.

So be patient, both in terms of volume increases and the pace of your runs too. The key to improvement, rather boringly, is consistency. Establishing a good routine of steady or easy pace running is an absolute priority- preparing a base level of fitness on which you can build. You can’t build anything on shoddy foundations. So take it easy- always run with your next run in mind, so finish feeling there’s more in the tank. You want to get out and want to run, not sit and wallow in a hole of fatigue!

2. Set yourself a target

All runners struggle with motivation but it’s easier to deal with dark periods if you have a clear goal for the run.

I like people to have a race goal. It could be anything from, simply getting round to running sub 3hours, but it needs to be firm and measureable. If you want to work to a time but don’t know where to start, I suggest running  a 10k race or time trial. An online race time predictor or calculator will then give you an estimated marathon time based on this performance (Runners World is a good place to start). It’s no guarantee but it’s better than a blind stab in the dark!

3. Lock in your routine

If you look at the routines of the majority of top athletes they are fairly regimented. They know when they will run and roughly what each run will look like. We don’t have the luxury of structuring our lives around our running but we can make sure sure our run time is sacred. Set an hour aside, arrange to meet a friend, or join a group to make sure your run plans don’t get shelved.

If you’re wondering how many runs you should commit to each week then it all depends on your goal. The beauty of running is, for the most part, you get out what you put in. If you’re aiming for a time beginning with 3 you need to commit to 4 ‘sessions’ a week ( though this can include a cross training session). 3-4 sessions should be a good target for all runners aiming for a Marathon. Beginners should start with 3 and progress to 4 or 5 if the body reacts well to the training.

4. Think about your body- don’t just tick boxes.

It’s very easy to get very bogged down in numbers when Marathon training. You must follow a 16 week plan, include a 20mile run as your longest run 3-4 weeks from race day, and run all your miles at such and such a pace to run this or that time on race day. Focus on getting your body into the best possible shape to run, not fitting in with a generic structure.

Once you have established a good base of steady running it’s worth having a think about the attributes you need to improve as a runner and thinking about how your training works to support that. Tempo runs, intervals, strides and fartleks can all be a little intimidating at first but understanding their benefits and importance should make them less daunting.

If we were to build a Marathon Runner from scratch here’s what we would need.

Strong Running Body. Built by a consistent routine of steady aerobic running and your long stamina building runs.

Big Heart. Improved by sustained, reasonably challenging runs (tempo, threshold, some fartleks and Marathon pace runs for faster runners. Running at a controlled challenging intensity trains your heart to pump rich, oxygenated blood to the muscles!

Big lungs. This involves interval training- spending some time running at your maximum comfortable range of breathing, in order to improve your ability to take on, and use large volumes of oxygen. Our focus should be on giving the lungs a workout- not flat out running but running where your aerobic system is challenged but not over extended. Breathing should be deep and rhythmic and you should be maintain for the pace for 15mins without stopping.

As a basic guide you should be aiming for a series of intervals of between 2-5mins each, with a rest between each half or ¾ as long as each interval, and a total volume of c.20mins hard running.

Efficient Movement Patterns…brain training!

Efficiency of movement can be improved in two ways; Strength and Conditioning to improve strength and mobility, and through regular faster running!

Running fast is really important. In being more dynamic and explosive you make use of a larger range of muscle groups; improving their capabilities and the efficiency of the communication from brain to muscle. Essentially you’re building your arsenal and figuring out ways to activate those weapons! There are lots of different ways to approach this- from hill sprints to ‘strides’, (relaxed technique sprints).

The key to working on speed is to always consider the purpose of the session. You should always aim to run fast but relaxed- gurning faces and shoulders around your ears are a big no-no!

5. Practise positivity

Very few endeavours require as much mental fortitude as long distance running, and your enjoyment of the training and race itself will hinge on the nature of your mindset.

