A Q&A with a local sporting star

Name: Conán McCaughey

Sport: Athletics/Running

How did you become involved in your sport?

I only started running at 18 when I joined the athletics club at university (UCD). At first I ran more for the social side of things and to make new friends. I slowly started improving although only running twice a week. After a good result in the Colleges Cross Country in 2011 I decided to take the sport more seriously.

What is it that you love about your sport?

I love the freedom of running – the feeling you get sometimes where it is effortless running along a beautiful path or trail. The running/athletics community is fantastic - there is a real team spirit within clubs and I’ve made so many good friends through the sport.

What are your earliest sporting memories?

First sporting memories were watching Michelle De Brun winning Olympic golds for Ireland out of nowhere on the telly at my granny’s house and being part of the winning team in the ‘long distance relay’ at my primary school’s sports day!

Who was, or is, your biggest influence?

I’ve been guided by a number of great coaches including Tommy Farrell locally who was a fantastic athlete himself, Mal McCausland and my current coach Mark Kirk.

When in Scotland I trained with Andrew Butchart who went from a promising Scottish middle-distance athlete in 2013 to sixth in the 2016 Olympics 5000m – learning from him and other top athletes in the group was incredibly influential and inspirational for myself.

Who do you look up to in your chosen sport?

I was always inspired by Sonia O’Sullivan.

When I was in primary school our teacher would stop class and show us her races at Sydney 2000.

Within the province today Kevin Seaward is a real role model, coming fourth in the Commonwealth Games marathon in 2018 whilst working full time as a deputy head teacher.

He’s very supportive, level headed and modest and is highly regarded by all in the sport locally.

Could you give us an example of what a typical week involves for yourself?

I generally would run every day, twice on some days dependent on the programme. Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday would be the harder days involving a session or a faster ‘tempo run’, whilst on Sunday mornings I would do a longer run of about 90 minutes.

I would also do a short stretching routine after most runs and do a short Strength and Conditioning routine two times a week.

What do you think are the key to being successful in sport?

Consistency is critical - basically been bloody minded enough to get out the door and get training done no matter what the weather is like!

Patience is key too – it takes years to reach your potential.

Finally having a wise mentor and support network/training group is crucial – they bring indispensable guidance on what to do (and what not to do!) to get the best from yourself.

What have been your biggest successes to date?

I was delighted to win the NI/Ulster Intermediate Cross Country title in 2017 after coming second the two years prior.

I’ve represented Northern Ireland/Ulster now on nine occasions which is always an honour.

Winning the Spooktacular 5k in 2015 was a proud moment too.

What are your goals for the future?

I would love to represent Ireland at some point and to run a strong marathon debut.

I currently specialise over 5/10k and Cross Country but feel the marathon will be my best distance – longer distances suit me!

What bit of advice would you offer to anybody starting out in your chosen sport?

Definitely reach out to other local athletes and coaches no matter what level you are at – they have a wealth of experience to guide you and would love to share it.

Most importantly - enjoy the journey and don’t set limits on what you can achieve!