Martins Blog Week 6: ‘Hard Yards’

“Dogged” – having or showing tenacity and grim persistence

This week’s training was a bit of a struggle. While the weather didn’t help, my energy levels weren’t great and I was constantly running on tired legs. On one particular run this week, I had nothing left in the tank and it brought me back to my old college GAA days in Tralee.

I spent a few years in the kingdom in IT Tralee (now MTU Tralee) and I was lucky enough to be involved with the Sigerson Cup panel in my first year there. For anyone who doesn’t know, The Sigerson Cup is the highest level of Gaelic Football at college and University
level, and Tralee has a huge reputation for their past victories in the competition.

The training for the Sigerson was savage, and I was in my element, in the depths of winter, morning sessions in the gym before college and evening sessions in Kerins O Rahilly’s GAA pitch on strand road. At the time there was a gravel track at one end of the pitch that was
about 300 metres long. We ran that track so many times I felt like I knew every pebble on it. One particular session always sticks in my mind. We were doing some intensive running in the lashing rain and I was completely out of gas, much like this week’s training. I was
struggling badly and all I heard was the sound of someone running up behind me pounding the gravel. It was Donal Daly.

Now Donal was a mainstay in the Kerry Football team at the
time and already had Munster and All Ireland medals in his back pocket. Here he was in the middle of winter slogging it out on the gravel track. He didn’t need to be there, he was already assured of his spot in the team. As he passed me by I could see he was also struggling but still offered up words of encouragement ‘keep going, get it done and be dogged’.
Those words of support got me through that session. Coming from a senior player on the panel it built me up and it made me feel that little bit stronger when I thought I had nothing else to give. I had to bring that dogged mentality with me this week, I ran with a bit of a chip
on my shoulder and it got me through the week.

In the past I would have skipped a few runs when I feel like I’m running on empty, but with a more determined mindset and a few
different strategies I kept on top of things. One method I use to keep on track is having my running schedule on our fridge in our kitchen at home. My wife Lorna suggested I put it up there so I can fixate on what runs I am doing. It sits there, under a New York fridge magnet,
and acts as motivation for me.

After every run I put a big X through that day. The sense of satisfaction I get from this is probably a lot more than it should be, but it’s now part of my post run ritual. Another approach I use is to always write in a diary after every run. I know all my runs are up on Strava but there is something about putting a run down on paper that makes it feel personal. I’ll jot down a few things about the run – what time I went out, average pace, distance, how I felt, what I did that day, what I ate beforehand, the weather and where I ran. I can see that if I had a busy day at work, or if I run late, I tend to run slower. I can see
how my food intake can affect my training.

Soon I will start to test a few gels on my long runs and I’ll record how they make me feel. I try to document any niggles I might feel also, hopefully it will help to keep the dreaded injuries away. These trinkets of information will all help me in the long term and I find it therapeutic getting it all down on paper.

Weeks like this past one are the training runs that I remember most, the easy weeks are great don’t get me wrong, but difficult sessions build that bit of character, those runs where I have to be dogged to get them done, those runs harden me and I’m a better runner for it. Roll on the Mallow 10!
Happy running!

Posted in CCM, CCM Leaders, Guest Blog, Martins Blog.