A typical schedule when I’m in full training can be anything up to 40 to 50 miles a week, up to two weeks before a marathon, then I taper it down about two days before the race. It doesn’t take me long to recover from each race, but when I first started running marathons, I would ache after racing. However, I haven’t done so for years and usually feel like I haven’t run a marathon at all.
Maybe I don’t work hard enough to ache; I don’t rest after a race, I just carry on as before, doing shorter training runs for maybe a few days, then I get back to normal. It varies according to the amount of time I have and my other activities, but I try to run at least four times a week, sometimes five in the summer evenings.
When people ask, am I not afraid I’ll suffer a heart attack while out running, my answer is that when my time comes, that’s the way I want to go – when I'm out for a run! And I tell my running colleagues from our running club that I don’t want flowers on my grave either, just their old trainers will do.
Listen to your body, as we are all different when it comes to training and racing. Some have more tolerance than others, but do your own thing and don’t worry about what others are doing. Be happy with your own training and goals. It’s also important to realise that everyone has good and bad years with running and it’s the same with individual races. If I have a bad run in any marathon, I just come back again the next year and usually have a better one; I never let it put me off running.
In 1993, when I was 57, I ran my PB of 3 hours 35 minutes in the Melbourne Marathon. For the record, I have run a marathon back-to-back as they say – that is, two marathons in a week, one on a Sunday and the next one the following Sunday, and twice I have run a better time in the second marathon. Hopefully, I would like to carry on running for a few more years or for as long as I can walk. To date, I don’t have any plans to retire.
I am now in training for my next marathon in Connemara on 10 April, then Belfast in May, Cork in June, maybe one abroad in September but I've not yet booked it, Dublin in October and the French Riviera in November – that is one I have not run yet. I also hope to race some halves, 10-milers, and a Kilomarathon here in Ireland, in August.
As I say to people when they ask why I run – I don’t really know, it’s just something that I do. Some people play bingo, I run! They tell me I’m great, marvellous, an inspiration to others, etc. They say they couldn't do it, not even to run for a bus, so my answer is neither could I, 27 years ago. You can't just go out and run a marathon or any other race, you have to start at the beginning: walk and jog, and build it up gradually.
Kay O’Regan’s records:
• Dublin Women's Marathon course record for age groups 60, 65 and 70
• Irish Women’s Marathon champion for age groups 60, 65, 70 and 75
• Irish Women’s Marathon record holder for age groups 60, 65, 70 and 75
• Oldest female member of the 100 Marathon Club/oldest
female in the UK to run over 100 marathons
You’re never too old to start or continue running marathons, provided you’re in good health. A general check-up with your GP before taking up running is advisable if you are new to sport – whatever your age. It is also advisable to do a warm-up and warm-down, including gentle stretching, before and after running and to build up the miles slowly, starting with a run/walk programme. Advice can be found in most good running magazines, on running websites, and from your local running or athletics club or gym.
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Running Crazy is written by Helen Summer and published by John Blake Publishing Ltd.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and not of Fitness Professionals Ltd or Virtual Magazine. Consult a qualified health or fitness professional before making changes to your diet or exercise.