A blog by runners. For runners.

Runner of the Week: Barbara O.

This week's runner of the week is Barbara O. from Ballina, County Mayo, Ireland. She's 39 years old and hopes to complete her first marathon at age 40. Check out our interview to learn more about her!

Favorite Candy: Fudge. My brother in law is a chef and makes the most divine fudge.

Favorite Quote: “There is an eagle in me that wants to soar, and there is a hippopotamus in me that wants to wallow in the mud!”

WalkJogRun: Tell us about yourself and how you got started running!

Barbara O.: In my late 20's I really just wanted to get fit and running was the best option as I did not have the finances to join a gym or tennis club. My cousin was an avid runner so I asked for her advice. She basically told me to start slowly, walk, jog, walk, jog, and eventually build up to a steady run. After a few weeks of running in nearby fields (too self conscious to run on the road!) I decided to venture out and build up my mileage. I entered the Dublin ladies Mini Marathon (10K) for charity and with my cousin running beside me I finished it just under the hour. This was the beginning of my love for running. For the next few years I ran 10k charity/fun runs and then in 2008 ran my first half marathon in Cork.

WalkJogRun: Why did you take a two year break from running?

Barbara O.: My running partner in Cork became pregnant and without her I lacked an enormous amount of motivation. I should have joined a running club but did not and I feel that was one of the biggest reasons I stopped running. I knew I needed to get back out there but I lacked confidence. Due to the recession I was made redundant and life was pretty tough for a while. Exercise took a back seat. I would tell myself “I'll get back out there when I feel better, or when I lose a bit of weight,” but the longer I was away from running the more detached I felt from it.

WalkJogRun: Tell us a bit about your racing history and what are you training for, if anything?

Barbara O.: Over the past 10 years I have run several 10k charity runs, a 10 mile charity run and one half marathon.
Next month I will turn 40 and I really want to be at my best heading into this new decade. Running has given me back my mojo and my drive for life. What better way to start my 40th then with a marathon under my belt!

WalkJogRun: Why did you decide to start training for your first marathon at age 40 over any other time?

Barbara O.: 2 years ago, I moved from Cork to County Mayo and got back into fitness again. I did weekly sessions of boot camps and kettle bell training. I lost weight, felt better and became more confident in all areas of my life.
Then recently, I saw a competition that is running nationwide looking for people who have never run a marathon before to train for 5 months and represent their county in the Dublin City Marathon in October. In order for me to be chosen to represent my county I have to be one of the top two who receives the most votes on Facebook. Then the two finalists go to Dublin to meet the trainers and nutritionists and they decide who will be the person with the determination, stamina etc to complete this task. I am still in the running so I am hoping that I can get as many votes as possible before May 15th. Representing my county in the Dublin City Marathon would be a wonderful 40th present!

Note: to vote for Barbara, please visit her page. Voting ends on May 15, 2012.

WalkJogRun: What helps keep you motivated?

Barbara O.: I recently joined my local running club which is wonderful as it really motivates me seeing fitter, faster runners. I want to be like them!
Knowing that I have something to aim for is my motivation. I have two 10K runs in the next two weeks. I will [also] run some half marathons before October. I just have to concentrate on each run, no matter what the distance. But when I run, I immediately feel the benefits of it. My head becomes clear and I relax. The first 10 minutes or so is normally the hardest but after that I enjoy it.

How much are you running per week right now, and what weekly milage would you like to get up to?

Barbara O.: Currently 20 miles per week. I hope to double this in the next 2 months.

WalkJogRun: What's the best piece of advice you could offer another runner or a newbie runner?

Barbara O.: Start slowly. Be patient. Enter some fun charity runs, 5k, 10k, etc. and give yourself something to aim for. Get a running buddy straight away or join a running club.

Don't put it off “I'll do it when I feel better” …”when I am thinner.”

By jogging/running you will feel better and you will lose weight.

Do what is says on this site. Walk…Jog…Run!

If you'd like to nominate yourself or another runner to be the “Runner of the Week,” please visit the details page here.