Music is something that can be a major part of any run, including the Vhi Women’s Mini Marathon, so we asked Today FM producer and broadcaster Ann Gleeson for the tunes that get her in the zone on those training last vital training runs and on the race day!


Here is Ann’s dance influenced running list – plenty of BPM’s in this lot to keep you focused and pushing on. We hope they can inspire you to push yourself over the coming days!


I hope the clean eating and exercise plans that have gyms heaving every January are still being maintained as we head deeper into February. For regular ‘gymmers’, January is met with a sigh of “here we go again”. Sunglasses are optional as gyms nationwide are swarmed with eager new clients dressed head to toe in spanking new gear, with colours ranging from black to neon and every print & pattern in between. Then February arrives and the peak times suddenly begin to resemble less and less like a sports themed nightclub plugging with protein shakers instead of alcohol! By the time the Spring rolls around normality usually ensues.

Unfortunately, for many, the fervour they tackle January with is often diminished by the time they hit Spring.  We’ve all heard the stories.  “I was up at six am four mornings this week at the gym, then I went out running every evening” and their new diet has rendered the need to chew redundant – as they juice everything possible in their Nutribullet! I certainly admire their enthusiasm… but it’s not smart. It simply isn’t sustainable, and exposure to such increases in exercise training in short periods of time increases the risk of injury. Strained muscle coupled with poor sleep and inadequate nutrition… “ah sure, the gym wasn’t for me anyway!”



I often get asked for advice on diet and exercise by people who consider themselves a regular Joe or Mary. Not necessarily aiming to be the next Katie Taylor, but they do want to get fit and look better. Now, more than ever, there is a massive push towards being fit, strong and healthy, and that is awesome! Like any trend (and I hope this move far outlasts being a trend), it brings out all sorts of opinions from ‘experts’, some more renowned than others.

The advice I would give anyone is simple. Make small changes to your lifestyle, the incremental changes are much better than wholesale changes trying to overhaul your lifestyle in a week! The World health Organisation (WHO) has guidelines that each adult should exercise at a minimum of 30 minutes of moderate intensity every day. Moderate intensity equates to being out of breath to the point of being unable to complete a sentence; being sweaty and having your heart rate up. These are the bare minimum guidelines to be a healthy adult. Sounds simple? You would be surprised how many don’t hit that mark. If you can commit to half an hour everyday it is half the battle, and you can then gradually build up the intensity of whatever exercise regime you are following.

Another helpful tip is to do have a training buddy or group. If you regularly make a plan with someone to meet up for a class or running session, you are more likely to turn up on the days when you just don’t feel like it. I know myself, it was hard to train alone over Christmas when I was away from organised team sessions.


‘Diet’ is a word I have issues with. It suggests that it is for the short term, and again, not sustainable. Instead focus on your nutrition, what you ingest on a day to day basis.  In the simplest of terms, be aware of what nutrients your body needs, in what quantities, and the foods that have them. The three main components of a healthy daily food plan are carbohydrates, protein and fat. We need carbohydrates for energy. You should fuel with wholegrain carbohydrate before exercise.

Fat is necessary but the majority of dietary fats should come from unsaturated sources such as oily fish, avocados, nuts and seeds.  Protein is essential for muscle repair and recovery and should be eaten throughout the day.  Turkey, chicken, fish, meat, dairy and nuts are all good sources of protein.

Sports supplements play an important role in supporting the build and repair of muscles, and to aid recovery. Whey is the type of protein that is most quickly absorbed by the body, and should be consumed immediately after an exercise session. Products such as chocolate milk can offer a simple alternative to whey protein for the standard ‘weekend warrior’.


