Personal Best times: 60m – 7.20, 100m – 11.19, 200m - 23.26
In this interview, Michael talks about his experience of mental health in sport and life.
How did you first get involved with Sprinting? And what motivate you to pick it up? How did the clubs help to build your identity?
Thanks Neil, I first got involved in sprinting through playing soccer when I was 15 in my local soccer club back in Mooncoin. I realised I was the quickest in nearly every match we played and it was suggested to me I should take up sprinting. I ended up giving up soccer and joined Ferrybank Athletics Club, as I enjoyed the thrill of sprinting, even though everyone was much faster than me in the club, I loved running for myself and reaching personal goals. I developed more into the sport when I went to college and joined WIT Athletics Club and Menapians Athletics Club. During my time in college, I was on WIT Athletics Club committee for 4 years and on the Irish Universities Athletics Association for 3 years.
What do you most enjoy about running?
I like the competitive side, making friends and feeling good about myself. I think putting in all the effort that I put in is put too good use when I do so well when it comes to ("dancing time" quote – Shane McCormack). I enjoyed it a lot, along with lots of success on the track in college. I’m at the stage now where I am on the comeback from a big setback year in sprinting, so along with Shane McCormack and Co, I hope to be back to my best again in 2018.
Who are your role models in and out of the sport?
When I was younger I looked up to Dean Adams in Ballymena & Antrim AC, being a fellow (Short Sprinter) I compared myself too him having the fast start etc... I still have a long way to go to beat him haha!
Out of the sport I always looked up too Tommy Walsh, in my opinion was the best corner back to ever play hurling, he never gave up in matches and again, being (The Short Guy) always came out on top under a high ball.
What is the greatest piece of advice you have ever received?
“When you go at it, you should go at it awful very hard” – Paddy Losty.
Talk to us about how you came to finally knowing, that you must do something about your mental health.
It’s been a year since I realised my head was not in a good place. I wasn’t in a good situation. I went through hell and even after I finally doing something about it, I still went through hell. Trust me, it isn’t a walk in the park but getting help and speaking out will help you 100%. I kind of knew over the years I wasn’t being helped and a lot of stress was built up upon me that really had nothing to do with me. I really was only heading in one direction mentally if I didn’t remove myself and reach out too others who could help me. I got help from my friends and athletics coach, a lot of help, advice from different people in all avenues but I did go to Pieta House, twice a week for a while and then once a week and then once a forth night. But yes I was suicidal, I did suffer from depression and anxiety because of all this. My athletics went down the sink for a year and my life was pretty much unstable in every aspect. I was alone, but I got the help I needed by speaking out. I am now in a much better place mentally and physically and I feel much better again.
What was your biggest weakness and how did you overcome it?
My biggest weakness with regards my mental health problem was trying to stay put. I kept running away from my problems. I kept trying to hide them and pretend I was ok. I kept doing things I shouldn't be doing and if it wasn’t for my friends and coaches I wouldn't have been able to realise for myself that I was the way I was. I overcame everything by getting help.
Recently, I have set up an organisation called MikeTalks, which I am doing, too hopefully help others that might be in a similar situation and to further educate people on the topic of mental health. Giving a real insight story on what it felt like to be alone and have problems all your life that you are trying to deal and get rid of, an insight into how this influenced, education, sport and life in general. There will be several locations within Ireland over the next year, in association with Athletics Ireland and raising money for ASK mental health awareness campaign. Keep an eye out for MikeTalks on Facebook!.
What was it like during training and competition when your head was not in the right place?
The last year for me was tough enough as you know, I tried to keep up training but lots of things in my life caught up with me and I had to deal with a lot personally. I found it hard to turn up to training and used to settle for sitting in my room instead. The support from my coaches Shane McCormack and Michael McKeon, along with my friends such as Shaun Donohue, Richard Lucas and Conor Wilson who very much helped me to get out of the rut that I was in and to help me get my athletic career back on track. They encouraged me to go to competitions all year and get back training. It took the bones of a year but I’m almost back into a nice routine again. All thanks to all my friends and coaches, without them, a year ago while I was at rock bottom (health wise), no doubt I would truly in a different place right now.
