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Back to Portumna Forest and onto the Midnight Marathon

Earlier this year, I ran the West of Ireland series marathon in Portumna, which I may have tried to sell to you guys as “brave marathon runner battles on to finish event despite injury” instead of the more accurate “idiot tries to run too many marathons in a week, walks/hobbles for last twenty miles and finishes in probably the worst time ever on that particular course…” Well it seems I’m a glutton for punishment; June 15th saw a return to the forest park in Portumna where over 150 men and women took part in events ranging from 10 to 100 kilometers in length. Unfinished business was the order of the day; I was pretty determined not to repeat the previous meltdown and so began eight loops of the forest.

Jittery nerves at the start-line
© Iain Shaw

As I just alluded to, on my last excursion to Portumna I was trotting along on my merry way until I passed the six-mile marker and promptly blew out both my hamstrings. What followed was six hours and fifteen minutes of excruciating walking that turned both my legs to jelly (this despite the course being as flat as a pancake).

This time, things panned out slightly different, it went like this: I had gotten up at 4 o’clock that morning for the long drive from Louth to Galway. Not realising that the marathon didn’t start till 10am, I arrived while the early registrations were still taking place and so retired back to the back of the jeep for some extra sleep. End result: five minutes before the bus left from the car park to the starting line, I got a loud knock on the window and a shout to wake up and get ready! There followed a mad scramble to get my all my gear together in a flurry of straps, backpacks, belts and compression t-shirts…

Just swap the giant red S for a ReachOut logo and that’s exactly how it went down…

Unlike the previous occasion in March, we began half a mile back up St. Josephs’ Road into Portumna. One of the best things about this particular course, owing to the fact that it loops around the same route several times, is that you always know when the next snack station is coming up; there was one situated at the finish line and another right at the end of that windy taily bit on the right hand side.

I think I just ruled myself out of the running for any blogger awards by using the phrase “windy taily bit”, but whatever – editing is sooo time-consuming….

Bolting out of the traps too quickly is still proving to be a major problem for me. For the first 13 miles, I was ranging from about 7:27 to 8:11 minutes per mile. In the second half, this collapsed somewhat, ranging from 11:14 to 13:50 minutes per mile. My heart-rate also dipped sharply around the two-hour mark. As far as I’m concerned, it’s a bit of a double-edge sword. On the one hand, I’m going to have to work a lot harder to repeat the sub 4-hour performance in Kildare. On the other (more positive) hand, I am finally finding my feet.**

I finished in 4hrs:18min:57 sec (cutting nearly two hours off the previous day out in Portumna) and I’m getting to the point where I can settle into a rhythm and feel comfortable finishing in this sort of time. By comfortable, I mean I probably won’t want to throw up on my way over the finish line.

Anything faster than that though, and we could have a problem

All in all, this was a pretty successful day out. No injuries to report and I am officially no longer the slowest man in Portumna! The next event would be a Midnight Marathon which was part of Le Cheile Athletic Club’s 24 hour Run.
Race report coming soon.

** I used to think that I got all my best writing done during these 2am cramming sessions. After re-reading that sentence, I’m not so sure…

We Would Like to Apologize for This Delay…

No, your WordPress account is not broken. If you’ve frantically been clicking refresh on your internet browser for days on end in the hopes of a new post, (and why wouldn’t you be? This blog is awesome….) then first of all, an apology! Things are been crazily hectic lately and I haven’t had time to write up full race reports but there is so much I have to tell you guys about! I completed two more marathons – in Portumna Forest on June 15th, and also the Midnight Marathon in Kildare on June 23rd. I’ll have reports up for those two events very soon; the photos are already up on facebook. Also we had another fundraising drive for Reach Out two weeks ago and raised €459 for a total of €1,314 – still a long way off the €5,000 target but it’s definitely a big step in the right direction. Talk soon!


I answered the 100 Marathon Club’s ’25 Questions’

I’ve been a member of the 100 Marathon Club since last March and recently “answered the 25”!
Here’s the original link, thanks for reading!

Q1.When did you start running and what got you interested in it?

