Dublin Marathon – Meet the Runners – Declan Leung

October 27, 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 Declan Leung of Virtual Run NI in Northern Ireland.

Hi Declan, tell us a little bit about yourself?

I've been running now for 8 years, taking up the sport in my early 30s as a way to get fitter. I realised quickly i liked the longer miles rather than the short, fast running and was naturally drawn to the marathon.

In 2015 I ran Belfast as my first marathon and in the past 7 years have completed 57 of them with quite a few ultras in there too.

I've ran Dublin 3 times with a best time of 3 hours 24 minutes set in 2019, I am aiming to get close to that this year, and have put in a good training block over the past 16 weeks.

Outside of participating in the sport, I am also a run coach and look after a large Facebook group called Virtual Run NI, where i help runners of all abilities enjoy the sport, we will have a large contingent in Dublin!

I am a family man, married to Emma and have three kids, Caitlyn, Tierna and Coran.

Work wise, I am a Club and Coach Development officer for Athletics NI, A sports Massage Therapist and run the odd online virtual challenge too.

Why are you running the Dublin marathon?

I signed up in 2019 just after the last event was on, as I wanted to get a better time, I felt at the time I could have went a bit better, or finished a bit stronger. Then the world went a bit mad in 2020 and races got cancelled, I reverted back to just running slower miles. This year I had planned to run a fast marathon but caught Covid in February, while it didn't affect me too bad, I seemed to have taken my speed away, so I ended up running a few ultras, the biggest being 104 miles in 24 hours in June, after this I was injured and Dublin was only a few months away, but I stuck to my rehab and have put the hard work in to training to try and get my marathon time back down to 3:30 and enjoy it at that. I've been chronicling this on a YouTube vlog series, which has helped keep me accountable, I'm quietly confident i will run a 3:30 in Dublin

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

I just preferred running the longer distances , slow and steady was where I was comfortable, I wasn't a member of a cub and the basics to me where just to go out and run. I wanted to have a marathon as my first race, but after ramping the miles up a bit too quick, and a few physio trips I ended up doing Belfast half marathon in my first year of running and then jumping to the marathon the next year, at the time I thought it was the pinnacle of running (and to many it is) but I've since went on to push the limits even more so with ultras up t0 107 miles long (Dublin to Belfast).

Have you run many marathons before? Have you any run this year, or planned for next year?

This will be marathon number 58 for me, I've done 8 so far this year, and plan to do another 1 or 2 before the years out, then next year I've a long ultra goal but will likely do about 10 marathons again.

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

Its hard, I have 3 jobs and a family, but I have a plan in place and normally train in the hour or so I have between one job and the next. My wife is very understanding! Missed sessions are just that, missed, once they are missed I forget about them, when we try to cram them in that's when injuries occur. Though in this training block I have only missed 2 sessions in the whole 16 weeks!

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

I started off this block unable to run 4 miles without being in pain, so to get where I am now is great. I ran Belfast half marathon in September just before my birthday and ran a PB and have ran a couple of marathons in Monaghan and Lisburn as training runs, the Lisburn one went very well for me, running 3:32 and it felt good, hoping Dublin goes better though.

Everyone has a different method of training. Do you train with a club or on your own? Tell us about your training plan

I train on my own, I was in a club for a while, but generally have always trained by myself. I like the company of others, but when it comes to training for a time, I am selfish in that I will run at my paces and do my sessions without others. I have created my own plan up, and have a good mix of runs in there, form the early base miles, to the hills, intervals and tempos and the long runs. Every run has a purpose in the plan and have to make sure there are no junk miles. One thing I have changed up is moving from 6 days a week to 5, and feel all the better for it, I feel more energized and fitter too

What is your goal time for the Dublin marathon?

3:30 or under was the original goal, and I am sticking to that. I think I am in PB shape and could sneak under 3:24 but a lot has to go right on race day, so I will leave it at 3:24

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

Enjoy it!!

This is what you've trained for, you've done all you can to be the best runner you can on the day, soak up the atmosphere, Dublin will blow you away with the support!

Oh and don't go out too fast!

Do you have any techniques to motivate yourself when the going gets tough?

Head to toe check ins, making sure everything is working well, and a few stern words with myself at times!!!

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