Talk to us about, where is a great place to learn more about mental health, who helped you, what helped you, what supported you.
I learned a lot thought websites like, spunout.ie and pieta house mainly. I went through 6 months of counselling in Pieta House so I reached out too them, although it was suggested to me I needed counselling it did take me 3 months to actually ring them and ask for it. It’s not always easy to get help but I really did need it and I accepted that. It’s not common that men accept they need help with mental health but that’s one of my aims with MikeTalks to try and encourage lads especially to talk, within sport, it can be awfully stressful and there’s a lot of pressure never mind things can be happening in the background, bullying, stalking, abuse. You really don't know what is going on in someone's life. I was described as a "Happy go lucky person". Says a lot really.
Mike, what is your biggest tip to someone who may be dealing with depression in sport?
I would say don't burn yourself out, do as much as you can. If something is going on in your life deal with it. Talk to you friends, family, coaches, anybody at all. If you can't train because something is going on in your life, talk to someone about it and try come to terms with your situation as best you can and try not to get too caught up with it. Don’t ever dwell on it or hesitate that you might not need help. If you aren't feeling ok, Talk.
Where do you draw the inspiration form?
I get very inspired when I see Clodagh Dunbar doing my washing up. It makes me question my laziness. Ah but when I see someone doing well for themselves knowing they put in a lot of effort to get to where they are. That is very inspiring for me. I draw a lot of my inspiration from my close friends that I see doing so well for themselves. It makes me want to strive and do the same.
Have you ever thought a year ago your life would ever be as it is today?
I have lots of faith, being as bad as I was, the people around me, together with my strong mind, I stayed calm, I had a few bad days/nights but someone was always there, I was lucky. In some parts I wouldn't have thought I would have half the life I have today. I predicted a lot of it, as I knew eventually I would get back into athletics, I just needed to think of myself for a while and sort my own problems.
Where can our readers/followers follow you?
Your readers can follow me on:
Instagram – m_deady1
Twitter – m_deady
Michael thank you so much for taking the time to chat with Neil Fox Health and Fitness! It was such an informative interview. You are a such an inspiring ambassador for mental health and sport in Ireland #JustTalk
If you have any questions or comments, leave them below!
We all encounter some sorts of stress or depression at some point within our lives.
Stress can be a big factor in someone's wellness and fitness. Many people are so busy with their daily routines and they don't realize how much stress can affect their overall wellness. The body needs a certain level of pressure to function properly. For instance, the body needs to have a certain level of stress to react to a situation that can cause physical harm. Nevertheless, having too much stress will have devastating results on the body. Too much stress can lead to problems with a person's health and fitness, someone suffering from stress and depression can reap amazing benefits from a properly designed fitness program. Through exercise you get a feeling of fulfillment, increased energy less tiredness, increased productivity, greater concentration, better sleep and an overall feeling of high spirits.
There are certain things people can do to reduce stress in their life to improve their health and fitness. Exercise is an effective way of combatting depression without the use of prescription drugs. Significant research has established that physical exercise is oftentimes as effective as antidepressants for helping people who suffer with depressive disorders.
When a person's body is overcome with stress, it can induce the person to have high blood pressure, reduced immune system and depression. Other health issues from too much stress are changes in blood clotting as well as sexual function problems. Having these problems from too much stress usually leads a person to have even further stress and anxiety in their life which increase their health problems even more.
Exercising can help reduce stress, exercising works as a natural antidepressant to reduce stress and anxiety. If people feel like they just don't have time to exercise they can start off by taking short walks on their breaks. Taking the stairs instead of the elevator is another smart way to get in some quick exercise. Doing yoga is another great exercise to reduce stress. Yoga also enhances concentration and sharpens the mind.
