Friday, 9 June 2017

Half on the Head - Heading for Home

The final section of this race is where you can make up some time but don't be overeager and start sprinting down the hill. Yes, there is a good long stretch of downhill ahead but try to keep a steady speed to avoid burn out. Downhill running takes a bit of practice so hopefully you have had some training runs which included a few miles of descent.

As you make your way down towards Glenderry the panorama of Tralee Bay opens out in front of you with views of Mount Brandon, The Maherees,  and the Seven Hogs all vying for your attention. It really is breath taking so try to take some time to enjoy the scenery.

As you pass mile 10 you will see Blennerville Windmill and Fenit lighthouse in the distance at the end of a 7 mile stretch of sandy beach which runs from Ballyheigue through Banna Strand and Barrow.

Mile 11 takes you past Dromatoor harbour and the road levels out for the final 2  miles as you head back into Ballyheigue Village and the welcome sight of the finish line. Once you have had a breather and rehydrated I would recommend heading down to the beach and having a paddle in the Atlantic ocean. It really is the best massage that you can get and is just the tonic for your jaded legs.

Prizegiving, BBQ and live music will take place in Flahives Bar from about 1:30 onwards.
There is even talk of a rodeo bull.

Thursday, 8 June 2017

Race Day Preparation - Some handy tips to make race day less stressful! by John McCann

So this is it! Race day is almost upon us! The nerves are palpable and you can't wait to get stuck in! The morning of the race can be tough enough to get through so here are a few tips to help calm the nerves and help you to be as prepared as best as you possibly can be!
1. Have the bib number attached to the running gear the night before - Don't go looking for safety pins on the day adding to the stress!
2. Get up early - give yourself plenty of time to digest your breakfast and mentally prepare for the days challenge!
3. Have gels packed and and ready to go - don't spend morning of the race looking for them.
4. Don't forget to charge your garmin watch - the last thing you want is for the watch to quit on you out on the course.
5. Have an old hat/refuse sack/jacket ready to keep warm at the start of the race but throw off when the countdown begins. It can be cold hanging around before the race gets going!
6. Don't panic if the night's sleep has been poor - you'll have plenty time for rest after the marathon!
7. Embrace the adrenalin/nerves - this is what you've trained for - be confident in your programme and enjoy as best you can!
8. Don't be late to the start line - an obvious one but important - give yourself plenty of time to loosen out/warm up/stretch before the race begins.
9. Take it all in! - Enjoy the camaraderie and atmosphere that only a half marathon brings.
10. Embrace the support the crowd brings - you'd be surprised how much it can spur you on at all stages of the course.
11. Enjoy it! You've trained hard enough for this - try not to have any regrets after the race is over! To get to the start line uninjured and fit and ready to run 13.1 miles is a hell of an achievement in itself!

Friday, 2 June 2017

Shorten the Road - Running with Company by John McCann

My first introduction to running was through a friend that had just taken it up and he suggested that a couple of us should get together and try running a few miles. At the time, the thoughts of running any distance filled me with instant dread but the thoughts of doing it with friends that may have the same fears about running helped ease me into it. 
We started out with relatively low mileage and the fact that there would be a group gathered to go running was the exact motivation I needed to get going! On doing those first few miles I was surprised how much I enjoyed it. It was basically hanging out with friends and an hour later your exercise was done! Simple! As we all slowly became hooked on running, talks of half marathons began to emerge and this is where having a group or a running buddy becomes very handy. 
Having to face those long miles is tough enough but, on your own makes that slog even tougher! 
Even now when one of us maybe training for a half marathon individually, we still reach out for that bit of company for even a few miles on the long runs to help shorten the long road ahead!

Thursday, 1 June 2017

The Importance of Stretching - Pre and Post Run

When I took up running initially, I placed a lot of importance in the pre and post run stretch. These were muscles that weren't used to moving at pace therefore they had to be looked after. As time went on, however, just to do the run was enough for me, spending time stretching never crossed my mind - and this was a mistake. Back, hip and other aches and pains followed and all because I couldn't be bothered with that extra ten minutes just to stretch!
This training programme has taught the importance of these stretches as an ache and pain that's not catered for by stretching now can result in a trip to the physio (or worse chiropractor) later!
It's quite common to experience tight calf muscles which can lead to other injuries (in my case the dreaded planter fascitis!) so stretching and strengthening these muscles as demonstrated in the link below is advisable.
The hamstrings can also cause bother for long distance runners so the exercise below may help you overcome any hamstring problems you may have.
Before you warm up if may also be worthwhile doing a few exercises like the ones below
After the run these quick cool down exercises may also help
Throughout your programme, you will undoubtedly feel knocks and strains and it may also be advisable to see your physio for a massage to counter act any long term problems which may occur if you continue to run high mileage and at high intensity.

Remember it's all about getting to that start line in the best possible shape to enable you to give it your best shot on the big day!

