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Athlete of the Week: Cathal O’Donovan

Cathal O’Donovan is Ireland’s top duathlete, having dominated the sport in Ireland and the UK for the last year. He’s on PledgeSports to raise funds to get to European Duathlon Championships in Austria this August. In this week’s feature Cathal tells us about his up coming competition schedule, niggling injuries, training and how he stays motivated through 5am runs in the dark.

Credit: James Shelley

Credit: James Shelley

“My summer so far has been fraught with a few injuries that have caused me to miss a few blocks of training. However the last three weeks of training have progressed very well.  I have been looking forward to this week as I am winding down my training as I get closer to the race. This is allowing me to rest more and catch up on very important T.V viewing like Home and Away and Coronation Street!”

“During the months of January to April, getting up at 5am in the mornings to run was a tough task. During those months it was pitch dark. I had to wear a head torch so that I could see where I was going on the road. Usually, by the time I had finished my session and was running home, dawn was breaking. That sight gave me great motivation for the day ahead.”

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Running

“Most days I train twice a day, alternating between running and biking sessions.”

A typical week of running would be:

  • Sunday: Long run. (14-16 miles)
  • Monday: Easy run. (40 minutes, 7 miles)
  • Tuesday: 3 mile warm-up, 10 Hill reps followed by 3 mile warm-down (10 miles in total)
  • Wednesday: Recovery run. (40 minutes, 7 miles)
  • Thursday: 50 minutes, 8 miles followed by strides
  • Friday Speed session on the track ( 3 mile warm-up, 8 by 400mtrs, 3 mile warm-down)
  • Saturday Recovery run. (30 minutes, 4.5 miles)

Cycling

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“My training on the bike has changed to spending specific amounts of time doing particular intervals (or efforts in race speak!) in order to become race ready. This has allowed me to really focus the time and effort I spend on the bike so that I can maximise my workouts whilst also avoiding those pesky motorists (that’s a whole other post for a whole other day!!!). As my biking sessions change more often than my running I will post some of the sessions I do in another post.”

“I also try to get to the gym once a week and have recently started swimming so will post more about it as I hopefully improve.”

Nutrition

“My diet has definitely improved massively since I took up sport yet at the same time I’m no dietary saint when it comes to food. The biggest chance I’ve made in the past year has been trying to cut out gluten from my diet. It is only when you start looking into it that you realise how many foods have gluten in them. Gluten seems to be in EVERYTHING at the start. However, with a few key changes and careful food planning it isn’t that difficult.”

“I can’t remember the last time I ate bread which is a pointless source of sugar and salt especially when you can eat nuts, rice cakes, etc. There used to be a massive emphasis on fat in food whereas now people realise that the real problem is the amount of processed sugar that is in some foods. I try to avoid easy carbs first thing in the morning with my breakfast and try to keep it until the afternoon before I start taking carbs on board.”

“The very first thing I wake up is go to the kitchen and drink a pint of water straight away. My typical breakfast these days is fried (home boiled) ham and eggs using coconut oil, a handful of nuts and a large fresh cup of coffee. I usually have fish or chicken in the afternoon and in the evenings I might have freshly boiled vegetables with steak or chicken/fish.”

Motivation

“I am generally very self-motivated when it comes to training but like everyone there are days that I struggle to work up the will to get changed after work and go training.”

“A solution that I find to work very well for me is to not even think about how tired I am. Training, like racing is mostly mental and the minute you give up in your head, then your body will surely follow. So I will often pack my training gear into the car at night time so that I have no choice after work but to go straight to training.”

“It is always important to have a goal for your training so that you know what you are training for and nothing focusses the mind better than a race. A race gives you a deadline and means that if you want to hit a certain time or position in the race then you have to commit to the training.”

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To find out more about Cathal’s campaign, check out his page here.

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