Regular exercise helps people lose weight which often makes an individual feel better about themselves. Exercise provides various benefits for the entire body. A few benefits include improving heart health and muscle tone and strength. Exercise also minimizes levels of stress, anxiety and depression. One does not need to be a runner to experience the psychological effects of exercise. All kinds of exercises are beneficial. Moderate exercises such as walking, dancing, low-impact aerobics, swimming, biking, golf, rebounding and yoga provide variety and great health benefits.
Depression is an illness, there's no doubt about that, it's essential to do whatever you can do make yourself better. I don't recommend throwing all your pills down the basin or whatever they tell you to do with them now and heading for marathon-training-courses. I just firmly believe that it's crucial that you do everything in your power to make yourself much better and exercise is one tool in your arsenal.
If you really want to lower your stress levels/ combat depression, it is vital that you follow a proper and structured exercise plan and you will be glad to know that Neil Fox Health & Fitness can help you in this regard at best. Neil`s areas of expertise include clinical risk assessments, performance assessments, and exercise programming that is precisely designed to meet the client needs, functional ability and clinical history.
Cardiovascular disease is a major cause of disability and premature death throughout the world, and contributes substantially to the escalating costs of health care. The underlying pathology is atherosclerosis, which develops over many years and is usually advanced by the time symptoms occur, generally in middle age. Acute coronary and cerebrovascular events frequently occur suddenly, and are often fatal before medical care can be given. Modification of risk factors has been shown to reduce mortality and morbidity in people with diagnosed or undiagnosed cardiovascular disease.
Several forms of therapy can prevent coronary, cerebral and peripheral vascular events. Decisions about whether to initiate specific preventive action, and with what degree of intensity, should be guided by estimation of the risk of any such vascular event. The risk prediction charts that accompany these guidelines allow treatment to be targeted according to simple predictions of absolute cardiovascular risk.
The debilitating and often fatal complications of cardiovascular disease (CVD) are usually seen in middle-aged or elderly men and women. However, atherosclerosis – the main pathological process leading to coronary artery disease, cerebral artery disease and peripheral artery disease – begins early in life and progresses gradually through adolescence and early adulthood (15–17). It is usually asymptomatic for a long period.
The rate of progression of atherosclerosis is influenced by cardiovascular risk factors: tobacco use, an unhealthy diet and physical inactivity (which together result in obesity), elevated blood pressure (hypertension), abnormal blood lipids (dyslipidemia) and elevated blood glucose (diabetes). Continuing exposure to these risk factors leads to further progression of atherosclerosis, resulting in unstable atherosclerotic plaques, narrowing of blood vessels and obstruction of blood fl ow to vital organs, such as the heart and the brain. The clinical manifestations of these diseases include angina, myocardial infarction, transient cerebral ischemic attacks and strokes. Given this continuum of risk exposure and disease, the division of prevention of cardiovascular disease into primary, secondary and tertiary prevention is arbitrary, but may be useful for development of services by different parts of the health care system. The concept of a specific threshold for hypertension and hyperlipidemia is also based on an arbitrary dichotomy.
The purpose of applying the recommendations elaborated in these guidelines is to motivate and assist high-risk individuals to lower their cardiovascular risk by:
● quitting tobacco use, or reducing the amount smoked, or not starting the habit;
● making healthy food choices;
● being physically active; ● reducing body mass index (to less than 25 kg/m2) and waist–hip ratio (to less than 0.8 in women and 0.9 in men (these figures may be different for different ethnic groups) ;
● lowering blood pressure (to less than 140/90 mmHg);
● lowering blood cholesterol (to less than 5 mol/l or 190 mg/dl);
● lowering LDL-cholesterol (to less than 3.0 mol/l or 115 mg/dl);
● Controlling glycaemia, especially in those with impaired fasting glycaemia and impaired glucose tolerance or diabetes;
● taking aspirin (75 mg daily), once blood pressure has been controlled
Estimates of relative risk per unit increase in continuous risk factors, i.e. per mmHg for systolic blood pressure and per mol/l for total cholesterol, as well as for the presence of smoking were determined from the CRA project (largely from prospective cohort studies). These relative risk estimates were applied to the hypothetical cohort to determine the relative risk of each individual in the cohort.
