and other ramblings…
It is YET ANOTHER FABULOUS SEPTEMBER DAY; wow I cannot get enough of this Indian Summer we are having here in Ireland, I am just back from my own little 19km canter around the block in the warm sun (ok 18.95 km my running OCD is kicking myself for the shortfall!). I think every athlete and active person in Ireland will agree that it has been the best ever summer for outdoor training.
I know that speaking for myself, while things are still up in the air regarding getting the new clinic up and running (read here) I have been outdoors a lot; to keep fit, to keep my mind clear, and to help me make decisions about the future. I personally find that decluttering your head with activities such as running, walking, hiking, or biking allow the solutions to float in…. minus the worry and over-analysis. This is probably due to the repetitive nature of these activities putting you into a state of heart sync, a sort of active meditation so to speak. If you have decisions to make get outdoors rather than on a hamster wheel of over analysis; your productivity will thank you for it.
If you are not familiar with where I live;
I am based in Newport, Co. Tipperary, Ireland and you will not find a finer training ground than here for hills, flat, mountains; bike, run, or hike. Here are some photos from recent spins that take me through the Silvermines, Rearcross, Murroe, Killoscully, and so on. I have written about my routes around Keeper Hill and up Keeper Hill on the links provided.
September has been a great month for my nearest and dearest in their own sporting achievements. My brother Ross achieved a cracking time in Weymouth Ironman last week the 14th September and Garron warmed up for his Kona adventures in Ironman 70.3 World Championships, Mont-Tremblant, Quebec, Canada. Support his page as he gets closer to Kona; the long-term dream is to bring sport to those less fortunate. In his own words “A fund-raising effort so that one day someone less fortunate than myself will also be able to live their dream!”.
I am watching from afar as the athletes prepare themselves for Ironman World Championships, Kailua-Kona, Hawai’i and it is pretty humbling to be honest. The climate there is ridiculously challenging for the athletes to maintain body temperature, hydration and electrolyte balance, never mind the mental challenge of the heat and humidity. Apparently it is so hot on the black roads that your feet bake while on the bike; I cannot imagine the running. I will be heading out there myself to experience the event first hand as spectator and forgive me Ireland for I will be supporting South Africa! The athletes all call this a ‘Hot Rock” no doubt I will melt just walking around. I am so excited to see the worlds pro’s in action; especially the female pro’s as some aren’t much bigger than I am but boy are they fast!
If you are involved in endurance sports yourself you may be interested in my e-book which is a nice introduction to preparing and fuelling yourself for endurance events such as marathon, endurance cycle, tri and ironman. Please see here:
I was thinking about athletes and competition during my swim yesterday (in UL sports arena; another reason to come train here and bag some time working with me on your nutrition!). There is magic on the day as these athletes pull performances out of their bag of talent tricks; but don’t forget the long journey of preparation. When most of us are in bed these athletes are out getting training session one of two under their belts; and the weather is never an excuse, feeling tired is never an excuse…. there are NO excuses at this level.
Having talent is easy.
Getting out of bed and showing up every day, doing the hard graft,
and believing in yourself during the moments of doubt or loneliness is NOT easy.
I applaud everyone who achieves, no matter how big or small;
Because I see the person behind the success.
And truly that is all any person wishes for:
To be seen.
For every effort to be noted and appreciated.
The medal does not mark the day’s achievement but the culmination of months and often years of training.
I have been honoured to work with many of Ireland’s best athletes and when I say they worked for it; they worked hard for it.
Often unsupported, invisible, but always believing.
This is not a glamour gig; it is a financial, personal, physical, and emotional sacrifice.
This is what we applaud: athlete, professional, amateur or the unnoticed person plodding away.
We make note of every training session, every stretching session; every meal prepared at home and for the road, every physical therapy appointment, every doctor visit, every dreaded morning alarm clock because no one really likes to get out of bed when it is dark and cold outside…. every normal part of life, like the pub, club or social event and even skiing trips and sports that risk a mishap… that had to be missed…
We see the person, the efforts, the determination, the true grit, the never giving up, the picking oneself up after every fall and doing it again and again and again; the belief in the dream.
Notice the people you love.
See your children for who they are.
Be inspired by your parents and role models.
Everyone holds extraordinary gifts and talents;
And everyone feels vulnerable..
Hawaii here I come!
Going to Hawaii later this month to spectate Ironman World Championships is in a way a full circle for me professionally as my very first sports client was Limerick’s own Ger Hartmann after his own Hawaii Ironman experience several moons ago. I was delighted to work with Ger and I have so much to thank him for as after this I was blessed to work with Ireland’s Olympic sweetheart Sonia O’Sullivan and this leads us on to Derval. Honestly there is a point to all of this!!
Derval’s Food for the Fast Lane
So last week Derval launched her new cookbook “Food for the Fast Lane” in Waterstones, Cork City, and myself and a good friend James attended; there was free food after all and it was our chance to capture a few signed copies and catch up with Derval 🙂
I really cannot say enough times how proud of Derval I am; because I am very proud of her in some odd mother-hen type fashion. I have seen her journey with food and this journey shows every person, athlete, student and child alike that it is possible to eat a healthy diet no matter where you are starting from.
Derval won’t mind my saying that her diet needed some work when we first met, and we had some challenges in the start getting in all the goodness and making it tasty (and lump free!). So to see Derval not only take her diet to Olympic level while also being balanced and real; to see her go on and study cooking and to then write a cook book; well all I can say is wow. There truly is no stopping this talented lady! I had to laugh out loud when I heard that she broke records for how fast she prepared dishes for the books photo shoot; I guess the food really is fast!
