Dublin Marathon – Meet the Runners – Amanda Gater

October 28, 2022

With just a few days to go until the Dublin Marathon, we have been talking to some runners about why they are running the Dublin Marathon, as well as some questions about their running journey. 

Next up is Amanda Gater of the 630 Running Group in County Waterford.

Amanda has quit smoking after having her 2 children. Supported by her husband Mark, Amanda has enjoyed every moment of becoming a runner. Pragmatic and forthright, Amanda believes people should embrace running, and not worry what other people thing of their times, instead focus on the journey and the experience.

Hi Amanda, tell us a little bit about yourself?

I'm Amanda, I work in the South East Technological University. I got into running a few years ago after I had my last child. When I was pregnant I decided to stop smoking, and wanted to do something that helped me to stay off the cigarettes. I found a running group in Waterford which had a couch to 5K plan, and I forced myself out to do it. To be honest, I've never looked back, it was one of the best decisions I made. The Dublin Marathon this year will be my 6th marathon, and my 5th in Dublin. Again, as soon as I got running, I got addicted, and absolutely loved being part of the running community. People were so nice, and it was really great to be around people like that.

How did you get into running?

Again, I always wanted to run but I was a smoker. For years, and I used to see people running, and wish I could go out there and do it too. I gave up smoking when I had my kids and joined the Balance Running group in Waterford. I went with a friend of mine and it was great. Being part of a group kind of gave you that bit of accountability, as if I had to go down to show I was still committed. People were so welcoming, even if I missed a training, I always felt part of it and there was no pressure. It was a small group, and they were focused on getting people running who were not running before. I think people have a fear of athletics clubs as they might be racing, and going for times, but we found the 630 group to be great, there was no pressure.

Bit by bit, we started doing longer runs, from 5K to 5 Miles, and naturally enough, we wanted to do a marathon. I started to look at different methods such as heart rate training. The great thing about the group is we're all at different levels, but we're all helping each other. Some people might not run marathons, and that's ok. The key thing is we all meet up afterwards, its a great social outlet.

I found when my mother passed away, running was also great to help me clear my head. I don't think we can underestimate how good running is for our mental health. It gives us time to relax, to reflect, and to let go. We all need to clear our heads, so even a 10/15 minute run a day can make a massive difference.

Why are you running the Dublin marathon?

Dublin is just special. I've heard people talk about marathons the whole time, and I've run Dublin myself a good few times. You simply can't beat the atmosphere. My first marathon was in Waterford, and it was great. The people who organised it were brilliant, and was great to see the volunteers helping out, but Dublin is just so much bigger. The support on the day is great. The other great thing is when we all go up together on the bus, there's great fun with the gang, and that's what you're looking for. We'll head up the day before, all head to the start line together, and it'll be a great day. You can't but love the social aspect of it.

Can you remember the moment when you decided to run your first marathon?

Naturally, when you start running, your goal is to get to 5K, that's your marathon when you start out. It can seem impossible starting out, I remember I was struggling to get to 1K never mind 5! Once we had that couch to 5K done, I had to do something else. I'm very goal driven, and I love working towards something. I even remember doing my first 5 mile race, my whole family came down to cheer me on. It was amazing, it honestly felt like my Olympics. I was a smoker, who loved cigarettes. Now I'm a runner, and I'm fitter and healthier than ever. So each time I hit a milestone, I said I'll do the next one, so I knew I could do a 10K, a 10 Mile, and then I said why not push myself and try a marathon. It's really been the basis of everything. I've even started doing triathlons and have done a half Ironman. I may not be your typical runner or elite runner, but I love it.

How do you find the time to train? And how do you cope with missed sessions?

I remember starting out, and a coach once said to me, There are 24 hours in a day, you should be able to find an hour a day to train and run. To be honest, he is right, you need that time to yourself. I love being active, I make time for my training, my children's training, my husband Mark's training, and they come with me when I train. We do it as a family, and we all understand the importance of training. I think we just made the decision as a family we need to find time to train. Sometimes the kids have hurling or camogie training, and we just have to work around that, and we do! You know in advance so you just plan your training around it. We're a happier family for it.

I also have to say, my husband Mark has been amazing also, especially in the early days. He made the time to allow me to train, and he encouraged me every step of the way, the whole time, just to keep going. After the first couple of marathons, you've be very tired afterwards and all I'd be able to do is sleep, and he was very good to me in those days. I suppose I just make time and I think any mother should do the same, I'm a working mother, and I think I deserve a little bit of time. I don't drink or smoke. I don't go out. You know, running is my is my thing.

You've mentioned you used to smoke and you gave it up when your kids were born. How have you found life after cigarettes?

I knew I had to when I was having my children, and that made it easier. I think as we all know, when you quit cigarettes, those habits which have been formed over many years such as a cigarette after a meal is replaced with a snack so I was conscious of putting on a little bit of weight. To be honest, when I quit, I did put on a bit. But then I found running, and I started getting out there and meeting people, and getting healthier. I have absolutely no regrets. I'm doing things now that I had never thought of before. My lungs are so much healthier and clearer, I've noticed a big difference. The other thing which is massive for me, the kids have never seen me smoke, and that really means a lot. Ever since I've started running, I've never missed a cigarette.

How has your preparation been for the marathon? Have you run other races, or shorter races? Have you had injuries?

That's a funny question actually, as I'm injured at the moment. When I was four weeks out from the marathon in 2018, I ran the marathon with 2 stress fractures, I didn't know that at the time or that they were there, but I ran regardless. I learned then I should listen to my body for any aches or pains. About 3 weeks ago now, my IT band started giving me some trouble, I didn't do much training to allow it to recover, and then my hamstring started playing up. I'm going to take it easy to make sure I get to the start line. I haven't got to do a 20 mile run yet, but its better to be rested and be able to do the distance, than to get injured and have to drop out. This hasn't been my best marathon in terms of preparation, but I'd rather be up there in Dublin, and be part of it, even if I'm slow.

I'm not going to sit at home and watch other people. I run with friends who won't train for the marathon because they know they can't be times. I think people should be more focused on the achievement of running the race, and not what time they get. Everyone has some niggle or something they're going through ahead of the race, its better to get through it and to say you were there than to let fear take over because you're worried what other people will thing. You're doing this for you, your time doesn't matter. You can try get a PB but it it doesn't happen, that's OK, there'll always be another race.

What would your advice be to runners heading into the marathon?

Start slow, and build in to it. This is your lap of honour, you've all the hard work done so just enjoy the day. Chat to people along the way, don't get carried away by the occasion!

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