My Running Life: Mark Neilon


When did you start running and why?
My decision to start running was made at 19:10 on September 1st, 2009, when my son Ethan was born. I was almost 19 stone (120kg) and the thought of trying to run around after him sent a shiver down my spine.

What has been your biggest achievement so far?
I look back to December 2009 when I finished my first 10km (shortened to 9km), and how proud I felt. But my biggest achievement was overcoming my fear of water and starting to swim. In February 2011 I couldn’t swim 10m but this July I completed 1,900m during a portion of a Half Iron distance in Mayo.

What’s the one thing you would change about running?
I’d love to add some speed to my running. It’s mainly been long distance and in 2014 I plan to focus on 5km and 10km with the aim of adding some speed and dropping my very slow PBs along the way.

Where is your regular run route?
I live in Portarlington, Co Laois, and enjoy running the country roads in the long summer evenings. I have a few nice 7km loops that I can stash water along which has been important with the recent weather we’ve had.

What’s your training schedule?
When I was just running, life was so much easier, but when you have to add in swimming and cycling as well, it’s hard to get it all in. Twice a week I swim at lunch for about 2km – my longest swim so far this season is 5km. Running is three times a week, with two medium-length runs of 10km to 15km and then a longer run at the weekend of 20km-plus, the longest so far was 32km.

What are you training for?
I’ll be doing a major charity event from August 22nd to September 1st. This will include a 7.6km swim (304 lengths of a 25m pool) on day one, then I’m off to Cork to cycle Mizen to Malin head over five days, then to finish it off I’ll be running from Amphibian King in Oranmore, Co Galway, to Flannery’s on Camden Street, Dublin, over five days – with a total run of 225km.

What do you wear on your feet?
I’ve been wearing Brooks Ghost 4/5/6. I find the Brooks very comfortable for longer runs as they have great cushioning.

Any niggly injuries?
When I started off in 2009 I had problems with my Achilles, and shin splints. Thankfully I was advised to get orthotic insoles and Deirdre in Leinster Sports Clinic sorted me out. Since then I’ve been lucky.

What’s on your iPod when running?
Audio books and podcasts because with long hours on the road music can get boring very quickly.

The Steve Jobs biography by Walter Isaccson is my audio book of choice this month.

Most embarrassing moment?
At a triathlon recently while trying to take off my wetsuit I managed to upend myself and end up on the flat of my back in transition. Also, in 2011, I turned up to do the Athlone 3/4 marathon and had left my runners at home.

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