DIARY: ‘Goings’on in Glendalough’ (clubs, workshops oh my!)

Two long-term aspirations came to fruition for me this week, so it’s fair to say I consider it a good one. Over the past weekend, Jason and I hosted a workshop that didn’t just cover our ‘usual’ topics of running technique and better movement but the a full re-education on nutrition and lifestyle together with performance nutritionist Barry Murray.

On Thursday evening, a thought that had occupied me for many years, became a reality with the foundation of the new athletics and harrier club – Glendalough AC. Let me talk about the latter first…

Glendalough athletics club

I’ve been a proud member of Crusaders AC since 2007 and part of me will always have a very special place reserved for that great Dublin club with its unique tradition, ‘inverted Danish colours’ and all the great memories – from being the lone Crusader in the Dublin Intermediate 2007 to finishing last in the Dublin Senior cross-country in my debut at that level. Other highlights were winning team gold in the Irish mountain club championships with the brothers Healy and silver in the Wicklow Way Relay after a few close runs, not to mention the fantastic trips away to Club La Santa on Lanzarote or orchestrating the early days of the dedicated hill running section with the support of our head coach – Michael McGovern. All I know about athletics tradition was learnt in Crusaders – I met people like Gary Park (club man personified) and Rob Cross (determination personified). The club supported me in getting my education as Fell and Mountain Running coach with the UKA – so in short – thank you Crusaders.

But I moved to Trooperstown in Wicklow more than 6 years ago and then to Glendalough 4 years ago and for practical reasons it became impossible to be an active member of the club. I’m a running romantic really – reared on the tales of the great fell running clubs in England such as Borrowdale and Ambleside AC. It seemed fitting to create a club in a similar vein when there was such a perfect valley to do it in – a valley where I hope to settle for life.

I was reticent about the project at first – working a full-time job while also working as an entrepreneur and owner of a start-up company, starting a club seemed a bit foolish. But on reflection I was reminded of this: I founded ChampionsEverywhere because I felt it was necessary to be a professional coach to create the changes I want to see in the way runners train and live. Taking up the mantle as Chairman and Head Coach with our new club serves that same mission – to try and get back to the simple roots of running that Arthur Lydiard laid out in Auckland in the 1950ies and Percy Cerutty laid out before him in Portsea, Australia.

So I was thrilled to see such a big attendance on an absolutely terrible evening for driving and the very interested discussion that happened on the key subjects. One thing I was keen to get across was this: “A running club is nothing more than an environment and a culture from wherein enjoyment, health and sporting success can grow. Such an environment and a culture can never be carried by one person or by two – so the more we all understand about the goals and principles of the club the better.” Peter Vincent gave me a good piece of advice: “Focus on the simple things first – the weekly sessions are your lifeblood.” He’s right. As we mentioned yesterday in the meeting – “Kilcoole AC did not set themselves up with the goal to create a Fionnuala Britton. They focused on the basics and that meant the environment was there when she emerged.” It is just a way to remember that everything is possible even for small clubs – Wicklow has proved a very fertile breeding ground for top-class runners in the past. I have no doubt it will again and we are looking forward especially to the healthy competition with our nearest neighbours – Parnell AC and Roundwood and District.

The ‘holistic’ workshop

Which brings me to the ‘world premiere’ of our new workshop with Barry Murray focusing on nutrition, training, movement and lifestyle from an evolutionary angle held in St. Kevin’s School in Laragh – in other words’ holistic’.
Barry Murray
<- Barry Murray during his time with BMC ProTour team
I don’t like the word holistic because its lost a lot of meaning but this workshop is one I have wanted to do for a long time – because lifestyle and nutrition is what all the training rests on. In an ideal world, runners and other health enthusiasts would attend this workshop first – get the ‘house in order’ and then attend more specialised events like our running workshop. There’s a lot of people out there doing great training but their lifestyle and eating is letting them down – now we have an entry point to ensure people get those things right first of all while at the same time allowing us to give people a real crash-course on movement and running – including showcasing a fair few of the ‘Fundamentals of MovNat and Ido Portal’.
The whole thing happened courtesy of a phone call from performance nutritionist Barry Murray back in September. The gist of the call was ‘we need to do something together’ and a few talks, podcast and meetings later we found ourselves organised and ready to run the event.
-> MovNat work on a Coillte gate
Going by the feedback we received the workshop was a spectacular success which is particularly pleasing after the first running – where you go in with a plan for what you want to do that has never been tested in practice. But we have an experienced team now and we set ourselves a high standard and practice what we do daily. We do this to an extent that we hired a business coach, Susan McEntegart of Cornershop Gym, to sit in on a workshop earlier in the year to deliver brutally honest feedback. Whether you are an amateur or a professional coach – the moment you get self-satisfied, you’re on the way to losing your game. You cannot be afraid to have people shine a bright spotlight on you.
Barry Murray is a guy I have been following for a while since hearing about him from my friend Paul Tierney and who’s made a lot of waves on the internet among those not willing to simply accept current nutritional dogmas. He’s a nutritionist not afraid to shake the established lines of thought who has done the hard research in the field, rather than just shouting off his mouth from the Ivory Towers, and to me that’s what counts. When we first spoke it was clear we had acres of common ground and a shared vision for health and performance in Ireland. Just like the straws bunched together, this collaboration is going to make us stronger – we have a lot of plans, so stay tuned and we’d love to see you at our next workshop in January, the second of many!

Next up

So plenty of work ahead – growing our club, continuing to build the services and operations of ChampionsEverywhere and, behind the scenes, continuing the reconstructing of ‘Rene Borg’. I’ll be sharing some of my current training practices and methods in upcoming entries on this blog – so stay tuned as they’ll be very relevant to people eager to get the fundamentals absolutely right.