Interview: Fionnuala Britton on a new road to Rio
How is your training going for the Great Ireland Run and are you looking forward to the event?
Training is going well and I hope that will be reflected in my race but as it’s early in the year, and in the training cycle, I’m just looking to build on my last race.
How is your transition to the roads going and what made you decide to switch to the marathon rather than stay on the track?
I didn’t really look at it as a transition to the roads, more of a progression in distance I suppose. I always wanted to do the marathon and having raced the steeple, the 5,000m and the 10,000m at the Olympics, the marathon in Rio is the next logical challenge.
You’ve linked up with a new coach in Joe Doonan (Catherina McKiernan’s old coach). How did that come about and how is that progressing?
There are not many Irish coaches living in Ireland that have coached world class athletes so when Joe Doonan agreed to help me it was an opportunity I knew I had to make the most of.
Is it much different to your previous coaches?
In a way yes, but it’s probably as much about personalities and what emphasis a coach puts on certain areas than on radical differences in coaching philosophies.
Can you give us an insight into the type of training you are doing?
At the moment I am really just building base fitness before I get into a specific marathon training programme in the summer for an autumn marathon.
What are the goals for the summer?
The goals for the summer will be with an autumn marathon in mind but will incorporate races on the road and track.
From the summer where do you hope to progress leading up to Rio de Janeiro?
I would like to run an autumn marathon with the aim of running a qualifying time for Rio.
You’re now 30 years of age, have won the European cross country twice, what other goals would you still like to achieve in your running career?
I wouldn’t say no to a third European cross title. You can never get enough of winning! Racing really well at the Olympics would be another goal of mine. Having only one (or two) chances to run your best race every four years makes it really hard and I have yet to feel that satisfaction at an Olympics.
What do you love most about running?
Running! When I first joined Kilcoole AC we were very much a running club than an athletics club….no track, no facilities, just a field of cows and runners…and I loved it….I still do!
What is your biggest disappointment in running?
I think at the time certain things can feel like complete disasters but when you look back they are just part of the game I suppose. Despite the fact that the European cross is where my best moments have come they are also the source of some of my biggest disappointments. Missing European cross in 2008 through injury when it was held in one of my favourite European cross country courses in Brussels, missing a medal by less than a second in Albufeira in 2010, and, despite collective happiness with our team medal individual disappointment, in finishing 6th last year!
Who is your best friend in athletics?
Al (Alan McCormack, Irish cross country international, and soon to be husband). He’s my best friend in life and as running more or less is my life, it works out well
Who’s your greatest rival in athletics?
I’ll have to use a cliché here and say myself. I’ve been the most consistent competitor of mine since I started running. I always want to do better, to win. When I was 12 or 13 I wanted to beat Maria Slattery and Joanna Cullen in Wicklow and they were my biggest rivals back then…..then it was girls from Leinster, then all of Ireland and now it’s all of them as well as the rest of the distance running girls in Europe and the world.
What’s your favourite running session?
I like training hard….so anything I consider hard is good, although I like long runs too, especially when I’m away from home and get to explore new places.
What’s your go-to session that you know you are in good shape?
I don’t have a go-to session really. It’s more a feeling you get about an accumulation of good training.
What would you like to do after running?
I hope there won’t be an “after running” for me. I’d like to be still running when I’m 90 but, before that, I still have vague aspirations to be a primary school teacher!