Charlie Spedding, the last British man to medal in the Marathon at an Olympic games, had a simple yet highly effective method to mentally prepare himself for big events. Everyday in the lead up to the 1984 games he told himself that the Olympic final would be the best day of his life.Over and over again, for the next 3 months. He started to believe it and on race day he felt relaxed, confident and eager to run. He produced an incredible performance to take an unexpected bronze medal. You can do the same thing. Be really positive. The marathon will be fantastic experience- so remind yourself how great it will be.

Shaun Dixon of Lets Get Running

CBS The Green 5k and 3k Run

If you are anywhere near Tralee on Sunday September 25th, come along to The Green School, beside Tralee Town Park, and take part in the CBS The Green School 5k or 3k. The run is being organised by CBS teachers Helen Kelliher and Karen Tobin to raise funds towards the construction of an all-weather pitch. Entry is just €10 for adults, and €5 for students and children. You can enter at the school the day before, or on the morning of the run, and there are lots of activities for younger kids going on, and the run is suitable for all abilities, including walkers. My eldest attends CBS The Green, and is looking forward to the pitch being finished, so he’ll be there, as will I, as long as I survive the 24 Hour Endurance Race, which finishes an hour before this starts. I hope to see lots of you there!


Kerry 24 Hour Endurance Race

My next race will be the Kerry 24 Hour Endurance Race. This will be a big test of where I am mentally and physically after my travails in the 100k, and I’m really looking forward to it (though I wish I’d more training done!). The race was originally scheduled to take place on a running track, but has been moved to Tralee Town Park, where the Tralee parkrun takes place. This move could be interesting, and will certainly be more scenic!

The course consists of 0.75 mile laps of the park, and it starts at 12pm on Saturday, September 24th, and ends, not surprisingly, 24 hours later, at 12pm on Sunday.
If you are in the area, and aren’t up for running it, be sure to drop in and give us some encouragement.

There are 12 hour and 6 hour versions running at the same time. I’ve a feeling I’ll be very envious of those runners on the day! I believe there are still places available through Run The Kingdom for anyone interested.

My eldest son’s school, CBS The Green, which is adjacent to the park, is organising a fundraising 5k starting at 1pm on the Sunday, with registration available at the school – I’m considering entering it – surely an hours rest will be enough for a 5k……



2016 Rose of Tralee 10k

On Sunday I had my first race since my somewhat disastrous Tralee 100k, and I was looking forward to getting back on the road.

I have run this race every year since it started, and it is one of my favourite events – there is always a great atmosphere, as it coincides with the International Rose of Tralee Festival, and draws a fairly eclectic crowd, different to most races.

This year the start was slightly different, as it went from the Rose Hotel. The weather hadn’t been great, and it poured rain all morning, so I had worn a compression top inside my running top, but, at the last minute I decided to ditch it, as it got very humid – I was glad I did, as it was very warm during the race.

After the usual preliminaries, we set off, heading out the exit road of the hotel, before cutting back along the Dan Spring road towards the western edge of the town.

I had planned on taking the first half of this race easy, as the first 5 or 6k is mostly gentle climbs, while the last few k’s are mostly downhill, but I was so keen to get back on the road that my plan went out the window from the start.
I definitely wasn’t back to 100% fitness, but I felt mostly ok, though the race was much harder work than it should have been.

We had great support despite the conditions, and I heard my name being called a good few times, and met a lot of runners I knew (mostly passing me in the later stages!).

I pushed as hard as I dared on the climb up Caherslee and the long drag over Bracker O’Regan road (known to us locals as The Fat Mile), but the heat, my lack of restraint in the early part of the race, and the after effects of the Tralee 100k soon took their toll, and I slowed considerably from 5k on, as we hit the last of the climbing section on the Killeen road. I knew the next section, Oakpark, was downhill, so I wasn’t too worried. I was delighted to finally make this stretch, though by now I had nothing left in the tank, and even the downhill didn’t help me pick up the pace much.

