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

Kinematix TUNE Giveaway!

I have been using the very clever Kinematix TUNE for a few months now, and am constantly amazed at the amount of information it gives on the biomechanics of my running, and how to improve them.

Kinematix have very kindly given me a TUNE, for one of my readers. Simply pop onto the RandRuns Facebook page, and tell me in one sentence what you think TUNE could best help improve in your running. I’ll pick the best one on Friday December 23rd – just in time for Christmas! Terms & Conditions below.


Terms and Conditions:
One entry per reader
Entry is by posting a comment on the RandRuns Facebook page
Prize is a Kinematix TUNE, supplied by Kinematix directly to the winner
No substitutions of the prize
Judges decision is final

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.

laura mullins 1

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.

laura mullins 2

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!

laura mullins 3

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 presentlyrunning.com.

A Little Recovery Run…..

I will be recovering from last weekends ultra by, well, running another ultra this weekend.
And before you ask, no, I wouldn’t advise this as a smart move. This weekends ultra is a “mere” 40 miles, and is a race I did last year. It’s nice and close to home, and, being run in 5 mile circuits, means that you are never too far away from your drop bag and aid station. It also has the added advantage of not requiring a crew, as I’m not sure anyone would be crazy enough to crew two weekends in a row.

I’m hoping this will be good training for the Tralee 100k in a few weeks. Either that, or it will kill me!

Best of luck to everyone running here, the Energia 24H in Belfast, the Waterford Marathon, or any other race this weekend.

If you’re there, see you on the start line!


A Busy Weekend

Although I didn’t have any race this weekend, it was still a pretty busy one. I got up at the ungodly hour of 1:30am on Friday night/Saturday morning to help out Mazza and her team get Tralee Town Park ready for the Darkness into Light Walk. Mazza, who organised the decoration of the park did an amazing job, and Poshey did the people of Tralee a huge service by organising this event. I hope the town recognises his efforts in some way.

Once I had finished in the park, I headed home for a couple of hours of fitful sleep, before getting up again at 8:30am and heading back to the park to do the Tralee parkrun 5k with Lee. It was remarkable that there was no sign of all the activity the night before – kudos to the work of all the volunteers.

I had a reasonably alright parkrun – I still had some stiffness from a tough strength and conditioning session on Thursday night, and I was tired before I started, knowing that this was only the first of two runs for the day, so I was happy enough with a 28:53, all things considered. Lee finished well ahead of me for a 27:43, and was happy to beat the old man again.

After the parkrun I headed back home, and just had time to change into fresh running gear before heading out for a tough, hilly 8 miler with Catherine. I knew this was probably not going to be easy, what with the lack of sleep, and having already done a 5k beforehand, but even so, it rocked me a bit! For the first time in a long, long time, Catherine discovered she was able to leave me behind on the hills, as I simply didn’t have the energy in my legs. We climbed the brutal Tonevane hill in the first half of the run, and there were moments I thought I wouldn’t be able to keep going. I stuck it out however, and was glad to get such a tough test under my belt. I was in bits in the last mile or two before we finished, and the Rugby Club Hill never felt so long!

top of tonevane
Feeling the burn on top of Tonevane Hill!

Sunday was a bit more relaxed, as my eldest son Adam made his confirmation, so the only exercise I got was overeating!

Adam Confirmation
Adam, The Rt. Rev’d Kenneth Kearon, Lee, Catherine, and me.

All in all, a tough weekends training, that hopefully will stand to me over the next few weeks – I am well behind schedule for my seasons 100k training, so I need a few more of these weekends!

I think I will do the Lakes of Killarney Marathon next week to see where my fitness is – I got a PB there last year, but don’t think I’ll be repeating that feat this year.


Kinematix TUNE

I came across a very interesting little device this week, called the Kinematic TUNE. The device consists of a pair of electronic insoles that go in your running shoes, and connect with senders that clip onto your shoe. These then send information on pressure points, land time, dwell time etc. to an app on your smartphone.

This information is then used, via special software, to build a personalised running plan for you. It also claims to detect asymmetries in your running form, and can advise on specific improvements, and exercises to improve your form.