Derval has several recipes up on her brill blog; check them out!
Wow I got a mention!
To read Derval’s gratitude for the journey we have travelled together professionally since 2004 cracked my heart open in appreciation for all that she is. Thank you Derval, I don’t know if you are aware of how much it means to me personally. It means a lot!!
So folks, this book really is superb and Derval’s personality is palpable in the pages. This book is Derval; motivating, quirky, personal and oh there are delicious recipes in there also that are tasty and simple for adults and youth athletes alike! Boom!
This cookbook is different to any other cookbook out there on the shelf and I am not just saying this go pick one up and have a look for yourself!
Just earlier today I was in Big Wheel Cycles in Newport collecting my bike after a service (thanks guys!) and Pat was only saying to me that after hearing Derval’s interview on the Ray D’Arcy show that he went and picked a copy up for himself and he loved it and he said “oh you are in there”…. I laughed; um yes I am 🙂
So here is an abstract from an article on Examiner.com
Derval O’Rourke reveals her fuel for body and mind
THE 2004 Greek Olympics was a “wake-up call” for Derval O’Rourke. A bout of severe food poisoning and appendicitis meant she was in hospital for six days just four weeks before the games. Doctors’ advice was to remove her appendix, skip the games, and recover.
She refused (“No athlete ever knows for sure if they will make an Olympics”), lined up and “trailed” home in seventh place. Sitting slumped outside the stadium after the race, she knew her stint in hospital had wiped out any chance of her competing well.
“I started to think about how everything in my life had a connection to my health and fitness. Everything is intertwined. If I wanted to achieve my ultimate performance goals, then I needed to make sure that I was paying attention to lots of things in my life.” Her realisation that, in order to be one of the best in the world, she had to be holistically healthy led her to a phalanx of psychologists and physiotherapists and (via an email to Sonia O’Sullivan) to Limerick-based nutritionist and pharmacist Andrea Cullen. After one hour with Andrea, the then UCD student had changed the way she thought about food forever.
“When I lived at home, my mum used to cook everything from scratch and so I ate well. I was probably quite spoiled. And so when I went to college, I was eating whatever was the cheapest, the easiest and if you’re in a canteen and you’re broke and chips, beans and sausages are cheap, well then what’s you’ll eat.”
Derval began to eat good breakfasts, protein and vegetable fuelled lunches and dinners, and snack on whole foods and fruit. She began to cook and in March 2006, became World Indoor Champion in 7.84 seconds. Cooking and wellbeing had also become a passion; she admits to being a cookery book fiend.
“I used to write out recipes and I’d go to athletes’ houses and I’d sellotape them on their cupboards. I’d be like ‘I know it’s hard but just look in your cupboard!’ And they’d be like ‘oh, right’,” she says laughing as she downs seafood chowder at Cork’s Farmgate restaurant and talks 19 to the dozen.
Four years later she shared a room before a race with a Norwegian who had written a cookery book for the Norwegian Olympic Association. It had sold so well it was republished. This sowed a seed in Derval’s head but she wanted to go to cookery school “to give any future book legitimacy”.
“So after I came back from the 2012 Olympics and went to cookery school from 9am-5pm every day for four weeks. It was very calming for me. I’d just walk there as it was near my house and in the evenings I’d go out and jog. It was nice for resetting my mind, it was a really good process.”
The holder of four European Championship medals also began to ask questions about tweaking recipes so they met her nutrition and fitness goals.
“If we were doing recipes in cookery school, I just started to change them: put in Greek yoghurt instead of cream for instance. I’d ask can I swap this for this and my teacher would either yay or nay them.”
And that is what makes Food for the Fast Lane different: Derval’s first cookery book (she’d love to do more) is all (about) taking tasty recipes that she likes and tweaking them so the fat content collapses but the nutrition content explodes. It is also a terrifically unpreachy book; she “likes to eat and train, not diet and exercise”.
In amongst the warm quinoa with lemon, pistachio and harissa and baked avocados with eggs are dark chocolate banana bread, sweet and sticky pecans, and Jamie Heaslip’s Brownies. “We used to joke at training, sometimes you just need coffee and a slice of cake. I don’t have strict rules, I have guidelines. I think your diet has to be sustainable. I don’t think most diets are sustainable. I trained in the UK one year, there was a nutritionist who had us all on a high protein, low carb diet and I couldn’t sustain it and I love cooking. I ended up feeling really bad and eating shite.”
Life has changed a lot for Derval in the past 18 months, she married Olympian sailor Peter O’Leary and announced in June that she was hanging up her spikes. She also moved from busy Stillorgan in Dublin to the seaside village of Fountainstown in Co Cork. She walks the beach every day now with dogs Berlino and Chas.
“It’s a big change but in terms of quality of life it’s better down here and my husband is working in Cork. We always knew that we were going to move back so it was never a big surprise. I was excited about moving back because I still had friends here but I miss Dublin because I was there for 14 years.”
Mentally adjusting to retirement is also “hard” she says. To read the full article on Irish examiner. com click the link.
And here is another article that I have since stumbled on; best of luck for your book Derval!
Fitness and nutrition: Let the road to Damascus lead you to a healthier life. Think about the food you’re eating a little more, while you wait for your Road to Damascus moment
So… what more is there to say only:
Thanks Derval for being an inspiration to us all.
We wish you all the best in the many many chapters of your life ahead…. and we all know full well that you will keep us on our toes.
With love and gratitude,