Interview with Irish Ultrarunner Aisling Coppinger


1. How did you get scouted for Ireland?

For Ultra Running, Richard Donovan phoned me up in 2009 and asked if I’d like to run in the Anglo Celtic plate 100k. I was chuffed. I had run for Ireland in mountain running before that.


2. What is your PB for a marathon?

2.59.58 (chip time) which I managed by the skin of my teeth in Rotterdam 2008. Hardest thing I’ve ever done!


3.What is your day job?

I run the biggest bike and triathlon shop with my partner Rob.


4. What does your weekly training regime consist of?

I swim 3 or 4 times a week, turbo train for a couple of hours about 4 mornings a week and run about 3 times a week. I see John Belton (No17 Personal Training) once a week for a session in the gym.


5. What is your tri bike?

It’s a Trek speed concept. It’s a custom design with “The Little Savage” printed on it.


6. What brand of wetsuit do you use for triathlons?

I’m at this very moment trying out a Huub.


7. What does your diet consist of?

John Belton (personal trainer) got me started on a pale type regime one year ago. It was a real revelation. Barry Murray then fine tuned it for my ultra running. So it involves lots of meat, eggs, vegetables etc. No more carb loading which has been great for my stomach!!


8.Highlight of your career?

Although I consider myself a runner first and foremost, most of the high points were about Ironman’s. My first ironman in UK in 2008 was a real awakening, I loved every minute. Although I wouldn’t have placed anywhere, I had a cracking run and just made sure to enjoy the day!


9. What races have you competed in so far this year?

Nothing serious this year yet since the Global Limits Stage Race in Cambodia last November.


10.What’s still to come on the race calendar?

London Marathon in a couple of weeks, Ironman UK in August and you never know, if I qualify for the world Ironman championships in Kona while I’m there I could be off to Hawaii in October. ;0

Credit: Gerry Brady

11. Who is your main competition on the Irish scene?

There are lots of great ultra women in Ireland, for the size of the population! Ruthann Sheahan has the most incredible 24 hour time, I’d be nowhere near that standard. When I started it was Helena Crossan was a real inspiration, she was running 100k’s in 8 hours and I thought she was fantastic.


12. What do you think is best race in Ireland? (triathlon/marathon etc)

Connemara Marathon and Ultra Marathon is incredible for the buzz and the scenery. Same with Causeway Coast Ultra, great places to run and enjoy the surroundings.


13. What is the best race you have competed in outside of Ireland?

The Global Limits Stage Race in Cambodia was a really incredible race. I had never experienced anything like it. Six days through towns, jungles, hills, rivers, sleeping in Buddhist temples, running in constant unrelenting heat. I had tears for the last few miles on the final day through Angkor Wat. I didn’t want it all to end.


14.Is there much difference between your training for a marathon  and ultrarunning training?

Not for me. I don’t do big mileage, it doesn’t suit me. I rarely run for more than 4 hours for any event.


15. Any big injuries sustained over your career in the sport?

I’ve been lucky not to get too injured too much! For my 24 hour Irish championships last July I had a stress fracture and couldn’t run at all. I did everything but run in the months beforehand; I changed my diet, I turbo trained every day, I worked with John Belton lifting weights in the gym, I read books on psychology. It got me through the period of non running really well and I came out the other end much better for that injury.


16. What goes through your mind when you are racing long distances?

It depends on the distance. If I’m just cruising along taking it easy I usually begin to recount the story of the race in my head to Rob! So that when I finish I feel like I’ve already told him all about it!! For my 24 hour race (on a 400m track) I did things like rearranged my wardrobe in my head, what skirt goes with what top etc. Sounds crazy but you have to think of something!!


17.What do you carry on your back for endurance events?

I have a Salomon with bottle pouches on the front for very long stuff. I try carry as little as possible as I’m small and the weight slows me down.


18. What is it about running  that has you constantly coming back for more?

I’m useless at explaining why I run! I just love it. I usually feel better 3 hours into a run than at the start. Maybe it’s just endorphins!


19.When/How did you realise your body could cover such distances?

My first Connemara Ultra. I realized 26 miles in that I felt absolutely great and with 13 miles to go I just got faster and faster. It was all uphill from there but I loved it.


20. How many races do you enter per year?

Usually a couple of ironman’s and a couple of ultras. Recovery is better now with the weightlifting I do and eating healthier so there’s no issue doing lots of events.

aisling 2

Follow Aisling on Twitter @aquaasho


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