Best foot forward


The best piece of advice I’ve ever got in running was ‘always have a goal’ to keep you motivated

When did you start running and why?

I started running when I gave up smoking (30 a day) five years ago. Running provided a distraction from the cravings and also gave me great satisfaction and a sense of achievement every time I completed a run.

What’s been your biggest achievement?

My biggest athletic achievement was when I won the Anglo Celtic Plate 100km road race in July in Wales. This is an ultra marathon which is staged annually between the top ultra marathoners in Ireland, England, Scotland and Wales. What made the win even more special was the fact that I was the first ever Irishman to have won the event.

What’s the best thing about running?

The best thing about running for me is the simplicity of it. You don’t need any equipment. Anybody can do it, whether you are an elite athlete or a fun runner. I love the buzz it gives me. A run first thing in the morning sets me up for the day.

What’s the one thing you’d change about running?

Personally I wouldn’t change a thing about running. It is probably one of the most honest sports out there, whereby you will only gain whatever you put in, unlike team sports where if you are having a bad day, you have a dozen other team mates to carry you.

Where’s your regular run route?

Being an ultra marathoner means I run a fairly high mileage training week so my run routes vary, but I have a route which I run every Sunday which takes me 15-20 miles from home (depending on the stage of training I’m in) which is Ennis. It is along country roads in Clare, which I like because they are so peaceful. Also the reason I run out 15-20 miles is because I know I will have to run another 15-20 miles if I want to get home. I remove the temptation of cutting my run short if I’m feeling tired.

What are you training for?

At the moment I am in training for the European 100km Championships, which will take place in France in April. I hope that I have done enough over the past year to ensure selection on the Irish team and earn my sixth international vest.

What’s your goal?

I believe that if you’re going to dream, you may as well make it a good one, so my ultimate goal is to medal at a major championships.

Are you a morning or evening runner?

Both. I train in the morning and evening. I do a short run of six to seven miles in the morning at an easy pace and then, after work, I will do a faster session of anything from eight to 18 miles.

Do you stretch?

I do stretch, but maybe not as much as I should. I will try to squeeze a few stretches in when I get a quiet moment at work.

Have you a good or bad diet?

I have availed of a sports nutritionist to try to make sure I am taking on all the right foods before and after my runs. I think that if you are serious about your sport, you will want to be getting as much good stuff in as possible. I do allow myself the odd treat though.

Do you have a personal trainer?

I don’t have a personal trainer. Since I started running I have coached myself. I have picked up bits and pieces from books, the internet and various athletes along the way.

What’s your average training week?

My typical training week consists of two sessions per day Monday-Saturday, with a long run of 30-40 miles on Sunday. When I get within six-eight weeks of a race I will do weekly interval sessions and tempo runs along with hill repeats. Total weekly mileage ranges from 180-200km.

What do you wear on your feet?

At the moment I am wearing Nike Zoom Elites which are a nice lightweight trainer, but if any shoe companies out there would like to sponsor me I’m open to offers . . .

What’s on your iPod when running?

I love music, but not when I’m training.

Have you any niggly injuries?

I have been very fortunate with injuries. I rarely pick up any knocks. Just the normal aches and tired legs after a hard session.

Have you ever been chased by an animal?

I think the most bizarre run I have ever done was when I was about two miles from home running out a country road. I turned a corner when all of a sudden a herd of cattle was approaching me.

Seeing me running startled them and they started running towards me. There was a farmer shouting at me telling me to stop running, but when I did the cows kept on charging toward me so I ran again. After a short chase, I managed to stop them and herd them in to a field. Only problem was it wasn’t a field. It was someone’s back garden.

What’s your favourite running book?

My favourite running book is Eat and Run by Scott Jurek. As an ultra runner there is so much I can relate to in this book.

What’s your favourite running tip?

The best piece of advice I’ve ever got was “always have a goal”. Whether it be a long-term or short-term goal, if you have something to aim for, you will find it much easier to stay motivated during your training.

Next steps

Keith Whyte will be taking part in the five-mile Baby Nicholas Memorial Run at the Cliffs of Moher on March 16th. All funds raised will go towards a first aid room at the Cliffs of Moher and St Munchin’s Hospital. Email: cathy@claresports