Runner Profile:  Maeve-Francoise Lavery

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Sometimes you don’t have to be into running for that long to make a good impression, that is most definitely the case with our new ‘Runner Profile’, Lisburn based Maeve-Francoise Lavery.  She has been a consistent athlete in 2014 and produced an excellent performance to win the final race of the East Antrim Harriers Forest Trail Series earlier this Summer.

Maeve, who is looking forward to her wedding in three weeks, is a regular at the Queens parkrun and is always in or around the podium places at local events.  She secured a third place finish at the recent Greyabbey 10k (July 2014), the very same race where she made her competitive debut twelve months earlier.

Full Name:  Maeve-Francoise Lavery

Current Category:  Female Open

Associated Club:  Dub Runners (Belfast)

Personal Bests:  5k – 19:44, 10k – 39:43, Half Marathon (13.1m) – 1:32:25

What is your favourite Northern Ireland event?  I haven’t raced very much, my first 10k was in 2013 but I have to say Greyabbey 10k it was my first win ever, my time over the hilly course (I might add!) was 41:17 but I was so happy and everyone from my club was cheering; I felt I had really done something. Everyone at the event was so friendly so I have happy memories of that event even though it destroyed me!

When did you start running?  I started running properly about two and half years ago.  I did a half hour run twice a week, then three times a week, before I set myself the goal of running for an hour solid! I did that and on it went from there! I tried the parkruns and discovered that I could run a decent enough time whereas before I just did it for activities sake and then I decided to try racing. These days, I want to race well and feel confident because a lot of me still thinks I’m learning how to put one foot in front of the other, everything happened so fast!

Why do you run?  It’s great to have achieved something, I don’t think I’ll ever be a ‘top’ runner but to get a new personal best is amazing! Also, when I was younger I had anorexia nervosa and then found out that I had a thyroid problem which could affect my weight.  When I decided to start running it was to improve my fitness, then when I realised I could actually run I didn’t care about weight at all, it was so nice to find something I really love to do then improve and be proud of having the resolve to train.  Also, before running I was only able to go as far as my bike could take me as I didn’t have a car.  Now I have seen more of Northern Ireland than ever because of races and even though I’m dying a death on some races (like the Ards Half Marathon), I still managed to think I was lucky to be looking at such a great view when I could have just been sitting at home! I am also really lucky to have a great running role model in James Trainor, my Dub Runners team mate and brother-in-law (to be).  He is effortless and will just get better, he keeps my chugging away as well, maybe in an effort to beat him! :o)

You are a parkrun regular; what do you think of the introduction of parkrun events to Northern Ireland over the last few years?  I haven’t been as diligent a parkrunner as before, with wedding preparation and work, but I love parkrun.  The people I met there I can call friends and think it is a great way to race in a non-intimidating way.  I think it is the best way to get a training benchmark and compare yourself directly to others.  I have learnt more from talking to people at parkrun and watching what the best people there do than I ever did ‘googling’ things.

What does a typical week’s training involve for you?  I try and do something different each week and put in at least one interval session with my club and by myself.  Dub Runners are great because they always do varied interval sessions in different places so you don’t get tired of the same old track sessions.  I also mix it up with a few experimental things because I’m just finding my feet in running, like cross-training in a pool and on the bike, as I don’t want to be injured. Mainly I believe you should just run and get the miles in at a comfortable pace then you can improve your technique and find what feels right. I learnt the hard way that hammering out runs is a good way to get yourself injured.  The key for me is race on race day, not in training.

What is your favourite training ‘session’?  I still love a good long run, I run on Sunday’s with some amazing runners I met at parkrun, we put in a good chunk of miles at a steady pace, chatting along the way.

What is your next race and what do you want from it?  The next race for me is the Laganside 10k, a really fast race, I just want to improve on last year (2013). As a runner, I always want to improve and if I can do it I’ll be delighted!

As an athlete who races and performs well over a variety of terrain, do you have a preference?  A lot of me likes the challenge of trails and hills, although I have mostly done road racing.  I don’t have the skills of great trail runners, but I love the challenge and the variety as well as the scenery. I ran a lot in the French Alpes as my family is from there and I would run up famous cycle climbs like Sarenne and l’alpe D’Huez, there is something in getting up a mountain on your own steam that makes me happy.

What is your favourite pre-race and post-race meals?  Pre-race, I load up on carbohydrates and then snack on natural but sweet foods, maybe bananas/dried fruit nuts etc closer to the time. Post-race, I would eat protein for repair muscles.  I experiment with protein powder but basically think you eat to fuel pre-race and eat to recover post-race. Lying down with a stiff drink would fall into that category also!

What is your running ambition?  I don’t know really, I think I am an old hand at this then realise I am just starting, so I have no idea what the pipe dream is and what is possible. I think that’s the fun of it.  As a rule, it would be amazing to run in a big race with my name on my back, I’ll chase that dream as long as I can run, but basically I always want to be able to run and not be injured.

Outside running are there any other sports do you like?  I love cycling, maybe because I saw the Tour de France so many times in France.  Watching all the colours of the riders in their teams race across the mountains is amazing.  Also, my soon to be husband used to be is a cyclist, so seeing the dedication they put in is pretty inspiring. I learnt about intervals from him and his friends first and applied that to running.  Their use of training data is amazing, maybe I should look into my watts per kilo and invest in a calculator!