I have been asked to trial this device, and I will report back on how I find it, and whether it helps to improve my running or not. I am certainly keen to try it, given the work I did on my running form in recent times.

This video explains the concept:


Tralee Triathlon Club Trail Race Report

I decided a bit last minute that I would do the Tralee Tri Club’s 14k Trail Race that was set for today. After last week’s exertions in the Tralee Marathon, and a brutally tough strength & conditioning session on Thursday, my body wasn’t exactly keen for more punishment, but I have a bit of an issue saying no to races, and this promised to be a bit different to my usual runs. I was also testing out my new Salomon XR Shift trail shoes, which I will be writing a gear review on.

I joined the rest of the runners outside O’Riada’s Bar at 11am (after having went to the wrong starting point first!) for a briefing from Milosz and Bridget. We would do the first 2 miles or so on tarmac road, from O’Riada’s to Glenageenty Woods, then a mixture of trails and road, before returning by road to where we started.

tri club race group pic
Pre race group pic

I set off at the back with Margaret, determined to take it easy, as I knew this would be tough. And tough it most certainly was – the road section was a tough climb all the way, and I hadn’t gone a mile before I felt last week’s marathon in my legs. Margaret soon pulled away, and I was on my own.

After reaching the woods, there was a tough hill, followed by a brief respite of some downhill trails, and then the real climbs started! My legs muscle were practically squealing as I climbed steep hills, followed by even steeper steps, followed by more steep hills.

At this stage I hadn’t seen any of the other runners for quite a while, and wondered exactly how far behind I was – going by my very slow and painful progress, I guessed pretty far.

After crossing a stream, and passing along a farm track, I saw a flash of luminous yellow up ahead, and turned a corner to see a truly awesome hill ahead of me. I could see Margaret making her way up, and Bridget at the top. I have often joked about crawling a race if I had to, but this was the first time I’ve actually had to do it – this was probably the toughest hill I’ve ever run crawled, and I had visions of losing my footing and rolling all the way back to the start of the race. If this hill doesn’t have a name, then it should have. By the time I got to the top, I was totally out of breath, and my legs were like jelly.

the mother of all hills
The mother of all hills

I caught up with Bridget at the top, and followed her. This didn’t turn out to be a good idea……..
Bridget directed us over a fence, which had me puzzled. Ronald Reagan once said of politics “When you’re explaining, you’re losing” and I think you could adjust that for trail running to “When you’re climbing over fences, you’re lost” We soon met Margaret and Catherine coming towards us, and there followed a bit of a “what the fuck” moment as we tried to figure out where we were, and more importantly, where we were supposed to be going. We ended up crossing some fields, sliding down some embankments, crawling under some fences, climbing over some other fences, and having a right old adventure.

climbing fences
If you’re doing this, you’re probably lost…. Me, Margaret, Catherine, and Miss Google Maps herself, Bridget.
Oh look, a road….

We eventually found our way back to the road, which we knew would lead us back to the trail we were supposed to be on – or at least we were fairly sure it would….

injured bridget
Bridget bravely decides to continue after a near-fatal ankle scratch….

After some more twisting and turning (and some jelly babies) we found ourselves back on the trail, and soon we were climbing some nice steep hills again.

I once read a horror story about a guy who received a hand transplant after an accident. The hand had come from a murderer, and, after getting the guy in a lot of trouble, it strangled him. I sometimes wonder if I’ll wake up some night to find my legs have wrapped themselves around my neck after deciding that I’m just not worth all the torture.

After reaching the highest point of the trail, I knew that it was more or less all downhill from here, and was very glad to get there. The descent was going well, with Margaret around 100 yards ahead of me, when I saw her go down heavily. I caught up, and found she had caught her foot on a protruding stone, and had gotten some cuts and bruises. Being the tough trooper she is, she was soon back on her feet and going again. We ran the rest of the trail together without incident, and were soon back on the road to the finish line. I found this section the easiest by far, as tarmac road is what I’m used to, and it was almost all downhill, which was a big relief for my leg muscles. We finally crossed the line in 1:53:01 – not a great time, but acceptable all things considered!