All that was left for it was to grind out the last few kilometres, and that’s what I did. I didn’t look at my watch, but I knew coming up The Mall towards the finish line at Denny Street that I wasn’t going to do a decent time, so I just got on with it, and enjoyed the last bit. As usual, it was a fantastic feeling coming up to the finish in Denny Street, though for the fist time in this race, quite a few people passed me in the last few hundred meters – my usual sprint finish just wasn’t there.

I crossed the line just 5 seconds under the hour, which is the slowest I’ve ever done this race, and the first year I’ve run a slower time than the previous year – this says a lot about where I’m at in terms of my fitness and recovery, and points to a lot of work required before the Kerry 24 Hour in a few weeks. At least now I have a benchmark to work from.

This was another brilliant event by Run The Kingdom, and fair play to the people of Tralee, and the many visitors to the town who turned out to run and support.

Guest Blog – Cillian Tierney, Triathlete

I’d like to welcome one of Ireland’s most exciting young triathletes, Cillian Tierney. Cillian is a fellow member of Tralee Triathlon Club, and he has decided to start a blog of his own. When he told me this, I invited him to kick it off with a post here – welcome to the blogging world Cillian! I’ll post a link to Cillian’s blog as soon as it’s up and running.

So this is my first (of many hopefully) blog posts that I am writing. I am lucky that Randall  has let me use his very successful blog RandRuns as a platform to get mine out of the starting blocks.

For those who don’t me I’m an elite triathlete competing on both the national and international triathlon stage. My plan for this blog is to talk about the day to day elements of triathlon training at this level and attempt to give a somewhat clear insight into my thoughts (the sane ones anyway).

The topic of this post is something I have been playing around with for the last few days and I have decided that it would be a good idea to start at the start and try figure out what got me to where I am.

cillian tierney 1

The whole triathlon malarchy kicked off in 2011 when I competed  in Seven Frogs Triathlon in Castlegregory organised by Nuala Moore. I was very young at the time (16 according to the entry form but not quite….thanks Nuala). But I was old enough to have figured out that football, rugby or soccer were not my calling (when I say not my calling I mean I was stone cold useless). At this point I was swimming and running with clubs and a small bit of cycling under my belt. My goal was to beat my dad. Which I did. But it was tough.

I remember really suffering for most of the run. Despite this I was eagerly awaiting my next one. This came in the form of Sive triathlon in this time a little bit faster and little bit further ahead of my Dad. Which made me happy. But I also made the podium in the Seven Frogs that year which made me feel like the dogs bollocks.

The next year 2013 was when things started heating up a small bit. I managed to do some different events this time on the Triathlon Ireland calendar which complicated matters somewhat, because age requirements are more strict. I was keeping under the radar by doing small triathlons in the back arse of nowhere. These were mainly in Cork region where nobody knew me. There were some sticky moments where officials grilled me on my date of birth but I always managed to get in. One of the defining moments of not only this year but in general was the Dingle triathlon. It was to be my first Olympic distance race. My parents weren’t too keen on it and the officials on the day were even less so, but my enthusiasm made up for both. So I found myself floating in the water in Dingle harbour awaiting the start, on what was the foggiest Saturday morning ever. We set off into the sea mist and disappeared out into the bay. This was surreal I remember looking around to get my bearings at one stage and there was nothing only the small group of swimmers I was with. No buoys, No kayakers, No harbour. It may seem like an exaggeration but anyone there that year will remember. Anyway after a while of swimming in the rough direction of where the buoys should be reached one and then the other and then headed in to complete the 1500m swim. Then the bike started and the fog continued. It was virtually impossible to see where you were going but I got around. Feeling good I pushed on at the start of the run and was catching guys I knew. It felt good. It was soon after the half way point it hit me. I just blew the lights and hit empty. I slowed and even went to a walk for a bit. One by one runners came past as I barely kept moving. The fog was worse than ever, and it felt like I was going nowhere.  Then I finally made it back to Dingle and crossed the line. I was shattered. I remember eating a few bars and getting back to the car and going straight to sleep. It was after I realised I should have eaten something during the race.