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Heads Up - The importance of mental strength and half marathon running!

"I’m about five inches from being an outstanding golfer. That’s the distance my left ear is from my right." ~ Ben Crenshaw 
 The quote above, although about golf, is equally relevant when it comes to long distance running. How many times have we put on the running shoes and reluctantly headed out the door for that dreaded amble, preferring to be anywhere except on that godforsaken road? That is what faced me today on a 10 mile steady pace run. From the minute I took the first step to my last, I just couldn't get into any rhythm and my mind was in the opposite corner of the ring throughout. It could be lack of sleep, bad diet, overtraining or somedays just feeling flat that can lead to this mental misery. The only answer - keep battling through it and the results on the other side are far more rewarding than a run you complete any other day!
These type of mental discomfort will inevitably touch base at some point on marathon day so it's best to battle through it and dream of the warm comfort of that finish line!

Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Half on the Head - The Middle Section

Ok, We are on mile 4 having paced ourselves for the first 3 miles (see my previous blog) and kept some energy in our legs. Miles 4,5 and 6 give you a chance to get a nice rhythm going and to get into that race pace mode.

At this point you are running along beside the river Shannon with views of the Clare coast and loop head across the estuary. Look back and you will see sloping fields and spectacular cliffs stretching towards Ballybunion in the distance.

As we reach mile 7 there is a small but testing hill which takes you form the old forge to the next water stop where you will turn and head down into lower Dreenagh. A sharp right leads into our final climb. Its a long straight stretch which take sus into mile 8 and eventually leads to our one bit of unpaved road (don't worry, its not too rough) which takes us back to join the main road where we finally reach "the point" of Kerryhead, one of the most westerly places in Europe. A short climb here and we are finally ready to head downhill and loop back towards our starting point.

The final part of the this blog will take us through from mile 9 to the finish and a some well deserved refreshments in Flahives Beer Garden.

Monday, 22 May 2017

Appetite for Destruction - the importance of diet for the half marathon runner - by guest blogger John McCann

When I originally took up running, I used it as an excuse to eat whatever I wanted as the calories I was burning, were, in my mind, allowing me that extra leeway for the added few treats! At first, it didn't seem to matter too much, as the weight dropped, with any exercise being better than none. But then I began to stagnate - my weight plateaued (having not dropped enough pounds) and my times didn't really see an increase even though the miles and training had continued at pace.
Where I really struggled was just before half marathon time where training intensity lessened but appetite most definitely did not.
The problem with running (and any exercise for that matter) is, as you burn off all those additional calories and exert energy, you are obviously going to see an increase in appetite.The real results, from a health and time/pace point of view come from how you deal with this increased appetite and what you refuel with.
"You can't out train a bad diet" maybe one of the oldest (and most annoying!) catchphrases but is indeed true.
I look back at photos of myself in years gone by at the finish line of half marathons carrying at least two stone above the required amount and that was with running 40 miles a week. Another part of that argument suggests that this behaviour can't be good for your body - putting it under that intense physical pressure if you're going to put the incorrect fuel in the engine and somehow even though you've ran 13.1 miles and completed 2 months of intense training - still look overweight and unhealthy.
It took me a long time to sort it out (I'm not the brightest bulb in the box!) but I eventually realised that it's not about dieting or refusing yourself a treat or indeed going hungry - it's more a matter of nutrition and putting the right foods into your sytem pre and post run.
The results are well worth it, as becoming healthier and lighter means that training is also more enjoyable and less daunting. You ask any runner to do a race carrying that two extra stone around with them and see how they would enjoy it?
Put simply, a conscious decision to improve nutrition and diet will inevitably assist your training resulting in a healthier and faster you!

Thursday, 4 May 2017

Half on the Head - The First 3 and a half Miles

The biggest reason for runners hitting the wall or struggling to finish a race is down to pacing at the start. It is so easy to get caught up in the buzz at the start line and before your know it, the gun goes off and you have  2 miles done at a blistering pace that is way faster that you had planned. At this stage you still feel good and are even glad that you have built up a few precious seconds. However, it has been proven over and over again that this early pace will take its toll in the end.

This is especially true with the Half on the Head. The first 3 miles are primarily a gradual climb. It doesn't look too daunting but it will sap precious energy from your legs unless you pace yourself properly. From the start by the beach you will sweep down thorough Ballyheigue village before turning right onto Ladywell and making your way up a long gradual climb past the grotto. At the top of the hill you will meet the first mile marker where the road curves sharply to the right and there is a nice flat straight which takes you past the local church before you take a left turn by Booleenshere National School. From here you undulate your way along country roads gradually climbing past mile 2 and a right turn onto a long sloping straight. The 3 mile marker appears as continue along the straight until you reach a short hill with a double bend that leads you to a cross roads.

