Certified Master Instructor of the Month, September 2008
I have been running for as long as I can remember. When I was a young girl living on a farm in rural Ireland, I spent a lot of time outside running around and playing sport. As I got older, I played as much sport as possible. And during my teens, I discovered almost by accident that I had a talent to run. I won the Irish schools’ cross country title in 1988 and my career really took off from there. I first represented Ireland in the World Cross Country championships in 1989. But it wasn’t until 1992 that my big breakthrough happened. I finished second to Lynn Jennings in the World Cross Country championships in Boston. That success elevated me onto the world stage and I became somewhat of a sporting hero in Ireland much to my embarrassment as I was very shy and retiring when it came to the media and publicity! Ireland is a small country with a population of just over four million people. But we love our sport and we love sporting success even more. My silver medal in 1992 was followed by three more silvers at the World Cross Country Championship in 1993, 1994 and 1995. In 1994, I also won the European Cross Country championship gold medal. I took part in two Olympic Games, in Barcelona (1992) and Atlanta (1996). However, I was certainly more suited to the road and the cross country scene than I was to the track. Although my PB over 10,000 metres on the track is 31.08, I never fell in love with the track.
After several successful years competing on the cross country stage, winning those world silvers, that European gold and a whole host of grand prix races and Irish national titles, I moved onto the marathon. I ran the fastest debut marathon in history in Berlin in 1997. My time was 2.23.45, a new Irish record. I followed that by winning the London marathon in 1998 and then I broke my Irish record in Amsterdam in the fall of 1998 with a winning time of 2.22.23. It is an Irish record which still stands. World record holder Paula Radcliffe and current Olympic champion Constantina Tomescu are the only other Europeans to run a faster marathon since then.
Unfortunately, my career was hampered thereafter with injury. I was many peoples’ favourite to win the Olympic marathon in Sydney in 2000 but I had to withdraw from the games through injury. I made several attempts to make another real go of my career but my injuries made that difficult to achieve. Then I discovered ChiRunning. Although I had retired from competitive running, ChiRunning changed my life. Suddenly I began to enjoy my running once again. So much so, that I met Danny Dreyer and trained as a ChiRunning Instructor. Over the past three years, I have introduced ChiRunning to hundreds of runners all over Ireland. The response has been terrific. Without fail, all my clients come back to me to tell me how ChiRunning has changed them for the better. I teach in Castleknock, Dublin close to the Phoenix Park which is the biggest public park in Europe. It’s where I run every single day. I run between 8 to 12 miles every day and feel so refreshed and free thanks to perfecting the ChiRunning technique.
I must say that I get as much if not more satisfaction from teaching ChiRunning than I did from competing. It is so fulfilling to see peoples eyes light up when they discover the benefits of ChiRunning, Many have suffered from niggles and injuries for several years. Now they can run effortless and injury free. It has given so many people a new lease of life and I feel so happy being able to share ChiRunning with them.