Oldcastle native Stephen Naughton on his way to the finish line in the 2013 Dublin Marathon, which was also a new PB and an impressive time of 3hrs and 2mins.

Running Matters One:2:One with Stephen Naughton

Martin Lyons

This week I’m interviewing a Mullingar Harriers athlete who took up running a decade ago, inspired by his brother.

Stephen Naughton joined the Midland Tri Club and never looked back, as he explains below, he actually surprised himself by enjoying running!

At this stage Stephen is a regular on the midlands running scene and has ran some very good times and has also represented his country at triathlon, in his age category, only two years after taking it up.

Stephen has some good advice for potential runners and also some inspiring goals, including running in a faraway land, as outlined below!

As soon as Covid-19 becomes a distant memory, Stephen will no doubt be back out on the road race circuit again, doing what he does best - racing hard and performing to the best of his ability.

Name: Stephen Naughton

Date of birth: November 9, 1964

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

I started running back in 2010 at 46 years of age. My older brother Shaun had always been running in the Dublin Marathon and I used to think he was bonkers!

Then, back in 2010 Shaun had a couple of stints inserted and he believed his marathon running days were over.

I told him he would run again and he asked would I do it with him. Well that was it – I had no choice, and so I began running. Ten years later, I am still at it.

I began running a few days a week and I actually really surprised myself, in that I liked it!

As I was running, I had come across the Midlands Tri Club (based in Mullingar) out cycling, so I looked them up on their website and saw that the following weekend they were holding a club duathlon (run, bike, run, in that order).

I bought a basic racing bike locally and joined them that weekend. Roll on two years later, and I was in Holland with four other club members representing Ireland, at my age category level.

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

My favourite race distance is the marathon (26.2 miles), I have also tried ultra-marathon distances, such as 31, 39 and 50 miles. Last year, I ran in some Skyline mountain races such as Mourne Mt 9 peaks and the Seven Sisters Skyline Race, at Mount Errigal, Donegal.

Regarding my least favourite types of training, I would say any speed work on Wednesday nights at Mullingar Harriers club. However, after the session I am always glad that I did it and I’m probably not alone in feeling that way!

What running achievements are you most proud of and why?

That would have to be the first marathon that I did in 2011, in 3 hours 45 minutes. I had trained on my own and had no watch.

Then, after that, I joined the Mullingar Harriers and in 2012 my time was 3hrs 15 mins, a full 30-minute improvement.

The club is a great way to get structure, mainly in the way that you go about your training.

What are your PBs for the following distances?

Mile - hard to know, but sub 6 mins anyways!

4 mile - 27 mins

10k - Phoenix Park, 39 mins, 2017

10 mile - Mullingar 10, 1hr 2min, 2017

Half marathon - 1hr 27mins, Bohermeen, 2017

Full marathon - Dublin City Marathon, 3hr 2min, 2013

To be honest, at this moment in time I wouldn’t match those times in any race.

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

Well, there are no race plans; everything is on hold. Any races I entered for 2020 were either cancelled, deferred or became a virtual race.

During the first lockdown I ran a few miles a week with the dog (Molly). That was all we were allowed do really.

We are very lucky here in Mullingar with the amenities we have at our disposal. The canal and cycleway are great.

Colm Walsh, our club coach, was out front and centre during the lockdown keeping us all informed about government rulings regarding Covid and how it affected the Mullingar Harriers.

Our coach kept us all motivated by setting up a series of virtual races, giving us an option of 5k or 10k. We ran these and entered our times on our Facebook link.

It was a great way to race and still maintain social distancing.

What advice or training tips would you give to anyone who is now looking to take up running (within the recommended safe guidelines)?

The best advice I could give is to run small distances frequently, rather than a longer distance just every now and again.

Also, joining a club is a great way to improve. You learn so much and there’s always something happening, so go for it!

What would be your lifetime goals or PBs?

To stay fit first and foremost.

I had started pilates with Jean in Back in Action Mullingar before Covid, and it was really good, so I will definitely keep the pilates up.

Racing goals: a sub-3-hour marathon, and I would love to get an entry for the London Marathon, running up the Mall, beside Buckingham Palace. Ah, that’s me all over!

My biggest goal, well maybe fantasy wise, would be to get up at 5am in a land far-far away and run on the red clay of Iten, in Kenya, with the gods of distance running.

What is your favourite post-race meal?

That’s an easy answer: a chicken curry and a few pints of Guinness in Matt Cullen’s… both go down a treat!

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