Personally, I would have considered myself to have a fairly good diet but the Irish nutritionist Nora Ní Fhlannagain wasn’t long deflating that bubble! My problem wasn’t necessarily the type of food I was eating, as much as the quantities. Apparently, my portion sizes equated to a recommended amount for a family of four!! We had a particularly arduous debate over my reliance on consuming four Weetabix (five on match days) every morning without fail. In my mind, it had done me no harm in getting me to where I was, and I didn’t quite resemble a baby elephant either. Slowly though she has changed my breakfast habits to match whatever level of activity or training I will be doing that day. But if Weetabix suffer losses at the end of this year they can talk to Nora…


Everything in moderation including moderation is a handy life motto. Be aware it isn’t easy to change a habit and we all have relapses. Cheat meals or little treats are necessary in order to keep the wheels on the bandwagon. Even with treats, it is important to be informed about what you are eating. Everywhere we go we see labels such as ‘organic’; ‘raw cacao’; ‘gluten free’ followed by brownie; caramel slice; cake; flapjack etc.  Don’t be fooled. If it is a dessert or treat, regardless of whatever far flung island its plant originated from, it quite likely still contains sugar and fat. If you want some chocolate, go to the local shop and buy your favourite bar (some bars with lower calories include Curly Wurlys and Purple Snacks). They will probably taste better and are cheaper too. Try not to eat a multipack though!

I don’t claim to be a nutritionist; these are just some of the basic guidelines that we should all adhere to, for a healthy body. Likewise with exercise, simplicity is key. You don’t have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great. Make small, simple lifestyle changes and you are more likely to stick out January, February and beyond. Prove the regular ‘gymmers’ wrong, because they are all betting they won’t see you in a few weeks!

Louise Galvin is a member of the Irish Sevens squad, Munster Championship winner with the Kerry Ladies GAA squad and former national league winning basketball player with UL. Follow her on twitter @lougalvin4

Check out our great range of Sports Nutrition at & our #CommitToFit fitness campaign


Elite Performance Mind Coach Denis Coen gives us insight and tips into simple practical mental skills and effective coping strategies to allow you to unleash your true potential in sport. This time we look at building trust in a team environment.

Building a championship winning panel can be a very challenging, daunting and complicated task. Getting a team, whether in business or sport, to come together to achieve a vision is never going to be easy. Why? Because athletes come from different backgrounds with different values and beliefs. They all think and behave differently also and therefore, building a successful panel is a process. You can’t expect a group of individuals to come together and become a fantastic team without looking at some of the barriers that may hinder the success of a club or organisation.


Recognising the dysfunctions within a team, evaluating and discussing them can bring about unity and consistency within the panel. The implications of not been able to discus and see dysfunctions within your team will be the result of underlying tension among the athletes. If such tensions exist the performance of the team will be affected.

Like fitness testing, the attitudes and behaviours of athletes need to be measured and discussed regularly. Just because a player gives a verbal commitment at the beginning of the year does not mean his commitment will remain reliable. Likewise, a player that may seem like a team player may have his own individual agenda for the season.

Having an individual agenda that does not correspond with the team goals and vision will also have an effect on team morale and performance. And you know that low team morale is a major confidence killer to any team. Having worked with various teams over the years I have distinguished many different dysfunctions of a championship winning team. One of those dysfunctions is the lack of trust.


Trust is the primary foundation for building a championship winning panel. It is a critical part of team building and it really and truly is at the heart of teamwork. Failure to understand or build trust is the result of team players and team members not been able to open up to one another.

Having worked with various teams in different sports over the years I have found that players have difficulty opening up to each other. Understanding a teammate’s emotions and motivations will result in team unity. Therefore, it’s important to understand how teammates feel and think. Sport is an emotional game. We may not always admit this but it is true. To build trust one must learn to value the emotions of their teammates.


Teams that win championships do not hold back. They are completely open with one another and aren’t afraid to admit to their mistakes and weaknesses. They will seek help for their weaknesses from teammates and work on them and they will work hard to learn from their mistakes. Weaknesses may not always be physical or tactical within a team or panel. A player’s weakness maybe a behavioural or mental one that has a negative impact on the panel. It is important to be open and honest about this also. By challenging and rectifying a behavioural or mental weakness will more than likely increase the performance and success of a team.

Having trust means having confidence in your teammate and having confidence in the direction and vision of the team. When trust is at the core of a championship team, team members are more likely to commit to the process of a common goal. No matter how difficult the process, team players will stay committed to it during the ups and downs. When trust is evident there is an absence of suspicion and fear among the players. The players will depend on each other and believe that each and every one in the panel is capable of performing to get a job done.

