Training & Tips

Sonia’s junior training secrets

Sonia O’Sullivan kindly gave us a few weeks of her schedule as junior when she was growing up in Cobh in Cork in 1986 aged 16. Sonia was coached by Sean Kennedy before going to Villanova. She would return from her scholarship under his guidance to finish fourth in the 3,000m in Barcelona at the 1992 Olympics. Kennedy gave her the grounding to become Ireland’s most successful athlete. Daily mileage is recorded below but there is probably a few hidden miles thrown in as you will see in the warm-ups. It is a great insight into a champion growing up. For those who don’t know Cobh, in terms of geography, it is a very hilly town so will have been bound to give some extra strength for the years ahead.

October 1986

Thursday 2nd: 15 minutes warm-up – jogging, stretching, strides. 3 miles fast running in Oregon shoes on grass. Felt great. Very hot. Did jog down 1 mile.          3 miles fast => 17mins 20 seconds

Total 4 miles

Friday 3rd: 10 minutes warm-up – jogging/stretching. 6 miles at 6mins 50sec pace per mile. Felt fine. On grass. Light weights in gym.

6 miles

Saturday 4th: 15 minutes warm-up, jogging/stretching. 8 miles at 7:05 min pace. On grass, Oregon runners. Felt great. Approx 57 mins running. Misty and foggy.

8 miles

Sunday 5th – Morning – warm-up and 5 miles easy. Felt tired as I went out before breakfast. Oregon runners. Misty weather. 35 minutes.

Afternoon, 5 miles easy, approx 35 minutes. Felt ok. Very fine and warm.

10 miles

Monday 6th: 15 minutes warm-up. Jogging and stretching. 4 miles under 6 minutes each on grass. Felt great. Oregon shoes. Very windy. Jog warm down. Time 22:44 for 4 miles => 5mins 36s per mile

5 miles

Tuesday 7th: 15 minutes warm-up, jogging and stretching.

5 x 1 mile fast –  1 – 5:15

2 – 5:19 – tired here

3 – 5:14

4 – 5:12

5 – 5:20

Felt ok with most of them except 2nd one. Oregon shoes. On grass. Very warm and a little windy only.

6 miles

Wednesday 8th: 10 mins warm-up. 8 miles easy at 7 min pace so a total of 55 minutes running. Oregon shoes. On grass. Bit windy. Felt great. Weights in gym. 3 rounds.

8 miles

Thursday 9th: 10 mins warm-up. 6 miles easy at 7 min pace on grass. Felt fine. Oregon shoes.

6 miles

Friday 10th: 15 minutes warm-up, 4 miles fast at 23 minutes. On grass. Felt great. Oregon shoes. Light weights in gym.

5 miles


Saturday 11th: warm-up 10 minutes and 5 miles easy on the road including a few hills. Felt fine – in morning.

warm-up 10 minutes and 5miles easy on the grass approx. 35 minutes. Felt fine. Oregon shoes – in evening.

10 miles

Sunday 12th: warm-up – 2 miles and exercises, race of 2 miles cross country. Ladies County Novice – senior. Felt great. A little bit heavy on the backs of my legs, particularly on the hills. Nice race, nice day, felt good.

4 miles

Monday 13th: 15 minutes warm-up. Jogging and stretching. 10 x 600m at an average of 1 minute 50 seconds each. very warm. Slight breeze. One grass. Oregon shoes. Felt great.

6 miles

Tuesday 14th: 10 minutes warm-up. 8 miles easy running at approx 7 min per mile. Total of 8 miles @ 55 minutes. Felt great on grass. Oregon shoes.

8 miles

Wednesday 15th: Rest today. It’s great to have a rest. Did some light weights in the gym.

Thursday 16th: 10 minutes warm-up. 9 miles easy running @ approx 60 mins altogether. On grass Oregon shoes. Warm day. Felt great.

9 miles

Friday 17th: 20 minutes warm-up – jogging, exercising and strides. 2 (10 x 200m) on the grass. Felt great. Very windy, interval spikes shoes. All of the 200m times averaged around 28 seconds. Felt fine after doing them all. I did some light weights in the gym.

5 miles

Saturday 18th: 10 minutes warm-up – jogging and stretching. 8 miles easy running on the grass. Very wet. Felt great. Oregon shoes.

Sunday 19th: Rest.

Monday 20th: Very fast 4 miles on the grass after a 15 min warm-up. Felt very tired. Very windy day. Oregon shoes. I did some light weights in the gym.

6 milesDSC_1545


Robert Harting, the world and Olympic discus throw champion. Image: courtesy of
Previous post

Harting feels heat; Dibaba destroys field; Juiced-up Jeptoo to get two; Your JTG five-a-day
Next post

So many Races, So little Profit

Feidhlim Kelly

Feidhlim Kelly

Con Houlihan once told me that tomorrow is now. In taking on this venture I’ve started to try and put his words into action.

I worked for Con from 2007 till his passing in 2012 taking down his copy and a whole lot more. I have a Con Houlihan section which will go in to more depth on that.

I’m a long-time contributor to the Irish Runner magazine and am also working for the Irish Examiner.

No Comment

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>