With the 2019 KBC Dublin Marathon now less than 10 weeks away coach Paul Pollock gives us an update on this year’s DreamRun intake.

Anyone who has been following the Dream Run project, currently in its third year, will know that ten lucky athletes from Northern Ireland have been steadily training since the beginning of May.

Their goal is simple: to break the magical sub three hour barrier, in Dublin, on the 27th October. Working together as a group, encouraging each other forward, under the watchful eye of coach and Irish Olympic marathon runner Paul Pollock, each of the ten athletes has had their own unique journey to the Dublin marathon startline.

Over the course of the next ten weeks, we will be introducing our FastRunning readers to each of the ten chosen athletes (one per week). With personal bests ranging from 4.20 to 3.02, they are all hoping to achieve something that they have never achieved before.

Last year, all 9 of the DreamRun Dublin group starting the Dublin marathon set fantastic personal bests, with 5 of the 9 breaking the sub 3 hour barrier. The bar has undoubtedly been set high for this year’s group.

The highs and lows of the journey

DreamRun founder and group coach, Paul Pollock outlines some of the highs and lows for the group and how they have been progressing so far;

Injuries. Personal bests. The general challenges of training. The DreamRun group this year has, once again, had them all! It has been the same every year of the DreamRun project. The group meets for the first time at the beginning of May, and the Dublin Marathon startline seems like a distant far off date. However, the weeks pass into months very quickly. The relaxed, jokey nature of the group slowly gets overtaken by nervousness and worry.

Marathon day is approaching. Am I ready? Can I really do this? Every run and mile split is analysed and super-analysed again and again by the athlete. With less than ten weeks to go, we might not be at that end phase of training just yet, but it is definitely coming closer.

The fine line of marathon training

It goes without saying that niggles are part of the course. Choose any ten athletes and train them for 25 weeks, in an attempt to run a marathon faster than they have ever run before, and injuries will occur. Recognising and managing those injuries when they occur is essential.

There is always a fine line between pushing hard in training and falling over the line into ‘injury territory’. It is a line that is different for each athlete and for me, as coach, finding that line is probably the most difficult challenge. Having only met each athlete for the first time at the start of May, I have to quickly learn where each athlete is coming from, where their fitness is, what work they are able to manage and how quickly their training can progress.

This year’s group seems to be having more than its fair share of injuries. Not just small short term niggles but longer, more prolonged ‘proper’ injuries. Currently, three of the ten are on the injury bench. Thankfully, there are plenty of ways to get to the startline of a marathon in a decent level of fitness, off a short block of training.

While the training in this way is nowhere near as enjoyable, running a good marathon is still very possible. However, unless an athlete can run pain-free, they are unlikely to race a time close to their true potential.

Credit: DreamRun Project

Expert input and getting race ready

Like in previous years, guest speakers have also been invited to talk to this year’s group. The group has already benefited from the advice and insight of sub 3 hour Northern Irish marathon runner and sports psychologist, Dave Woods. Coming up at the next meet up, there will be a workshop led by a strength and conditioning trainer. Feedback from previous years has shown that the athletes have found these talks really beneficial when it comes to injury prevention and physical and mental preparation for the marathon race itself.

The majority of the group raced the Frank Duffy Dublin 10 mile road race last weekend and will follow this up with a half marathon in early September, they will each have opportunities to perfect their raceday preparations and practice managing their raceday nerves.

Already 5 of the group have set 10k personal bests during this project and hopefully there are still a lot more personal bests to be run, not least of all, come the Dubin marathon finish line on the 27th October!

The ten athletes that were picked for this year’s DreamRun project are:

Gerard Donnelly 3.02
Martin McKenna 3.19
James Wilson 3.16
Dale Murray 3.09
Marina Murphy 3.08
Niamh Kellett 3.17
Ryan Galway 4.20
Adrian Bennett 3.21
Cailam Quinn First timer
Elaine McGuckin 3.09

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