Ailis McSweeney column

The best laid plans sometimes go awry and, in sport, injury is too often the reason. Since my last blog things have definitely not gone to plan.

In early May I spent two weeks in Portugal with other Irish athletes in training camp. We had a lot of fun despite the fact that training was intense. When you’re on camp the whole day revolves around the training session. It’s not like home where there are everyday distractions to fill the time. Being all enthusiastic about getting some great sessions done, I ignored an achilles injury and trained through a lot of pain. We flew home mid-May and I didn’t run a step for the next month.

I have been really lucky with injury until now and never had one that really stopped me running so it hit me hard not being able to go to the track for so long. I’m on a career break from work for athletics and this year and next are very important so getting injured just before race season has put a bit of pressure on. However, with rest, a lot of treatment (thanks Ciarán McDonagh) a few injections, one or two emotional breakdowns, six seasons of “Entourage” and a night splint, I’m pretty much running pain free.

So my outdoor season is a little different to what I expected. I need to stop looking at results though…girls I raced and beat indoors in February are running 11.30s now and that is where I planned to be in July. After a week and a half of training I raced twice in Switzerland last week and not so fast. The only upside of having competed is that now I know exactly what shape I’m in and what I need to achieve in the next few weeks.

The day after the first race in Lausanne I realised being depressed was not going to turn the season around so I went with the rest of the Irish to the Olympic Museum in a lovely spot overlooking Lake Geneva. We had three Olympians with us: Derval O’Rourke, David Gillick and Claire Bergin, who competed in the Winter Olympics in the bobsleigh.

Famous Olympians have made pretty cool donations to the museum and it was really inspiring to see the shoes Cathy Freeman and Carl Lewis wore in the Olympics and Usain Bolt’s singlet from Beijing and to watch clips from all the Games. Derval has a rule-breaking habit that usually makes me very uncomfortable but it meant we got some fun photos in the exhibit – posing on the skeleton luge, in a row boat, in an ancient set of starting blocks – until we got moved along by security.

After Lausanne we drove an hour away for another meet at La Chaux de Fonds. In good news for our training group, Derval ran her Olympic and World Championship qualifying time at La Chaux and it’s great that she can tick that box and concentrate on being in perfect form for those big races. Speaking of Olympics, the legend that is Merlene Ottey was racing in both Swiss meets with the Slovenian relay team. At 51 years old she is still running fast, looking fabulous and carries herself like a queen – more inspiration!

So the new, inspired plan is to get my speed back in the next few weeks. It won’t be easy but so much of sprinting is a mental game that absolutely anything is possible. Hopefully the next blog will be a happy one! will have live score updates on all GAA Championship matches over the summer.


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