Google+ Running in Cork, Ireland: Blog Post from Sonia O'Sullivan...The Early Days Pt.2

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Blog Post from Sonia O'Sullivan...The Early Days Pt.2

Sonia O'Sullivan is of course known to everyone as the best female Irish athlete ever. Her old club Ballymore Cobh AC are organising a set of 3k races in the town of Cobh on Monday evening, the 25th of August. More details in this previous post.

Ballymore Cobh AC played a huge part in the development of Sonia O'Sullivan as an athlete from an early age. She fully supports this new initiative from the club and will be present on the night for the inaugural race.

She has also written this blog post below which outlines her early days in the club.

The Early Days Pt.1 can be seen HERE

The Early Days Sonia O'Sullivan
Once I started at Cobh Vocational School, training became a bit more regular and this would normally take place immediately after school. I still met with the club a few days a week but I started to train on extra days and follow a training program written up by Sean Kennedy.

This was the beginning of my daily routine that included training at a similar time each day with sessions taking place most days.

I went home for my lunch everyday and would put my training gear on beneath my school uniform, this all helped for the speedy change in the toilets and wasted no time, getting out to run laps and laps of the field as soon after the school bell as possible.  Most days I ran alone , but sometimes I would join in with Roy Collins, Patrick Smith and Willie Cronin. This was my first real experience of running with a group and talking along the way. Most days I ran around the Vocational School field, but at least once a week I would head out with the lads and they would test me over the hills . I always remember one day going for a run out the Valley Road and down the hill to Glenmore. I never knew what loops we were taking and so when we arrived at Glenmore I asked, 'so where to now', only to be told.....'just turn around and back up again'. You can imagine as a teenager I was thinking what's the point of that ?? 'We could've just kept going flat along the Valley Road.'

Sean would drop a training program in the letterbox on his way to work and to me it was just like homework and whatever was written on the page was what I had to do each day. Sean often explained the reasoning but it was a good few years later when I really understood the reasoning behind these training programs. There was plenty of variety in pace and sessions that were prescribed for each day.

This was when I first started to keep a training diary and I was meticulous in recording the details of each days training, it's great to be able to look back now and see the training I did as a schoolgirl in Cobh. I only wish I got to explore Marlogue Woods a little more but it seemed laps and laps of the field inside the "track" was the best place to run and safest way to avoid injury.

Sean introduced me to long runs, hilly runs, interval sessions on the grass,  Fartlek, and he helped put routine and structure in my training. I just did whatever it said on the paper and it didn't matter if I was running around by myself, it was prescribed so I did as I was told and enjoyed every minute.

I also started to do a bit of strength work in Colaiste Muire gym. Deirdre O'Mahony, Lisa O'Donovan and myself would take a break from our homework about 9pm and run in the road to the college and take over the multi gym. I'm not sure we knew exactly what we were doing, just taking turns to lift some weights, do some plyometrics and then run back out the road again .

One of my favourite running activities was a trip to the  Mardyke for training. We had Wednesday afternoon off school, so as track season was approaching I would have track sessions written into my program. I would catch the train to Cork and then walk out to the Mardyke, stopping in Easons along the way to pick up a copy of Athletics Weekly. As I had been on a few Irish international schools teams, I was familiar with some of the British girls names and keen to check up on what races they were running and how fast.

Often Sean would meet me at the track with his stopwatch to monitor the session, mostly repeat 400m's with not very much rest in between . One of my favourite sessions was 1000m, 600m, 400m then repeat and try to match or better the times from the first set. 20x 200m was also another regular session.

After the session I would jog back into town for my warm down and Sean would pick me up outside the train station and drive me home. This is a trait I used throughout my career and was often known to turn up at Heathrow airport coming home from a race only to get changed quickly and leave the driver to take my bag home while I ran, why sit in a car when you can run and get home just as quick.

The Mardyke was always a special place for me, in terms of both training and racing. I just always felt the speed coming off that final bend and dreamt of competing at the Cork City Sports.

To recently have had the honour of being officially recognised in the naming of the track meant a huge deal to me given the connection I had with the venue over the years.

More info about the race in this earlier post. Sonia will also be present after the races in the Commodore Hotel for a Q&A session with sports journalist Feidhlim Kelly. 

From Ballymore Cobh AC...."We are hosting a pre-registration day in The Commodore Hotel this Saturday, 16th August, in The Robson Room from 2-6pm. Race numbers will be provided to those registering on Saturday.

The race times can be confirmed as;
Boys        7pm
Girls         7.30pm
Mens       8.00pm
Womens  8.30pm

Medals + prizes will be provided to the first three in each category during an after race ceremony in The Commodore Hotel where Sonia O'Sullivan will take part in a Q+A with sports journalist Feidhlim Kelly at 9pm, after food and refreshments have been provided.

Personal bests:
800 m – 2:00.69
1500 m – 3:58.85 NR (July 1995)
Mile run – 4:17.25 NR
3000 m – 8:21.64 NR
5000 m – 14:41.02 NR
10,000 m – 30:47.59 NR
Half marathon – 67:19 NR
Marathon – 2:29:01

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