Absolute risk of a cardiovascular event was determined by scaling individual relative risk to population incidence rates of cardiovascular disease (ischemic heart disease and stroke), estimated from the Global Burden of Disease Study. The probability of a cardiovascular event was extrapolated to a 10-year period. The mean absolute risk for various combinations of risk factor levels was then calculated and tabulated.
If you really want to lower risk for cardiovascular disease you must need to follow a proper plan and you will be glad to know that Neil Fox Health & Fitness can help you in this regard at best. They have a great 3 steps program for avoiding cardiovascular risk assessments. Neil can safely prescribe and deliver an exercise program for cardiovascular disease clients. His areas of expertise include cardiovascular risk assessments, performance assessments, exercise programming precisely designed to meet the client needs, functional ability and clinical history.
Have you ever wondered "Why some people are more Successful than others at achieving their fitness related goals?
We catch up with Eanna McNamara bodybuilder (aged 20) earlier today, who shared his secrets to success (goal settings), which is summed up for you in 5 paragraphs.
(1) Setting goals keeps you constantly pushing towards something. If you don’t have something to work towards you’ll question, why you’re actually working. I see this happen all the time, especially with people who decide to get fit. “Getting fit” is too broad a goal to set. Be specific. Use dates. It gives you an exact timeframe and prevents procrastination. Here’s an example of a goal that will work :
I want to lose x amount of weight by such a date. This works because it is specific, you have chosen an exact figure and the date you want to achieve that figure.
This goal will constantly be in your mind, it will be something to push towards and motivate you.
If you don’t have an end result of an action in sight, you will crash and burn.
Settings goals isn’t some magical thing that will guarantee success, but if you have no direction, you will get lost. Having something to constantly work towards leads to success.
(2) Manifestation works. Writing down your goals may be a physical action, but it does something mentally too. When you put out what you want into the world or manifest it, it happens. If you don’t know what you want yourself how do you expect to achieve it? The subconscious mind works in amazing ways, you won’t even be aware of it but you will begin to carry out certain actions that lead you in the direction of your goal.
Write down what it is you want, this could be health related inside or outside of the gym. I want to lose X amount of weight by such a date, or I want to be able to run X kilometers in X amount of time. If you don’t ask for what is you want how do you expect to achieve it? Setting goals actually makes you a better person. When you think of setting goals, your immediate thoughts turn to those of monetary value, your career and other things.
You don’t have to set such extravagant goals. You can set things like “eat healthy” , “Go for a run this week” , “Avoid alcohol for the next 2 weeks” all of these actions will lead to a more positive and healthier you.
They are all very achievable and short-term which is also good. Sometimes we set goals that are 12 months away and usually lose focus, take it step by step. If you want to drop a few waist sizes focus on dropping one size at a time and then move on to the next one. This way you will stay on track. The more mini-goals you will set the more you will accomplish and the happier you will be.
(3) Once you reach or hit a goal of yours, it will motivate you further.
When we set goals and achieve them, we get a sense of confidence and self worth.
You completed your first 5k, that’s an excellent achievement but don’t stop there, instead work towards finishing a 10k or focus on doing it in less time the second time around. By setting the goals in the first place, you have something to work towards, when that goal is reached or met another you make another and the cycle continues. Set goals, achieve them, feel successful and repeat. Without the action of goal setting, you are highly likely to get bored and wonder why you’re “grinding” towards whatever it is you’re working towards. If goal setting doesn’t motivate you and bring you a feeling of success, you’re simply doing it wrong!
(4) Goals act as a constant reminder and keeps you accountable to yourself.