A year on in 2014 I met some of the other young guns. Guys who I train with today like Chris Mintern and Darren Dunne. These were the buckos that put me back in my box. They were a little bit older but they were also faster. I met Chris in Valentia where he won it outright and was in a very different league to me. I admired him a lot. At the time I was thinking this is the  fastest guy ever. This was who I aspired to be. Later in the season I came across Darren who beat me to the Junior prize in Kilrush triathlon. This was when I figured out that things can’t always go my own way. Since then I have been racing and training a lot with these guys, and a few others picking up Aichlinn O Reilly and Kieran Jackson at different points. These guys are excellent, they have a state of mind and an ability that make them the best be with for getting better and training hard.  It’s with the help of these guys and top class coaches like Stephan Teeling Lynch and Lynne Algar and sponsors like Verge that have stayed with me from the start that have got me to where I am. I have had a good season with third in Hell Of The West, third in Sligo and coming second in the Super Series overall.

I decided to start a blog now because I have been asked a few times and I think now is a good time to start. I plan on doing it in monthly instalments after getting a website set up. I’ll try keep it as interesting as possible. I hope this post gave a different perspective on sport. Realistically it’s probably not as hardcore as Randall’s ultra running but what can you do. Thanks again to Randall for giving me the opportunity to use his website for my first post and Ibike, Verge, Landers, and Surf and Sail for the continued support.

cillian tierney 2

My First DNF

On Sunday, the day finally arrived that I have long dreaded, but never fully believed would come to pass – I DNF’d in an ultra. After 19 marathons, and 8 ultra marathons, I failed to finish for the first time, in the Tralee 100k. This is how it played out.

I arrived at the start line bright and early with the rest of the runners. After a bit of chat and banter, and lots of photographs, we got the countdown from Race Director Marcus, and I set off on my third Tralee 100k.

100k start
The Start

We did a short lap of the outskirts of Tralee, then headed out Caherslee towards Ardfert.
If I’m honest, I wasn’t feeling this from the start. I lacked energy, and just felt sub-par. I tried not to worry too much, as I have had good runs in the past in races where I didn’t feel good at the start, but deep inside, I think I knew that this was more serious.

I made it to Ardfert in reasonably good time, on par with last year, and grabbed a quick snack and drink from the aid station manned by Danny, before heading on towards Ballyheigue.

The road to Ballyheigue again passed without incident, and, although I was passed by a couple of runners on this section, I was still happy enough with my progress, and my time. It was getting hot though, and the niggling feeling that everything wasn’t right was still there – I felt flat and listless, with a distinct lack of energy.

When I got to Ballyheigue, I met Marcus (who’s brainchild this race is) manning the aid station, and he gave me a few words of encouragement, before I headed up the (very) big hill out of town towards Causeway.

This was another very warm section, but I made sure I got plenty of Elivar in to prevent dehydration, and I ate plenty of crisps and chocolate for energy.
The Ballyheigue to Causeway road wouldn’t be one of my favourite sections, but it seemed to pass quickly enough, and I soon reached Causeway. I paused here to check my pace and time, and was surprised to discover I was very close to last years time (when I did this section quite quickly), and was well on track. Just outside Causeway was another aid station, and I got another pleasant surprise here, as I caught up with a lot of the runners who were ahead of me. I also met Mazza here, and discovered that she was suffering a bit – she was carrying a leg injury, and was also feeling ill. I joined her, and medic Caroline, who was biking the entire route, as they climbed the monster hill out of Causeway.

This was the start of the long, hilly, and hot loop around Kerryhead, which would eventually bring us back into Ballyheigue. This is usually my second-least favourite part of this race (though it is the most scenic part!), after the Fenit-Tralee road, but there was nothing for it but to get stuck in.

