DCU’s David McCarthy won the University Intervarsity Men’s Cross-Country race in Sligo on Saturday, March 5th as DCU were the overall winners of the competition for the third year in a row.
McCarthy won the race comfortably in the end and said he was confident from the off that he could win the race.
“I would expect to win a race like that, I’ve been training for a long time,” McCarthy said.
“Going into it with the few weeks of training I had done I was feeling good. I did think before the race, ‘I could win this today’,” the 27-year-old added.
The race was McCarthy’s first real outing in over a year having missed most of 2015 through injury as he had stress fractures in his lower back but is happy to be back healthy and running again.
Though he was confident, McCarthy admitted that he wasn’t quite sure how the race was going to unfold when he got out there having been out for so long with injury.
“I just sat in the middle of the pack at the start and I started working my way up along. I knew by the second last lap I could win it.
“I started off on the side of caution because it was quite a mucky course and I think a lot of people underestimate running hard in the muck so I tried to conserve as much energy as possible, the last lap then I just moved on,” McCarthy added.
DCU were overall winners of the cross country championships for the third year in a row and McCarthy pinpointed a number of reasons why DCU tend to win most competitions, having won the indoor championships early in the year, including the fact they “simply have the numbers”.
“We have the better athletes in the country in terms of colleges and I think it’s a case of once you are winning you kind of tend to keep winning,” the West Waterford man said.
Confidence is also a key to DCU’s success according to McCarthy who believes that once you have a reputation for being the best and winning everything that they “kind of believe it and that helps in itself”.
McCarthy is currently doing a Masters in sports science with Professor Niall Moyna having previously gone to America on a sports scholarship to do his undergraduate course.
He finds balancing his training and college work “pretty good” and says “if anything it helps”, it’s both his running and course work.
“When you are just doing a couple of hours a week of college it makes you develop a routine around it. Sometimes if you’re not doing anything at all you tend to be a bit lazier.
“You’re better at getting out and doing that morning run if you have to go to classes, your structure is just better when you have a part time job or a bit of college work,” McCarthy said.
As with most athletes McCarthy is very conscious of what he eats and thinks the time off through injury has helped him become even more knowledgeable about the nutritional side of his trade.
“I am very aware of everything I eat in terms of helping me recover stronger and healthier. I’m very conscious of what I was eating and if I was eating I’d make sure it was the most nutritious beneficial food for me,” McCarthy said.
As a sports science student McCarthy is also well drilled on the strength and conditioning side of sport and thinks it is a vital part of being the best he can possibly be.
“The beauty of running is that you have to educate yourself with all aspects of the sport whether its strength and conditioning, nutrition, recovery, training or flexibility. They are all the little one percenters that make a difference,” the Dungarvan man said.
As for what’s to come from McCarthy in the next couple of months, he doesn’t have “specific goals in terms of races” but is instead concentrating on keeping fit and not getting any more injuries.
“My goal is just to stay healthy and the results come from that,” he said.
Having represented Ireland at European level in the past McCarthy is hopeful of getting to that level again, saying that “the dream is to keep representing your country at the highest level.
“That’s where you get the real buzz trying to compete with the highest level of competition. It’s such fun when you are heading off with the Irish team whether it’s Europeans or hopefully worlds (championships),” the 27-year-old said.