The Shape I’m In with Shane Byrne: 'During the week we only eat natural food. There is no processed food whatever'

SHANE BYRNE likes to take on a challenge.

The Shape I’m In with Shane Byrne: 'During the week we only eat natural food. There is no processed food whatever'

By Irene Feighan

SHANE BYRNE likes to take on a challenge.

“I sign up to things I’m in no shape to do whatsoever,” says the 47-year-old former Ireland rugby player. “I’m enjoying retirement. I won’t say no to anything now because I was long enough — 18 years — being restrictive on myself. I’m not doing that any more. “

And so the father of twin teenage girls has crammed his schedule with a string of fundraising adventures. “I’m doing a walking festival in Marbella in October for Fighting Blindness. I’m also playing a rugby tour with the Irish Legends — we go to Bermuda to play a mini world cup in November. And I’ll do Kilimanjaro in January for the IRFU Charitable Trust.”

He’s started training and brings his trademark grit and determination to the end goal. “No training session is ever meant to be nice. My wife Caroline, who has done a marathon, will every now and again get back into running with me. You don’t go for a nice run — you run as hard as you can run that day.

“You never know how your energy is going to be but you run as hard as you can — you’re always against the clock. You get as much as you can out of the run.”

Ahead of World Sight Day (October 11), Fighting Blindness is offering people, including those affected by sight loss, an opportunity to meet experts at the cutting edge sight loss research at its Retina 2018 day. Supported by Novartis, it takes place at the Radisson Blu Royal Hotel, Dublin, on Saturday, October 6. To find out more and to register, visit

What shape are you in?

I live near Castletown, Co Wexford and I run on the beaches and sand dunes a lot.I get down to the local gym when I can. I also play indoor soccer. You try to get something done every day but sometimes you just can’t.

What are your healthiest eating habits?

During the week we only eat natural food. We cook to eat. There is no processed food whatsoever. At weekends we let the hair down a bit and there’s a bit of rubbishy food thrown in there, but life is for living. As long as you’re not being stupid, live it.

What are your guiltiest pleasures?

There’s obviously the chipper but I’ve discovered melted Nutella on ice cream. It’s fabulous. But the minute you finish it... the guilt!

What would keep you awake at night?

I don’t do the stress you see in the movies. I understand that tomorrow is another day. There can be all sorts of mountainous stuff building up but fretting about it when it’s not in front of you is not going to help the fact. I’ll read my book and I usually fall asleep as it hits my head.

How do you relax?

I don’t have a lot of time to myself. I suppose just chilling out with the family. Playing golf would probably be the only time that’s just my time.

Who would you invite to your dream dinner party?

People who I am just really interested in and have read a lot about. An obvious one would be Muhammad Ali, and then Genghis Kahn, and Cú Chulainn.

What’s your favourite smell?

When you go back home, nothing smells like the kitchen you grew up in. Also, I live near the beach and every now and again you catch the sea smells, which is so clearing.

What would you like to change about your appearance?

I’d love to have the physique I had when I was playing professional rugby. Now that I’m back training hard again it’s entertaining to see the body trying to respond. The body remembers — the muscle memory starts coming back.

When is the last time you cried?

The only thing that might draw a tear to my eye would be — not sadness — but passionate things you see on the telly or in a movie. Somebody working hard and against the odds achieving something, or bravery.

What traits do you least like in others?

People not straight talking. I prefer honest criticism. I’m confident enough in myself that if I’m doing something wrong I’d prefer someone to say it to me.

What traits do you least like about yourself?

Wasting time. I have a tendency to do it, particularly in the mornings — I get distracted by things. It drives me nuts. It’s no-one else’s fault, it’s just me.

Do you pray?

Yes. I’m a practising Catholic. I go Mass whenever I can, which is not often as I should.

What would cheer up your day?

Arriving back to the house and having the three women in my life cracking up laughing about something I have yet to find out about. They are normally taking the mickey out of me.

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