Lurgan marathon runner Gillian McCrory: I think someday I'll just conk out and not wake for a month

Gail Bell asks experts and people in the public eye what keeps them going. This week: Lurgan athlete Gillian McCrory who finished second in the Belfast Marathon

Gail Bell

Up and at it - what is your morning routine?

Most mornings, it's straight out of bed, trainers on and either out for a run or a jump on the treadmill before getting the kids up and sorted and me starting work. There is rarely a lie-in: weekends are either kids' football matches or the 5k parkrun on a Saturday and the junior parkrun on a Sunday.


What might you eat in a typical working day for...Breakfast?

I love cereal, the more the better - I'd happily live on it - so, it's a large bowl of at least three cereals mixed, usually muesli, Special K and a crunchy nut cereal. I will also have at least three mugs of coffee by mid-morning.


Either a salad sandwich or eggs on toast.

Evening meal?

Normally, a baked potato, veggie burger and lots of veg or else a big bowl of pasta, again with lots of veg.


Is nutrition important to you – do you take health supplements?

Yes, I try to stay as healthy as possible, but I'm a vegetarian and I know I don't always get everything I need from my diet. I take a multivitamin daily which contains iron - just to be on the safe side.


Ever been on a diet – if so, how did it go?

No, I've never had an issue with my weight. I've always been slim, even before I took up running, so I've never been on a diet. I do cut out all sweets and treats for Lent though - it's very tough.


Weekend treat?

Dinner out with my family on a Saturday night.


How do you keep physically and mentally fit?

I run pretty much every day, with the occasional rest day to recover. I find running keeps me in good physical shape, but it's also great for my mental health too, especially running outdoors. Just being out in nature and trying to switch off my brain for a little while when I run and enjoy the sights and sounds around me definitely helps with feelings of wellbeing.


Best tip for everyday fitness?

Just grab your trainers and head out the door - even if it's only for 10 minutes a day. You can gradually build it up. Then, find your local parkrun - you won't regret it.


Were you a fan of schools sports/PE or do you have a memory from those days that you would rather forget?

I had no love of PE or running back in my school days as I wasn't sporty at all. I was more likely to be found in the library, studying.


Teetotal or tipple?

Teetotal for 99 per cent of the year - occasionally broken with a runners' night out or a Christmas 'do' which normally ends in shots and reminds me why I don't drink the rest of the year.


Stairs or lift?

Oh, the stairs. I like to get as many steps in as possible each day.


What book are you currently reading?

I've recently changed jobs in Nisra (Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency) and my boss gave me a book called Neuroscience for Organisational Change which I'm slowing getting through. I rarely have time to read, but I will pack a few novels in the suitcase for the holidays.


Best Netflix?

Snowpiercer is the best show I've seen in a long time. It's a show about the world freezing over and only those who boarded a constantly moving train survived. I can't wait for the next series. Money Heist is a close second.


Most surprising thing you've learned about yourself over the pandemic?

How reliant I was on my running club and my circle of running friends and their advice. During the first lockdown, with everything cancelled and nobody allowed to meet up, I was left to my own devices to train myself. This was a disaster - I did way too much and ended up with a stress fracture. Lesson learned.


Any new skills or hobbies?

I was recently introduced to Wordle and I'm hooked and have even branched out into Quordle with four words at once. It's the simple pleasure of getting it right.


How do you relax?

I find it very hard to relax. I have a full-time job and the evenings are based around my three children's hectic activities. All the housework and homework needs sorted after that, so it's usually about 11pm by the time I'm actually sitting down at night. Normally, it's some chilling with the TV before bedtime... before starting all over again...


What are your goals for 2022?

I would like to get new personal bests (PBs) in all my distances – 5k, 10k, half and full marathons. I'm planning to do London and Dublin marathon in October, so hopefully I can get a little bit faster.


What time do you get to bed and do you think you get enough sleep?

I usually get to bed around midnight which is far too late, but there aren't enough hours in the day to do everything. I would love more sleep. I think someday I'll just conk out and not wake for about a month in order to catch up.


Biggest gripe?

That's a tough one, as I have loads - people who park in disabled/parent spaces that don't need them just because they are closer to the door, bad manners, littering, long queues...


Have your priorities in life or perspectives changed?

I think after lockdown I appreciate the simple things more, like being able to go out and have a cup of coffee or meeting up with friends and family. I have a much greater respect for schools, too - I found home schooling and working full-time extremely hard. Following the pandemic, I'm enjoying working from home much more and the additional time I have not spent commuting every day.


Has coronavirus changed your attitude towards your own mortality?

No, I think I've always had a good attitude towards my health and fitness and coronavirus hasn't changed that.

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