When we reached O’Riada’s, there was lunch waiting for us, which was very welcome by then! Milosz presented prizes to the winner, and some of the runners who had shown big improvements over the course of the trail running training the club had run.

I really enjoyed this race, even the getting lost bit! It was a fun day out, and reminded me once again of how different trail running is to road running. Well done to Bridget and Milosz for organising it, I would definitely be up for doing another one!

Guest Post: Cross Training For Improved Marathon Times

This is a guest post from my friend and fellow Tralee Tri Club member Den McCarthy, on how cross-training and Strength and Conditioning has helped his marathon times. Check out Den’s blog There Will Be Hills.

Firstly, thank you Randall for the opportunity to give my take on marathon running and how cross training with the Tralee Triathlon club has impacted on my times. Now, this is an ongoing process that, I hope will yield a big success, at the Berlin Marathon in September 2016.

So, who am I?
And what qualifies me to give this advice?

To answer the second question first, nothing! I am a very ordinary runner. It really is a case of what works for me and what doesn’t. I will give you some background to my running and what I have learned and changed over the course of my 8 Marathons.

So, two and a half years ago, at the age of 47, I had quite a change in my personal life and was urged by my younger brother, Brendan, to get back into running. Back in the 80’s, during the great running boom, I took part in many 10k races with my dad. But this fell by the wayside after college, with work and family taking priority. My current job entails spending quite a bit of time on the road so I always had the excuse that I didn’t have the time to train.

In June 2013, I was fortunate to read about Born To Run, (right here in Tralee) and after meeting Marcus Howlett, I signed up for the training program for the Rose 10k in August of that year. A wise move, as it opened the door to a wide circle of friends, who were all quite new to this running lark.

Never in my wildest dreams did I ever consider running a full marathon, but, shortly after finishing my first 10k, I took the plunge. Part of me wanted to rediscover my youth – and get back to near my times for the 10k runs from yesteryear – and another part wanted to finish a marathon with my brother. Now, Brendan was a veteran of a number of marathons at this stage, with times around 3 hours 30 minutes. There was my target!
He told me that it would take me five or six marathons to discover how to run them correctly and added that I would learn a great deal about myself when I complete my first one. How right he was!
I threw myself into the training, with gusto, and discovered a strength in my legs from all those years ago. Muscle memory is a great thing. I completed my first marathon in March 2014 with a time of 4 hours 10 minutes – shattered, after hitting the wall and over hydrating.   What a wonderful feeling though – to finish a 26.2 mile run. I was hungry for more.
I signed up for Dublin in October 2014 but after a summer blighted with injury and tendonitis, I discovered I was running all wrong!! After one visit to the Tralee Physiotherapy Clinic, my problems were sorted. All I had to do was retrain myself on how to run, by reducing my stride and increasing my cadence. I broke four hours in Dublin but blistered very badly. Through the winter, I continued working on my running form and did my second marathon in Tralee in 3 hours 47 minutes. This time, I had the benefit of getting my feet taped.

Den 1
Crossing the line at the 2014 Tralee International Marathon

In July 2015, while running a marathon in Courtmacsherry, as part in the Keith Whyte Waterfront Ultra Marathon, I was fortunate to fall into step with a seasoned runner. His advice was on Long Slow Runs, with the emphasis on ‘Slow’. All my previous long runs were pretty much at marathon pace. This resulted in my feet being constantly in need of repair and also, I was tired when it came to marathon day.
With the Berlin Marathon coming at the end of September, I was on a different training plan to my friends in Born To Run, so I did quite a bit of solo running. On the advice of a friend, I added walking barefooted on the beach, some cycling and hillwalking to my training regime.

This brings me to Berlin 2015 – my sixth marathon. Had I learned enough?
To summarise, I messed up with nutrition and hydration in my first two – and hit the wall.
Dublin taught me not to put Vaseline on my feet, if you are not used to using it.
Tralee II, with a new running form, had me singing the praises of chiropody felt and also that sweet potato is excellent for nutrition.
Courtmacsherry gave me the benefit of slowing down and that rest is important.

