I said never again, but I'll run with the urge

THE countdown has begun for the thousands of runners preparing for the Cork marathon, which takes place on June 4. For John Philip Murray, an artist from Lissardagh, Co Cork, running the marathon is a challenge he set himself on his 60th birthday.

“I decided to set myself some goals,’’ he says. ” The first goal was relatively easy. On the day of my birthday, I cycled a mile for every year. So I cycled 60 miles and had a lovely day.

“Running the Cork marathon is my second goal. I have run three marathons before. But the last one was in 1997, when I was 45, and I limped around and said: ‘Never again.’ But now I feel ready for it.’’

So far, the training is going well. John Philip is sticking to a strict programme, watching his diet and making sure that he gets enough rest. He also uses weights and practices yoga before going to bed, to keep his muscles supple.

“I am at a phase where I am quite tired,’’ he says. “But I know this phase well from my previous marathons. It is a stage where you could be put off, but you know the work has to be done.

“You literally do have to cover the miles, otherwise you will be putting yourself through torture on the day.’’

At the moment, John Philip is running eight-and-half-minute miles, but by June he hopes to have improved and has set himself a target of doing the marathon in four to four and half hours.

“What I would really love,’’ he says, “is to run it in the same time as my first marathon, when I was 28. My time then was 3 hours 54 minutes. If I could do that, I would be delighted.’’

Although John Phillip is a member of St Finbarrs’ running club, he has done most of his training on his own and is clearly very motivated.

“Running is a wonderful way to clear your head. It is brilliant and makes you feel really good. Running early in the day is great,’’ he says.

“You might be a bit creaky getting out of bed, but I start off slowly with a walk and a few stretches before gradually getting into it. Motivation is the key. If you are able to talk yourself into going that 10% further each week, then you will succeed.’’

After the Cork marathon, John Phillip says his third goal will be to run the Dublin marathon in October and he is determined to continue running.

“In your 20s it is good to be fit, but as you approach your 50s it is absolutely essential. It is not an option any more. The big thing I am concerned with is life balance. The exercise fits into the bigger picture. It’s about living life, eating well, resting and exercising,’’ he says.

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