DPhil Earth Sciences
Oxford University Cross Country Club
2:16:08 for 5th Irishman (11th overall) at the 2019 Dublin marathon
Short Term Aspirations
Improve my marathon time and approach the world and Olympic international qualification standards (2:11:30)
Long Term Aspirations
'Underpromise and overdeliver'. - Meb Keflezighi (USA Olympic silver medalist, 2004)
How did you get into the sport?
During my first year at secondary school, we were set a 1200m cross country run around the football pitches, during PE in the winter of 2004-2005. Before then, I had never run a step in my life and was terrified of embarassing myself. I was roughly 11 or 12 at that time: I don't remember the start of the run but can remember from 800m onwards. I was in the lead and distinctly remember thinking, 'I am going to push until I drop!
There is a lot written about 'flow' in sports psychology: I honestly believe that all my efforts since have been an effort to recreate that feeling of surprise, during that first cross country outing. Running 2:16:08 in Dublin is as close as I have come, so far.
Stepping up to the marathon has given me 26.2 miles of tarmac to use my aerobic engine to best realise my potential. This would not have happened if my Religion teacher, Joe McCann, had not encouraged me to join my local club and my current coach, Richard Rodgers, had not helped send me on my way."
How has the Blues Performance Scheme helped you?
I have been lucky to be on the scheme for several years during my time at the University of Oxford. The scheme has enabled me to access physical and mental pathways to impove my performance. Before being on the Blues Performance Scheme I had rarely set foot in a gym. Paul Ledger, Kyle Bennett and Duncan Bennett have successively helped me improve my core fitness: this has (finally) brought me to the point of being comfortable to include weights in my strength routine. This has been a massive boost to my confidence.
Sports Psychology sessions with Mark Bellamy have changed my mindset over several years and could be summed up as changing my dominant thought from, 'I can't do this' to 'I want to do this'.
Nutrition sessions with Helen Money helped educate me in syn-performance fuelling.
Dan Tibbitt and Tiahan Eeles gave me the benefit of the doubt by including me on the scheme this year as 2018-2019 included a stint of poor performance (I 'bonked' at the 2018 Frankfurt marathon) and this played a part in my recent form.
How have you managed training during lockdown?
Training continues as normal for me. I have had to adapt my strength and conditioning routine due to a shortage of equipment but the running aspect is relatively unchanged. Without races on the horizon for the foreseeable future, I intend to take several breaks of complete rest, throughout 2020, to make sure I am race ready, when competition resumes."
Any advice for Oxford Uni athletes during lockdown?
One of my regrets as an athlete is failing to perform at the 2019 track and field Varsity match against Cambridge. I ran 14:17 on the road for 5km the week before and to this day feel I should have at least replicated that performance on the track. On the other hand, I saw a lot of my fellow athletes 'go to the well' to get best returns on points to win the varsity match, when they were not having a good day. That shows a lot of strength. If you have the resolve to do that in a race, you have the resolve to get through this difficult time too.