Diarmuid McLaughlin January 2019 Blog

23 January 2019

Diarmuid McLaughlin January 2019 Blog

The Greek myth of Pheidippides recounts that the protagonist ran from Marathon to Athens (a distance of 42.195 km) to proclaim that the Greeks had defeated the Persians in battle, around 490 BC.

Upon his exclamation of victory, he died from his exertions. In the spirit of this mythology, and clearly not having learned from the lessons of the story, millions choose to put themselves through this gruelling test of endurance every year. A punishing ordeal of 26.2 miles of continuous movement forward, testing the resolve of the human body and mind and pushing oneself to the limit.

So this year I decided I’d have a crack at it, because, you know…it sounds fun!


I’m Diarmuid, I’m a 31 year old male residing in the northern area of Belfast City. This year I am Action Mental Health’s ambassador for this year’s Deep RiverRock Belfast City Marathon as part of Experiment 26.2. I’ve been gradually building up a ‘love’, to use the term loosely, for running since the summer of 2016. If you had told a portly, mid 20s Diarmuid that in his early 30s he’d be training for his first marathon, he’d have laughed at you between mouthfuls of kebab meat on chips.

Yet here I am, 5 stone lighter thanks to my wonderfully supportive wife and her determination for us to get fitter and healthier, and ready to take on the biggest challenge of my life to date.


Why crawl or walk when you can run? Running became part of our health and fitness routine and after an initial ‘couch to 5k’ plan, we started running various events, some in aid of AMH. In September of 2017, it was time for our biggest challenge together to date, the Deep RiverRock Belfast City Half Marathon. We put in our own preparation, trained as hard as we could and together we completed it in 2:06:59 (my wife may have done it one second faster…) crossing the finish line together having spent the entire race driving each other on. I’ve never been more proud of my wife than that day; a true inspiration. We continued to run, doing 5ks and 10ks when we could, but I had my eye on the big one. When the Experiment 26.2 opportunity came through in Action Mental Health, I leapt at the chance; I wanted a marathon.

Now the process begins. Meeting the team for the first time at Jungle NI, it filled me with a sense of ease and comfortability, a group of people who all have the same goal; get to the end. Our activities during the Crystal Challenge brought out the competitive and, more importantly, team spirit that will drive us on to the end together. Being supported by great sponsors like Framar Health, Deep RiverRock, Adidas, McKeever Sport/Intersport at Rushmere Shopping Centre, Belfast Live, Better, Athletics NI, SPAR and Tayto adds that extra incentive. Having used some of the products from Framar for the first time, I can say that I am already seeing some serious benefits. The calendar is now firmly filled up with running events for the next few months, first up the Stroke Resolution Run @ Queens Upper Malone on February 24th. Crucially, the bespoke training plans provided by Official Marathon Coach Stuart Kennedy have been an eye opener, but something I have dived into head first. Seeing the almost daily sessions has given me a new found respect and appreciation for what professionals do; it truly is an inspirational act.


To say I am ‘bricking it’ is an understatement, but I get why people do it, even when the Greek myth of Pheidippides would probably advise us otherwise. We have been given the most incredible gift of life on this planet and to not live it would be a travesty. So bring it on; bring on the training, the ice baths, the irritation, the cold snap, the hills, the blisters, the meetings, the classes, the 26.2 miles. I’m ready for this.

“If there is no struggle, there is no progress.“

Frederick Douglass