In 2004, Aidan Curran (now 36) was ripe for a challenge without realising it, and now he has run six marathons in eight years
When did you start running and why? I started in April 2004, with the objective of that year’s Dublin Marathon in October. I hadn’t run since my Community Games days and never considered doing a marathon. However, I was feeling bored and aimless around then, so without knowing it I was ripe for a life-transforming challenge. Fortunately, before any mad religious cult got to me, I saw a news report of the 2004 Dublin Marathon launch and that was my “Eureka!” moment. Even more fortunately, I actually stuck with it and finished the 2004 Dublin Marathon in under four hours.
What’s been your biggest achievement? My marathon personal best is 3:27:58, run in Paris in 2007 – my only sub-3:30 out of five marathons to date. Also, I’ve managed to convert my running into a blog, Run and Jump, that has been doing quite well.
Any disappointments? Out of fecklessness and work-related stress I didn’t train properly for the 2010 Paris Marathon – I didn’t even bother setting myself a target time and just told myself that I’d amble along at my leisure. But just after halfway in the race, turning from the Bastille down to the river, I realised I was in for a suffer-fest of my own making, and when I finished in a poor time I was angry because I hadn’t done myself justice. Still, I learned a valuable lesson – a serious objective needs proper preparation.
Best thing about running? The sense of freedom and independence – you can go where and when you want, for as long or as short as you want.
One thing you’d change about running? I’ve heard plenty of experienced, sub-three-hour marathon runners talk dismissively of “fun-runners”. A long-time runner collecting yet another finisher’s medal for the pile – so what? The greater achievement is a beginner overcoming their self-consciousness and doubts, training gradually and regularly, and then proudly finishing that first five-mile race as family and friends cheer them on. And what’s wrong with having fun?
Where’s your regular run route? I live just outside Paris, in a hillside town called Meudon that overlooks the Seine and the Eiffel Tower. My regular run follows much of the route of the annual Paris-Versailles race – up the hill, around some quiet residential streets, along the roads through a nearby forest, then back down the hill while enjoying a panoramic view of Paris. It’s not bad, I must admit. And all the footpaths on my route are in tarmac, not concrete, which is a big help in avoiding injuries.
What are you training for? I’m currently tapering down my training ahead of the Dublin Marathon on October 29th. It’ll be my third time doing it and my sixth marathon in eight years.
What’s your goal? To enjoy the marathon and finish in one piece, with a new personal best.
Are you a morning or evening runner? Evenings during the working week, and mornings at the weekend or when I’m on holiday. I could never get into crack-of-dawn runs before work – my running route will still be there in the evening when I have more time.
Do you stretch? Yes. A good session of stretching after each run is essential if you want to avoid injuries. I stretch while the water is boiling for the post-run pasta.
Good or bad diet? Fairly good. Porridge for breakfast, a hearty sit-down lunch away from my desk, and regular doses of salad and water. Marathon running is entirely responsible for my improved diet. I’m a chocoholic, though, but rather than torment myself with unsuccessfully trying to give up, I have a small bit every so often.
Do you have a personal trainer? No. For my first marathon in 2004 I followed a beginner’s training schedule by Eamonn Coghlan in The Irish Times, which I’ve since expanded with ideas from Brendan O’Shea in Irish Runner magazine and advice from my physio.
What’s your average training week? I run five days a week. I find the two rest days are essential to recover properly. I overtrained for last year’s Dublin Marathon, with six-day weeks of more than 50 miles, and my physio convinced me that less is more. So, now I don’t go over 40 miles a week – midweek I’ll have a mid-tempo eight-mile run, a hard six-mile speed session that includes two miles around my local athletics track, and then a four-mile recovery run. At the weekend I have a long, slow run of 15 to 18 miles on Saturday morning, and a four- to six-mile recovery run on Sunday.
What do you wear on your feet? These days it’s a pair of Brooks Vapor 10 which I got at the start of my current Dublin Marathon training period. But I’m not hung up on specific brands or models – as long as the shoes are comfortable and hard-wearing, that’ll do me fine.
What’s on your iPod when running? I don’t wear an iPod while running and I’d encourage other runners not to. It’s dangerous, and it’s more relaxing to listen to the sounds around you while you run. Plus, I enjoy having random tunes pop into my head while I’m running. On one recent long run I had in my head for some reason the Liveline theme, which is surprisingly good as running music – the dramatic “1850!” and single thump of the drum, then the rhythmic “di-dumm, di-dumm . . . “. Yes, I’ve cracked.
Any niggly injuries? None at the moment. After last year’s Dublin Marathon and my overtraining before it, my right knee gave me problems for a while. But Total Physio in Stillorgan gave me excellent treatment and advice, which cleared it up completely. A ChiRunning session with Catherina McKiernan earlier this year helped me improve my running posture and keep injuries away.
Ever been chased by an animal? Thankfully not. Early in my running career I squished a snail and I reckon that sent a clear message to the whole animal kingdom. But small dogs on long leashes are a hazard.
Favourite running book? The First Four Minutes by Roger Bannister. His insights are profound, and his writing style is elegant and poetic. His sub-four mile isn’t even the climax of the book – the big finale is his subsequent race against John Landy in the 1954 British Empire and Commonwealth Games, which he describes in thrilling detail. If you’ve ever felt the urge to run or paint or write but never understood why, this book will give you the words to explain it.
Favourite running tip? Relax, relax, relax – get over your self-consciousness, shake out your work stress, put all fears of the marathon out of your mind. And have fun.
AIDAN CURRANS ’s blog is at runandjumpblog.wordpress.com