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Emmet Jennings – the Virtual Interview

Today we have senior endurance athlete Emmet Jennings, Emmet is a long time club member and has had superb success representing the club and Ireland at European Cross Country and World Junior Track and Field Champs.

Emmet has recently returned after a 3 year stint living in Oman and in Iten in Kenya. Emmet is a great example of an athlete who has moved through the junior and senior ranks in the club and continues to improve.

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When and why did you join DSD AC?

I joined DSD when I was in primary school, around 2003. My first taste of athletics was running trials for the Community Games in Marlay Park, and from there joining a club was the natural progression especially with DSD training in the same field as the trials. Also, with both of my parents being runners I was probably always going to be encouraged to follow the same path.

What was your best event and what event did you like best?

My best event has been the Steeplechase for the majority of my athletics career, but because of some Achilles issues over the past year, I’m starting to favour other events. Road racing is starting to become a big focus for me.

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What is your favourite training workout?

I really enjoy long intervals. 8 or 10 times 1km is a favourite. Or a progressive long run, 25km starting fairly easy and working the pace down every few km.

And your least favourite?

The exact opposite. Anything short and fast, like 400m repeats really make me suffer.

What is your most cherished or proudest moment in your athletics career?

In 2010 I qualified for the U20 World Championships in the steeplechase. I was chasing the standard all season, and in my last opportunity I hit the time by less than 1 second.

What is your most loved athletics sporting moment of all time?

At the European Cross Country Championships in 2010 in Portugal I was competing as a Junior, and I got to witness the Irish U23 men’s team win gold with clubmate Brendan O’Neill on the team.

The following year I was there to see Fionnuala McCormack win the senior women’s race (the first of her 2 in a row).

An event I will never forget is a cross country race I attended last year. At the time I was living in Kenya in a town called Iten, trying to live as a full-time athlete. In February I went to watch the Kenyan national championships, which was also the trails for World Cross Country. I have never seen anything like it for cross country. Thousands and thousands of spectators, the speed the races set off at and continued at, and the depth of talent in each race. Probably the highest standard cross country race anywhere in the world. It was incredible to see athletics celebrated in this way

What is your favourite race / athletics meet to take part in?

Road Relays is one of my all-time favourites. With 99% of my races being an individual affair, it is such a nice change to really feel part of a team. And National Road Relays always has a brilliant atmosphere.

What was your worst injury – and how did you get over it?

My worst sports-related injury was actually from a GAA match 2 years ago. I was living in The Middle East and there wasn’t a huge amount of athletics going on due to the weather, which is why I was playing GAA. A bad tackle left me with a bruised lung, 5 broken ribs and a fractured vertebra. I just had to rest for a few months and try to stop myself going for a run. Every few days I would try an easy run and realise very quickly that I wasn’t healed yet.

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What do you eat before a race and how long before do you eat?

Porridge with jam or peanut butter, some coffee and a banana. I usually eat 2-3 hours before a race. I’ll bring some Jaffa Cakes to the race in case I get a little hungry.

If you could have dinner with 3 sporting personalities past or present who would you pick ?

Haile Gebrselassie Eliud Kipchoge Usain Bolt

What is your next running / athletics goal?

Getting my PBs under certain barriers. Sub 30min 10k, sub 14min 5k, sub 9min steeplechase.

How are you motivating yourself to continue training at these difficult times?

Keeping in contact with the training group is a big help, and keeping an eye on Strava to see what training everyone else is doing. Also realising that even though the summer season is probably completely gone, what you do now can have an important impact on the long-term goals.

What piece of advice would you give an aspiring athlete?

Try out a range of different events, don’t specialise too early. Go out and take risks and make mistakes, it’s how you will learn. After starting a race or training session too hard a few times, you’ll soon find the best way of doing it for you.

Do you have any memorable or funny story from DSD that you could share?

I remember one year at the school’s East Leinster Cross Country, I was in 2nd or 3rd year. It was cold, windy, raining and just all-around miserable. Our DSD training group, from all different schools, decided there was no need for a warm-up. The best plan instead was to all sit in Eddie’s van, which was parked beside the start, and wait for our race to be called. I don’t know how we managed to fit so many in but I’d say it was some sight as the race was called and we all jumped out ready to go, ran the race, and got straight back into the van again.

Can you share an old picture from your running days

I think my first ever race for DSD.

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