Abbott Spotlight On Health

Defending her country and her health

Tara Kennedy is training hard for the AbbottWMM Wanda Age Group World Championships in London this October.

The 47-year old mother of two (Jack, 22 and Becky, 11) was a member of the Irish Defence Forces for 26 years, including two postings in Lebanon with the United Nations.

Her career kept her extremely fit and running became part of her daily routine. She ran her first sub 3-hour marathon thanks to a training program provided by one of her colleagues - James Ledingham, physical education coordinator at the Irish Defence Forces – who saw potential in Tara and then offered to coach her longer term. With the support and guidance of James and her strength and conditioning coach Paddy Daly, Tara has won many National Marathon and Half Marathon titles.

Her impressive form gave her a 2:56 in Dublin and a 3:02 in the 2019 Boston Marathon to book her place in the inaugural World Championships. But following her Boston race, she started to suffer from repeated kidney infections and ended up on antibiotics for 30 weeks. She tried to keep running but eventually her body said enough was enough and there were days when Tara couldn’t get out of bed.

“Not being able to run felt like the end of my world. I was so weak that I knew I had to stop. But to keep me in a good place mentally, Paddy invited me to his boxing gym once I was back on my feet to start some light training and just so I could feel part of something again.

“James created a very simple training program for me to follow but there were many set-backs, including Achilles tendinitis from the antibiotics, which was extremely frustrating.”

18 months later, Tara is back to full health and fitness and preparing to toe the start line in London is beyond anything she could have dreamed of last year.

“Surrounding myself with supportive coaches has really shown me what’s possible. Positivity is everything. Aiming for London and being selected to run for my country is a real honor. I was over the moon to get the invite.”

Aside from her coaches providing inspiration for Tara’s achievements, her dad is the biggest driving force with her running achievements.

“My dad is 84 and was a cyclist from the age of 13 He won many national titles and is a real old-time hero in Ireland. His dedication to his sport and the encouragement he gave me as a child was really amazing. Even as an adult he is always there for me.”

Looking beyond London, Tara will have three stars in her armor (Berlin and Boston already completed) and she is planning to run Tokyo as a 50th birthday gift to herself.  Next on the list will be completing her six star journey.

“New York City and Chicago marathons are going to be very special for me as both cities hold a place in my heart after playing basketball in the United States in my younger years.

“Now that I am retired from the Defence Forces and working for Aer Lingus, I have more time to balance my running and family, and having such a loving and supporting husband in Cormac, it makes all of it so much easier.’

Note: Always consult a physician and get a full health evaluation prior to marathon training. Even if athletes appear healthy, or to have a disorder under control, underlying medical conditions could exist.  

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