Ciara after completing the Dublin Marathon in October 2019.

Running Matters One:2:One with Ciara Adams

By Martin Lyons -

This week our star is an enthusiastic and fun loving runner who has been competing for more than a decade. Ciara Adams started running, almost by accident, at a bootcamp and from there her interest grew.

Soon after completing her first 5k race, she moved to the half marathon distance and such is her determination and love for the sport (most of the time!), she continues to train hard and now has her eyes set on a new 5k PB, hopefully in the near future.

Ciara’s enthusiasm, particularly the 5k parkrun in Mullingar, shines through in this interview and in many ways she is the perfect example to others who may be fearful about taking up running.

Ciara will certainly be one of those inspiring people cheering you on at the end and better still, she’ll even make time to have coffee and cake with you afterwards!

Name: Ciara Adams

DOB: March 16, 1985

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

I took up running in 2010, after I had joined an outdoor fitness bootcamp at Lough Ennell, and a lot of the classes included running as part of the warm-up, or even as a separate drill.

When I joined the class in May, I could barely keep up in the warm-up part, but as my fitness improved, I started to look forward to the running parts and found I was able to run a little longer and faster each week.

The trainers then suggested that we sign up for a 5k road race in September (Rathfarnham 5k) and because I was enjoying their classes and the social part of the class so much, I decided to take part.

Before that, I had never run a road race before or completed any further than 3km, so I didn’t know what to expect or if I would even be able to finish it.

As it played out, I just loved every part of the event and was so proud to finish.

I then signed up and completed my first half marathon eight weeks later, so at that stage it was safe to say I had officially caught the running bug!

Ciara with the medal for completing a virtual challenge in lockdown, by running 100km a month.

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

My favourite type of training is hill sprints. I love that feeling of digging deep to get to the top and the steeper the hill, the better! I always feel I have worked hard after a hill session and I love going out to Mullaghmeen forest to seek out hills.

My least favourite type of training is stretching. It is the one thing I find hardest to do and I have learned the hard way how important it is and how much it can help my running form and help prevent injury.

My favourite race distance is without a doubt 5km. I love the Mullingar parkrun course for improving my time.

I have yet to break 25 minutes (again, since having my three boys), but I am determined to do it and find it a great motivation each week to try to improve.

Ciara with her husband Joe and their boys, Oisin, Tom and Liam, her biggest supporters.

What running achievements are you most proud of and why?

This one is so hard to answer – in one sense, I feel I should say the Dublin Marathon of 2019, but I was disappointed with my result, and looking back, I can say it was all the training sessions I completed in the months ahead of the race that make me proud. My youngest baby was just six months old when I started training for it.

I was determined to fit my runs in despite having two boys under two years of age – perhaps it was having two under two that pushed me out the door!

There were so many training sessions and long distance runs, often after a night of broken sleep, or squeezed in early in the morning or late in the evening, when I least felt like it – but I am so glad I made that commitment to myself and actually completed it, as I was so tempted to pull out, especially towards the end when injuries started to creep in and affect training.

I was too stubborn to pull out and on the day things didn’t go to plan, but I dug deep and crossed the finish line.

My first half marathon in 2010 is one that I really think represents the eagerness and enthusiasm I have for running. After my 5k race debut in Rathfarnham, some of our bootcamp group signed up for a half marathon just eight weeks later, in Kinnitty, County Offaly.

I ran that whole half marathon with a smile on my face as I was just so proud that I was able to run that distance and not stop!

As soon as I got home, I was looking up which race I could enter next.

List your PBs for the following distances.

5km, 23 minutes 27 seconds, Finea, 2012

10km, 52 minutes 03 seconds, Deerpark Forest 10km, January 2012

10 mile, 1hr 35mins 42secs, Searlait Tywang Memorial Road Run, 2019

Half marathon, 1 hour 55 mins 56 seconds, Dublin

Marathon, 5.09.58 Dublin, 2019

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

When the first lockdown began in March 2020, I entered every virtual challenge going, to keep me motivated and moving.

Like everyone else at the time, I didn’t see foresee things lasting so long, so initially I was happy completing online challenges and sharing my progress with my online running community on Facebook.

I then found out I was expecting our third baby, so my running was again on hold for a time.

I genuinely thought that when I returned to running after the birth, lockdowns and restrictions would be a memory, and I held on to the hope that I’d be back in Mullingar on Saturday mornings participating in the 5k parkrun.

My baby boy was born on February 15, 2021 and when I resumed running in April, restrictions were only lifting to allow people travel to another county.

As the parkrun wasn’t happening, I tried once a week to go out to the Nancy Nelly Trail in Fore or the grounds of Tullynally Castle in Castlepollard and complete a leisurely 5k, and to increase my distance each week.

I have really missed the social aspect of running this year and feel my motivation and enthusiasm are not where they used to be, and as a result, my running has become quite stale. I miss having a goal to work towards.

Maternity leave at times, particularly during a pandemic, can be isolating.

Running can be a lonely sport at the best of times, so sometimes I can go into my head too much when I am running, and that is why I love going to the parkrun to run with others and I really enjoy the chats and laughs! It is my social outlet when I am not working.

I have really missed travelling to Mullingar on Saturday mornings and I am eagerly awaiting its return, and I am ready to start working hard towards a new 5k PB too.

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

Just do it!

Don’t overthink it or put if off, just get started, and better still if you can join a group or run with friends, as it will be so much easier. I would strongly encourage everyone to try the Mullingar parkrun, or your nearest one, as it really is for everyone, and each person is running their own race and working towards their own goals, so the only competition there is yourself!

Everyone is made feel so welcome and valued and every participant that crosses the finish line is applauded and cheered.

Keep your thoughts positive when running – where the mind goes the body follows, believe in yourself and make it happen. I need to take my own advice at times and remember not to take it too seriously, all the time. The ability to move and run is a privilege denied to many.

I always have a much happier run when I bring that gratitude with me and shift my focus away from continuously chasing new running records.

What are your lifetime goals or PBs?

I would love to complete the Dublin Marathon again, when my boys are a little older and I have more time to commit to a training plan. For now, I would love to work on my 5k time, as between marathon training, lockdowns and babies, it has been getting slower and slower, but I do feel it is a good place to start and when I have hit a sub-25-minute 5k, I would love to improve my half marathon time and so on.

What is your favourite post race meal?

Once there is coffee, I am happy! But if there is coffee and cake, that is even better. Life is too short – eat the cake too!