I started running last October; I wanted to raise money for a charity called the Inspire Ireland Foundation that does important work in the area of youth mental health through their flagship program, Reach Out. I operate a fundraising blog called ‘Running for Reachout’, which can be found at

Q2. How many marathons have you run? 

Including Kildare, I’ve run eight marathons so far.

Q3. What’s your favourite event?

My favourite event was the very first one – the West of Ireland marathon in Connemara last March. It was a completely new experience and tougher than anything I’d ever done before.

Q4. How many miles do you run in a typical week?

Somewhere in the 30-40 mile range

Q5. What’s your best ever running performance?

Best running performance was probably the last bank holiday weekend – ran three marathons in three days – Ballyhoura, Limerick and Belfast – and got a PB in Limerick.

Q6. What running shoes do you wear and do you wear racing flats?
Asics all the way!

Q7. What was your worst marathon experience?

Worst marathon experience was the West of Ireland marathon in Portumna directly after the Clare Madventure. Hurt myself after six miles and ended up walking the rest of the course, which took over six hours. Not fun!

Q8. How fast could you run a mile on a track? 

Ran the GOAL Christmas mile last year in 6 minutes on the nose, that’s the best I’ve done so far.

Q9. What’s your marathon PB? 

Kildare Marathon (2012) – 3:56:53

Q10. What’s the best piece of training advice you were ever given?

Start slowly and run a strong second-half.

Q11. Have you ever had a serious running injury?

I did injure my knee once while training and was out for three weeks, but otherwise nothing too serious. I’m usually in bits for a while after a marathon but it normally wears off after a day or two.

Q12. What training session do you find the hardest/dislike the most and what’s your favourite session?

Dislike hills as I got that first knee injury doing hill sprints in Drogheda and have disliked it ever since. I enjoy pyramid training sessions quite a lot though.

Q13. What is the longest race you have completed?

They’ve all been 26.2 mile marathons so far.

Q14. Do you have a Favourite quote [running or otherwise?] 

Things should not just be done well, but with style too.

Q15. Weirdest food you’ve ever eaten during a marathon? 

Mars bars, snickers and twixes; they were handing them out at the Ballyhoura Mountain Marathon. Whatever works, I suppose!

Q16. Strangest thing you’ve ever seen during a marathon? 

In Connemara, I saw a guy dressed in a leprechaun costume freewheeling into Leenane on a large rickshaw; can’t remember who he was doing it for through.

Q17. What usually goes through your head as you cross the finish line of a marathon? 

Usually I just can’t get wait to lie down and get some food and a lucozade.

Q18. Do you get narky if you don’t get a run in? 

It depends. Not if there’s only a week in between marathons. But I wouldn’t like to go any longer than that without training.

Q19. Have you ever considered how you’d handle it if you couldn’t run again? 

It’s not something I’ve given too much thought to, hopefully it won’t be an issue for some time to come.

Q20. What event have you not yet completed that you would like to do the most in the future?

The 4 Deserts, although it’s a bit of a pipe dream at this stage.

Q21. What are your running goals for the next 12 months? 

Well one of the goals was to finish a marathon in under 4 hours but that’s done. So the other one is just to complete 20 Irish marathons by the end of the year and keep improving the PB as best I can.

Q22. What age category do you run under?

Male open

Q23. Are you a member of a running club?

Drogheda & District AC and the 100 Marathon Club Ireland.
Q24. Do you have a particular nutrition regime before, during and after events?

I try to get a bowl of porridge and a 4-in-1 shake beforehand; I usually go through about 8-12 gels during a race, particularly if it’s a tough one. Afterwards, I take another 4-in-1 shake although Dennis McMonagle has me convinced that ‘bangers & mash’ is the way to go for post-race recovery!

Q25. What other sport, if any, are you involved in?

Gaelic football

Just setup a YouTube channel – Rebecca Black, watch out!

So I thought I would upload all the various vlogs, clips, bits and bobs that I’ve recorded with my trusty Lumix over the last few months and post them all in one place. That place is the ‘Running for Reachout’ youtube channel, at

I just hope if one of the videos does go viral, that it won’t be the one of me being chased by cows in Ballyhoura….

