Rob Heffernan: It’s been a while since I saw down to write a column and now is as good a time as any, with training for the coming season having kicked off again recently, though it felt like I was hardly away at all!
I had October off and I’m back training now with four weeks. The first week back would have only been 50 miles and then I’d have increased it to 100, so I’m back in the middle of very heavy training now, I’m wrecked this week.
I say I took October ‘off’ but it ended up that I spent it planning the whole year, just because it’s such a big year, with the Olympics coming off. There’s a new high-performance set-up in Ireland and everything is gone so meticulous now, you have to submitting plans for everything, it’s all plans.
It ended up being paperwork for the month then, trying to see when my coach Liam O’Reilly could get away. People can submit plans and have the best presentations but at the end of the day then the work has to be done too.
It’s mostly the same every year, so having Liam on board with me is a massive plus, because I’ve somebody training with me every day, I’m getting treatment daily and even just the company, everything is important. Liam is with me every day nearly and then Ivonne Cassin oversees the progress from time to time to ensure that everything is going to plan.
I’ll be up to 30km this weekend and then we’re heading to Australia in two weeks. I’m going to land into Melbourne and the Aussie 50km is on so I’ll do a part of that, just as training. Jamie Costin is using it to try and qualify for the Olympics so I’ll go with him and then from there to my training base in Wodonga, where I was last year.
It’s inland, so it’s quiet, it wouldn’t be a tourist attraction or anything. It’s myself, Marian and Cathal are going and it’s great that they’ll be with me. It’s busy now at home, the two of us are back training hard and the kids at the weekend then have either cross-country races or football matches so you’re just trying to balance everything.
Barring a disaster, Marian will be competing in the Olympics too, and she has all her year planned out as well, it’s vital that you work around the kids and family commitments and have everything balanced so there’s a lot of work goes into that.
Once it’s done then you just get on with it, the important part is just laying out a proper framework. The association ask for plans for this and that, but I’ve always been very professional, you submit all the plans but you don’t hear anything back about extra support. There’s a massive difference in putting a savage plan down on the table with brilliant presentation and actually going out and doing the work.
Of course, when it’s a year like 2012 you’re going to want to make sure it’s all perfect. Athletes always work in four-year cycles, everything is always geared towards the Olympics, it’s always at the back of your mind.
You decide what camps to go on and what races you’re going to target in terms of the games. The World Cup is on in Russia in May, which will be the one peak of the year beforehand, but really it’s all Olympics.
People ask me if it’ll be my last Olympics, but I haven’t any decision made either way. You don’t know what’s going to happen every year, but if everything is secure in a financial sense and I’m still enjoying it and still competitive then there’s no reason for me not to go on. I set a PB over 10km in the world challenge final only a few months back, my times are still improving over short distances and I’m getting stronger over the longer distances.
I’ve reached the qualifying time for the 50km in the Olympics, despite having had only one real training session for it and, without wanting to sound big-headed, it came easily to me.
Even now, I’ve more mileage down at this time of year than I normally would, the volume of work is all geared towards doing the 50km.
Because I’m naturally fast, the extra mileage for the 50km also has the effect of improving me over shorter distances, I can hit them stronger and it probably suits me injury-wise too, because my body isn’t taking the hammering it would over the shorter, faster milage. Everything is good on the injury front, thankfully, and a lot of that is due to having Liam with me every day. He comes to the house in the morning and stretches me, we go off training and he’ll work with me again after.
I have to watch it all the time, which is why I’m kind of worried about going out to Australia without a coach. That’s the danger when you’re away, you’re doing lots of mileage and you’re on your own, you’ve nobody watching your technique and stuff. Ideally, Athletics Ireland would provide somebody when you go away but unfortunately that’s the way it goes.
For anybody who does want to keep abreast of whether I get injured or not Down Under, they can follow my progress on the new website myself and Marian have set up, www.robandmarianheffernan.com.
We’re working with Silver Hatch Sports, a sports management company, who have been brilliant. They set up the website and got us sponsorship with Kinetica and a nutrition company up in Sligo called Good4U – we’re growing our own grass (not that kind!) in the house at the moment, eating seeds and broccoli shoots and all types of things.
Fingers crossed that doing it provides the extra edge come London!