'My friends all have the same mid-life crisis: they're all running furiously'


MY RUNNING LIFE: Paul O’Grady, who recently turned 50, on running with ‘The Bucket Listers’

When did you start running and why?I started running in 2008 after a minor health scare. There was a disconnect between my mental image of myself and reality. At 46, I saw myself as the fit person who had played football every season from the age of 12 to 35. Eleven years of golf in between 35 and 46 had been fantastic fun, but it was not enough exercise.

What are you training for?The Dublin marathon this year . . . again. I have entered but failed to start due to injury in 2010 and 2011. I ran up to 32km last year, but pulled a muscle and I couldn’t recover in time. It was very disappointing then – but of no real consequence in the longer term.

What’s your aim for the race?One: to start. Two: to finish. Three: to run under four hours. If I achieve goal one, I have a reasonable chance of making goal three.

Your aim for the year?To continue to improve my fitness. My group of friends must all be having the same mid-life crisis as me: they’re all running and cycling furiously.

Where’s your regular run route?Along the seafront on the north side of Dublin Bay: any variation on Raheny to Howth, Sutton, Clontarf or Fairview and back.

Are you a morning or evening runner?I love the early mornings. Running on a nice morning before 7am is very life-affirming.

Good or bad diet?Good bar of chocolate. It’s a problem and a pleasure.

Do you have a personal trainer?No, but I trained for a while with three friends under the guidance of Pat Byrne of The Muscle Clinic in Clontarf. Pat christened us “The bucket listers”.

What’s your average training week (how many days, distance, tempo)?Tuesday mornings I do a 5km with a stop in the gym for 10 minutes of weights. On Thursday mornings I do 8km. I am back up to 14km on Sundays after a recent calf strain.

My build up for this year’s Dublin marathon will be much more gradual than last year. Fartleks and pace runs are planned for mid-summer onwards. I’m doubtful about the benefits of hill runs, although I did the Dublin Mountains Half-Marathon in 2010 and it was a fantastic event.

What do you wear on your feet?Asics Gels with a Garmin footpod to record if I am doing what I am supposed to do.

What’s on your iPod when running?I’m a complete musical tart. Planxty, Bryn Terfel, Led Zeppelin, The Eagles, Fountains of Wayne, Sam Amidon (look him up!). I have a couple of tracks specially to cheer me up on the longer runs. Typically Tropical’s 1975 hit Barbados featuring Captain Tobias Wilcox makes me laugh just when every muscle is aching.

Any niggly injuries?Loads. I creak from top to bottom.

Favourite running tip?Pat Byrne’s very first tip to the bucket listers: run slow. I had carried the football mentality of go hard from the start into running. It doesn’t work.