Go West: The Reckoning…

Big news today. Just registered for the first ever Waterford Viking Marathon which takes place in 3 weeks … 1 day … 9 hours … and some five minutes (I’m quite excited). It will be one of only a handful of marathons held in the east of Ireland and by all accounts is going to be entirely amazing. Also this guy will be there, the 35-marathon man. When you combine perseverance, awesomeness and giant cojones, this is the kind of thing that happens; Alan Corcoran is taking on a challenge that most people would find impossible – running 35 marathons in 35 days -and just straight-up doing it anyway. You should definitely check out his website here.

So that’s my plan of action. Except before all that, there is one piece of unfinished business. You might remember that one week after the mountainous Madventure Marathon in April, I was running in a ‘West of Ireland’ series marathon in Portumna.

Ireland was a simpler place before Google Maps came along…

After about six miles, both my hamstrings blew out and I was forced to walk the last twenty-something miles to the finish-line.  That whole ordeal ended up taking nearly six and a half hours, which I’m told is probably the longest it has ever taken anyone to finish that course. Well, nearly two months have passed, and it’s time to go back west and have another crack at it. The Portumna Forest Marathon is coming up on June 16th and I’ll be there to get the ball rolling on the next stage of this campaign. At this stage, how it will go is anybody’s guess!

A 9-Week Marathon Training Program

I’ve been asked by a few people about my training for this challenge so I thought I’d throw together a quick post about it. First off, this is just what’s worked well for me in the past and there are plenty of pieces that could be worked into the program – for instance, I don’t do enough core exercises and I hardly ever have time to exercise with weights. For plans that are individually tailored to you, you should consult with your coach, a physio or other experienced members of your running club. (You should definitely be a member of a running club – and you should also do yoga with Emma Stafford for that matter!)

Week 1

Monday: rest or easy jog

Tuesday: rest of easy jog

Wednesday: 6 miles

Thursday: 4 miles

Friday: 4 miles

Saturday: Rest

Sunday: 12/14 miles

Week 2

Monday: rest or easy jog

Tuesday: rest of easy jog

Wednesday: 4 mile handicap time trial

Thursday: rest or easy jog

Friday: 4 miles

Saturday: 4 miles

Sunday: 14 miles very slowly

Week 3

Monday: Rest

Tuesday: 4 miles

Wednesday: 6 miles

Thursday: 1 mile easy 1 mile steady 1 mile easy

Friday: Rest

Saturday: Half Marathon (13.1 miles)

Sunday: rest or easy jog recovery

Week 4

Monday: Rest

Tuesday: 4 miles

Wednesday: 6 miles

Thursday: 4 miles

Friday: Rest

Saturday: 1 mile easy 2 mile steady 1 mile easy

Sunday: 14/16 miles easy

Week 5

Monday: Rest

Tuesday: rest or easy jog

Wednesday: 6/8 miles

Thursday: 4 miles

Friday: Rest

Saturday: 4 miles

Sunday: 18 miles

Week 6

Monday: Rest

Tuesday: Rest or easy jog

Wednesday: 6/8 miles

Thursday: 1 mile easy 2 mile steady 1 mile easy

Friday: Rest

Saturday: 18/20 miles

Sunday: Rest

Week 7

Monday: Rest or easy jog

Tuesday: 4 miles

Wednesday: 6/8 miles

Thursday: 4 miles

Friday: Rest

Saturday: Rest

Sunday: 18/20 miles

Week 8

Monday: Rest

Tuesday: 6 miles

Wednesday: 4 miles

Thursday: 4 miles

Friday: Rest

Saturday: 4 miles Time Trial

Sunday: 10/12 miles

Week 9

Monday: Rest

Tuesday: Rest

Wednesday: 4 miles

Thursday: 3 miles

Friday: 2 miles

Saturday: Rest

Sunday: Rest

If you decide that you want to run a marathon every couple of weeks (and why not?), a good idea would be to use the plan for the last two tapering weeks to fill the gaps in between. Also, this article by Hal Higdon, entitled ‘Running More Than One 26-Miler A Year‘ also has some useful tips. Now go do some running!

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