Former Irish Athlete Colin Griffin sheds advice for the Deep RiverRock Belfast City Half Marathon
Colin said ‘Competitive running is relatively new to me having had a successful career as a race walker competing over 50km. I retired from international race walking competition in 2014. I was proud to have an international career that spanned over 15 years that included two Olympic Games and some top 12 performances at World and European level. I was a full-time athlete during that period which is a difficult lifestyle. However, I found retirement to be a difficult adjustment. I missed the excitement and adrenaline buzz of competition. I also missed the structure of training with a goal in mind.’
Colin is looking forward to competing in the Deep RiverRock Belfast City Half Marathon on Sunday alongside more than 3500 other participants.
Since then Colin has been keeping fit by running, cycling and weightlifting, but has found it difficult to train without an incentive. So in 2015 he decided to take part in competitive races starting with some 5km and 10km races where he ran 15.58 and 34.02. Colin went on to compete in the 2015 Dublin Marathon where he somewhat surprised myself by finishing in 2.33.02 with limited training.
‘During my race walking career, I regularly covered over 120 miles per week with additional gym sessions. I have been a lot more flexible with my approach in my newly acquired running programme. I have had no choice. I had to fit training into a demanding and often unpredictable work schedule. My week involves working at the Sports Surgery Clinic as a Rehabilitation Coach where I operate a specialist Running Clinic, as well as running my business The Altitude centre Ireland. Over the last 12 months I also competed a Masters degree and got married,’ stated Colin.
Colin continued ‘My approach has been to make the schedule work for me rather than trying to work to a schedule. I have prioritised what’s important in a training week, which would be a long run of 15 miles or more, an interval session or steady-state run and two strength training sessions. My strength training would involve plyometrics, Olympic lifts and some sub maximal strength in a squat or deadlift. If I managed to squeeze a 25-30 minute run early morning or late evening on non-priority training days that would be a bonus. I would average 30-50 miles per week most weeks. As a retired race walker I would have a well-developed aerobic base, but my running mechanics would not be most efficient. So I believe that enforced training balance was important so as to minimise the risk of injury.’
Colin aims to run the Deep RiverRock Belfast City Half Marathon as close to 73 minutes. If that goes to plan, Colin will then hope to run in the Dublin Marathon again next month.
‘I am familiar with the course and like the way it takes some of the cities cultural and historical landmarks. I have had many fond experiences of Belfast city and the Belfast City Marathon where I have many connections. In 2011 I race walked around the marathon in 3.17.50 and really enjoyed the atmosphere around the course where I received great support. My mother won the Belfast City Marathon in 1995. My wife used to live and work in Belfast and I regularly spent time and trained in Belfast and always enjoy coming back. I know the athletics community in Belfast very well and have always been made feel welcome any time I visit,’ said Colin.
In advance of Sunday’s race, Colin has provided the below advice for all runners:
- Enjoy the build-up to the race. All the hard work is done and it is important to reduce training volume in the week or so leading up the the race so that body can recover from the hard training of the previous few weeks and allow energy reserves to to build for the race.
- It is important to follow your own established individual routine that has worked for you in the past. That includes what you do the day before the race where some athletes prefer to rest, while others prefer to do a short easy run, some exercises and a few strides.
- The same applies for your diet routine on the morning of the race and during the race which is not the time or place to experiment with something new. Have your usual breakfast 2-3 hours before the start of the race and have a good wholesome meal for dinner the evening before. Sip some fluids sparingly but not too much.
- Arrive at the course in sufficient time to get settled and with enough time to warm-up. Your warm-up should not be as long as it would be for a shorter race as a half marathon is more aerobic and you need to conserve your energy.
- Have a realistic target time that is broken down into 1 mile or 5km splits while also allowing hills or potential exposed windy stretches where your pace may slow temporarily. If you have done a 10km in recent weeks you should be able to predict your potential half marathon with reasonable accuracy.
- After the race, get an energy snack and some fluids into you within 45 minutes after the race, a good meal within 2 hours and perhaps allow your self a reward that evening to celebrate!
We look forward to seeing everyone on Sunday for the 4th Deep RiverRock Belfast City Marathon. Further information and details on traffic management are available on www.belfastcitymarathon.org.