Irish Runner – October/November

This is a column about motivation, its written there at the top of the page. Every time I open the computer to write my contribution I’ve tried to offer all our readers the tools to overcome certain concerns, issues or scenarios that might occur every day during our running lives. But this is the marathon issue of your favourite running magazine and I can’t let this edition slip by without touching on some Sport Psychology.

You may not know it but having reached this far in your Dublin City Marathon training plans you are more practised in the field of Sport Psychology than you could ever believe. You’ve had the mental strength to go training when you didn’t feel like it. You’ve visualised your race, imagined the sights and sounds of the crowd prior to lining up at the start line. You’ve calmed pre-race nerves by running through the personal mantras you know clear your mind of negative thoughts. All these tips and tricks along with many more have their background deeply embedded in Sport Psychology.

But what we will talk about today, specifically in relation to your marathon journey is resilience. A huge focus for sportspeople, amateur and professional alike, resilience is crucial to success. Learning it, practising it, implementing it. The ability to overcome adversity when it stares us straight in the face is resilience. The strength to return from serious injury is resilience in action. The capacity to face problems and issues head on and look at how you can overcome whatever stands in your way makes you resilient. How often have we heard of people being labelled as ‘mentally tough’? They are resilient.

Is that you?? I’d hazard a guess that any number of the conditions mentioned above have applied to you in the time you’ve been running. Injury? Mid-race fatigue? Pre-race nerves? If you have overcome any setback, any negative thought or any form of difficult situation or adversity then you are resilient.

The marathon is a difficult race, common thought is that only 1% of the population have finished a marathon and even less have done more than one. But your preparation will stand you in good stead when bank holiday Sunday rolls around. Lined up on Merrion square the butterflies will begin in force so remember how you last used that nervous energy to get through the Race Series.  When you run under the Luas bridge in Milltown, remember that you’ll have run that far in training, the 20mile mark is just around the corner. When you come to the end of Roebuck road and face ‘Heartbreak Hill’ remember the hills you ran over in the last few months. All these experiences will make you mentally tougher, because every time you ticked a run off your marathon plan then you’ve trained your mind as well as your body.

Things start to go astray when the negative thoughts outweigh and outnumber the positive ones. As well as mental resilience, we need to be aware that the marathon will be a massive drain on your emotional strength. How will you feel if your planned marathon pace becomes too fast to maintain? What about when you turn a corner and find the wind is blowing head on? Or if you plan to see friends on the course but they didn’t make it in time to the point you had decided? How you face these and all the other challenges will determine not only the success but the enjoyment of your race.

Many runners find that ‘self-talk’ is an excellent coping strategy to balance out the negative emotional effects that may creep in during a race. Use self-talk in a positive way to boost your confidence. Dedicate each distance marker to some person or group that has supported and believed in you on your marathon journey. Use Imagery – Imagine and reflect on the positive emotions that will flood the mind when you cross the marathon finish line and a volunteer puts a medal around your neck.

Don’t let the negative thoughts and emotions take over. Between now and the 29th October prepare your mind for how you will deal with whatever this amazing race will throw at you. There is always an opportunity to turn a negative into a positive and remember, for all but a very few of the estimated 20,000 starters the Dublin City marathon is a fun event. It might have started off as a personal goal, a bet or just something you always wanted to do, but outside of the handful of professionals at the front of the field there is nothing more at stake than pride. Dublin is known worldwide as the friendly marathon and I can’t wait to be one of the many thousands of people who line the route to cheer you on and celebrate your achievements. Keep an eye out for me, I’ll bring some jellies.

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Bump, Bike & Baby – A book review

I like to think that I like to read a lot. Honestly though, I haven’t devoured books since the mid 2000’s, a point in my life that coincides with the arrival of both social media and my children. I know which one I’d like to blame for the root cause of my slide, but I think we all know it’s the other one…

BBB_CoverThe usual scene is that I walk around with whatever book I’m trying to concentrate on tucked neatly between my phone and my iPad and it generally stays there or gets used as a coaster for whatever vessel is helping with the evenings imbibing while watching the tv.

When I do read, I read about other peoples endeavors, other feats of endurance. Maybe its to get inspiration, maybe its to learn from their experiences or maybe I live, Walter Mitty like, in their form as I drift off to sleep with the book on my bedside table. Whatever the reason, I was surprised to be taken with a book by Moire O’Sullivan called Bump, Bike & Baby (Mummy’s gone adventure racing).

I follow Moire on twitter (@moireosullivan) Shes a National Adventure Race Series Champion, she’s the first person ever to complete the Wicklow Round, a 100km circuit of  Quest_Killarney_Forest_2017the Wicklow Mountains (in under 24hrs) and as the book explains, Moire is also a mum of two.

