A Day in the Life: Paul Feeney


SOUND ADVICE Paul Feeney from Westport Leisure Park. Pic: Alison Laredo

Normally I rise at about 8am. My shift in the Leisure Park is usually from 12 noon to 8.30pm and I start with a breakfast. It varies depending on what I’m feeling but usually a Weetabix and a coffee is normally enough for me in the morning. I always try to get a session in whether it be a turbo session or a hill run. I spend a lot of time on the mountains and I enjoy that side of the outdoors, instead of just sticking to the likes of the tarmac or the Greenway. I try to venture into the hills a little - not the Reek itself - I run in and around and at the back of the Reek. That would be my morning schedule most Monday mornings.
When I was a teenager, I was always big into athletics with Westport Athletic Club and always had a love for running, cycling and swimming. I have been in the mountain rescue for the last 15 years or so and that keeps me motivated to stay active.
The weather wouldn’t have any effect on me. I am well used to running or cycling in the rain. It doesn’t really make a difference what the weather is like. Hail, rain or snow I’ll be out.
I usually come home and get showered and have something small to eat. If I have a good hour session I would usually try to get something half decent into me, maybe a few hard boiled eggs to help the body recover a little bit. It all depends on how hard the morning session was.
I come into work, check a few emails and see what is in store for me. I’d talk to Collette Sweeney, who would be the other Operations Manager. We have a substantial running group here in the Leisure Park  and start with maybe a chat about what our group did over the weekend. For example we had 32 people at the recent Land of the Giants Duathlon (in Claremorris) and we’d chat on how they got on and was everyone okay. That would be my first part of work.
On a Monday evening, we would be very busy with palates and spinning, they would be the two main classes we would run at the Leisure Park. I have to prep myself at 5 or 5.30 for my spinning tone class.
When you have people in for a class and they are looking at you for leadership and looking to be pushed you have to be ready. They feed off what I’m asking of them. If I’m in there and underperforming the class doesn’t have it. All the staff here would be the same and always give 110 percent for the classes because they do feed off us so much.
The one thing about fitness and being active is it gives you the energy to run through the rest of the day. Yes, you get tired and when a session is hard the body hurts, but there is the mental side of it. It really clears the head and sets you up for whatever is thrown at you during the day.
One of the main things we do here is with our running group. I start off on a Tuesday evening at seven o’clock with a brand new bunch of walkers who are looking to progress to be able to run 5k and parkruns and change their bad habits. My main motivation for January is to try and get these people who are looking for a bit of guidance to change the habits they are in. I find that running really makes a huge difference to people both physically and mentally.
You get your three or four weeks of January when everyone goes mad for the New Year’s resolutions but then unfortunately no matter how hard you try to motivate them the bad habits start to creep back in. There is always a drop-off at the end of January. It seems to be something in the back of people’s minds. When I meet my running group for the first time I say to them, this is an eight week programme and the first four weeks are the hardest part. It is something new and can be tough but after four weeks the body begins to adapt to what’s happening and begins to get fitter. It remembers what has happened the week before and gets into that routine and starts to progress. Unfortunately people start to drop off before that four week mark and haven’t had a chance to fall in love with it.
There is no point going mad for four weeks and taking on too much too quickly. You have to chip away at it week after week and be at it 52 weeks of the year. We try to get that across to people that this is a long-term goal and not a quick fix.
I get great satisfaction from seeing my gang covering half-marathons, duathlons, Sea to Summit, adventure races and that is huge motivational part for me. To see these guys improving week after week and trying something different. If we didn’t introduce them to something they might never have attempted anything like it. We had people who would never have thought of doing something like Sea to Summit. You change people’s mindset and give them the knowledge and confidence that they are able to do more than they think they can do.

In conversation with Anton McNulty

Name: Paul Feeney
Age: 36
From: Westport
Occupation: Operations Manager at Westport Leisure Park

Quickfire question

If money was no object what would you do?
I would stick in the fitness industry and maybe do a bit more personal training.

Tell us something about yourself we don’t know?
I have a very sweet tooth and like to eat a lot of chocolate

What is the most unusual thing you have eaten?
I was at my Christmas party and I had my steak done rare, so that is about as brave I have been on my eating.

Favourite place in the world?
Probably out on a run around Croagh Patrick, it is a really enjoyable place to be

What makes you angry?
Seeing people getting so close to changing bad habits and dropping out at the wrong time

Favourite TV show?
At the moment it would be Modern Family

Most famous person you met?
Dave Fanning

Favourite holiday destination?
The south of Spain

Most prized possession?
My new bike, a new Giant Propel bike

What do you miss most about being a kid?
The free time

What makes you nervous?
A call out for Mayo Mountain Rescue when sometimes you don’t know what you are dealing with when you are walking out on the hill

Three things which are always in your fridge?
Milk, a Cadbury’s Caramel Bar and some kind of yogurt

Best advice you have got?
The best advice I ever got was to keep coming back