Myself and Mazza (and Caroline) more or less stuck together on this section – sometimes she’d go ahead for a bit, sometimes I would, but most of the time we were close enough to chat and have a bit of banter. There are lots of hills here, and one of the toughest issues turned out to be a fairly strong headwind, which blew straight into our faces for most of it. The only advantage to it was that at least it kept us cool, but it made the run a bit of a slog.

nearly to ballyheuige
Out on Kerryhead, with Mazza and Caroline just ahead


I began to flag a bit from here on. The lack of energy, and general feeling of being unwell got worse, and I had to walk a lot more of it than I had intended. Myself and Mazza were like two elderly people as we spent most of the route complaining about our respective illnesses! I had occasional bursts of energy, when I’d put in a good mile or two, and one of these came to an abrupt halt when a farmer stopped me, because his cows were coming up the road, and he claimed my “bright colours” would frighten them. I had to wait until they all passed (eyeing me suspiciously) before I could continue.

The last few miles of this section are downhill into Ballyheigue, and they couldn’t come fast enough for me. I had suffered far more on this section than I had the year before, and I was worried about my rate of progress. As soon as we reached the downhill, I pushed it as hard as I could, and I made some good miles into the halfway point in Ballyheigue.

Myself and Mazza at 50k

By this time, my sister Gillian had arrived with my two boys in tow, to act as crew for me for the rest of the race.

I changed my clothes here, got some food and drink, and checked my pace notes again. I was surprised to find I was still on track timewise, and I hadn’t lost too much time on Kerryhead. However, it struck me that I was still lacking in energy, and I felt nothing like I did at this point last year. I knew I had a tough 50k to go.

Changing in Ballyheuige

I set off for Banna with my crew keeping an eye on me. For the first 3 or 4 miles I felt OK, but about halfway between Ballyheigue and Banna, I started to feel really unwell. I walked a bit, hoping it would wear off. Suddenly, I was violently ill. I just about had enough time to step off the road onto the grass margin, before every drop of fluid I drank came up. I felt really bad. After a few minutes, I came around a bit. I took some anti-nausea tablets, and got back on the road. For a few minutes, I was alright again, but the sickness soon came back. I felt weak and miserable now, and was starting to get worried. The few miles to Banna seemed to last a lifetime.

Feeling like shite

Eventually I got there, and I turned off the Banna road at the Roger Casement memorial, to head towards Barrow. Gill pulled up at the 60k marker sign, and was in the middle of saying “Let’s get a photo…” when I was violently ill again. This time my legs went completely, and I could only kneel on the side of the road, retching my guts out. Danny, and Mazza’s crew came along to see if they could help, but there wasn’t much that could be done for me at this stage. I knew now that I was in deep trouble. I felt weak and drained, and it took every ounce of my willpower just to stand up.

Lee, my youngest son, decided to run and walk with me for a few miles. It was slow progress. I was reduced to a shuffling run/walk, and every now and then had to stop for a fresh bout of retching.

The next 10k or so were truly awful. I ran when I could, but most of the time I walked. I met Jim, who was course director, and he warned me that I was dicing with the 80k cutoff time. I knew it would take a miracle at this stage for me to make it, but I was determined to give it everything I had. I slogged on to the bottom of the infamous Barrow Hill. My sickness was getting worse, and by now, every drop of water I took was coming back up. I had absolutely no energy left, and felt awful. I slowly climbed up Barrow Hill, with Caroline sticking close by in case I needed a medic in a hurry. I hardly went 50 yards on this section without retching, and I thought the hill would never end. My wife Catherine appeared at this stage, planning to run the home stretch with me, but she got a bit of a shock when she saw me. She, and my crew told me that the time had come to call it a day. It was obvious now that I couldn’t possibly make the 80k cutoff, and I was going to be pulled off the course. I couldn’t quit though. I tried to accept the inevitable, but I couldn’t. I pushed on, with Caroline’s help. I made the turnaround at the top of Barrow, and set off down the hill. Just after the top, Caroline gave me some more nausea medicine, and some rehydration drink, and I started to feel a little better – it stopped me getting sick, but by now I had nothing left in the tank, and was badly dehydrated. I was joined by Terence, who has run this race before, and came out to see how some of us were doing. He spoke to me about letting it go, and between him, Catherine, Gill, and Caroline, I started to accept that I couldn’t finish.