At this stage the Half Marathon runners will be taking a right turn which take them around the coast of Kerryhead while the 10k runners will be taking a left turn back towards the village of Ballyhegue.

I fully recommend keeping a comfortable steady pace until you reach this crossroads. Conserve your energy and ensure that your legs are in good shape for the next part of the Half Marathon.

Information about the next 3 miles will be coming soon .....

Friday, 28 April 2017

5 Great Reasons to register for the Half on the Head

  1. The Spectacular Views. Kerryhead is one of the hidden gems of the Wild Atlantic Way. There scenery on all sides is truly amazing.
  2. The Beach. Miles of golden sand stretch as far as the eye can see. And the water is as pure as it can get.
  3. The Run. A tough but rewarding run. Its a Half Marathon that really earns its name. Don't forget there is also a 10k on the day.
  4. The Community. You are guaranteed a warm welcome with the inhabitants turning our to cheer you on and give you some local advice.
  5. The After Party. Flahivse bar is the venue with B-B-Q, Beer garder, Live Music and there is even talk of a Rodeo Bull.

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Friday, 21 April 2017

Story Map of the Route

View our story map of the route for a mile by mile picture of what's in store. We will shortly be commencing a mile by mile guide of the route which should help you run more efficiently on the day.

5 tips for the Half on the Head

  1. Incorporate some hills into your training routine. The Half on the Head (and the 10k) contain a number of uphill climbs.
  2. Pace yourself at the start. Most of first 3 miles of both races is a gradual uphill climb which can sap the energy from your legs. A slow steady pace will stand to you later in the run.
  3. Know the course. If you get a chance do a drive of the route the day before. You will be more comfortable during the run. We will also be posting our mile by mile guide here in the coming weeks.
  4. The wild atlantic ocean is a great remedy for sore muscles. Go for a paddle in the sea at the end of the race. It is the ultimate massage for tired limbs - both invigorating and refreshing.
  5. Enjoy the views. They will distract you and make the run that bit easier.

Thursday, 20 April 2017

Half Marathon - Training Plan (Easyish)

Week 1 3 miles 4 miles Rest 3 miles 4 miles Rest 5 miles easy 19
Week 2 3 miles 5 miles Rest 5 miles 4 miles Rest 6 miles easy 23
Week 3 3 miles 5 miles Rest 5 miles 4 miles Rest 7 miles easy 24
Week 4 3 miles 5 miles Rest 5 miles 3 miles Rest 8 miles easy 24
Week 5 3 miles 6 miles Rest 6 miles 3 miles Rest 9 miles easy 27
Week 6 3 miles 6 miles Rest 6 miles 3 miles Rest 10 miles easy 28
Week 7 3 miles 6 miles Rest 6 miles 3 miles Rest 10 miles easy 28
Week 8 3 miles 6 miles Rest 6 miles 2 miles Rest 8 miles easy 25
Week 9 3 miles 4 miles Rest 4 miles 2 miles Rest Race Day  

Above is a fairly simple training plan which should get you over the line for the Half on the Head which takes place on June 17th 2017.  Be flexible with the days if required but try and get the long run in every week and do try to match the total miles which will stand you in good stead on the day.

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Tee Shirt Design


Tee Shirts are almost ready for printing. Cool design this year. Colors and shirts yet to be finalised but it will something similar to the above. Hope you all like it. Don't forget Saturday 17th June is the date for both the Half Marathon & 10k so get your training plan sorted and register online now at

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

About the Race

Looking for a stunning half-marathon/10k? The Half on the Head follows a wonderfully scenic course from Ballyheigue Village right around Kerryhead (one of the closest places to the USA). The 13.1 mile run takes you along one of the most unspoilt portions of the Wild Atlantic Way. Run beside the Shannon Estuary with views across the river mouth to the coast of Clare. Glancing back you will see the rugged Kerry coastline stretching to the town of Ballybunion. You might even catch a glimpse of the fabled Cliffs of Dooneen. Upon rounding the point of Kerryhead you will experience the magnificent panorama of Tralee Bay with Mount Brandon and the Maherees as a backdrop. Further along you have stunning views of the coastline stretching from Ballyheigue beach to Banna and Fenit with Blennerville Windmill in the distance.
Kerryhead 10k: A 10k Run will also take place on the day. The 10k will start from outside Flahives Pub just after 11am and follows the Half Marathon route for the first 3 miles before levelling out on Kerryhead giving you a chance to drink in the magnificent views of Tralee Bay stretching from Banna Beach to Brandon Mountain. To register please click the REGISTER ONLINE button below and select the Kerryhead 10k option.


Entry to the Half on the Head is just €40. The fee includes all of the following: your timing chip, a customized technical running shirt, goody bag, a customized finishers medal, and of course our famed after race party and Bar-B-Q

Check out our Story Map of the Route View Story Map
Check out our facebook page for the latest info: View Facebook
 We look forward to welcoming you on the day.