Balancing a busy schedule can be challenging, particularly when you’re an Olympian! Marathon runner Breege Connolly lives and works in Belfast where she is a senior software tester and business analyst with Citi Bank. When in full marathon training, she runs up to 95 miles a week. In this post she talks to us about how she manages a successful career and a demanding training schedule, and the secrets that help her achieve her best.
I’m originally from Kinlough Co. Leitrim and after graduating from NUI in Maynooth during the IT downturn in the early 2000’s, I moved to the North for work. I didn’t know anyone there and was keen to make friends, so I joined a running club. As luck would have it, at that time there was a change of guard in ladies running, so it became relatively easy to place higher up in races with little training. This gave me my first taste of competition. 13 years and many miles later, I was introduced to a structured training programme and four years after that, I qualified for the Rio Olympics.
There are few things I can say with certainty, but one is that working in the tech industry is an ideal career choice for anyone wishing to pursue a sport as well. I find the two really complement each other. I work full time 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday and my work keeps me focused and adds structure to my day. While it can be challenging, I work with a great team of really helpful people, so stress is kept to a minimum. I love my job and the challenges and learning it brings, but for me nothing matches that sense of accomplishment and achievement that comes with running and racing.
When I’m in full marathon training, I run 90 to 95 miles each week. I do my first run of the day at lunchtime and cover nine miles followed by a further five to six miles that evening. Two days a week I do a lighter run at noon, followed by some sort of speed work in the evening. The weekends are made up of a long run followed by easy miles on a Sunday.
To meet my nutritional needs, I follow the simple and speedy strategy. I start my day with one sachet of Revive Active which is batch tested so I can take it with confidence. This along with another iron supplement pretty much meets all my needs. The Revive Active team has supported me since 2017 and I can't speak highly enough about the product.
My breakfast is generally porridge with fruit and nuts, coffee and toast. Lunch will be soup and a sandwich or left-over dinner from the night before. Dinners will always have some form of meat, chicken or fish with plenty of veg, potatoes or rice. I top up on snacks throughout the day to make sure I'm fully fuelled for my training needs. I like to eat out at the weekend for a chance to catch up with friends.
Like so many others, I had plans to run in a spring marathon but Covid-19 took care of those. I followed the government’s recommendations and self-isolated for a couple weeks in the north before relocating back home. We are blessed in lovely Leitrim with quiet countryside and an abundance of two-kilometre options so I'm continuing to run every day and appreciating my luck to be able to do so. The main thing for now though is to abide by the recommendations that have been set out for us by the experts in hope of a brighter, safer future.
I've no doubt the Olympics being cancelled was the only right course of action. The Olympics are a celebration of sport and to have gone ahead when the world is in such turmoil would take away from that. Of course, I don’t wish to minimise the stress and upset this postponement has brought to the lives of so many either. Hopefully everyone can come round to appreciating the gift of time here, most especially in the light of all those who have been robbed of that very gift due to the virus.
Le cúnamh Dé - This too shall pass.