Poor Caroline has to listen to me retching every 2 minutes on Barrow Hill

I made the bottom of Barrow, where I met Jim, who told me that I had missed the 80k cutoff, and would be disqualified. I decided that I would go to the top of Churchill, and would bow out then. Jim agreed to this, and myself, Catherine, and Terence set off. I managed to run Churchill, and made it to the top, where I finally accepted the inevitable. My race was over.

I’ve now had a few days to digest this setback, and get some perspective on it. In the immediate aftermath, all I felt was relief, as I had suffered so much. In the day or two afterwards, I felt a bit down about it – seeing the pictures of the finishers, hearing how others had battled through, and so on, made it hit home. When a runner suffers a DNF, only the runner themselves can honestly and objectively evaluate it. When you are alone with your thoughts, there are no excuses, only the raw truth. I always said that if I ever DNF’d, I hoped that it was because I couldn’t carry on, and not because I wouldn’t carry on. I am satisfied that I did that. I am satisfied that I pushed myself beyond the point where my honesty and integrity as a runner could be questioned, even by myself. I know in my heart that I gave it my best shot, gave it all I had, and it simply wasn’t enough on the day.

In the past I have been dismissive of runners who drop out because of minor ailments, or because they didn’t have the heart to go on – If I felt I was one of those runners, I would call a halt to my ultra running career right here and now. I would rather not run at all, than run without honesty. I will be back for the Kerry 24 Hour endurance race in a few weeks, and I will give it everything I have. It may be enough, or it may not be, but I will again give it all I have. I owe myself and my sport no less.

The day after the race, I was feeling a bit sorry for myself, when my eldest son came over to me, threw his arms around me, and whispered in my ear “You’re still the best, Dad”

Fuck DNF’s, there are more important things in life. I’ll be back.

Thanks to Gill, Catherine, Adam, and Lee for crewing and caring, to Caroline for putting up with the world’s worst patient, to Mazza, and her crew for helping me, and to all the other crews, runners, volunteers, and everyone else who looked out for me.

Well done to everyone who ran. Well done to Marcus, Jim, and all at Run The Kingdom on another great event.



Guest Post: SlowRunnerGirl Blogoversary

I’d like to introduce you all to SlowRunnerGirl, who writes a very entertaining blog. I’ve invited her to share her story here on RandRuns – Happy Blogoversary SlowRunnerGirl!


When Randall asked me to write a guest post, I felt honored. I’ve read his blog posts, race reports and info about ultra running a lot and he keeps providing helpful tips to newer runners like myself.

I thought “Yes. How cool is that?!”. Then I realized, I have no clue what to say. What interesting thing could I possibly write about, his readers didn’t already know? I know I can sit down, after a run and just blah on and on and obsess about running on my blog … writing for someone else’s blog is different though! As I sat down and thought about it, it reminded me of writing my first blog post. I realized I had felt the same way – not knowing what I to write. Then it looked at me. The date of the first post. It was one year ago … and an idea came to my mind. How cool would it be to write a post on my first year of run-blogging and then celebrate my blogoversary with everybody here – right on Randall’s blog! I mean that’s what you do if you plan a wild party right? Go to someone else, have everybody bring their own booze links and make a mess out of the place, by sharing the dirtiest craziest running stories!

So let me get this party started with my story, which goes something like this:

Once upon a time there was a fat, unfit, lazy girl with a dream. The dream to become a runner one day …

… this girl was me.

I’ve had the dream to become a runner for a long time. I tried many times to make it real. I never succeeded. Until I decided it was time last year – time to become a runner.

The Beginning

In the beginning, I was out there, all alone, following a sad Android computer voice telling me “run for 2 minutes” and “walk for 3” … I couldn’t do it. I tried and I tried again. I persisted and kept reading more and more blogs of runners that had been at the same spot than I was at.

For months I kept on going, forcing myself out the door and putting one step in front of the other. Music was my life-line. I created playlists to match my walk/run intervals, where I knew how long a song will take and I knew exactly when I could finally walk again. It was so hard!

