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Me and my health: Kerry O'Flaherty discusses her lifestyle

By Helen Carson

The 35-year-old is a runner who competed for Ireland in the 3000 metres steeplechase at the 2016 Rio Olympics. She lives in Loughinisland with her partner, Richard Rodgers, who is also her athletics coach.

Q: Do you take regular exercise - and if so, what?

A: I run 70 miles a week mostly outdoors - sometimes running twice in one day - at different levels to maximise my fitness, with a big run of 14 miles on a Sunday. I also work on strength and conditioning two days a week in the gym and train in an aqua runner to minimise the impact on my joints and muscles.

Q: What's the worst illness you have had?

A: I had a stress fracture to my third metatarsal (foot bone) in 2009, but since I started attending a physiotherapist I have been fine.

Q: How healthy is your diet?

A: Very healthy, but I do eat a lot of carbs and try to include fruit and veg with my main meals. I also like some treats and would not deprive myself of them, because of the amount of training I do. Breakfast is White's porridge, as they do quick oats which can be cooked in the microwave, with chicken salad for lunch or, if I'm training harder than usual, I would have extra carbs like rice or pasta, too. Dinner is potatoes, pasta with beef or chicken and veg.

Q: Any bad habits?

A: Too much sugar. I love desserts and chocolate and that is what I crave after a day's training. Now I drink fruit teas to offset my sugar cravings, as I'm less likely to have a biscuit with a mint or apple tea.

Q: Do you drink and/or smoke - if so, how much?

A: I don't drink when I am training apart from the odd glass of red wine if I am eating out, at Christmas or on my birthday.

Q: Do you take any health supplements?

A: The supplements I take have to be certified by the World Anti Doping Association (WADA) because I complete in my sport at the highest international level. I take CurraNZ capsules, which are pure blackcurrant and boost your immune system and help build stamina, protein shakes to repair muscles after training and Echinacea drops to fight colds, especially in the winter.

Q: How do you take time out?

A: Running is really an all year round sport, so I really only take two weeks off in September. But I enjoy walking my two rescue whippet dogs, Lola and Ella, who also run with me when I'm training, including the two times of the year I go to the Pyrenees mountains in France for altitude training. I also like shopping and I love a bargain, so The Outlet in Banbridge and eBay online are my favourites.

Q: Do you worry about getting old?

A: Age is just a number. There were doubts I would make the Olympics in my 30s, yet female athletes like Jo Pavey (who, aged 40, won the 10,000 metres gold medal at the 2014 European Championships in Zurich) ran the fastest times of her life in her 40s. I will always run, no matter what age I am, for my health and enjoyment.

Q: What is your go-to product/habit that keeps you feeling healthy?

A: A backballer ( which is a double foam roller on a frame which is more effective than a single roller and can be used on quads, calves and gluts.

  • Kerry will be competing at the National Cross Country Championships in two weeks as part of the selection for the European Cross Country Championships in Italy next year.

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