Welcome to 'A heart for Running'

Kildare Thoroughbred 2022 Sub three hour marathon
The finish line at the Kildare Thoroughbred Marathon 2022 where I finally broke 3 hours

Thank you for visiting AHeartForRunning.com. This blog serves as a platform for me to share my life experiences through the lens of running. My perspective is shaped by a life-altering event that forced me to strip life back to its core and rebuild into a content, thriving man and highly motivated athlete.

What happened? At the age of 48, I survived a stroke in February 2017. It was caused by an 11mm hole in my heart that I was born with but never knew about. The stroke left me mentally broken for a large part of the year. In November of the same year, I underwent a heart operation called an ASD closure. This remarkable procedure, almost surreal for those who haven’t heard of it, allowed my heart to work at 100% capacity for the first time in my life.

Running played a crucial role in my life leading up to that fateful February morning, and I’m convinced it was pivotal in both my survival and recovery. In the years that followed, my running has improved significantly. I have broken the 3-hour marathon time for the past three years. In 2024, I achieved my personal record of 2:54:23 in the Manchester Marathon at the age of 55.

Here, I also explore my life as a running coach, discuss nutrition topics, and focus on overall health and well-being. Please contribute your comments and experiences as we grow this running community together.

Soon after suffering a stroke I had an extended stay in the South West Acute Hospital in Enniskillen

Training & Race Reviews

Follow me with my current training blog and see what I’m working towards.

Coaching

Some of my favourite coaching tips and training advice for new and experienced runners.

Health & Wellbeing

Here you will find some general health and wellbeing  information.

Manchester Marathon Finish
Marathon

2024 Manchester Marathon

The 2024 Manchester Marathon Training I made the decision to bypass my second run in Boston for a more local event at the 2024 Manchester

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2023 Valencia Marathon Finish
Marathon

2023 Valencia Marathon

The 2023 Valencia Marathon I heard a lot of good things about the 2023 Valencia Marathon in the months leading up to it, and boy,

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Lisbellaw 10k
10k Race

Lisbellaw 10k

The annual Lisbellaw 10k and 6k was finally able to run after being postponed from earlier in the year due to icy road conditions. This annual fund

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Damien M.
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John’s friendly personality, encouraging demeanour, guidance, and support would help to transform my running. Not only has he the knowledge and experience of a seasoned runner, but his collaborative coaching style taught me how to plan and manage my runs more strategically. He designed detailed and specifically tailored plans that challenged and inspired me in equal measure. He modified them when needed to help meet the demands of my work life. Under John's guidance I have become a more focused and competent runner. I ran my first sub 18min 5K, my first sub 40min 10K, and my first marathon in 3:17 at the Walled City Marathon in 2017. Exactly a year later, and thanks to John’s continued coaching, I would return to the Walled City marathon and break the sub-3-hour barrier for the first time to run 2:58. I will be forever grateful to John – he is now more than a coach – he is a friend. I would highly recommend John to anyone who wants to improve their running and achieve their goals - big or small!
Karen M.
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I had run two marathons myself and then John coached me for my third marathon. His plan was tough and pushed to beyond what I thought I was capable of but with his encouragement and support I had a massive 20 min PB. I had a really good experience on the day and I was delighted with the result. I never thought this was possible. Since that John has helped me with many other events such as 5/10k plans and even a strength programme to help prevent injuries. John has a true passion for all things running related.
Siobhan M.
Coaching Review
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This year I completed my 3rd marathon! John is always a great support and his training was always relaxed, fun and enjoyable but you were always encouraged to push yourself I followed John’s plan for the 3 marathon I have completed and I found them extremely useful and they ensured I was well prepared for the challenge! John was always on hand with any concern or queries
Debbie M.
Coaching Review
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I first met John at the finish line of Dublin Marathon 2016. I was working as a volunteer handing out finisher t-shirts and had never ran 100 yards in my life! feeling safer as a supporter than an athlete. When John took over as coach at Rock Runners I knew that I had an opportunity to make that transition from supporter to runner. I had always harboured the idea of running a marathon before I was 50. John not only trained me through C25k, 5 miler, 10k, numerous half marathons but also to 2 marathons (2018 + 2019). All in 3 years...and before I reached 50. Thank you John x. John is a 5 star coach
Rebecca F.
Coaching Review
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I completed the couch to 5km programme with John. I started as a total beginner with very little running experience and by the end I was able to run a 5km without stopping. John was a very supportive and approachable coach throughout the training. Thanks to him I have now found a love for running. I felt it was a great achievement to be able to run a 5km and this is down to Johns great coaching!
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what is happiness
Health and Wellbeing

What is Happiness?

What is happiness? This is a genuine question and I’d appreciate if you would give me your honest opinion. How do you define happiness? I

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Beef Chilli
Recipes

Beef Chilli

As  winter approaches, we tend to think of more hearty foods,  especially when we return from a cold, wet run. Beef Chilli is one of

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Recipes

Sweet Chilli Turkey Bowl

This is a simple recipe that is great for adding lean protein and complex carbohydrates.  Perfect for a post run meal and simply packed with

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Health and Wellbeing

Post-Run Protein

Post workout meals are best served with a good balance of protein and complex carbohydrates.  Many endurance athletes neglect to take in enough protein in

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