Ciara Mageean's training diary: Three sessions a day, Sunday morning mass and minding the mental side 3 years ago

Ciara Mageean's training diary: Three sessions a day, Sunday morning mass and minding the mental side

"Monday is my easy day. I only have to run for six or seven miles that day"

They never said it would be easy, this athletics craic. The loneliness of the long distance runner is a phrase as old as time and its relevance will last forever more.


Athletics, running in particular, is one of the most demanding sports of the lot. Put it this way, the excessive commitment levels of the modern day GAA player often comes under scrutiny.

At most however, GAA players will train no more than six/seven times a week. Ciara Mageean trains three times a day some days, and will regularly run up to 80 miles in a week.

Yes, it's self policed. But the runs still have to be done and the sessions still must be balanced around other commitments. That's an athlete's life.

Ciara Mageean is the woman of the moment. On Saturday last, the Portaferry athlete broke her personal best to finish tenth in the fastest women's 1500 mt race of all time.


On Thursday, she was down in the SportsJOE studios for the Play X Play show with AIG, where she had a great chat with host Niamh Maher.

Among other things, Mageean talked about her camogie background, her introduction to athletics and her goals for the future. But one of the most interesting parts of the chat was the insight to her weekly training routine, which Mageean broke down very simply.



Monday is my easy day. I only have to run for six/seven miles that day and a couple of strides maybe. That's the one-run day and a lie-in. As an athlete, no day is the beginning of the week and no day is the end of the week. I don't really have holidays, I don't have weekends, it's just a continuous circle.


Tuesday is a key session day where I'll do a workout in the morning or the evening. So that's a double run day - one run of 30 minutes and then one hard session.



Wednesday is the tough day. I have two runs and a gym session so that's pretty tiring. We often end up fitting in physio that day too or some sort of treatment.


Thursday is one-run day. We all love a Thursday, coming after the tough Wednesday. So it will be an hour or 70 minutes.



The Friday is another session day, a session and a run.


Saturday is another three session day - two sessions and a gym.


Then a Sunday is long run day. Get up in the morning, do a long run and then get to mass. Mummy's happy whenever I get to mass. I enjoy it. I don't get to mass every week, but I try my best.

It's not all about the training, the runs and the excruciating sessions though. A big part of Ciara Mageean's preparation is the mental side of it all, which her physio and coach help her along with.

"People open up whenever they're on the physio bed and they're in such a vulnerable position and quite often the physio is the person who sees them at their most vulnerable. Emma (physio), after that race in Belgrade, was like 'okay I'm a wee bit worried about you, are you feeling okay?' - I was heading off to a training camp and she was concerned I was going to be all on my own and my boyfriend was going but I didn't have any supports with me.

"So she put me in touch with the sport psychologist in the institute Kate Kirby. And I started working with Kate and that's something that I've found has been so helpful. Because I feel that as athletes, we look after absolutely everything.

"Like I'm training as you said, a really rigorous training regime, I work on my recovery. I'm concerned about sleep, my diet, everything, but for some reason, we sometimes miss that mental aspect and it's not only performance related, it's life and we are not robots. So I started working with Kate and that really helped and my own coach now Steve - I moved to Manchester - Steve Vurnon has such an active role in he believes that our mentality has such an role in our performance and he works really closely to help me as an athlete and as a person."

On World Mental Health day, it's an attitude worth sharing.