Catherine McManus is a competitive athlete from Dublin, Ireland who competes at senior international level with her club the Dublin City Harriers (DCH). Catherine recently placed third in the woman’s 200m and the woman’s 400m sprints at the National Seniors Championships in Santry.
Currently working full time at Google, we wanted to catch up with Catherine to see how she manages to balance working full time with her busy training schedule.
We chatted all things training, recovery and how the pandemic forced her to improvise her training with facilities being closed.
Catherine tell us a small bit about yourself?
My name's Catherine, I’m 29, from Dublin and have been involved in competitive athletes since I was 6 years old with my club DCH. I train for athletics (track and field) six days a week and have been competing at senior international level since my college days. I completed my undergrad and masters in DCU and now currently work full time for Google. It's a bit of a balancing act but i've been doing it for so long now that i've gotten quite used to being able to fit it all in.
Tell us what an average training day is like for you when working in Google full time?
Since the pandemic, my training routine has really been shaken up due to limited access to facilities, tracks and gyms which has been really frustrating at times. During the first lockdown, I bought a bunch of gym equipment like more weights, bars, bands and med balls which I keep at my parents’ house which has really come in handy as I haven’t needed to set foot back into a gym as I have everything I need. Similarly, I’m lucky to live near the Phoenix Park so I have been able to do quite a lot of improvised training there also on the paths, hills and the grass.
A typical training week for me varies depending on my work schedule and how track access is on a particular week, but at the moment I manage to get on to the track about twice a week, do sessions in the park twice a week and then do gym/bike sessions at my parents before work in the mornings twice a week.
Coming up to competitions or events does your training become more intense?
When it comes up to competition season my training gets less focussed on volume and more on high quality speed work - which has been a bit of a challenge considering it's tricky enough to get track access these days, so sometimes I have to settle for a closed road in the park instead. In one way the increased running on grass has probably been good for me in terms of injury prevention, however on the flip side, when I do get time back on a track my legs do take quite a hammering so I have to be very careful.
With all of your training, how important are rest/recovery days for you?
Rest and recovery is still probably something I neglect the most because I work during the day so there is not as much down time in my life as I would like where I can focus on my physical recovery. On the plus side, since I began working from home during the pandemic it's meant that I have gotten a few hours back in my day from not having to commute so I can get to bed earlier and get up later as i'm not rushing to catch the train which has been really beneficial.
Could you tell us what a typical recovery day would look like for you? How do you relax?
When it comes to recovery days, I usually take Fridays off training and the main difference from this day than any other is that I don’t do any formalised sessions. I usually go for a walk with my boyfriend and dog before work to get a coffee and a croissant in a cafe near my house and then just relax in the evening.
When it comes to recovery, would you use any equipment to help aid your recovery process?
I try to get to physio as often as I can to keep my aches and pains at bay and would usually use a trigger point ball and resistance bands in my warm ups to work out some knots/help get my muscles firing properly ahead of a session. If I’m really feeling rough, I might take an Epsom salts or ice bath just to help ease any pains or stiffness that I have after hard training or a race.
When training what would be your typical nutrition regime consist of?
I don’t have a particularly strict nutrition regime these days, more so I just have to make sure I’m eating enough to recover from the training I’m doing. It's probably the most common line you hear people say, yet it's probably still the biggest thing a lot of people neglect or have neglected in the past. It's very difficult not to get caught in a loop of not fueling yourself properly, especially when you're busy during the day or if you're comparing your diet to other athletes on social media who have completely different body types or lifestyles. One thing I have learned over the years is that for a long time I thought I was eating enough or even too much for the amount of training I was doing - turns out it wasn’t near enough and only when I started really paying attention to eating more I really started to reap the benefits of my training.
What does the rest of the year hold for you for competitions and events?
This season has been relatively short with limited competitions, however I'm hoping to get a few more under my belt before the summer is out and then I’ll take a break for a few weeks before gradually getting back into it and seeing where the year takes me.