06 Jul 2022

ATHLETE PROFILE: Competitive streak drives Joanne

Joanne Fingleton of Sperrin Harriers is featured this week.

ATHLETE PROFILE:  Competitive streak drives Joanne

Joanne competing in the Walled City 10-mile.

Name: Joanne Fingleton

Age: 35

Club: Sperrin Harriers

Occupation: Solicitor

What is your first memory of sport?

Watching the 1992 Barcelona Olympics on TV.

Have you always been involved in sport?

No, I didn’t really like sport when I was younger. I was definitely more of a spectator than a participant!

How long have you been involved in running and when did you join the club?

I started running in October 2018 and joined Sperrin Harriers in April 2019.

Why did you start running?

A friend of mine, (who shall remain nameless!), said that I wouldn’t be able to run a half marathon when I told them my plan to try to run the Omagh half marathon in April 2019.

My competitive streak got the better of me and I wanted to prove them wrong and so my love of running grew from there, (we are still friends!)

What type of events do you compete in and what distances are involved?

I love competing in the local races, anything from a 5k to half marathon. There’s always a great atmosphere and lots of tea and buns afterwards!

Which one do you rank as your toughest?

I find 5k’s toughest as I prefer longer distances.

What has been the most memorable so far?

I thoroughly enjoyed Belfast half marathon in September 2019. Our club organised a bus down to the race and so there was a great atmosphere and club spirit from early on.

I had set myself a target to complete it in under 2 hours and coming up that final stretch and seeing the clock at 1.59 was a great feeling.

What have been your main achievements to date?

I think just being able to take up a new hobby and enjoy it is an achievement in itself. I highly doubt that I’ll ever make a podium spot but for me, it’s more about having fun, seeing the benefits to both your physical and mental health and keeping at it, even when you have a bad run or it’s pouring outside.

What has been your highest point so far?

Definitely my first half marathon in Omagh in 2019. At around 11/12 miles, I thought I wouldn’t finish but the support of great friends and the club spurred me on.

What is your most disappointing point?

Not being able to run my first Stanley Reid 5 mile Classic in August 2019. I had a hip injury at the time and so couldn’t participate.

Have you had any injuries in your career?

I’ve had a hip injury on and off, but thankfully none at present.

How often do you train and what does it all entail?

I try to run 3 times per week and to do some speed work and some longer miles each week. A long run on a Sunday is one of my favourite times of the week!

I'm sure 2020 was a difficult season. Did you manage to get much running done and what are your targets for 2021?

It has definitely been a lot harder to keep up running on your own. I tried to keep my motivation up by participating in some virtual runs and challenges.

Our club also organised a virtual around the world challenge where each week we emailed through how many miles we had run that week and collectively, we used the miles to travel around the world.

It was great to see how far we had travelled and what our next destination was. My main aim for 2021 is, fingers crossed, to complete my first full marathon in Dublin in October.

Is there a long term goal you have, something you have always wanted to achieve?

I definitely want to run a marathon and all being well, Dublin marathon in October 2021.

What advice do you have for anyone who is thinking about taking up running?

If you are thinking about taking up running, just go for it! I couldn’t run 100m this time 3 years ago, never mind a 5k or half marathon! Just go at your own pace and you’ll be amazed at what you can achieve when you put your mind to it. I would also recommend joining a running club.

The support from other club members is so encouraging and it’s such a great way to make new friends who have a similar love for the sport.

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