Writing your goals up on a wall or on a “vision board” works particularly well, you’re reminded of them when you least expect it and this keeps you itching for greatness.
These goals are usually more long term and can even be a few years away. “Complete a triathlon” , “Be in the best shape of my life on my wedding day” , “Get a black belt in karate” Whatever it may be, write it up on your wall or on a whiteboard, these are big life goals and all of your short term goals should lead up to achieving these.
I don’t know about you but I don’t like giving up on things and especially not myself.
Actually visualising yourself achieving something and writing it down means you’re going to have to do it, even if it takes a lot longer than expected.
(5) Goal setting certainly works and contributes greatly towards one's’ fitness and health related success. It is how the greatest athletes become great and continue to prosper!
If you have any questions or comments, leave them below!
Lustig, Schmidt & Brindlis, (2012) research demonstrated that 100 grams’ consumption of sugar per day is considered to be harmful to our health. On the other hand, the American Heart Association recommends females to have <6 teaspoons or 24 grams and males < 9 teaspoons or 36 grams of refined sugars each day. This is currently not the case as the vast majority are known to be having >4 times that amount as on average, our per capita daily sugar intake ranges from 120 to 164 grams. Consequently, this leads to
Let see how can this be the case in terms of sugary drinks :
Overall, an average 473ml energy drink contain 50-60 grams of sugar, which is the equivalent to 10-12 teaspoons of sugar.
So you may be asking yourself why is there so much sugar placed in coffee and cranberry drinks?
This is due to caffeine and cranberries being very bitter by nature. This is addressed by adding sugar.
The take home message, is to try and make fresh juices instead of processed juices to be fully sure that the sugar added is natural and not excessive.
To sums up, in the U.S., obesity alone medical care costs were value at a total expenditure of $147 billion within 2009. In recent times, here had been a strong focus debated by national governing bodies worldwide on the topic of implementing a soda tax (the Soft Drinks Industry Levy). Moreover, drinks that are covered under a soda tax often include carbonated soft drinks sports drinks and energy drinks.
The soda tax has seen over one forth (22%) of Hungarians reducing their energy drink consumption and 19% reduction of sugary-sweetened soft-drinks since 2011. More recently, Ireland and the United Kingdom had permitted a national soda tax in 2016, which is planned to commence in April 2018. This is anticipated to raise up to £520 million a year in tax revenue that will be spent on funding sport among primary schools in UK.
It could be hypothesis that in the forthcoming future, excessive sugar consumption (>100 grams/ day) will be regarded alongside booze and nicotine as substance that can easily be abused that can have life-threatening consequences.
If you are like many and want to act now, need some lifestyle advice or a personalised tailored-made nutrition plan, that will get you back on track for a healthier and happier you.
If you have any questions or comments, leave them below!
Caffeine Informer. Sugar in Drinks. Retrieved from: https://www.caffeineinformer.com/sugar-in-drinks
Lustig, R. H., Schmidt, L. A., & Brindis, C. D. (2012). Public health: the toxic truth about sugar. Nature, 482(7383), 27-29.
Malik, V.S., Hu, F.B. (2015). Fructose and Cardiometabolic Health: What the Evidence from Sugar-Sweetened Beverages Tells Us. Journal of American College of Cardiology, 66(14),1615-1624. doi:10.1016/j.jacc.2015.08.025.
Malik, V. S., Schulze, M. B., & Hu, F. B. (2006). Intake of sugar-sweetened beverages and weight gain: a systematic review. The American journal of clinical nutrition, 84(2), 274-288.
Yang, Q., Zhang, Z., Gregg, E. W., Flanders, W. D., Merritt, R., & Hu, F. B. (2014). Added sugar intake and cardiovascular diseases mortality among US adults. JAMA internal medicine, 174(4), 516-524.
Personal best times:
Congratulations in claiming your very first national senior track title and becoming the first Clonmel AC athlete to secure a national senior track title.
