#DreamRunDublin18 – 6 weeks to race day! We catch up with Adam Ferguson as part of a special feature…

#DreamRunDublin18 – 6 weeks until the race day – Interview with Adam Ferguson:

You’ll hopefully have been keeping up to date with the #DreamRunDublin18 project, which we are involved in within Rio Olympian Paul Pollock? In the second edition of the Project, Paul has chosen a group of 10 athletes who he will help towards a sub 3-hour finish at the Dublin Marathon.

There is just over 6 weeks until the SSE Dublin City Marathon, which incorporates the AAI National Marathon Championships. In the run up to race day, we’ll feature all athletes and ask them questions about the project, their training and their hopes and expectations going forward.

Following on from interviews with Conor Hogarth and Tracey Atkinson, we will now speak to Adam Ferguson and see how he is getting on as part of the #DreamRunDublin18 team.

How do you feel training has been going since you joined the #DreamRunDublin18 team?

Training has been going great and the weeks have flown by. It is hard to believe how many weeks we have completed now. Every week has been different, and I have really enjoyed the variation in the sessions each week. The variation has kept the training fresh and interesting which I think is very important, as quite often with running it is easy to become bored when completing the same run or route every week.

Each Sunday, Paul sends through detailed plans for the week ahead with the runs and times (to the second) expected.  He is very good at setting paces that are achievable, but just beyond your comfort zone. As the weeks and sessions have passed, I definitely feel like I’ve been seeing the benefits of the hard work, particularly with how I’ve felt on the long runs.

How has your training changed since joining #DreamRunDublin18 team?

The two main ways my training has changed is the intensity and preciseness of the sessions. Every session has set paces, from paces for recovery runs, long runs and tempo runs, to split times for 400ms and beyond. Pacing will obviously be crucial in achieving the sub 3 hour marathon so it has been great to practice those skills in every run.

Previously, I would have had runs where I wouldn’t have really set targets time wise and as a result, probably not pushed myself as much as Paul has through the sessions set. Every week now I’m running at paces in training I wouldn’t have thought of before joining the #DreamRunDublin18 team, but now it just feels normal. Having to send the splits of all your runs to an Olympian certainly helps you stop making excuses about the conditions outside and makes you just get out and at it.

The focus is of course on getting that sub 3 hour finish time at the Dublin Marathon 2018, do you believe you can achieve this? Have things progressed the way you’d hoped?

I have always had the ambition of running a sub 3 hour marathon and in the last year I’ve achieved times at 5k, 10k and half-marathon that would indicate that it should be achievable. However, times at other distances indicating that I should be able to do it are no good if I don’t do it on the day in Dublin.

Such a small percentage of marathon runners achieve a sub 3 hour time and there is obviously a reason for that. Naturally I have had doubts at times but training has progressed well and I have felt strong on the long runs. This does give me confidence that I can achieve a sub 3 hour time. My main goal now is to keep at it in the next few weeks, hope that the training continues to progress as it has been and turn up on the start line in Dublin ready to go. Regardless of the outcome, the way I will view training in the future has definitely been changed by the experience of the #DreamRunDublin18 project and I feel that I am a better runner for it.

What has been your highlight in terms of your own personal favourite performance since joining the #DreamRunDublin18 team?

Performance wise I feel I have to say getting a 5k personal best at the second meet-up in June. That day we had to do two 5ks at Victoria Park Parkrun with a 3 minute recovery in between and to get a pb on the board early in the training cycle was a good boost. However, personally, in terms of confidence for the marathon, completing the first 20 miler in just over 2hrs 13mins and finishing with 5 faster miles, as planned, was the run that has given me the most belief that I can do it in October.

What has been your favourite training session since commencing training with Paul Pollock and the #DreamRunDublin18?

Most weeks on a Tuesday the session would involve a 20 minute warm-up/cool down and 8k of fast running. These are the sessions that have pushed me out of my comfort zone and provided the toughest challenge. That being said, one of my favourite sessions is one of those tough Tuesdays. It was back in June when it was particularly hot and I was dreading the session all day. The session involved 2k (3min 25 seconds per km), 3 mins recovery, 5x400m (76 seconds per 400m with 60 seconds recovery), 3 mins recovery, 2k (3min 25 seconds per km), 3 mins recovery and finally 5x400m (75 seconds per 400m with 60 seconds recovery). It was tough, especially in the heat, but completing sessions like that are the ones that are the most rewarding and act as a confidence booster.

Have you got any races coming up? What are your expectations for these?

The final race before the marathon in October is the Belfast Half Marathon at the end of September. I’m looking forward to it! I ran it last year and it is a pretty good route. Training has been going well so I’ll be aiming to have a go at setting a new pb. It will also be good race day experience a month before Dublin.

The atmosphere and camaraderie at the group training days is very clear – are you enjoying being part of the team?

The group training days have been really enjoyable. The sessions are always challenging but the group are there to provide a laugh and encouragement. At the end of the day, everyone has the same goals and it’s been great to learn from not only Paul, but the experience everyone brings to the table.

I’ve found being part of the group is a good motivator. The group have a Whatsapp group and knowing that other people have already completed sessions in the early hours of the morning can act as the motivation you need to get you out the door.

Paul has been excellent. Everyone’s training plans have been tailored to the individual and he is always accessible. Along with Ryan, they have both provided great support, not just in the training plans, but also through organising speakers at the different group meet-ups, with talks on sports psychology and strength and conditioning. They have tried to provide the platform for us to achieve a sub 3 hour time in Dublin and I’m grateful for the opportunity of being part of the #DreamRunDublin18 group.

What the coach thinks…

There is no doubt that Adam is a talented runner. His current marathon personal best of 3:25 does not reflect the fitness or ability that he has shown as this project has gone on. I think it is fair to say that (with Wesley), he is currently a step above the other runners in the group, in terms of fitness.

If everything goes smoothly for the next month, then he has a very real chance of not only breaking the magical three hour barrier, but also potentially setting a new #DreamRunDublin record (currently held by David Conliffe from 2017’s group at 2:51:31). His fitness has improved steadily since the star of the project, having benefited from not having picked up any niggles.

Now it is just a matter, for Adam and the other runners in the group, of getting through the last few big sessions and long runs before mentally preparing for race day itself.