I ran in the very early mornings. At a time where nobody cares what you are doing out there. Hoping no one would see my red face and me carrying my wobbly bits around. I did everything to avoid meeting people out walking. Most of them I couldn’t pass due to my slowness. I was embarrassed having to walk after just 3 minutes …

At some point I started to take photos and notice the beautiful world around me more and more. I added them to my running app and started to look back at them, when I didn’t feel like going out for a run. I looked at my improving stats and I decided I want to start recording my journey.


The Start of my Blog

When I wrote my first blog post on the 7th August 2015, I was running 3 times per week, trying to achieve the feast of running for one full hour! … and I was still oh so slow! Everybody else in the blogosphere and all the running books, was so much faster. Surely something was wrong with me.

There came a point when I decided I didn’t care. I had come to enjoy the early morning sunrise and being out at the beach. I got used to feeling good and having more energy that usual. I kept it up and I started to post my photos and write about my runs. It was a relief! Finally a place where I could obsess about my running and health, without annoying everyone around me!

Through blogging, I got to think about my runs. Through running I began to think about the food I was eating. I had started to log what I ate from the start and began to notice a pattern emerge. I slowly began replacing foods I didn’t fancy anymore and my thinking switched from ‘food’ to ‘fuel’. When I decided to eat only what I fancied, I started to love cooking again. I am plant-based ever since.

I also kept writing about my experiences. When I hit a rough patch, I came back to my blog and looked at all the photos of beautiful moments captured on my runs. I had started walking for 20 minutes, 3 times per day in late April 2015 – I couldn’t run I was so unfit. Seeing my progress on my blog, gave me a huge boost and I kept it up – the running and the writing. When something was wrong, I figured it out and documented it. Resting heart rate to high? I learned about over reaching and over training. I slowed down more … I learned to include recovery weeks. I learned to embrace slow. I learned to love running.


Through having my blog and sharing stats like above, I started to connect with others. Before I had my blog, I’d just be lurking and reading, now I was getting more passionate and much more opinionated! I was curious and dared to ask more experienced runners questions. And guess what? They replied and I’ve learned so much from everyone I couldn’t be more thankful! In the beginning, I thought I better hide and let no one know about my crazy plan of slowness – to run only at or below my aerobic heart rate – but it turns out, going slow, is the best thing ever! By now, I not only know it’s working for me, after months of slogging I see my paces improve and I am still running injury free. My blog also helped me to connect with others on a similar path or with similar experiences. Without everyone’s encouragement and motivating words, I doubt I would have persisted.


The Changes

Now I run 6 times per week, my long run is 2 hours. I learned to love running and I am plotting future running adventures. I don’t fit in any of my old clothes and still need some time to adjust to my new self. When I bought my first pair of new jeans, I had to try 3 different sizes and couldn’t believe I would fit into the one that I finally got … I also have much more energy than ever before!

Here is some data showing my change from fat, lazy, unfit girl with a dream, to SlowRunnerGirl:

  April 2015 August 2016
Resting Heart Rate 74 50
Weight kg 88.3 69
BMI 28.8 22.5
Fat % 34.4 27.5
Muscle % 32.2 34.1


I still have a long way to go – as I plan to become quite old I might add – I am sure however, that with the support and encouragement as well as unbelievably helpful tips and advice from everyone here, I will figure it out.

… and with this my beginner run blogger story ends and I’m hopeful to run and blog slowly and happily ever after …



Thanks guys for all your help, motivation and support!

Now let’s get this party started!

Grab a piece of blogoversary cake and get cracking and link or write up your own story!


