Running Matters One:2:One with Paddy Tierney

By Martin Lyons

Galway native and Castlepollard resident, Paddy Tierney, is well known in this area. He began running after playing GAA for many years, first sprinting, in his younger years, and later moving to marathons.

He has had great fun at local events and is looking forward to betting back to training when his injuries are behind him. His positive attitude and carefree nature to participating in sport shine through in this interview.

Name: Paddy Tierney

DOB: 17/12/1954

When did you start running and what motivated you take it up?

I was based in Dunboyne as a garda in the early 1980s and I had just given up Gaelic football.

I always had an interest in running and sprinting and they had, and still have, a good running club there, in Dunboyne AC.

my main inspiration for starting there was Val Ledwith, a very good athlete and later uncle of Irish international distance runner Andrew Ledwith.

My first longish run with them was a four-mile run. Val was telling a history story and Georgie Hutton was whistling and I was under serious pressure! We finished then and Val said: "I’m going to take your pulse."

It was going through the roof and this is the funny bit, he looked me in the eye, 20 years older than me and said: "You know what, you have a Rolls Royce body, but you’ve only a Morris Minor engine and I’m the opposite, I’ve a Rolls Royce engine and only a Morris Minor body!"

It was a great analogy, I never forgot it and it encouraged me to keep training and building up my engine.

What is your favourite and least favourite type of training and your favourite race distance?

I really enjoy interval training or speed work, especially over 400 metres.

I used to enjoy the 100m, 200m and 400m race when I was younger and competed in those events.

My favourite race distance overall would be 5k, especially the Belvedere series that used to take place, The Pat Finnerty Memorial Road League. I really enjoyed that and have my personal best there too.

I love running around that trail and forest route, it’s a great course, not as hard as Mullaghmeen, but not unlike it.

The long runs would be my least favourite, because after about 12k, my knees start causing havoc and I’ve had issues with my knees since my football days.

What running achievements are you most proud of and why?

Running 20.20 for 5k in Belvedere was a great buzz and I also won my category there one year in the O60, partly because Nollaig McEntaggart wasn’t running it that year!

I loved the ups and downs through the forest, next to sprinting, that would be my favourite type of running.

I ran 72 mins the first year of the Mullingar 10-mile in Dalystown, that would be around 2014 or ’15, the first year of it.

I also had a good run in the first Mullingar Half Marathon on St Patrick’s Day, I came second vet (Nollaig was there that day!) and I ran 1.35, so I was happy with the time too.

I’ve done 10 marathons in total, not in mad times, but most under four hours. I did most of them for Crumlin children’s hospital. I had a little girl sick in Crumlin when she was a baby, so it inspired me to raise money for them.

I travelled to New York five times and was in Boston too. One that stands out in my mind is the 100th Boston Marathon, in 1996, I took part in that one. Eamon Coughlan was there as our team leader. We also ran around the track in Harvard College, where he had broken the four-minute-mile and it was great see Eamon’s name and John Tracey’s name on plaques around the track.

I had always admired Eamon Coughlan and all his achievements, (even though marathons seemed a lot for me), but I had the connection with Crumlin and he was an ambassador for them, so I put two and two together and ended up doing eight marathons with Eamon and the team! Good memories to have.

List your current PBs for the following distances.

1 Mile: 5.05 (in my mid 40s) track in Dunboyne, roughly around 1998.

5k: 20mins 20sec, Belvedere road league (2013 approx).

4 mile: Dunboyne 4, 26mins (approx end of the 1980s)

10k: 42mins on average in different venues over the years.

10 mile: Mullingar 10, 72mins.

Half marathon: Mullingar, 1.35 (one of the first years of it). I loved the canal line on the run in, lads would be struggling and I’d be getting going, counting the bridges on the way in!

Full narathon: 3.44 (1998, New York). I had my knee done in the May that year and ran a PB six months later.

How have the Covid-19 restrictions affected your training or racing plans?

Before Covid, I was going well and had ran a few intervals around 1km mainly and was working on a plan, and then my knee packed in and I’m awaiting surgery again.

Colm Walsh had come out to us from Mullingar Harriers and we had done a few sessions with him, in Ringtown, with our club, North Westmeath AC. We had good numbers at those sessions, it was a great success, but unfortunately Covid put a stop to it for the time being.

My knee had went in April, so Covid hasn’t affected my training plans, as I haven’t been able to run since then.

What advice or training tips would you give to anyone who is now looking to take up running?

Start slow and low and build it up. Don’t have high expectations starting off. Try a mix between road and trail. Somewhere like Mullaghmeen, outside Castlepollard, and Belvedere, outside Mullingar, as you’re getting a great mix of speed from downhill, stamina uphill and softer terrain for your joints.

I’d recommend doing a bit of cross training, swimming and cycling, don’t obsess with just running starting out – give your body a chance.

I go to the pool in the Mullingar Park hotel and it’s great for recovery and fitness.

What are your lifetime goals and/or PBs?

I’d like to do the Gaelforce adventure event at some stage. I did Sea to Summit a few years ago and it was great and I’d like to follow on from it.

I’d also like to do a bit of pacing, I was down to pace the Mullingar Half Marathon this year before Covid kicked in and it would be nice to do some of that and to help others run their times.

I’d like to get my health and knee sorted now, and hopefully then enjoy more 5ks and cross training, swimming and biking for years to come, with the help of God.

What is your favourite post race meal?

A good steak with loads of spuds and veg, washed down with a couple of nice cold pints of Guinness!

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