No. 19: 60 Seconds with Harrier Alannah Cooley

Already a ten year Clonliffe Harriers veteran and 2019 National U/23 800 champion Alannah Cooley.

Bio: I’m a 21 year old middle-distance athlete with Clonliffe Harriers. I’m in third year in DCU studying Genetics and spend my free time running…but wouldn’t have it any other way.

What age did you take up the sport of athletics and why? I took up athletics when I was in 6th class, so I would have been 11 years old. My friends from the local area convinced me to join and reluctantly I did, but I am the only one who stuck it out. I haven’t looked back since. It was one of the best things I did.

Young Alannah at Club Track & Field 2011

When and why did you join Clonliffe Harriers? Clonliffe Harriers is a stone throw away from my house, literally on my doorstep. My dad grew up in Santry and used to run for the club. He brought me over to Gladys on my first day, and in later years helped out with coaching alongside Noel and Mick.

What is your favourite training workout? My favourite training workout would have to be 1k reps out in the park on the path. The distance suits me personally and I always feel great after finishing the session as it can be challenging.

And your least favourite? My coach, Noel, loves 400m reps. As for myself, they wouldn’t be my favourite. Early on this season we got up to 16 x 400m which was our highest set of reps ever – it was tough going.

What’s your favourite race / athletics meet? It would have to be the Morton Games. It’s the highlight of the summer for the club and its athletes. It never disappoints.

What is your most cherished or proudest moment in athletics? (as athlete and/or coach) Last summer I ran a PB over both 800m and 1500m and won my first national U/23 title over 800m. This was a really big deal for me as I had trained and pushed myself harder than I ever had before. The outcome was so rewarding and I felt very proud that my hard work in hand with the coaching I had received from Peter McDermott had paid off.

What was your worst injury – and how did you get over it? I am very lucky in regards to injuries as I’ve only ever had very small niggles with my hip flexors and calves. Staying on top of injuries like these is down to proper recovery and regular stretching in my case.

(For a coach or seasoned athlete) What piece of advice would you give an aspiring athlete? You are capable of pushing yourself so much further than you think, so don’t be afraid to challenge yourself both physically and mentally. Really give it a shot. You will surprise yourself when you keep consistent and hard-working, but on the days when you are due to recover, take the recovery – this is key to success.

Do you have any memorable or funny story from Clonliffe Harriers that you could share? (the censorship board may review!) Our recent trip to Seville for Cross Internacional de Italica was definitely a trip I will always remember shared with my running friends and our coaches. It was so much fun. I’ve never seen anyone sing and dance to Mamma Mia like Mick Fogarty can.

What’s your favourite meal? A. For competition Chicken and pasta. B. Outside competition Pizza without a doubt.

Who is your sporting ‘hero’? (athletics or other) A. Irish Ciara Mageean B. International Genevieve Gregson

What’s your favourite…? A. Film La La Land B. Song or Album ‘Don’t Start Now’ – Dua Lipa C. Book Power of Now

What’s your favourite holiday destination? The south of France – my family have a place in a small village called Vias down by the coast. It is the perfect destination to unwind and relax.

What’s your favourite hobby / activity outside athletics? I love spending time with friends by going out for dinner or out for long scenic walks to Howth or Clontarf.

If you were Seb Coe what changes would you implement to improve our sport? I would televise athletic meets more to encourage people to take up running at any age. It is one of the simplist ways for people to keep fit and healthy.

How would your non-athlete friends describe you? (in 3 words) Happy, hard-working and forgetful.

What is your next running / athletics goal? (whenever normality returns!) If we get to race track this season my personal goal is to break 2:20 for 800m.

How are you motivating yourself to continue training at these difficult times? Training at times like this is difficult, especially when you’re used to training as a group and having your coach motivate you to stay focused. For me, staying in contact with Noel, my coach, and my training partner, Laura, keeps me motivated as I’m constantly updating them with how training is going. This motivates me to get up and out.

Alannah competing in the Open race at IAAF XC in Seville in Jan. 2020