My favourite place to run is in St. Catherine’s Park in Leixlip. It’s right on my doorstep, so it suits me, whether I’m on call or not. But it also has a lot of variety for a park, with plenty of hills of differing difficulty and length, open flat spaces, good footpaths, and wooded areas. Not for nothing, Jarlath Hynes, a super-fit local athlete who runs an excellent keep fit centre called Grassroots Fitness in the town uses this facility for group runs.
I admit, I really loved the wooded run before the local authority ‘tidied up’ the top path, which was something of a twisty, earthen track. There were tree roots to trip you, and the occasional low branch to keep you sharp. But then the park became popular and the messiness of the path had to be rectified. Mustn’t grumble, lest I sound ungracious.
There is a boundary run you can do in St. Catherine’s, and it’s about 11km long. You can start at any of the four entrances to the Park. The one I use is across from my house, at the Fire Station. There is another at Glendale Meadows, a third at the main car park entrance off the Clonee Road, and the final one gives you access to the weir in Lucan. Whichever way you enter the Park, you simply turn or keep left and keep running, and when you come to a junction or a dead-end, you retrace your steps, keep left, and keep going. You can also do the whole schemozzle in reverse.
All of this is of very limited use to you if you don’t know the Park and have no interest or opportunity to use it. It’s steeped in history, and one day I’ll get some good links and info online to explain more.
At the weekend, I did this run in about 1 hour and 2 minutes, on a fairly warm day, at a steady pace. Yesterday, I did it again as part of the programme, and built in 20 minutes of tempo running bookended with a warm up and down each side. The time was 50 minutes. Proving a long held belief of mine about racing: if you want to run faster times, you have to run faster. I know. Mind-blowing stuff. But when it comes to training, sometimes toddling along every week isn’t really getting the best out of your time. No harm to push it every now and again.