TV3's Sinead Desmond: 'My legs might be banjaxed but I will always be in better form after a run'
It keeps me sane, it keeps me fit, and allows me to focus my thoughts - so I cherish every moment writes Sinead Desmond. Pictures Mark Condren
I run for many reasons. Firstly I love being outdoors, whether I'm going for a run up through the woods to Djouce above the ever beautiful Powerscourt waterfall or running along by the coast - that's my main motivation for running - it gets me out and into nature, which makes me happy.
I now choose races based on where they are and where the run will take me. Trail running is, I suppose, what I am most keen on. I did a run in Crete last month which takes you down and up the far side of the Samaria gorge, they only open the path once a year for the run, it's one hell of a slog to the top, but it's so stunning, I like runs that climb, I like the reward of a view.
Beyond enjoying being outdoors I love to go for runs because it's solitary. I spend a lot of time with other people, which I love, but I do like time on my own. I run a lot in Wicklow, I'm so lucky to have it on my doorstep. I'm away a lot so I always pack the runners. I'll get up early and head out, it's a great way to see a place, whether it's a run through Central Park or along by the sea in Sligo, it's hard to beat.
Running also keeps me sane. It helps me to work things out, if I'm stressed or have a problem I can't see a fix to, a run somehow helps me to reach a solution or see another way to approach things. I always feel calmer after a run, I'm a very hyper person so anything that calms me down and uses up my energy is always a good thing!
Bottom line is that running makes me feel good. I have never ever felt worse after a run than I did before it. I might feel knackered and my legs might be banjaxed but I will always be in better form after a run. There are days when you just aren't in the mood and can't muster the wherewithal to head out, some days the mood wins and I stay on the sofa. And some days I say to myself, "just put your gear on and see how you feel", I know as soon as I have my trainers on it'll happen.
But I do listen to my body more these days, rest is just as important a part of training as running. It's taken me a very, very long time and a lot of avoidable injuries to realise that.
To be honest I wouldn't refer to myself as "a runner" I'm much more of a plodder. I'm not a natural runner. I'm not one of those tall, lean types who seem to waft along effortlessly. I'm short and have a heavy footfall, I huff and puff and sweat a lot, it's not a pretty picture! But I have good endurance, I last the distance.
It takes me ages to get warmed up and the first five miles are always my worst, I speed up after that, but speed is not what I am built for, you will never find me pushing for time; racing is never about time for me, I just want to finish. If I'm feeling good I'll push, if I'm not I'll take it handy. I'm not a runner, but I enjoy where running takes me.
I've always been a sporty girl, so have always done something. I ride and hike a lot and like to climb mountains but when I started working in London about 15 years ago, I just wasn't getting time to do any of that. So I started running home from work as it was a handy way of getting my fitness in and it was a great way to get to know London.
I started getting off one tube stop before my stop and running the last stretch home, and before I knew it I was running the whole distance, and often faster than the traffic.
I had set myself the aim of running the London Marathon, which I did, I enjoyed the race but I found the training very, very boring, plodding along on the tarmac to get the miles in as preparation for a long road race just isn't for me. But my father is a great marathon runner and we have been running races together for years, we have some great memories, and lots of medals. But he is much faster than me so pace wise we can't do the longer runs together, although I know we would both like to get an ultra under our belt.
Even though road marathons aren't for me I really enjoy the shorter runs. The social aspect is great, there's always a great buzz. Especially when there's a good cause which will benefit. There's a great vibe as everyone has a common reason to be there. Which is what the Breast Cancer Ireland Great Pink Run will be like, it's going to be a great day! Everyone there will be doing the run for the same reason, but all with very personal stories, and that matters.
Races are often emotional events, particularly when you are taking part because of a reason close to your heart. And the great thing about a 10k is that everyone is capable of getting themselves in shape to do it. And even if you do struggle on the day, you won't be alone and you'll get lots of help. I love the way people look out for each other at these races, sometimes just an encouraging smile from someone or a few supportive words can really lift you on a run.
When it comes to diet and fitness I do work hard at it but only because it makes me feel great and the rewards are worth it. I'm eating better and healthier and am fitter now than I've ever been. And I feel so good for it. My diet mantra is pretty simple: try and cut out the crap, so no refined stuff and as much veg and fruit and good stuff as possible. If it makes me feel good I eat it, if it doesn't I don't. Coffee and booze would be my toxins of choice, and I love butter, cream and cheese, but try to limit them all.
I will admit to being a total health food fad merchant, if it's being touted as the new superfood you can bet it's in my fridge! Presenting Ireland AM means that sleep is key for me and running and working out help me to sleep well. I work out at my local Crunch gym in Dun Laoghaire, I have a trainer for weights and I do reformer Pilates and interval training, and with the gorgeous weather at the moment I try and swim in the sea as much as I can. I try to exercise three to five times a week.
I always need an event to train for, if I didn't have a goal to work towards I wouldn't be as motivated, when I don't have a race to work towards I can get lazy and slack off. When I don't run I don't feel so good in myself, both physically and mentally. But it's mainly the mental benefits that I miss when I don't run.
I like achieving things, it makes me feel good, and one of the best benefits of running races for me is how it has boosted my confidence. Tough races make for good mental training, and for me that carries over into the rest of my life. Not to sound too self-helpy, but it gives you great self-belief. Whether it's your very first race or your 50th, there is always a point in a race where you think, 'This is tough I'd like to stop', but you choose to overrule that thought and you just keep on putting one foot in front of the other, it doesn't matter how slowly, progress is progress!
Running has taught me a lot. You've always got more in the tank than you think, dig deep, tough it out and you'll get wherever you want to get to. Just make sure to stop and take in the view along the way!
Sinead Desmond will be taking part in The Breast Cancer Ireland Great Pink Run with Avonmore Slimline Milk at the Phoenix Park, Dublin on August 29. Register atgreatpinkrun.ie.
Health & Living