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In our latest instalment of “Women In Sport”, we talk to Portlaoise Panthers point guard and under-age coach, Maeve O’Sullivan.

There has been much made recently of the amount of time and effort that inter-county GAA players put into their sport and the question of whether it is worth it or not. It’s a valid question and worth exploring, but if you step back for a minute and look at it objectively, is there really that much to complain about? What of the players who put in a huge effort in other sports, sports that don’t garner the same TV minutes, column inches, or online focus? Outside of the elite in professional rugby, the GAA, and to a lesser extent the top flight of the Airtricity League, every week thousands and thousands of men and women spend their evenings and weekends doing their best to become their best, all away from the glare of the spotlight. Maeve O’Sullivan, the skilful and tenacious point-guard for the history making Portlaoise Panthers – currently in their first season in the Women’s Premier League in basketball – is one such individual. She argues that if you don’t love what you’re doing, don’t do it. She loves her sport and despite everything, that is the reason she plays – not for the crowds, not for the glamour, not for the trophies. For the love of the game.

“I read an article recently where the writer said he fears for GAA this year, and football in particular. He was saying that the players aren’t committing to county teams as they may have in the past and the players that are committing are training, and training, and training, and training and not winning – he’s saying, what is the point? And fair enough, I know I have training tonight and I’m looking at the clock and thinking “I’d love to get out of it, because, what’s the point…” but, then, I look at sport as my life. You do it because you love it and when things get rough, as it is for us right now [Portlaoise are second bottom of the league table], you have to pull together and learn from the positives and you have to improve. If you take his word for it in the article, you’d wonder if people took that attitude to everything in live what sort of world we’d be in? People play sport, even when they are losing, because it offers them so much more, it offers them friendship, it offers a release. When I go on the court, I’m a completely different person and I love that aspect. So, yes, losing sucks and it’s tough but you just have to put it in to get something out and like I said, I don’t have the mentality of a quitter. I’m going to take everything I can from this year and even at 28 years old, I feel i am getting better from game to game and I think my team-mates are too. That’s the positives we are going to take from it because the successes will come when you have that positive mentality.”

Maeve first fell in love with the game as a youngster after watching her talented sister Catherine take up the sport, all under the watchful eye of a Laois legend back in the mid 90’s.

“I started when I was in primary school,” she explains. “I have been playing since i was six or seven, Catherine my sister started when she started secondary school. It was never a game that my family were involved in before that. Once Catherine started secondary school she fell under the guidance of Pat Critchley and she fell in love with the game. Catherine was always my idol, I wanted to do whatever she did so i followed her around. The basketball courts in the old Convent school in Portlaoise used to be the haunt for the summer so literally you went down there every day and it was five on five games, two games going at the same time all day long, it was that popular – and all thanks to Pat too.”

“As I was the annoying little sister who used to tag along with her she tried to teach me to shoot, how to dribble, or I’d sit there and watch the games going on as well. Thankfully then Pat started to extend his training to the primary school because there was no club set-up at the time. He was struggling at school as players were coming in with no technical ability or real knowledge of basketball so he worked back and started with the fifth and sixth class. Although I was in third class he took me in with the rest of them. That’s where my formal training started.”

Bright, articulate and with plenty of opinions on a variety of sports, O’Sullivan is just one of a vast array of talented and intelligent females plying their trade at the top level of basketball right now in Ireland. And even though the sport is not enjoying the recognition it may have had in this country in the 1980’s and early 1990’s, there is superb work going on at all levels to build a solid base for the game for the future. O’Sullivan herself is part of that, and alongside her playing career, she is currently coaching under-age teams in Portlaoise and ArdScoil Rath Iomgháin, Rathangan where she teaches. She is determined to give back as much as she has gained from basketball, even if it can be a big ask at times.

“It’s tough to combine the two – right now I’m on the way home after coaching in school, I’m going home to grab a bite to eat and going training then from 7-9pm myself tonight. It’ll be the same on Thursday, coaching the guys after school then on to my own training and then Friday you have the under 18’s and thrown in there is an under 18 game I can’t make because I have my own commitments with basketball.

