Carine McGinnity is an Irish writer, runner, plant-based foodie and story and design lover. What started out as a jog around the park has turned into an apparent love for long-distance running and she’ll be here for the next three weeks to give a dose of running inspiration and get you pounding the pavement just in time for spring. This week, she'll be filling us in on where her running story began and how she got to where she is today!
I remember cheering on a friend at London marathon in 2011 (beer in hand) with the thought of doing a marathon completely incomprehensible.
Running and enjoyment were mutually exclusive to me. Seared in my mind were memories of tortuous cross-country races in rural Ireland in an unflattering pair of polyester knicker shorts and plimsoles. I had firmly categorised this activity as something you were not capable of enjoying.
Five years ago, apart from cycling to work, I didn’t do any exercise, I had a terrible diet and a fondness for one too many glasses of red wine. I was constantly tired and lethargic – I felt physically drained and emotionally flat.
It was a colleague in work who suggested we go for a run in Regent’s Park before work. I cobbled together anything that resembled clothes you could exercise in and we met early before work and hauled ourselves around the park. In hindsight, I think we only managed about 2 miles. The reward of Pod’s scrambled eggs and being held accountable to meet my friend spurred me on, gradually turning into a routine. We signed up for a 10K, I bought my first pair of running shorts and my husband began his new job as chief supporter. After that first 10K, that was it, the seed had been planted and it was time to finally invest in a pair of running trainers. I did numerous 10Ks over the course of the next year – not getting any faster – but feeling more like a runner and more confident to line up at the start of the race and feel like I could do it.
Since that first 10K, I have done three half-marathons, four marathons, countless 10Ks and am a member of a running club. It’s probably fair to say I have a love/hate relationship with running. The euphoria and sense of achievement it gives you is like a drug that keeps you coming back for more. It immediately cancels out those bad runs and the days where it is a struggle to even put one foot in front of another. I use running as therapy – it untangles the thoughts in my head, flushes out negativity and instills a sense of self-belief. It is a powerful tool to calm your mind and to encourage you to be proud of your body and what it can achieve.
Training for a marathon is tough on both your body and mind. I have learnt a lot about myself over the course of the last two years training for various marathons. I enjoy the discipline and sense of completion that marathon training brings but, equally, I have days where I would rather do anything other than drag myself down the canal when it’s wet and cold! Training can obliterate the sense of enjoyment that you get from running – I find that running with a club helps reinstate this and gives you momentum and motivation. There’s a lovely sense of camaraderie and support, which helps to propel you to run faster and become a better runner.
Each marathon has taught me something different. I over trained for Edinburgh so I now try not to pummel my body with multiple workouts and listen to when my body is crying for a rest. I completely overhauled my diet for Copenhagen marathon – adopting a plant-based diet and completing a 6-week Macrobiotic cookery course to educate myself about the energies of food. Chicago taught me that, to truly succeed, you need to have a strong mind – struggling with an unseasonably hot day and masses of people, I found it hard to steady my mind – I couldn’t quell the doubt, questions and disbelief. After Chicago, I went into Barcelona marathon this March with a strong head and heart. I used a mantra to anchor my busy head and remind myself to keep my head up and enjoy it.
I am now embarking on the journey of training for Berlin marathon in September. I am hoping to push myself further and break that sub 3:30 barrier!
If you're interested in following what Carine is up to, check her out on Instagram!