Dublin Marathon – Meet the Runners – Greg O'Beirne

October 29, 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 Greg O'Beirne of the Raheny Shamrock in Dublin. 

Hi Greg, tell us a little bit about yourself?

I'm not a runner. It's just a hobby, or is it? I'm from Dublin, I recently joined Raheny Shamrocks, after my good friend Pat Hooper passed away. He wouldn't let me join for various reasons, but that's another story. My Dad was a handy enough Cross Country runner in his day, back when Ballymun was the countryside and there were serious fields to be tamed. I never really had an interest in running, but we did run together a few times and have fond memories of that. I do wish now that I had taken it up when I was in my 20's and younger, but it wasn't to be and instead I joined a band and headed on a different route as it were. I was always involved in sports of one kind or another, but never seriously, much like the guys in the Summer of 69, marriage and kids came along and the band (of which there were many) kinda quit (I'm back at it now though). I'm 58 now, and have enjoyed 11 good years of marathon running, coming to the sport quite late, and really just to loose weight. The ultra bug has bitten too, and that's a whole new world of craziness to enjoy. It's good to use your running fitness for other sports. Recently I have returned to tennis as my wife needed a doubles partner. Hopefully can keep the feet on the roads a good while longer. My two daughters think I'm crazy, but at least one of their boyfriends were impressed with the last ultra..

How did you get into running?

I started to get into shape and loose weight. I remember one Halloween having chicken in a basket with mashed potatoes and gravy in a restaurant, and feeling desperate after, totally stuffed. Somehow I had hit 16+ stone without noticing. That was it! So the exercising and proper eating kicked in. It was a while before I dared race, everyone seemed so fit and serious, but was vary glad in 2010 when I took on the Raheny 5 and then the Terenure 5 and found how enjoyable it was.

Why are you running the Dublin marathon?

If you run marathons, you just gotta run your home marathon! There's nothing like it, except for Cork, where they make a Dublin lad feel at home, and Longford, because it's flat.

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

I had been doing 5 mile races, and after doing the 5 mile in the Dublin Race series in 2010, I was in awe that most of these runners would go on to do the marathon. A friend in work did the marathon that year, and after he did it, the seed of an idea was planted. My first marathon was back on 2011. I ran for charity. I decided about mile 20 that this wasn't for me. Being on the Atkins diet at the time didn't help I'd say, but I kicked on, and made it at 3.58, not realising this was kinda ok. I went again on 2012, taking 30 mins off my time, but with carbs this time, and in 2013 also took on Cork, and Longford and a few East Of Ireland Marathons, making it 6 in that year. I guess, I was hooked!

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

I have completed 114 marathons to date, most sub 4 and trending in the 3h30/40s. Dublin this year will be number 115 and my 10th Dublin Marathon. 3 of the total are ultras (2 x 107 mile and 1 x 50 mile) and 8 are 50k. I have maybe 3 more planned before the end of the year and definitely a big one next year if the body holds up and I can convince somebody to crew for me!

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

I'm not great for training, I do try, and I do run consistently and over all distances, short and long. I have a good routine of doing 5 miles at lunchtime in work, Parkrun on Saturday and a decent run on Sunday. This usually keeps me to a decent standard, and with a marathon usually every month, the body gets the idea and isn't surprised anymore.

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

Two years ago, I broke an ankle, and it was hard to get back, but give all things time, and if it's there, it comes back. That was during covid times, so I didn't miss any races, but I did piled on some weight going from 60kg to 70kg. Probably just as well as when I see the photos, I was underweight. During the Dublin to Belfast Ultra (107 miles) this year in April, I fell at mile 60, sprained an ankle and tore a calf muscle. I didn't know about the calf, so we finished it out, 'running' 57 miles with a tear has taken it's toll, and that more than anything (apart from long covid omg) has taken a lot of pace out of the old bones. It will heal, again, it's just time, and doing the right things and being patient.

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

I run mostly on my own, but love nothing more that heading off with a group, this brings the best out in us all. I train short sessions with Mick Clohisey (I should do more) and this certainly helps with speed, and just general running and stamps out the ultra runners shuffle. After the Dublin Marathon, there are plans to actually properly train for the Doneadea 50k. Lets see can we beat by pb of 4h 08m

What is your goal time for the Dublin marathon?

This year, I knew I wouldn't set the world on fire, 2019 Dublin Marathon time was 3h 18m, so that will be hard to live up to. So I set a challenge of a hat trick doing Monaghan in September (4h 00m) and Lusk in October (3h 52m) so, anything in the 3h 40m or even 3h 30mon would be great, but mainly the aim is to run well and enjoy this one!

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

Run your best, whatever that is, and be proud and enjoy it! It's your run, nobody else's, so just keep your thoughts in the head and don't be distracted. Oh, and practice your finishing photo pose.

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

To be honest, if I am on my own, I tend to drift off when running, and half the time I can't remember parts of the run, I have to check the watch to make sure I actually did it. But when it gets really tough, as ever, you have to remember nobody asked you to do this, and it's meant to be enjoyable, even the really hard bits, and IT IS hard. Focus on the road, break the run down, bit by bit, how many Parkrun left? Set small targets, knock them down one by one, and keep plugging away. Check each muscle in each leg, change your stride, anything, just stay busy, keep dark thoughts out of the head, keep seeing the finish line, and don't stop!

When you have a good day, it's a good day, but the great days, when everything clicks, times are smashed, distances conquered, well they are very special, and I hope we all have many of them and we can share the roads in this great sport we love. Never take it for granted.

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