It’s hard and you’re constantly on the go, but I feel I owe to my sport. I have got so much from my sport and I’m not getting any younger but when you know that in a few years you’re going to have to step back from it… I’d hate to step back from it completely and not have anything to do with it. Now I’m just setting up the future for coaching I suppose. On the court I’d like to think of myself as a player who can read the game, someone that sees things going with defences, I suppose that is the job of a point guard as well to recognise these things – I may not be a superstar but I’d like to think I do see things on court and can adapt to them and I guess than transfers to the coaching. I’m learning. It’s definitely different. I think I have learned from the coaches I’ve been coached by before – nice coaches, angry coaches, polite coaches – and I know what type of coach I want to be from those experiences.”

“I’m still learning. I hope that the kids enjoy it, and that’s what I want – I want them to enjoy basketball, to realise that yes it is about winning and we all love to win, but it’s about the experiences as well . That’s what I love, I love being at the top of the bus when the music is blaring and the kids might be doing my head in but they’re having fun and getting along. That’s what my school days were about, those are the days I remember, and that’s what I want for them as well. I think I’m in a privileged position where I get to facilitate that. I love winning myself but as a player it’s completely different to being a coach. Actually it was quiet emotional the first time seeing the kids win their first regional final and like I said I feel in a privileged position to facilitate that.”

It’s not just with Rathangan – now one of the big schools in Irish secondary schools basketball – that Maeve is creating waves. Portlaoise Panthers have risen like a phoenix in recent years, and unusually, the club are following a top down method of building success which is working excellently so far.

“We [Panthers senior women’s team] started Midlands League, won the Midlands League, natural progression was to the National League, won the National League, now SuperLeague but there was no point going to the SuperLeague if there is nothing coming up behind you, so that was the emphasis we had to put on things – did we want to have a club or did we want to just have a team? Again that was the natural progression and thankfully there are kids coming up now who have chances that we didn’t have.”

“They’ve started a league in the Midlands, we have teams in the kindergarten where you bring seven, eight, nine, ten year olds, then you have under twelve, under fourteen, sixteens and eighteens. Myself and Catherine took on a good under eighteen team, we were entered  in the Midlands League and Kilkenny League and won both, and then with the likes of Claire Melia, Maeve Phelan and Erone Fitzpatrick coming through, three really talented players, with a group of really strong and talented girls coming up, we decided we would enter the National Cup this year. We reached the semi-final : it was the first time in the clubs history we entered an under-age girls team in a national competition so to make the semi-final [was a great achievement]. Unfortunately we lost out to a fantastic Brunell team on the day, but it was such a great achievement for the club that we are hugely proud of that. It’s going from strength to strength.”

“The levels are improving, the numbers are improving, definitely. We have unprecedented numbers of people coming to take up basketball and more importantly it becoming their first sport – we are a minority sport, we are battling against the football and hurling, so it’s great to see kids come down and fall in love with it and give it their full commitment. Numbers are increasing year on year and that’s not just in our club; that is right across the Midlands so you have a really solid league. What we need to do now is up the standard and the levels – our under 18 team have won the Top Four the last two years in a row, and our hot favourites to win it again this year but still we are not winning national competitions. We have the numbers and we have the team but it’s up to us and all the clubs in the Midlands to improve the standards – the Cork and Dublin teams are the ones to beat and they have huge amounts of teams in each county, but we are looking at a whole region and we are looking at getting coaches onto coaching courses and improving them and them improving the players. I think it’s great now that we have a Premier League team and that Basketball Ireland still has a structured –link up rule whereby girls who are under 18 girls in the area can look at us and realise they can play Superleague (sic) but still keep playing with my own team too which is great. Now there is more incentive for players to improve and to keep playing basketball.”

Before she commits herself to full time coaching, the former DCU ace still has unfinished business in her own playing career and after a stellar couple of seasons in the green and white of the Panthers, Maeve, along with her team-mates is looking to establish them as a real force in senior basketball.

