Martin’s blog week 4: Reeling in the years

I have a confession to make. I’ve always doubted that I am a runner. I’m guilty of looking at other people out training or at races and have thought, I’m not good enough to be here with them. I’m unsure where this inferiority complex came from (that’s for a psychology blog!) but I need to stop comparing myself to others and concentrate on myself and on each run that I do. Self doubts aside, it’s been a lovely few days to be out training, the crisp air and pleasant weather enabled me to get out consistently.

I’ve kept up the two strength and conditioning sessions and managed to run 10 miles in one go, which got my weekly total up to 34 miles. I got the chance to see some of the action from the Kinsale 10 mile race. Watching this and seeing runners at all levels gave me that little extra motivation to get out the door consistently.

I was saddened to hear the news recently of the passing of the RTE athletics commentator Tony O’Donoghue. Anyone who has watched athletics on RTE over the years will be familiar with his voice and how passionate he was about the sport. I found myself looking online for old clips of his commentary. One of his most iconic was Eamonn Coghlans win in the 5000m, at the first Athletics World Championships in Helsinki in August 1983. While I didn’t see the event live (I was only born the previous April) I remember watching a repeat on TV years later. I always loved the sight of Coghlan rounding the final bend and O Donoghues commentary is glorious for the final 100m/200m. ‘Coghlan is waiting, Coghlan signals’ O Donoghue states, as one of Ireland’s finest athletes clenches his fist to the crowd as he is ready to kick in the final 100 metres. O Donoghue continues ‘He’s gonna go, he looks at him’ as Coghlan stares into the eyes of his rival Dmitryev. ‘Eamonn Coghlan is World Champion, a superb confident run’ as he blasted down the home straight to cross the finish line, hands outstretched to win gold. A magical sporting moment that was only enhanced by O Donoghues splendid commentary.

Coghlan was a hero to many during his long career, and I am sure his exploits encouraged many to get involved in running. Somebody asked me recently how I became a runner. I typically reply to questions like this by saying that I’m not really a runner, that I am a retired GAA player who now tries to run. However, when I dug a little deeper, I realised that running goes back a little further with me. Athletics was the first organised sport I was involved in. I used to run from a young age with the, now disbanded, Dunderrow Athletics Club. The club used to train once or twice a week and go to the different sports days most weekends hosted by other athletics clubs. I even got to run some sprint and relay races at the CIT and the Mardyke tracks which was a huge privilege for me at the time. During my teenage years and early 20s I wasn’t involved in athletics, instead I played mainly GAA, but also Soccer and rugby and I returned to running in my late 20s.

While I admired and followed many athletes from all sports, from a young age names like Eamonn Coghlan, John Treacy, Frank O’Mara, Jerry Kiernan, Marcus O’Sullivan and later Sonia O Sullivan were all athletes I held in high esteem. I particularly remember, with great excitement watching Sonia’s races, knowing that one of our own was winning on the international stage. Running was also in my family, my father ran when he was younger and my uncle Michael ran with the Rising Sun Club for a long time and I would regularly see him running the roads.

So maybe I’m not a retired GAA player who tries to run. Maybe running was always there deep down and maybe by watching the Irish greats I was inspired to eventually get back into the sport. Yes I may be different from other runners, I may not look the same, I may train differently from others, I may run at a different pace but after nine marathons and training for my tenth, I’m finally starting to believe that I am a runner after all. Have a great week…happy running!

Posted in Martins Blog.