Skip to content

Ciaran O’Lionaird

BROWSE ALL +65 ATHLETES / Ciaran O’Lionaird

Ciaran O’Lionaird

Training log in build up to 3:54 mile


Age 12-15: 2 workouts a week, Gaelic football and soccer for fitness between workout days. Not much easy runs. Minimal mileage, and workouts which were predominantly interval based. He could hold 60-62-second 400 pace very early on and senior team runners encouraged competition.

Age: 15-18: Realized potential, starting focusing on running. Inclusion of easy runs, rarely over 45min. Mileage maxed at 40-45mi/week. Emphasis of quality over quantity. As he became senior coach included longer intervals with short rests, for instance 5x1k with 30sec rest from from 3:05 down to 2:55. Rest was short enough to basically make intervals a continuous 5k tempo. This session closer to season would change to an 8×800 on the track starting at 2:15 and ending in 2:06. The short interval lactic tolerance session which he’d started training from 12 y/o had made him reach the point of being able to do 10x400m in 60sec with 60 rest.

Looking back at HS training: If there was one thing he’d change it would be to add specific threshold tempo throughout winter and indoor track period. He says he was very strong at intervals, so much so that the sessions he did as a high schooler would be classified as hard sessions for him as a pro. But looking back he would of liked to have the addition of strong specific threshold tempo working lasting 15-20min.He wouldn’t want to change his mileage as he felt it was specific and optimal for his stage in development. He’s very grateful for Der O’Donovan, his HS coach, who had developed him over the years, and seeing him through to a World Youth final as well as a college scholarship in the US, something which was the goal early on.

His advice to juniors:

  • “Low-end threshold work gets the best bang for your buck in terms of aerobic development”
  • A well-round program
  • “I don’t believe strength through mileage alone really works at all. I think mileage is something that can be added when all specific workout benefit is exhausted, but this is unlikely to occur at junior level. Identifying an athlete’s threshold zones and having them do one threshold session a week for 20-25 mins or so, combined with an interval session to add specificity and one strength/form-specific session (hills/dunes) would negate much of the need for a focus on high mileage, should it be done correctly”
  • “Identifying your young athlete’s imbalances and weaknesses through physio assessment and creating a core/intrinsic exercise program has far greater value long-term than slogging mileage.”











40 mins plus drills and strides

Intervals: 5x1k off 30 secs rest on grass. Start at 3:05 and cut down.

25 mins easy plus core and physio-directed work

Steady 45 min run with club. (These often got competitive and were almost races at the end)

40 mins easy plus strides


Sand Dunes: 30-45 hill repeats until exhaustion (HARD)

off or 40-45 mins easy.


30-40 mins plus fast strides

10×400 start 62 finish 58 off 200m jog

20mins plus drills and core

35 mins run and 10×150 hard.

20mins easy

6×600 start 1:34 finish 1:28

45 mins long run.