Meet Pierce Geoghegan
What advice would you give to someone thinking about joining?
Definitely, definitely join. Running with a club will help you improve and achieve what you want out of running regardless of your ability or experience (we have a very wide range of both at the club). Liffey Valley is a really friendly club and you’ll be well looked after. It’s incredibly reasonably priced, mostly because it is fuelled by volunteers who do it because of enthusiasm for and love of running – you’ll get literally world class coaching essentially for free. Especially if you want to run faster, running with others with a coach using a structured training program is the only way. Do it!!!
- When did you join the club?
- I joined the club in 2006, when I was in college and training for my first running event ever – the Dublin Marathon. I ran with the club for about 3 years back then but when I started working in 2009 my hours were very long and I had to travel a lot so I lost touch with running for a few years. I dipped in and out of the club throughout that time but I’ve been back training seriously again with Liffey Valley for the past 3 or 4 years.
- What kind of running experience did you have before joining?
- I had never really run before joining apart from jogging for football or basketball training as a child. I’m from Tarbert in Kerry and distance running didn’t really flag on the radar there (though it has since become more popular!).
- What motivated you to join?
- I was running in the park as part of my marathon training and ended up finishing my run beside 3 Liffey Valley club members. We got chatting and they were really friendly and encouraging and invited me to come down to the club, telling me that training with the club would help me for the marathon. The marathon seemed like an almost undoable challenge to me at the time so I thought OK, these people know more about this than me and could probably point me in the right direction.
- What improvements have you noticed since joining?
- I ran my first marathon in 4 hours 25 minutes. Personally I think just finishing a marathon is a tremendous achievement, but a time like this for someone in their early 20’s wouldn’t exactly scream talent :). But at Liffey Valley the philosophy is to help everyone achieve their potential and I was very surprised to receive just as much attention as the fastest athletes. It’s probably one of the things I like most about the club. The coaching in Liffey Valley is incredible, world class. Nick Davis coached me initially and Jim Davis has coached me for the last number of years and the planning and effort they put into it means I have improved consistently since joining. The more I train the more I improve. I’m 35 years old now and I’m still running personal bests. I’m especially proud of knocking my 5k road time down to 15.33 (from about 22 mins when I started) and my 10k time to 32.42 (from about 45 mins when I started) so as you can see I’ve improved a lot!
- What do you like about running?
- There are so many things that I like. I love the feeling of pushing myself and being out in the open air. It connects you with nature and with your own body. You see things that you wouldn’t otherwise – like a sunrise with the deer in the Phoenix park, or a sunset on Dollymount strand. I have a pretty stressful job and running keeps me balanced from a mental health point of view – a run is like a reset button that helps me relax, de-stress.
I love coming down to the club too. It’s like a family. All sorts of people join but share in common a love of running. It’s enjoyable to run on your own but it’s even nicer running with other people. There’s a great sense of comradery and problems are often solved with the chats that go on running shoulder to shoulder. I like that. I also like racing – really testing the limits of what you can do, especially the days when your body surprises you, everything goes right, and you’re just flying!
- What is your preferred race distance?
- I don’t have a lot of “natural speed” (as a child I was hopeless at the 100m for instance) so my strength is endurance. That makes my preferred distance 5k or 10k. I especially like cross country – I don’t know why but I think I always perform better there than on the track. Maybe it’s something to do with coming from the country and feeling at home in the muck.
- What was your most memorable race moment?
- That’s a really hard question. One moment that stands out is my first race in a Liffey Valley singlet. It was the Dublin Novice Cross Country in the Phoenix Park. Jim Davis our coach probably wouldn’t remember it but he gave a really impassioned speech beforehand and I remember thinking “Jesus, I better give this everything”. I lashed it out - I didn’t do that well in absolute terms but I could tell I surprised a few people (I always race better than I train) – and I felt euphoric afterwards. I was hooked after that.
- Whats your favourite session?
- That’s a really good question. I’m at a stage in life where I appreciate how great it is to make it to a session (work/family life means it’s not always possible) so I’m always delighted just to be there! When I was starting I did a lot of training on my own. Now I can see that you can push yourself much further when you are with other people, who share the mental burden of doing a hard session. So my favourite sessions are the ones where I get to train with my club mates. I love Saturday sessions because they are in the morning so we can all feel smug for the rest of the day. I really like a Saturday session we do on the Munich laps area of the Phoenix park in autum/winter which is something like 6 times 1500m with 75-90 secs recovery? (don’t quote me on that….)
- What is your proudest running achievement?
- My proudest running achievement was to represent Ireland at the British and Irish Masters XC this year (2019). It’s something I never even dreamed could happen. It felt like a validation of all the support that Jim and Liffey Valley have given me over the years (their commitment to helping me has been second to none). It was really nice to have my wife Eadaoin and my daughter Roisin there – it’s a whole family effort to make time for running (but it’s worth it!).