Robinson getting ‘out there’ to get to the next level
Kildare athlete ran first sub-four minute mile ever run in Galway
None of this has happened by not putting himself “out there”: keen to look beyond the home horizon, and the DCU Athletics Academy which Robinson has been attending since leaving school, they agreed he would spend the last two winters training in Australia, under the tutelage of Nic Bideau at the Melbourne Track Club, and to compete as often as his body would allow.
Competed 25 times
Robinson competed 25 times this summer, which some coaches might argue is far too much, but blessed with a natural enthusiasm for racing, Robinson fits more with the old-school theory of the sport, which is that athletes train to race, not the other way round.
As for the World Championships in Moscow, qualifying for the 800m, not his specialist event, was always going to be more about getting “out there” for the experience, although Robinson was anything but satisfied after exiting in his qualifying heat. Instead, he met with Denmead that evening, and after agreeing they’d learnt more in those few days than possibly his entire career so far, they got loud and very animated about what Robinson needed to do “to get to the next level”.
Now, the last thing Br O’Connell was advocating was for any athlete, Irish or otherwise, to blindly copy the Kenyan training methods – especially given his principal coaching philosophy is the carefully nurturing progression of athletes, and definitely not the near-instant success sometimes demanded of athletes.
Denmead has nothing against training in Kenya, is open-minded enough to consider a great deal of what Br O’Connell preaches, particularly when it comes to altitude training, but there is a crucial difference between training at 8,000ft in Iten, and at 6,000ft in Font Romeu in France, where Robinson spent three weeks this summer. Altitude training only works if athletes are still able to train at that altitude, otherwise it entirely defeats the purpose.
The only question now is how much further “out there” Robinson can go to get to the next level, or more specially, to break the impossibly long-standing Irish 1,500m record of 3:33.5, set by Ray Flynn 31 years ago. Robinson has never lifted a barbell in his life, preferring a punishing regime of push-ups, sit-ups, and extremely intense core muscle exercises.
He’ll keep begging, stealing or borrowing his way into more races too, although without Nic Bideau’s help that process wouldn’t even begin, and while it’s still a long way from the Regional Sports Centre in Galway to the Olympic Stadium, at least Robinson is putting himself out there.