Andrew Reilly is a Quest regular and this year is taking on Quest 24. Over the next few months we’ll be getting some advice from him on tackling training and prep for those long distance and challenging terrains.

Last night I ran for thirty minutes pain free for the first time since last October. A few niggly injuries frustrated and I suppose tormented me for those few months. Any of us who incorporate exercise and particularly running as a major facet of our daily lives will understand the impact not being able to do those things can have on our general form and mood. The injuries were relatively minor in themselves; firstly, to the foot, then a sprained ankle and finally a calf strain. The rush to get back too quickly jeopardised a speedier return.

During that time, I missed out on Dublin City Marathon, Run The Line and the Art O’ Neill Challenge. The break gave the body a chance to recover from the exertions of last year and the opportunity to set a few goals for the year ahead. It is a trait of the eternal optimist to sign up to races while out injured. Being no different, I have singled out the Quest 24 race as my main focus this year.

So, today feels like a new beginning where I can plan my next six months training with a combination of excitement and anticipation. I love training. The worse the weather, the steeper the hill, the muckier the trail, the darker the night, the stiffer the breeze…the more in my element I am. A treadmill is an alien concept to me. To do an event like Quest 24 you must get out there, be uncomfortable and feel some pain and love every minute of it.

At the moment I’m working on my training plan. My first piece of advice to anyone looking at Quest 12 or 24 is to get some expert help with your training plan. There are some great trainers around who will help you out with this. My rough plan is to work in training blocks with incremental increases in volume and intensity. Recovery weeks are crucial. I will target some races as I prepare for Quest 24. Most likely three events one each in May, June and July.  For now though, the next six weeks will be building my base back up gradually. I’ll then ramp it up from April onwards and try to be in the best shape possible on August 31st. My other piece of advice is to get involved in training with others. Get onto the hills, get on the bike and hit water.

Both Quest 12 and 24 look like incredible events. While I have completed similar distance multisport events previously (Ireland’s Coast to Coast and The Race, Donegal) the lure of the route is irresistible. Kerry has a magic to it. Carrauntoohil will be an iconic highlight. It will be fiercely tough and hugely challenging.

I doubt anyone who signs up will avoid the inevitable question about why you would do that to yourself?! The attraction is that the challenge is undoubtedly daunting, there are so many variables to consider from gear, bike, shoes, nutrition, the weather. The day of the race is the culmination of months of preparation both physically and mentally. Once the logistics are all in place and the starting gun goes and that burst of adrenaline hits there is an immediate sense of ‘this is it’ and off you go. There is never a guarantee of finishing. Just a few have a chance of winning. We all doubt our ability at times. There is so often a feeling that everyone else is better prepared or has more training in the legs. It is so easy to find excuses as to why you couldn’t do a certain event. But if you back yourself, really commit to it, then any of these events are achievable. Sign up, make a plan and go for it. Meet the challenge head on. If you step outside your comfort zone the possibilities are endless. Regardless of where you finish, or even if you don’t, by backing yourself you’ll have had an incredible journey.  The people you meet will inspire you and challenge you at the same time. The places you will encounter will be etched permanently in your memory bank. You will discover a side of Ireland that you will never have experienced like this before and qualities in yourself that you didn’t know existed.

I’ll keep in touch with progress over the next few months and all the best with your own Quest journey.

All the best, Andy.

Quest 12/24 is now open for registration, spaces are limited in both events.