I’ve always been sporty and active. I wasn’t ever much good at the sports, but what I lacked in ability I made up for in enthusiasm. Running around the playground, gymnastics, hockey…then I got into rowing in a big way when I was about 16 and found something I was actually good at. I spent most of my free time (and time that I should have been studying) down at the boathouse, doing weights and going for runs to compliment the rowing training. I competed at the Irish Rowing Championships during the summer I turned 18 and I was bit by the sporting bug for real.
I didn’t keep up the rowing when I went off to university but I did start to dip my toe into running - and to be honest, I hated it. I was so bad at it. I had no co-ordination or natural ability, and the only reason I had done it before was as part of the rowing club and I was always the one huffing and puffing along at the back, complaining about how hard it was.
My personality does not like it when I am bad at something. Therefore, I made it my number one mission to get better at this running lark - putting studying on the back burner as usual! I signed up for 10ks and 5ks all over the place trying to fit in training around my busy student life, and slowly but surely chipped away at the times.
I then signed up for 2 half marathons - Royal Parks Half and Run to the Beat - in 2013 without much idea of how far that really was, or how hard it would be to train for it whilst juggling a busy job as a new trainee doctor. They were so hard, and tested me physically and mentally - but the feeling of accomplishment when I ran over the finish line was like no other.
In the years that followed, I raced many more 5ks, 10ks and Half Marathons, making holidays out of races abroad - I loved the buzz of the big European runs such as Budapest, Palma, Madrid and Prague. I also started triathlon training in 2016 (which I truly hated as I am the worlds worst swimmer) and managed to get PBs in 5k, 10k and Half Marathon as my fitness improved.
In 2018, things changed. I had been working as a doctor for 6 years and the pressure and stress began to take its toll. Exams, difficult shift patterns and no work/life balance… I had no time for much except working and it was so hard to squeeze in training. My anxiety went through the roof and some depression was thrown in just to make things extra fun. They say all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy but in my case it made Roisin a sick girl. I ended up needing to take some time off work and with all my free time - I ran. I ran and I ran and I ran some more. It made me feel better than pills and I loved it.
You would think with all this time and running I would be hitting PBs all over the place. I wasn’t - and the realisation that I must be doing something wrong with my training came after two very bad half marathons - I couldn’t keep up with the pacers and the hills were killing me. It was at this stage in September 2018 I contacted Purdue Performance and from the first week with them I knew these guys were going to be the key to helping me hit the PBs I felt I deserved!
Then - one night an angel came and told me I would be expecting a little baby. Sorry, no, thats a different story. A bog standard pregnancy test confirmed the happy news and with it came 35 weeks of extreme sickness, swelling, bone crushing fatigue and breathlessness. I always thought I would be one of those ridiculously fit super women who ran ultra marathons during their pregnancy but when I was finding it difficult to walk up stairs at 24 weeks I knew this wasn't going to be the case. I had a pretty hard time and ended up with a semi emergency section due to complications and a premature baby at 35 weeks.
Naturally, me being me, I was DYING to get back into running as soon as I got the all clear from my own doctor. 7 weeks post partum, sleep deprived and still reeling from the strangeness of motherhood, I laced up my trainers and made it out for a run for the first time in 10 months. I say run in the loosest sense of the word as I felt like I did all those years ago, huffing and puffing along during training runs - except much much worse. That first run was so hard, even with generous walking breaks. It didn't matter. That tiny bit of exercise made me feel more like myself than I had for a very long time and I was buzzing.
I was so hard on myself those first few months. I thought I should be bouncing back as quickly as all the other new mummies I saw on instagram, back at my pre pregnancy fitness level in the blink of an eye. I did walk run intervals for what felt like ages and slowly but surely the running intervals got longer and longer. My lovely husband got me a treadmill for the garage so on the rare occasions that the baby napped I could fit in some running too!
Juggling running along with endless night feeds and wake ups, baby classes and the general exhaustion that comes with being a new mummy is not easy. I knew it was time to get back on the Purdue Performance A Team to help take the stress out of making my own running plans and help me get my fitness levels back.
I started back with the best coaches in the business at around 4 months post partum and 6 months down the line I’ve just completed my first post baby 10k race. When I look back on those first few months I can’t believe I can run that distance again and I feel so proud of myself. I’m so excited to carry on my training and see what I can achieve in 2020. I may not ever be as fast as I was but every achievement now is a new PB - a post baby personal best!