Monday, March 28, 2011

Irish mountain runner Moire O Sullivan

Gosinakund Pass Nepal
When Moire O’Sullivan says she runs all over the world, she's not joking. Her job with international aid agencies brings her to some of the globe’s poorest countries. And when she’s not working, she dons her shorts and shoes and runs around these places, wherever she can find a path or trail. And then she writes all about it in her blog Running over mountains and around the world 

Mountain running is a tough sport, how did you go in your first race? 

The mountain running habit all began in Dublin. My first ever mountain race was up Corrig Mountain, near Dublin with the Irish Mountain Running Association (IMRA). All I remember was trying to run uphill and nearly dying. And then, just when I thought it couldn’t get worse, we tried to run up to the summit in the worst of Irish weather. The wind blew me off my feet. The mist nearly made me get lost on top. The bog and heather tripped me up again and again. I hated it and vowed never to return. Less than 24 hours later, I thought it was best thing I’d ever done, so went back the next week for more. 

Is there a difference between training for long-distance running and your own training?

I’d consider myself a long distance mountain runner. Though for training, I never put in crazy mileage or I would have ended up injured. I’d try and get in three 12 kilometre runs in during the weekdays, then a long run over 25 to 45 kilometres on the weekend followed by an orienteering race if there was one on. To stop injuries, I’d do core exercises three times a week and some yoga if I had time. As the races got nearer, I’d do speed training and hill reps, but they were too painful to talk about.

Basically for mountain running, you need to do most of your training on the flat to get fit with steady heart rates. Mountain running is the technical part you add on top of that fitness.

In Annapurna Nepal

You're working in Cambodia at the moment, but you were recently in Nepal. Tell us about your running experiences there.

Biggest mountains in the world… What can I say? I spent most weekends running around the Kathmandu Valley with other trail running enthusiasts. I had a few weeks left at the end of my stay, and then I did an amazing seven day mountain running trip with a 5 kg bag on up back up the Langtang Valley and then back to Kathmandu via the Helambu track.

I also arrived in the country just in time to run the Annapurna 71k in March 2010 from Pokhara to Birethanti and back. It’s now become the world famous Annapurna 100 race, with 100k World Champion Lizzy Hawker taking the spoils this year.

Best thing about running in Nepal: the incredible views of the Himalayas on a morning run. Worse thing: Leeches, which taught me never to run on overgrown mountains during the monsoon season in Nepal.
Mamturk Mountains Ireland

For anyone inspired by your adventures, how could she start off in Ireland?

Look up the IMRA website’s event section. If it’s summer, pick one of the mid-week Leinster League races. If its winter, take the Winter League Race. Neither of these leagues involves navigation or crazy distances.

Go along, run the race. (If you don’t have a car, book a slot on the carpool). If you like it, go to the pub afterwards and talk to people. They’ll have ideas of how to get involved. Alternatively, Crusaders AC  and Clonliffe Harriers AC cater for many mountain runners. Go along to their training sessions and they’ll point you in the right direction.

PART TWO of this interview with Moire O' Sullivan will run on Thursday of this week March 31st. So if you have any questions for Moire, leave a comment!


Amy Moritz said...

I found it so interesting that Moire said the bulk of training is flat and that the mountain running is technique on top of fitness.

I'd like to know from her if there are good numbers of other women in mountain running or if it's still mostly a guy's sport, and how she mentally works through the hard parts of a run.


Moire said...

Hi Amy, depends really on the mountain race. For the Lenister League races of a maximum of 12k, a third of the runners are normally female. When the distances get longer and the navigation gets more difficult, fewer girls go for it. But those who do the longer and harder races know its well worth it.

Getting through the hard parts... I think about chocolate and pints of beer waiting for me at the bottom of the mountain and at the finish line!

niamh said...

The fastest question and answer session ever on this blog. Thanks Moire!

Amy Moritz said...

Yes Moire, Thank you!! I'm wanting to do more trail races in the U.S. this year. Not quite ready for mountain running, but it definitely has me ready to go off-road!