3 hours 31 minutes is the answer. A day when everything worked. Nutrition, hydration and a flat course. I was so well rested, I thought I was under trained. Of course Brendan finished eight minutes ahead of me. Berlin really rocked, but the target of finishing with him is still to be achieved.

Den 2
Berlin 2015

Now this brings me to the whole reason for this post. As I had briefly considered doing the Tralee 100k Ultra in August 2016, I knew that my feet would never hold up to the long and frequent training runs, the decision was made to join the Tralee Triathlon club. I needed to build up my strength and endurance. Cross training seemed to be the way to go. The Tri club would give me access to threes disciplines, (because one is never enough), but also strength and conditioning classes, nutrition advice and a fantastic support structure.

The 100km went by the wayside when I got accepted to run Berlin again. But, I was curious to know just how much triathlon training would help. My first task was to learn how to swim. With a dislike of water, it was really just a matter of throwing myself in at the deep end, or should I say, sink or swim.
The Tri club have organised top quality coaches to cover each discipline and John Edwards of Wild Water Adventures has got us to a point where we are nearly ready for the Open Water swims. All we need is the weather to hurry up and get warm. I know there will be many challenges ahead but swimming has already made me aware of a different level of fitness.

In October 2015, I signed up for the first block of Strength and Conditioning at Nisus Fitness, with an aim of building muscle and losing fat. What an eye opener!! That broken up feeling every Friday and Saturday came against my running times, but I was looking at the bigger picture. The first inkling of the benefits of S&C came in the Run The Gauntlet Half Marathon in November when I had the confidence to go all out, downhill, over the last few miles, safe in the knowledge that my knees were not going to explode. At the end of this block, I got a big surprise, while gaining some muscle, I also gained fat. The reason for this, when explained, made a lot of sense. With all the extra stress that I was putting my body under, I was undoing much of the good work because I was not getting my recovery shakes and protein in during the 20 minute window after a workout. I was also not getting enough quality sleep. On the second S&C block, I have reversed the trend as I am now more focussed on getting my proteins and shakes and rest.

On the cycling front, I had my trusty Mountain bike initially, before swapping it for a Road bike. With cycling Coach Cian Hogan and a wealth of guidance and help from the Tri club, I was finally learning how to ride a bike! The Club spins and Time Trials have been very beneficial. Like the swimming, I have much to learn.

On the running front, top athletes, Maria O Keeffe McCarthy and Milosz Wojcik provide the coaching. I attended some of the speed sessions with Maria but not enough of the Hill/Trail sessions with Milosz, as I still struggle to get up and over any hill of consequence, during a race. In truth, I neglected my running since January, in preference to the swimming and bike. I have only run 150km this year, which is way down on the 380km for the same time period in 2014.

(I promise, I am nearly finished this tale).

Last Saturday, I ran my third Tralee International Marathon. My head was moidered beforehand, with phantom pains and fears of being under prepared. How was all this cross training going to play out? My plan was to beat last years time and aim to get close to 3 hours 40 minutes.

On a perfect day for running (as described by Randall), I tucked in with the 3.30 pacers Chris and Francy and felt strong throughout. I began to drift back a little when we hit the 32/ 33 Km mark (20 miles). I was able to maintain a fairly constant pace to the finish, unlike my two previous Tralee marathons, finishing in 3 hours 34 minutes. Only 3 minutes outside my Berlin time. The two routes are like chalk and cheese. I would happily put this down as my best marathon performance to date.

Den 3
Tralee International Marathon 2016

Does cross training work? ABSOLUTELY!!
And especially, when combined with the correct rest and nutrition.

I may ask Randall for another post, when I complete Berlin in September. By then I hope to be a fully paid up triathlete and have the benefit of summer training and some more marathons.

