'It popped into my head that running a lap of the country would be a challenge'


MY RUNNING LIFE: ALAN CORCORANis running 35 marathons in 35 days in a lap around Ireland

When did you start running and why?

I started running when I was around 10. I was used to winning or coming second on sports day, but I came fourth that year and I wasn’t happy so I joined the local athletic club. I won the 100m the next year and haven’t looked back.

Why are you doing 35 marathons around Ireland?In 2010 the idea popped into my head that running a lap of the country would be a great challenge.

I was sprint training so I didn’t do much about it until last February or March when a Canadian friend showed me a YouTube video of Terry Fox running across Canada for charity. This was closely followed by my dad having a stroke. This gave me the inspiration and cause – the Irish Heart Foundation – to go for it.

How did you train for it?Before last October the furthest I had run was one 10-mile run when I was 14 but, since then, I completed my first marathon followed by a seven-month crash course in distance running, with training peaking around the 115 miles per week mark, with a few interesting 31-mile runs too. I have a few years of 400-metre hurdle training behind me and I definitely think that helped toughen me up.

What’s been your favourite route?Day nine, into Belfast – the sun was shining, the route was flat, my injuries had subsided, even though the previous day was pure torture, and it was a big milestone. The most scenic days since I’ve started have generally been really hilly or I’ve been in too much pain to enjoy the routes, but the Causeway Coast and around the Burren had some great sights.

What’s your aim for each day?To cover 26.2 miles without putting my body under too much stress for the next day. I finish in Waterford on Saturday.

Are you a morning or evening runner?I found the morning more suitable because after long days in college I was never in the mood to do long runs.

What’s your daily diet?I typically stick to unprocessed foods, avoid sugars and drink a lot of water. I’m not too strict and if I feel like chips or chocolate I’d have some . . . everything in moderation.

When not doing this, what’s your average training week?During the year I generally had one day off a week and trained in four-week blocks. Mileage increased for three weeks, then I had an “easy” week. Most of it was slow as speed is an issue for this challenge. It was a matter of getting time on my feet more than anything. I mixed in a bit of gym work on top of my general programme just because I enjoy it.

What do you wear on your feet?Nike Pegasus. I made the mistake of changing brands from what suited a few months out and got badly injured. Everyone is totally different so what works for one person mightn’t work for another.

Any niggly injuries?I’ve had a bit of everything – from back pain, swollen feet, bad blisters, but the consistent niggles are my right IT band and my left Achilles. The physios are doing a great job at keeping me together and I’d be in trouble without them.

What have you learned about your running and body during this?Though I might have what seems like an acute injury that has me hobbling one day, the next I might have very little discomfort at all.

Favourite running tip?Run when you can, walk if you have to, crawl if you must; just never give up – Dean Karnazes.

After this, what next?I’m going to take a few weeks off to catch up on the student life I missed during the year’s training and then I’ll get back into hard training, for what, I haven’t decided yet – but I’m looking forward to the next challenge, whatever it might be.


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