“Look, it’s tough. Last year we went unbeaten, and for the last two years the word ‘lost’ wasn’t in our vocabulary, we had unprecedented success and obviously you enjoy every minute of a season where you don’t lose and any sportsperson will tell you that. This year has been tough and I’ve said it before, we think we were realistic  going into this season – we’ve had two players miss out as they’ve had pregnancies, it’s I suppose a disadvantage of being  a woman in sport, but the team was in transition. Our club is still at a very young stage where we didn’t have an under 20’s team that you could take from, the girls are still at the stage where they are coming up to under 18 so maybe it was two or three years too early, we don’t have the privilege of the draw from colleges like Dublin, Cork or Galway teams do either so that’s a struggle for us too. To be honest though we probably thought it was going to go a lot worse for us than it has already so that’s really, really positive and in a season where you’re losing the majority of those games you have to look for those positives or you will go demented and you will start to hate the sport you love. We’re taking the positives though and we are running teams close and it’s a sickener when you lose and no one likes losing but you have to keep going – what else can you do but quit and I don’t have the mentality to do that, and I’m on a team of girls that don’t have the mentality to quit either.”

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We’re not talking Peter Kay in his famous John Smith advert here, but sometimes you just need to ” ‘ave it “. Well step forward the Puma evoPOWER 1.3  , the latest edition of the power silo that gives you maximum power based around the principles of barefoot kicking. A new outsole is part of the changes to create a more flexible, more streamline version of the boot.

Puma have increased the amount of AccuFoam for increased accuracy in the upper and to provide a smoother kicking surface, and the Adap-Lite upper allows the foot to bend akin to how your foot naturally does. The new outsole focuses on an improved configuration of the bladed and conical studs to allow for more manoeuvrability and extra stability for the standing leg when kicking – meaning you can get all your weight behind each and every shot.

These boots are ideal for those with a wider foot – it can always be tricky to find the boot to fit your feet but if you’re searching for a wider or higher boot, this is the one for you. Overall, it’s a winner from Puma, and something to seriously consider when you’re looking for the edge in your game, in defence, or in attack.

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The gym. It can be a tough place to go – it can be tough to motivate yourself to head along, it can be tough to find space for yourself, it can be intimidating in a number of ways. So if the gym doesn’t appeal to you and you think you need something different, what can you do?

Well, the good news is that you don’t even need to leave the house to reach your fitness goals. The ‘Home Gym’ is the answer to your prayers and is the perfect accompaniment to a busy lifestyle. Here we look at some of the reasons why working out at home is the perfect way to move your fitness to the next level.

You dictate what you need in your gym

Sometimes you can walk into a gym knowing exactly what you want to do and what machines you need – and sometimes those machines aren’t available for the hour or so you intend to spend there. It’s frustrating and it’s why having your own personal spinning class or treadmill ensures that you never have to wait for the equipment to be free. In many gyms, the equipment choices were made based on cost rather than effectiveness. At home, people have the option of using high-quality equipment that works for them.


Your home gym – where you are in charge!

We know more and more of how to train right, and what is good for us and how to achieve the right results. Having the correct form is hugely important when doing any exercises, especially weights, and having the time and space in your own home allows you time to get the correct posture and form to make sure that your exercises count every time. You don’t need to worry about anyone watching, are waiting for you to finish with the weights etc. It’s your gym, you’re the one in charge!

Home offers a place that fits your program

Do you go to the gym and end up spending as long finding a parking space, getting room in the changing room, finding equipment, talking to a friend or acquaintance, and at the end of your hour realising you’ve barely managed to get any real work done? Working out at home cuts out all of these issues and means that your workout is a straight up workout. You dictate the pace and intensity and distractions are cut to the bare minimum! At home, no one will disturb you while you are exercising. You’ll be able to remain focused and have a faster, more productive workout.


Tailor your workout

If you have a specific gym routine you can find it interrupted time and again by other patrons. With a home gym, as pointed out before, you won’t have these issues. You can plan a circuit for yourself – take your cardio on the treadmill, use a chair for your dips, press ups require no equipment, a medicine ball brings another host of possible exercises… all of a sudden with the minimum of fuss you have a huge range of circuits and exercises that you can put yourself through. It might be in your own house but it need not be boring.

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