Has it sunk in? What had it been like being home for the last while?
Thanks Neil, yes it has sunk in. The support has been wonderful. Clonmel AC has been very good to me over the years so I was happy to be able to bring the club back a national title. It has been really nice. I enjoy coming home to relax and let the mind refresh after a long year in the states. It has been fun to be able to catch up with friends and race while being home.
How did you first get involved in running and what/who motivated you? How did the club help you as an athlete?
I first got involved in running through the local primary school’s cross country. After making the school team Evan Hickey and Jason Mullins ask me to join the club which I did and the rest is pretty much history. I was 9 years old when I joined the club. The Club has guided me through all age groups and made sure I was well supported along with having fun.
Who are your role models both in and out of the sport?
Anthony Moynihan has been a great role model over the years. He has thought me that nothing will ever be handed to us and that we must work for it. He has thought me many life lessons through the sport and always knows how to motivate me.
What is the greatest piece of advice you've ever received in the sport?
We will be at our best when we are having fun and enjoying ourselves. We can often get over worked about the small things and can easily forget to have fun with our running so sometimes it is important to take a step back and just enjoy it.
What are the top three “little things” that you do to prevent injury?
1. Listen to my body when something is sore or I am tired that is my body telling me to stop.
2. Eat well and make sure I am eating enough food. Eating well is obviously very important but people can sometimes get so caught up in eating well they don’t eat enough for what our bodies are doing.
3. Sleep! I try get a minimum of 8-9 hours of sleep night. The improvement in our running comes while we are recovering so it is important to be well rested.
How do you stay motivated when you don’t want to run?
Training can be hard at times and sometimes the last thing you want to do is run but luckily I have a wonderful training group that make things fun. They make going to training enjoyable and something to look forward to. We motivate each other to do well but focus on enjoying ourselves and having fun while till taking our running seriously.
Do you have any pre-meet rituals?
Not really, I try to not think about my races until I start warming up. Most people like to listen to music but I can’t it makes me to nervous. I often do a shakeout run 5 hours before my race I guess that’s the closest thing I will get to a pre-meet ritual.
How has it been like training and competing in America and what have you learnt the most about yourself? It has been a wonderful experience with many up and downs. I have learned that our sport is much more mental than physical and that you have to accept that races are just races when you have a bad one it is not the end of the world there is always going to be another.
Of all your teammates, past and present, from whom have you learned the most and why?
I have learned many lessons from my teammates but one thing they all have in common is they keep things fun. I am usually the serious one of the training groups and the lads keep in touch by making me realize I have to enjoy the journey.
Which of the three running seasons do you enjoy most? Why?
Cross Country will always come first even if I may be stronger on the track. I just love the team aspect of cross country nothing beats the feeling of knowing every man is just as important as your top runner. I love the variety of courses and places cross country brings you to. There is an amazing feeling of being on the line with over 200 people. It feels as if you are about to run into a battle.
Let's say you could have the perfect meal prepared for you. What would it be?
It couldn’t be the healthiest meal but you can’t beat a full Irish breakfast. There are many times while I am in the states and wish I could just wake up to a full Irish breakfast.
What's something interesting about you that most people don't know?
I am probably one of the most inflexible athletes you will meet. I have a long way to go before I can touch my toes.
What’s your biggest tip(s) to someone who is determine to become an elite runner?
Enjoy the journey and the running. Find a training group which is fun but takes training serious. Surround yourself with people who have similar goals. When you are healthy and having fun, there is no limit to what you can do.
Any other information about yourself or tips/advice you’d like to share?Listen to your coach and find yourself a coach who is willing to listen. When an athlete and coach are learning from each other there is no stopping them.
Where can our readers and supporters follow you?
I am not the greatest for social media but I guess people can follow me on Instagram (tobinsean) and I will do my best to give people an insight to what life is like stateside during my last year at Ole Miss.
If you have any questions or comments, leave them below!