Alan finishing the Mullingar Half Marathon, St Patrick’s Day, 2018.

Running Matters One:2:One with Alan Brady

By Martin Lyons

This week I’m interviewing a lively Castlepollard resident, who started running after picking up a bad shoulder injury from playing football.

Alan Brady was, he admits never a natural runner, but with hard work, determination and local support from the likes of Martin Murphy and his good family, he has completely turned his running life from a slogger-jogger to a four-time marathoner.

His story is testimony that anyone can do it with proper training structure and mindset, along with having the banter with group, Alan has proved that running is accessible and (at times!) even fun and there’s no doubt his own journey is far from over - he might even set a new and official mile PB before it is!

Name: Alan Brady

DOB: 5/12/1976

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

I had a shoulder operation in March 2012 where the ligaments had to be stitched back together and screwed to the bone.

I went back to football later in the year, but having the injury reoccurring was always in the back of my mind, so I semi-retired at the end of 2012.

I would be chunky at the best of times so I needed to do something to keep a bit of shape to myself. Martin Murphy from Castlepollard had set up a group that were meeting on Mondays and Thursdays so, from sometime in February 2013, when I wasn’t working shifts, I’d go in and run the lights in Pollard and it started from there.

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

The longer I’m at it, the more I’ve started to enjoy the long Sunday morning run – and when I’d first started to do marathon training, I absolutely dreaded it!

I hate the thoughts of speed work, but love it when it’s over and I’m always delighted I’ve done it, but even the thoughts of it are making my hamstrings tighten!

My favourite distance is probably 10 miles, it’s long but not too long, and unlike a 5k or 10k, you’re not flat out from the off and can build into it.

What running achievements are you most proud of and why?

Doing the Dublin Marathon in October 2013 is probably what I’m most proud of, when I consider that apart from laps of a pitch at football training, I’d never really ran at all. It was a great experience and definitely something ticked off the bucket list.

Funnily out of the four marathons I’ve done, it is the only one I’ve enjoyed, possibly because I hadn’t a clue what was involved and every long run was a new experience.

The one thing I learned that year was just because you’re doing the long runs, it doesn’t mean you can eat exactly what you want. I was a stone heavier on the start line than when I started training for it!

Also when I paced the 2-hour group with Charlie Leonard for the Ringtown half marathon in 2015 (I think), we got them around a tough course in 1:57 - with no complaints (to our faces anyway!)

List your current PBs for the following distances.

1 mile: never actually timed one, but my watch told me I ran a ‘new record’ in 6:47 so I’m claiming that!

5km: 21:47 Mullingar parkrun 29/4/17

4 mile: haven’t raced one

10km: 50:43 Bohermeen 8/3/15

10 mile: 1:20:04 Trim 4/2/17, them 4 seconds still haunt me!

Half marathon: 1:47:50, Mullingar, St Patrick’s Day, 2018

Marathon: 4:35 Dublin 2013

How have the current restrictions up to now, relating to Covid-19, affected your training or racing plans?

Covid restrictions have affected our group training badly. We were meeting three times a week before lockdown on Mondays, Thursdays (for speed) and a longish run on a Sunday. Restrictions and numbers allowed for training have really hampered the club, but hopefully sooner rather than later, it might return to some sort of normal.

As for race plans, I’d entered nothing, apart from the Mullingar half on St Patrick’s Day, so I haven’t missed much.

It stopped me running our local 5km here in Castlepollard, as this would have been the first year I was actually not working for it.

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

The main piece of advice I’d give to new runners would be to start off easy and build up your mileage.

If you like it then invest in a good pair of runners as they are the most important piece of kit you’ll purchase.

After that, join a group and listen to any and all advice that the seasoned runners give you and cherry pick which parts are for you. Finally, but most importantly enjoy it and all the new experiences you’ll make.

What are your lifetime goals and hopeful PBs?

I genuinely have no lifetime PBs that I’d love to get. I’d love to run quicker, but the amount of work that goes into taking 30 seconds off your time is massive and I don’t think I could be bothered with it.

I’m much happier out waddling along having a laugh and a sneer with Joe, Ruth, Celine and Ciaran. I also get great support from home from "my running widow" (her words) Niamh.

We have five kids so most evenings theres someone to be somewhere, so Niamh and my mother are a great help dropping kids here there and everywhere so I can get out to run, its genuinely appreciated.

What is your favourite post race meal?

After a race I want the sweetest, most full of sugar and cream slab of cake I can find, along with a nice cup of tea! I’m a simple fella that likes simple things!