After a welcome return to racing, the City of Derry AC athlete has hit the headlines and is the current Northern Ireland 1500m champion, recently he also won a silver medal at the Woodies DIY (Athletics Ireland) National Indoor Championships (3000m) and clocked 4:02.67 for the mile.
Current Category: Male Open
Associated Club: City Of Derry AC
Personal Bests: 800m – 1:50.44, 1500m – 3:44.07, 3000m – 8:04.52, 5k (Road) – 14:39
What is your favourite Northern Ireland event? My favourite Northern Ireland event is a race that I have never actually ran before, the Armagh International 5k Road Race. I watched it two years ago and everything about it is fantastic; great course, great crowds and great athletes. It has just been a pity that the race has clashed with the Irish Indoor Championships the last two years, but it is a race that I would really like to participate in and try to win.
When did you start running? I was always active when I was young and tried my hand at every sport imaginable but it was when I won my P7 sports day ‘marathon’ that I had found the sport for me. The next year in secondary school I joined the cross country team and that’s where the journey started.
Why do you run? I honestly just love to run. As a sport I enjoy the individualism of it and the accountability that you can’t blame anyone else for not running well. Even though running is individual in terms of racing, the training and club dynamic is very much group orientated. The most enjoyable day for training for me is the Sunday long run because a big group of us meet and the craic and banter is great.
Your performances in recent months have impressed many people, are you happy with how your winter running has gone? Yes, I am very happy with how my winter training has gone. I have not had any serious injuries, just the usual niggles that all runners get and they have taken just days to sort out, so I have had a very consistent period of training from September 2012. I got that consistency because I never killed myself on any workouts, always finishing with the mindset that I could do another rep or two if I had to. I will leave the very tough sessions for the spring and summer!
You were close to the European Championships 1500m qualifying standard, were you disappointed at missing out? What have you taken from that experience? Yes, I was disappointed that I did not hit the European qualifying standard in the 1500m or 3k because I think both the standards were achievable and that I was in the shape to hit them. The positives that I can take are that my running is definitely going in the right direction and that I am good enough to be targeting major events like the European Indoor Championships
After running 4:02:67 for the mile, do you think you will break the infamous 4 minute mile this year? Well, there are not that many mile races out there but hopefully I can get one or two opportunities over a mile this summer and I will certainly do my best to go sub 4.
What is your next race and what do you want from it? I have no races lined up at the minute but I will more than likely be doing a few 5k road races in March and April 2013. I would like to get my 5k personal best down because it isn’t great!
What is your favourite training ‘session’? My favourite sessions have to be 1500m type sessions like 4 x 600m with 4/5mins recovery, the ones where you can feel the lactic building and there is absolutely nothing you can do but try to keep going. It is so satisfying when you are able to push through the pain and hit the splits that you want.
What is your favourite pre-race and post-race meals? Pre-race, I would usually eat 3-4 hours before. If it was a morning race, I would have cereal and toast. If I’m doing an evening race, I would have some pasta or a sandwich. I can’t say I have a favourite post-race meal, a lot of runners may be shocked but I do like a good take-away after a race!
What is your running ambition? I suppose my main ambition would be to compete at major championships like the Commonwealth Games or a European Championships and I would also like to become a National Champion both Indoors and Outdoors. I would like to get all my times down as far as possible as well, and at the end of my running career, I would like to be able to say that I was able to get the most out of myself.
What would you consider your greatest achievement in running to be? I think my greatest achievement in running so far has to be getting bronze in the National Indoor Championships over 1500m with only one shoe on! About 100m into the race someone stepped on my shoe and my foot was half out of the shoe but I tried to keep calm and not panic even though it was becoming very awkward to run on banked bends. I tried to kick with 300m to go and the shoe went about 30ft in the air which was quite amusing to see on the RTE highlights the next day.
What other sports do you like? I like almost every sport going! I am a huge Manchester United fan and like to get over to Old Trafford for a match whenever I can.
NiRunning says: Conor may not have to wait too long for his next opportunity to race over a mile, we will be releasing details of our next ‘mile’ event next week.