'It is hard not to feel better after a run'
Pio Fenton, 33, took up running to get fit, but was amazed when he felt the stress-busting benefits
When did you start running and why?
I started running about five years ago. A good friend of mine was preparing for the Edinburgh Marathon and I saw the kick he was getting from it. I remember the biggest shock about starting to attend races was realising that there was an enormous sub-culture in Ireland. The amount of people who were up and out on Sunday mornings, in particular, really woke me up to the things going on in the world while many people are still in bed. I was also motivated by wanting to stay fit.
What’s been your biggest achievement?
Some days my biggest achievement is just putting on my runners and getting out the door! Overall, though, I am most proud of my 3hr 41min in the Cork City Marathon this year (which I ran in aid of Samaritans). It was my second marathon; my first, in 2010, was on the wettest day since the dawn of time. I was injured and I finished in 4hr 20min. This year, crossing the line and crying with happiness is a memory that will live forever in my mind. Other high points include the camaraderie of the Simon Run in Cork in December. A nice event for charity which seems to bring the best out in people.
What’s the best thing about running?
It is probably the best stress-reliever I have ever experienced. I often find myself heading out for a run with the woes and worries of the world on my mind. Work can be busy and my role with Samaritans can add to the complications of the day sometimes. Almost without fail those feelings dissipate as you pound the pavement. Whether it is the oxygen coursing through your system, the mindless repetition of putting one foot in front of another or the sense that you are doing something positive, it is hard to not feel better after a run. I would recommend it to anyone who has trouble switching off. Physical exercise, where possible, has enormous benefits for mental and emotional health.
One thing you’d change about running?
Dogs. The small ones that are “harmlessly unleashed” are as much an obstacle as anything one could encounter on a mountain run. They have this knack of getting under your feet. The bigger dogs are challenging in different ways. Typically their owners feel that that they are exempt from dog-fouling laws.
Where’s your regular run route?
I typically run from my home in Blackrock along the old railway line to Harty’s quay and either onwards to Passage West along the estuary or else around Loughmahon towards Blackrock Castle. The best of it is that I don’t have to worry about cars as this is a beautiful pedestrian walkway. You also benefit from the sea air and raw exposure to the elements. Parts of this run lead me onto the Marina which is a fantastic part of Cork City. There is something special for me as a Cork person to run along the banks of the Lee.