Tuesday 12 November 2019

Real Health Podcast: The Marathon Special with Olympian Catherina McKiernan

Karl Henry with this week's guest, Catherina McKiernan
Karl Henry with this week's guest, Catherina McKiernan

It’s the 40th anniversary of the Dublin Marathon; this weekend a record 22,500 participants, supported by 1,500 volunteers, will tackle the 42.2km/26.2 mile course around the city centre.

Olympian Catherina McKiernan is one of Ireland's most celebrated runners.

She says she "happy to let her legs do the talking" and with good reason.

She is a four time European cross-country champion, a World cross-country silver medallist, and is still the national marathon record holder with her victory in Amsterdam in 1998 in a time of 2 hours 22mins and 23 seconds.

According to Catherina, the secret to running a good marathon is balance.

"In the months beforehand it is important to train hard but I always allowed myself to recover from the hard training. There is a balance - whereby you don't over do it or over train.

Train consistently and rest. You are not going to gain anything in the last few days before a marathon, just keep ticking over with short little runs.

"Keep moving but more for psychological reasons than anything else. The more rest you get the better you will run. If you rest properly in the lead up by the day of the marathon you want to be jumping out of your skin.

One the day of the marathon she recommends being consistent.

"Nothing new. Stick to the plan. If you have been eating rubbish food, than keep eating rubbish food. Make sure you have worn the runners on your long runs so you know they are confortable. Keep it simple. Everyone is different so don't compare yourself to somebody else," she told the Real Health Podcast.

Know your limitations and plan accordingly.

“Know what you’re capable of doing,” she tells me. “Stick with the pacers and don’t go off too fast. When you do feel tired, have a plan in place so the mind doesn’t overpower you. Feed it positive thoughts all the time. There will be parts when you’re going to feel tired and accept it when it happens.”

To ensure you don't sustain an injury - focus on your form.

Posture is very important to get right and to have the correct stride, relax when running a lot of people hold tension in their body and that prevents oxygen flow around your body. A smile can work wonders through your body. Practise how to land properly.

She says visualising the finishing line can help you make it to the end. 

"There are stages of the race where you will get tired and your mind will start to play games with you so it is important to have a strategy in place.

"Think of how lucky you are to be out running, think of all the hard training you have done. Think of the people who will be there at the finish line or the slice of chocolate cake you will eat.

"In the past I would think of my friends and supporters and the last couple of miles my legs would be hanging off me so I just focused on all my hard work, and the dedication. So you should have strategies to enjoy every step."

Asked why she loves to run she replied; I love the feeling and movement of running. Running can be very settling for us. We live in a pressurised world and running can calm the mind."

For more episodes and information from the Real Health podcast you can also go to: https://www.independent.ie/podcasts/the-real-health-podcast/

The Real Health podcast with Karl Henry in association with Laya Healthcare.

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