Thanks for your patience in getting all the way to the end.
Den McCarthy
Ok, I will come clean, finishing a marathon with Brendan would be great…….
……… but I really do want to beat him now. J

Tralee Marathon #4

The fourth running of the Tralee International Marathon is coming up this Saturday. The first year of this was my first marathon, and I’ve done it every year since, so I am really looking forward to it. It is, of course, also my hometown marathon, which makes it that extra little bit special. I am not expecting a particularly good performance this year, as work and family commitments (and some laziness on my part) means that I am waaaaaay behind where I should be with my training. I have done no real long runs, and little in the way of short runs. For a normal person this might be daunting, but I am confident that brute force and ignorance will get me through unscathed. It’s only a marathon after all…..


tralee 800 medalThe finishers medal (on left) is really nice, and celebrates the 800th Centenary of Tralee. As a proud Tralee man, I HAVE to get one of these medals – our town will only have one 800th birthday, and I can see these medals being family heirlooms. If I have to crawl on my hands and knees, I will earn a finishers medal this year! Luckily my wife is doing the half this year, so we will have a medal for each of our boys.

The marathon has reverted to the original 2013 route, so there will be a sense of deja vu this year. The infamous Barrow Hill, breaker of many a spirit, will be back, as will the tough Fenit Pier turnaround. I have to say I’m really looking forward to it – if it was easy, why would you bother?

Entries for the 2016 Tralee International Marathon close tomorrow (Wednesday), and if you are in the area, I say go for it! If running it is not your thing, why not volunteer? You can contact Jim, the volunteer coordinator on the RTK Volunteer Facebook page.

See you there!



A busy few days – and Tralee Parkrun Anniversary!

I have certainly put in a tough week this week. I ran 15 miles with Born to Run on Sunday, and I found the last few miles very tough after the previous days trail running session with Tralee Triathlon Club. Not for the first time, Brian O’Shea pushed me on when I felt I’d nothing left, and helped me get to the finish.

On Wednesday evening I donated blood (if you want to know why I donate, this is the reason), and, despite the advice to rest for a few days after donating, I went ahead and did my strength and conditioning session on Thursday evening.
I actually didn’t feel too bad, though I did notice that the bench presses really took it out of me. On Friday morning I went for a 9 mile run with Catherine, and it soon became apparent that I had overdone it – I was fine for the first few miles, but by the halfway point, I was struggling badly, and I really suffered for the last few miles. I was weak and light-headed, and badly lacking in energy – the 700 foot climb over the last quarter mile felt like climbing Everest!

I had originally planned to do another trail running session with Milosz, but I was sensible enough to realize that it was unlikely to end well, so I decided instead to do the Tralee parkrun this morning. It was a good one to do, as it was the first birthday of Tralee parkrun, and there was a huge turnout, with a prize giving and cake afterwards.

First the first time in quite a while, I had my two sons with me, as Adam had his usual Saturday soccer match on Friday night instead.

We headed to Tralee Town Park in somewhat discouraging conditions – it was very cold, windy, and to top it off, there was hailstone falling as we left home. It certainly didn’t deter the runners though, as there was the biggest crowd I’d seen at this event.
Conditions improved a bit by the start, thankfully. I had decided, based on my experience on yesterdays run, to take it very easy on this run, and Lee, who had been ill during the week, was determined not to push himself to hard either.

For once, I stuck to the plan, and set off at a nice easy pace, and the two boys stuck with me for all of half a lap. At this point, I noticed Adam’s lace had ripped, so I stopped him to tie it. Lee, being the born competitor he is, saw an opportunity to get one over on his big brother, and took off at a sprint to gain some distance on us. As soon as I had tied his laces, Adam set off in pursuit.

I decided to let them at it, and kept on at my nice easy trot.

I probably enjoyed this parkrun more than most I’ve done, despite the odd rain shower, as I put myself under no pressure whatsoever to get a time. By halfway through the last lap, I overtook Lee who had burnt himself out in his quest to beat Adam. His earlier illness had left his energy levels low, and now he was paying for his efforts!

Adam crossed the line in 29:04, with me following on 31:31, and Lee struggling in on 34:55.

After the run, we headed to the Brandon Hotel, where there was prize giving for the runners and volunteers who had accumulated the most points, ran the best times, volunteered the most times etc. The prizes were presented by legendary runner John Lenihan, and the organisers put on a great show. My boys were very happy with their cake and hot chocolate. Well done to all the prize winners, and it is obvious that Tralee parkrun has a very promising future.

Tomorrow I plan on running 16 miles with Born to Run, as long as I feel up to it. It promises to be a VERY slow run!