The new year has come and the old one has gone and that means it is time to look back at 2014. I am tempted to start with ‘2014 we barely knew ye’ for it feels like that in some ways. More prosaically, 2014 is a year I believe I will later remember mainly for paving the way for 2015.
‘On stage’ presenting with Barry Murray, of OptimumNutrition4Sport and Primal3, at Great Outdoors, Dublin
The best parts of 2014 were a very diverse series of events. It was fun to try to finish on a podium spot in the Laragh 6k trail run (I finished 2nd) despite knowing (only too well, and with all due respect) that it told a false tale both of my fitness and my standing in the running hierarchy. But it was a great day with Aoife winning the ladies and one of our longest-standing coaches athletes, Tony Collins, taking a convincing 1st.
Finishing 2nd in the Laragh 6k – Billy Porter in close pursuit.
Our Kerry Easter weekend might have been the absolute running highlight of my year with the unforgettable ridge run from Conor Pass over Brandon Peak, Mt. Brandon and Masantiompan to Brandon Village. It is rare that route, weather and company come together in such a perfect triumvirate to create a near-perfect social and running experience. Thanks again to Philip Brennan for laying out the route and leading us around.
The unforgettable run over Brandon (here ascending Piaras Mor)
I have to also mention the Wicklow Way Relay. As disappointed as I was to not contest this event this year, organising it was a very interesting challenge and it was a relief that it went off without a hitch and that co-organiser Jason Kehoe and myself were met with much positive feedback. We’ll look forward to organising it this year again.
Organising the Wicklow Way Relay
The June workshop with Ido Portal was perhaps the most emotional moment. From the pure ego-satisfaction of being told that ‘you guys move too well to be just runners’ by the master of movement to the much more life-changing feeling I had when I drove home after the second day. I had experienced so much and been challenged so profoundly that I knew I would emerge as a better coach and, dare I say, a better man as a result of the lessons learned. I wish more athletics coaches could experience this rich world of movement as it would move the horizons of our sport in new exciting directions. Also in June, I attended the famous running coach Lee Saxby’s four-day event in London – again it was inspiring and a tour-des-force in biomechanics. We made new friends and returned home with a host of new tools to help our clients and athletes. It’s not every day you call a £1000 course ‘a bargain’ but for what I received it was no less.
Meeting two legends: Ido Portal (in Dublin) and Lee Saxby (and Darwin!) in London.
2014 was also the year Aoife and I committed long-term to a future in and around Laragh and it was fitting that a long-time dream came true with the formation of a new athletics club in the area – Glendalough AC. I love the ‘getting your hands dirty’ grass-roots work of coaching people in weekly sessions and seeing the club grow and thrive under the AAI umbrella in 2015 is a challenge I look forward to meeting. I hope to put a philosophy in place that both Lydiard and Cerutty, and the other coaches of the era, would have nodded at in approval.
During the summer Aoife also managed to crack her half-marathon personal best twice before a temporary retirement as we now await our first child.
Some great times with great clients this year – here with Irene Clark, of West Waterford AC, after our summer ‘Running form’ workshop. I’m looking forward to taking ‘our roadshow’ to Dungarvan this January
My company ChampionsEverywhere gained many new friends and recognition in 2014 as well – travelling to various Expos, giving talks to dozens of companies in the greater Dublin area and, most excitingly, starting a new venture called ‘Primal3’ with renowned performance nutritionist and ultra-runner Barry Murray.
They start with a number – 2000. That was roughly the amount of kilometres I ran in 2014 and that is the lowest tally since I began training seriously – a mere 5 km per day on average (roughly). This would not have been a negative if the kilometres had been top-class but largely they were haphazardly scheduled and mainly slower runs. In racing-terms I raced only thrice (a career low) doing the Rathdrum 5k (in a career worst time) the Laragh 6k trail (finishing 2nd) and the our informal Xmas Cracker Relay (which is on the small side for a race – but I count it because I gave it enough effort to nearly blow a gasket!).
The year in numbers, mileage and performance dropped as coaching and work took precedence over training
The reason was no mystery: there is only so many priorities you can have and still recover from the training you do. Since the foundation of my company I have been stretched much thinner than previously with commitments to an employer, a start-up company, my clients and, of course, family and friends. It has been hard to show the necessary selfishness for the type of training necessary to improve the times I currently hold. Sometimes you have to take a few steps back to take more forward. I believe in my project and my long-term plans, and while my health took a few knocks in 2014 from ‘too much work, too little play’, I’ve got things under control now and expect the coming year to be much different. They say you should not show up at a race if you have excuses in your mind and thus I have largely refrained from that.
2014 – a year of learning, and teaching, many new skills
One highlight is also responsible for a low-light: being one of the founders of Glendalough AC, and now-to-be permanent resident of County Wicklow, means leaving my first athletics club – Crusaders AC. I have had some amazing times with Crusaders especially the ‘original hill gang’ of Jason Kehoe, Richard Healy and Robert Healy. If I could have one wish for the future years it would be to see those ‘four musketeers’ united and fit in a hill race again one more time. But all things must change – although I’ll miss the ‘inverted Danish colours’ and will regret not getting a final chance to have one decent run in a Dublin cross-country race. There’s always the provincials…
Gasket just about to blow in the Glendalough AC Xmas Cracker Relay
The final low-light was possibly seeing one of my first athlete’s falter in his assault on the Irish Championships in the mountains. Jason (Kehoe) prepared meticulously and started the season in good shape but a mixture of bad decision-making, illness and misfortune saw a strong challenge just about fall short in 2014. He was humble in defeat as you’d expect of a great competitor and will look forward to a rematch. As Brendan Rodgers, the Liverpool manager is fond of saying, ‘we go again’.
My goals for 2015 are still somewhat in the development stage but looking at what interests me and what I want to achieve long-term in running my preliminary list goes something like:
- Bring my 5 km standard back to where it was in 2012 (17:29) and then kick it under 17 minutes before even considering another marathon assault.
- Try to fit in a few of my favourite hill races over the summer
- Try to fit in one slightly longer (but not ultra) challenge that I want to do for no other reason that I like the sound of the race
- Bring my own coaching philosophy, the coaching philosophy of ChampionsEverywhere and the philosophy of ‘Primal3’ to as many people, countries and counties as possible and continue to grow our ‘army of runners’ who are committed to those same principles
Laragh GAA club pitches – the future training grounds of Glendalough AC
A continuing challenge will be that the majority of weekends in 2015 are going to be booked with workshops, a few holidays and working on moving to a new house.
With the staff of BT Ireland after one of our many corporate events in 2014
This will leave very little opportunity for weekend racing, so a few well-picked races in the weekends and intelligent use of mid-week races such as the Wicklow Fit4Life looks like it is going to be my racing outlet for the the coming year.
A ‘bubbler goal’ is to train myself to run better on the 1500m and mile distance as part of the 5000m attack. These are not race distances that I will ever be a contender in but I would like to explore them to the maximum before I get much older. The mile race I have done – including a near-bizarre 5000m indoor track race in Fargo, North Dakota – have taught me more about running than many other runs. You cannot truly appreciate running in its full complexity until you have dabbled in all distances and all terrains.
Onwards into 2015
There is probably much left unmentioned that was good or bad about 2014 but the past is the past and our industry belongs in the present so I will leave it at this and with the hope of reporting on more races, more running and more adventures in 2015 than what I could serve up in 2014. See you out there.