The first-placed Mullingar Harriers team at the Leinster Intermediate Men’s Cross Country in Gowran, Co. Kilkenny (January 2020). Left to right: James Keegan, Barry McDonald, Ger Brady, Kieran Nolan, Andy Nevin, Padraig Moran.

Running Matters One:2:One with Ger Brady

by Martin Lyons

This week I’m interviewing a local man who started running after some years of not fully understanding its true benefits. Ger Brady quickly came to love his new hobby after some family-friendly persuasiveness ensured he toed the line in Pat Finnerty Memorial Road League at Belvedere House and Gardens, and the rest is history!

Ger has made many good memories and ran in plenty of races since beginning to take it all a bit more seriously and he outlines many of those experiences below, as well as offering some valuable advice for “newbies” or those looking to start the new year off on the right note.

Whatever 2021 holds, one thing is for sure - if there’s a race on around Mullingar or the surrounding area, Ger Brady will be togged out and ready to give it his all, as he does every time he puts on the singlet of his now beloved Mullingar Harriers Athletic Club.

Ger will no doubt continue to improve even more in the years to come and one thing is for sure in these uncertain times, his running future holds many more exciting twists and turns and no doubt, plenty more spicy Indian takeaways as well!

Name: Ger Brady

Date of birth: 1983

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

Prior to starting running in 2004, I didn’t really pay much attention to running, as it was just something that I did to warm up before my gym session when I'd go there a few days a week.

As the years went on, the more I started to realise there was much more to it all than just a warm up!

Running also caught my attention because my parents-in-law have been running together for decades. I was in awe and somewhat astounded at seeing that my mother-in-law had a whole shelf in the hot press full of race t-shirts from pretty much every corner of the country and from further beyond, even from races as far away as Australia!

It’s an easily accessible pastime for even a mostly sedentary animal like myself – all you need is a good pair of runners and out you go!

This appealed to me also, as I was looking for some form of regular cardio to shed a few pounds and I had heard a rumour or two that cardio had benefits for the heart and lungs and overall health and longevity in life and so then I thought to myself, well why not get into this? And so I did!

As time went on the curiosity was setting in. “What am I capable of?”, I started to think to myself. “What does it take to run faster? Longer? Was I actually able to run faster or longer?”

Having gotten into running somewhat late in life I had only ever run on my own, doing laps of the high roads and by-roads of Mullingar, never knowing if what I was doing was actually right or making any progress at all.

I had this idea in my head that races were only for elite type runners or in the very least the most serious type recreational runner not for mere mortals like me, but I thought sure nothing ventured, nothing gained.

So (after a lot of long-term persuasion by certain in-laws!) I went along to my first 5k, the Pat Finnerty Memorial League, which was held every year over consecutive Wednesday nights in the month of May, around Belvedere House, Gardens and Park.

A great starting point (I was told!) as I could track my progress over the few nights and see if I was doing it right or reaching targets etc.

Well once I crossed that finish line I was sold; running had got into my blood there and then!

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

I’m a relative newcomer to cross country training and I’m really enjoying it. There’s something very satisfying about coming home up to the ears in mud, knowing you’ve had a good session.

Cross country tends to be more team-oriented too, so you get a little jolt of pride knowing you did your best for your fellow clubmates.

I don’t really have a least favourite type of training. Each training session works on a different aspect of running such as speed or endurance, and ultimately it all works together for a better outcome.

My favourite race distance is the half marathon. I find it easier to pace myself over longer distances and I’ve noticed the greatest improvements over this distance.

What running achievements are you most proud of and why?

Completing the Dublin City Marathon in 2019 is definitely up there as one of my most proud running achievements and after months of training you get such a buzz when you see that finish line ahead of you.

It was only my second attempt at the distance and I ended up taking over half an hour off my time, so that definitely made me smile!

List your current PBs for the following distances:

1 Mile: 5:34, Irish Life Health Mile Challenge, August 19, 2020

5k: 17:59, Bob Heffernan 5k, May 21, 2019

4-mile: 24:31, Clonard 4-Mile, August 2, 2017

10k: 39:10, Dunshaughlin 10k, June 18, 2016

10 Mile: 65:44 Irish Runner 10 Mile 13/07/19

Half Marathon: 85:46, KBC Dublin Half Marathon, September 21, 2019

Full Marathon: 3:12:08, KBC Dublin Marathon, October 27, 2019

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

Normally I would be training with the Mullingar Harriers every Wednesday and Saturday and suddenly that stopped as we had to stay within 2k and then 5k of our homes.

While these distance restrictions were great for mental arithmetic, while trying to cover distance in such a small area I definitely missed seeing the friendly faces of the other club members.

Our coach Colm Walsh kept the momentum up during all phases of the lockdown though, constantly pushing us with updated training schedules to make sure we would be on form for whenever we could get back racing.

The restrictions brought pretty much an instantaneous halt to any racing plans I had.

In a normal summer the calendar would be filled with races – local 5ks such as the Castlepollard 5k and Kinnegad 5k, as well as the ones for good causes like for the local schools.

These are races I do every year so it’s nice to be able to look back at previous years’ times and see what improvements I have made.

There is also a calendar of longer distance events which I would have had my eye on and one of the first casualties was the Mullingar Half Marathon which is usually held on St Patrick’s Day.

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

Just go! Get out there and if you can get someone to come with you, all the better, as they will probably be a motivating factor, as well as a distraction if you find yourself struggling a little bit.

No one is expecting you to run a marathon on your first day, just start by running to the next lamppost, or around the block.

Walk a bit, run a bit, just get out there.

Everyone has great intentions at this time of the year to drop a few pounds and exercise more, so doing it little and often is the best way to start and to avoid any injuries. The last thing to remember when getting fit and even then ‘race fit’, patience is the key.

When restrictions are lifted, I would definitely recommend joining a running group – Mullingar Harriers have a Fit4Life programme designed specifically for raw beginners. You will get a great introduction to running, encouragement and advice on how to keep going, whilst meeting some new people with similar goals.

What are your lifetime goals and/or PBs for the following distances (where applicable):

1 Mile: 5 mins

5K: 17 mins

10K: 35 mins

10 Mile: Sub 60 mins

1/2 Marathon: 75 mins

Full Marathon: sub 3 hrs

Apart from the above, I’d obviously hope to stay fit and healthy and to keep enjoying the running scene, both local and further afield, for as long as possible.

What is your favourite post-race meal?

Nothing says a race well done like an Indian takeaway!

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