A Runner's Story: Brendan's Dublin Marathon 2018

Dublin marathon runners on road in high vis clothing.jpg

As the Dublin Marathon winds down for another year, we caught up with some of the runners we helped on their way to see how they got on. The below is from Brendan, whose sub 3-hour goal was no mean feat and we’re delighted to give you the spoiler alert that he smashed it!

“I have been running for 3 years now and my goal for 2018 was pretty straightforward: to run a marathon in 2 hours 59 minutes and 59 seconds.

Dublin City Marathon 2018 was my 4th marathon, and my first attempt at joining the sub 3-hour club. My times had consistently improved; from 3.39, to 3.19 and to 3.09 for the 2017 Dublin Marathon. I guess my biggest problem in that time was that I felt like my improvements came easily. My thinking was that in order to run faster for longer, all I needed to do was increase my mileage and intensity when it came to shorter sessions. 

My problems started after the Bohermeen half marathon in April. I ran a PB in 1.28 and felt great throughout. A few days afterwards, however, both my calves, as well as my Achilles, started feeling tight and sore. I went to a physio and had some dry-needling done, which helped remove much of the tightness, but for weeks afterwards I just felt unable to pick up the intensity needed for my training sessions. I would rest for a few days, do lots of foam rolling and stretching, return to running but only to break down again. I was caught in a cycle of breaking down with time beginning to run out.

At this point, I turned to Warwick in Run360. I knew I needed some help in assessing why I was constantly injured. His assessment completely changed my outlook on training and served as a real wake up call. I learned that my issues were largely centred around weakness in my hips and glutes. Warwick prescribed a series of exercises aimed at strengthening my glutes and core and changed my focus away from simply running harder and harder each week.

As well as the weaknesses, my cadence was very low, and Warwick gave me some great advice on making some small changes to my technique which I was able to implement during my long slow runs each week. I was able to shorten my stride length, reduce my running height and alter my posture. As a result, my trailing leg rose higher after each stride, propelling me forward. My cadence and speed picked up. Looking after the basics became my focus; and the mileage and speed soon followed.

Brendan during his Run360 3D analysis session

Brendan during his Run360 3D analysis session

Anyone who has trained for a marathon will tell you that it’s quite a commitment. Five hard sessions a week, totalling 60+ miles each week, for 20 weeks while working, looking after the kids, maintaining a home (and everything else that life throws at you) can take its toll. On top of that, my wife was also training for her first marathon, so its was a pretty hectic summer for us both.

With the big day coming into view, all eyes were on the weather forecast, making sure that I was getting the right fuel and staying clear of anyone nursing a cold!

On the morning of the race, the weather was perfect. A cold but clear sunny day with absolutely no wind. At the start line, I did a quick scan of where I was mentally and physically and knew I was ready to go. I felt rested. I felt strong. I felt fast.

The plan for the race was to stay behind the 3-hour pacers for the first 12 miles, come alongside them at the halfway point before moving ahead once we reached the flat section at Walkinstown at mile 15.

I can’t deny I had a couple of moments where I felt the pace was too fast and my quads did start to cramp in the last few miles, but once I reached the 32K mark, I knew I was going to make it. I crossed the line in a time of 2.57.02 and crept into the top 500 finishers. In a field of 17,000, that’s not too bad for an old fella!

So, what’s next for 2019? Well, there are other races beyond the marathon which I would like to try. I would like to try some cross country running and may sign up for a Triathlon as I can’t yet swim. A Triathlon may give me the motivation I need to get into the pool. One thing is for sure, I am not giving up running yet. I am looking forward to running again for the sheer joy of it and not worrying about time or distance.

It’s a wonderful feeling to achieve your goals and to know that you can run fast, but nothing beats the feeling of feeling healthy and moving freely. That’s the number 1 priority from now on and I feel I have the tools to do it as I understand my mechanics so much better.

In the meantime, I have signed up for the Dublin and Berlin marathons next year. A time of 2 hours 49 minutes has a nice ring to it!”

Julie FarrarComment