Bump, Bike & Baby opens with Moire detailing her resistance to motherhood, the idea that it will affect her ability to run and run fast while she’s at it. But as you can guess, things happen and training has to stop, but not until our author buys a bike, goes kayaking, consults other Adventure Racing mums and learns that pregnancy hormones might even help in making her faster!

Where we are brought in the following chapters are stages of acceptance, adaptation, stress and at times a very funny adventure as Moire tries and succeeds in not only becoming the best runner she can be but most of all becomes a loving Mum. In Moire’s house, Tom the dog was once king of the hill, but we all are brought on a journey where Moire, her husband Pete, baby Aran and later in the yarn, Aran’s brother Cahal become a team.

What’s great about Bump, Bike & Baby is that it includes races and locations we are all familiar with, the IMRA race series, the Mourne Mountains, Quest Glendalough. These are races we all can enter and in this there is a real connection with Moire in knowing while she may be the best, just like us, shes really just trying to be her best, a lesson we can all learn.

Anyone who has ever trained for any athletic challenge while raising a family will understand everything that happens in this book. Moire’s determination to get back to fitness while learning (and becoming) a loving mum is an excellent read. This book is packed to the brim with inspiration, success, failures.

We can all take something from this book, its great. Not only did Moire write something that I actually finished, but I’ll probably read it again. Go buy it.

When you head off to your store to buy Bump, Bike & Baby, have a look for Moire’s first book, Mud, Sweat & Tears about her solo quest to conquer one of Ireland’s most difficult mountain challenges, the Wicklow Round. Like Bump, Bike & Baby, it is an excellent read, very funny and equally inspiring.


About the book

Bump, Bike and Baby – Mummy’s Gone Adventure Racing. Sandstone Press. Format: Paperback. ISBN: 9781912240067. Publication Date: 15/03/2018. RRP: £8.99. Available from Amazon, Foyles, Easons, and Waterstones. Paperbacks can be purchased here: and e-books can be purchased here:

About the author

Moire O’Sullivan is an accomplished mountain runner and adventure racer. In 2009, she became the first person to complete the Wicklow Round, a 100km circuit of Ireland’s Wicklow Mountains, run within twenty-four hours. She is married to Pete and is the proud mother of their two young sons, Aran and Cahal. While busy adapting to and learning about motherhood, Moire won Ireland’s National Adventure Race Series three times in 2014, 2016 and 2017. Bump, Bike and Baby is about this personal journey. Moire blogs at

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European Week of Sport – #BeActive

I was recently asked by Sport Ireland to be one of their ambassadors for the forthcoming European Week of Sport. I was delighted they asked me and more than happy to accept because as a father, amateur athlete and health & fitness advocate I really do feel that the more people that take any opportunity to get up, out and get active the better. Continue reading

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Sunday Independent ‘Run Nation’ Supplement

‘Just put one foot in front of the other, remember the finish, you’re past half way now’

‘Past half way?! That means there’s 13miles still to go, what have I done. No matter how much I tried to reassure myself there was no getting around the fact that this marathon wasn’t going as planned. Continue reading

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Irish Runner – August/September 2017

I was recently asked by a colleague about whether they should run when they are on holiday, which to me seemed a pretty simple question with a basic answer – If you run when you’re at home then why should you stop just because you are on holiday? Continue reading

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Irish Runner – June/July 2017

Before my time on Operation Transformation I could describe my family as being a fairly typical Irish family unit. Two adults working, two children in primary school and all of us with no more than a passing interest in any sporting activity. We watched others play, we supported professional teams but the weekends were more likely spent in shopping centers than on the playing field. Continue reading

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Irish Runner – April/May 2017

The weather mightn’t have made up its mind yet, but spring is definitely upon us and with that comes warmer temperatures, brighter evenings and the sight of more and
more people pounding their way through the parks continuing their New Year’s resolutions to get fit and start running. Continue reading

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If you want to keep moving, then you’ve got to keep moving!

This is great, Two women. Two men. One incredible lesson in active longevity. If you want to keep moving, then you’ve got to keep moving!
A new world record!

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The RunGear Podcast

I recently spoke to Paddy & Bob about Operation Transformation, success, injury & motivation. Here is a link to the podcast. Its good!


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Resolutions Flagging? – What Next…

This article appeared in the Feb/Mar issue of Irish Runner magazine which is jam packed full of articles of interest to the competitive and fun runner alike. Go get it in your local newsagent or take out an annual issue-103-cover-1-212x300subscription for €30 delivered to your door.

A desire or willingness to do something; Enthusiasm.

Continue reading

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