Donadea Forest in the heart of Kildare is a stunning vista of walks and trails. At 5k, the 'Aylmer Walk' is the longest of the three trails that meander throughout this 640-acre plantation.
In three weeks' time, this trail will host an early season running event - the Irish 50km Trail Championships - that will stir in excess of 100 ultra-marathon runners from their winter hibernation. (It involves 10 laps of 5k.)
This week, I suggest a simple strategy to ensure your commitment is sustained and that you deliver on the necessary training. Create a vision in your head of where your ambition will be lived out. If it's the Dublin Marathon, perhaps picture the finish line in Merrion Square. If it's the FIT 10k in Dublin, imagine yourself running up Chesterfield Avenue. If Ironman France is on your 2014 list of goals, then think of the 'Promenade Des Anglaises' in beautiful Nice.
As the Donadea 50k is a major goal on my own list this year, I have had a vision of it in my head for months. On quite a few occasions over Christmas, that image motivated me to do a few extra-long runs. I love the place.
Even the thought of arriving there at 8am on February 16 is already exciting me. If you want a fabulous running experience at any time of year, then Donadea gets an A+ in my book. Every February we are royally hosted by legendary ultra-marathoner Anthony Lea, a proud member of the Donadea running club.
But back to business. By creating a vision of your ambition, an extra ounce of emotion will be stirred, which will ensure you train as best you can. I use this in all walks of life. If I'm giving a talk, I will envisage the stage. If it's an in-house corporate presentation, I will picture the company building.
If it's a 'goals seminar', I picture the room laid out appropriately and ready for our attendees to arrive. You will recall that last week I was going to buy a guitar. Well now I have a vision of a friend's pub in which I hope to play before the end of 2014, and I am now prac-tising hard.
One final story to offer firm evidence: 15 months ago, I met with a close friend and his 17-year-old son. The reason for the meeting was that the young school leaver's motivation to do well in his Leaving Certificate had waned considerably.
Yet when I asked him why he was in school, he became quite excited when he told me his ambition was to go to one of Ireland's most famous universities. I knew immediately by his physiology that he really wanted to go there.
I suggested he go home and download an image of the front of the university. It might, I said, help reignite his motivation to do well in his exams.
Just last September I bumped into his dad. He told me that the previous week his son had walked into that college to begin a four-year degree course. His 2013 Leaving Certificate results had earned him the right. The vision of that college had indeed reignited the drive in the young man and, seven months later, he achieved his ambition.
Good for him.
Gerry Duffy is a motivational speaker and endurance athlete. www.gerryduffyonline.com