10 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Run an Ultra Marathon

  1. It’s really, really far, and really, really tough. When you complete it, you might just feel a little too epic.
  2. You would become one of the .02% of the population that has completed an ultra – who wants to be part of a group that exclusive?
  3. All that training will make you super fit – you’ll get sick of explaining to your doctor that 40bpm is actually your normal heart rate, and have you thought of what you’ll do with all that extra lifespan you could get?
  4. You might offend your marathon runner friends by referring to 26.2 miles as a training run.
  5. Every time you go for a 4 or 5 hour drive, you will be annoyed by the thought that you would have enjoyed running it more.
  6. You will spend weeks resisting the temptation to start every conversation with “When I ran my ultra…….”
  7. When anyone tells you about some tough task they have to do, you will want to sigh and roll your eyes.
  8. Ultras are addictive – one is never enough.
  9. Think of all the poor shoes you’ll kill.
  10. When you complete an ultra, you will realise that nothing is impossible for you. Do you really want to change the way you look at the world that much?

Welcome to Laura Mullins

I came across Laura recently through her blog, Presently Running. I discovered that she was about to move to Ireland with her family, and I asked if she’d do a series of guest posts on her transition to a new culture and a new running community, her build up to the Dublin Marathon, as well as some insights into her running life. Below is an introduction to Laura – if there is anything specific you’d like to ask her, or you’d like to welcome her, let us know in the comments – take it away Laura!

My name is Laura and I love to run. I began running as a way to keep active after my collegiate tennis career ended in 1998. Although I played many sports throughout my childhood, I was never a “runner”. But after college, I needed something to fill the void I felt in my life without the structure of competitive tennis training. I tried to find something that I could do on my own while I was finishing up school and running seemed like a good option. So, I signed up for the 1999 Chicago Marathon. Not only was this my first marathon, it was also my first running race of any kind! Since then, I have completed more than a dozen marathons and countless half marathons. Running is now an integral part of my daily life.

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My husband is a native of Co. Dublin, but moved the United States to pursue tennis in 1997. We both competed for the same college, which is how we met. For the last 13 years, he was a collegiate tennis coach and I was a primary school teacher. We lived in Chicago for a few years before moving to Norman, Oklahoma where we have lived for the last 8 years. We have two amazing boys, 7 and 10, who are absolutely obsessed with soccer (er…football…). My sports loving family of four began living a vegan lifestyle in May 2015. We are passionate about constantly challenging ourselves in all areas of life and living life to its fullest potential.

I am not perfect and have certainly faced many personal challenges over the last several years, the greatest being my divorce and eventual reconciliation with my husband. But immense growth is often a result of immense pain. While I don’t dwell on the past, I believe it is essential to remember the lessons we learned from it so we don’t repeat those mistakes in the future. Instead of living in fear of past mistakes or future “what ifs”, I live my life with great intentionality in the present, as best as I can.

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With that mindset, my husband and I decided it was time for a big change. We worked extremely hard to rebuild our life to a comfortable place with well-paying jobs, a beautiful home, two cars and a pretty delightful lifestyle. We were not unhappy in Norman by any means. In fact, we were living what many would call “The American Dream.” But for us, we realized that it is not exactly what we want for ourselves, our marriage or our boys. You can read more about that decision here.

So we are moving to Ireland to start a new life. For my husband, this is moving home after 19 years. For me and my boys, we are moving to a new country with a new culture and a new way of life. To be fair, we have tremendous support from my husband’s family, which will help us greatly with this transition. But in leaving Oklahoma, we have condensed our belongings into less than 2 cubic meters and my boys are leaving the only home they have ever known.

Over the next several months, I will share my progress as I adjust to living and running in a new country. I am registered to run the Dublin Marathon where I hope to beat my PB. I will be living in Roundwood, Co. Wicklow, but commuting my boys to school in south Co. Dublin. I will also be attending UCD where I will pursue my Level 4 Personal Trainer Certification. All the while, my husband and I intend to keep our marriage strong, healthy and fun!

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For 3 years, I served as the Director of the Norman Runhers, where worked to inspire women in all seasons of life to pursue their own version of health and happiness. I am also a Bibrave Pro who loves to run races, test out new running gear and stay connected to runners all around the world. In addition, I serve as an ambassador for EnergyBITS and am a member of the Oiselle Volee.

What do you think is important for me to know about the Irish running community?


Read more about me at