Athlete Of The Week - Alannah Neff
This years All Ireland Schools competition hosted many terrific performances but none was more memorable than Alannahs... Her strength and dedication awed spectators as after a fall in the final lap of the senior girls steeplechase she came from behind to take the gold. The race was a true show of both athleticism and courage, two many traits Alannah encompasses. An incredible athlete and role model for all.
Personal Bests: 1500 = 4:40.24,1500 steeple = 5:05.12, 800 = 2:14.28 and 2k steeple = 7:09.87
AN- At the moment my favourite event would probably be either the short steeple or the flat 1500, i love how the steeples break up the race but i also love the tactics involved in 1500 running!
most memorable performance would probably be national schools this year because it was so crazy, but my favourite is still tailteanns last year when i broke the record in the steeplechase. I just love the atmosphere at that meet, it’s slightly more relaxed than schools (which is still a great day!)
Fb- Amazing and your performance at the schools was definitely a highlight of the day for all spectators also! I suppose best place to start is with what go you into athletics in the first place? Did you come from a sporting background?
ANI suppose I was always active, i irish danced, swam and played camogie and football when i was younger. I tried out athletics once when i was six or seven and enjoyed it but ended up not keeping it on. Then when I started first year I started running with my dad, and joined the school cross country team, I joined my club a few months later and haven’t looked back since! I’ve since stopped playing other sports, mainly because all of the trainings clashed :((
FB- Yeah picking one sport over another is always hard especially when it’s something you’ve enjoyed since you were so young but your choice deff seems to have payed off, have you found it hard juggling your training with social life, school etc?
AN- i’ve been asked that one a lot recently what with doing the leaving cert and all, and i think it’s just prioritising. It’s definitely doable, but I think you need to be focused and use your time to the best of your ability! For me that meant a few early morning homework/study sessions just so i could go training that night, and still get a good night sleep. I think sleep is super important if you’re balancing a few things, and it’s important to go to social events and see your friends, even
just to reward yourself for all the hard work!
FB- Absolutely I couldn’t agree more! Some people just find it so hard to find the motivation for study at such an early hour I guess🤷🏻♂️ do you feel diet is important to fuel both study and training and do you follow a strict plan ?
AN- Oh it’s super difficult to motivate to get up in the morning but if you can get in a habit your body stops protesting as much :((
Yes it’s important, but my diet is awful at the moment!! I’d say I’m 90% sugar at the moment and the other 10% is coffee 🤷♀️ I normally eat relatively healthily, and whenever i’m hungry until i’m full. My staple is my breakfast, I love porridge because it fills me up, and then dessert which i have practically every day because i have such a sweet tooth!
FB- It’s amazing that you can run such long distances and cross country races with a big sweet tooth as you say, I think many people running in your events don’t realise this and starve themselves of treats which in the long run may help you to fight the cravings, what would be a normal weeks training for you Alannah💪🏻
AN- I have two rest days a week, monday and friday, and two sessions on tuesday and saturday normally, unless there’s a race at the weekend. Then i run super easy the other three days with a slightly longer run on sunday, to build fitness!
FB- 😅😅😅😅amazing, have you had to deal with adversity in anyway, injury etc!? If so how did you overcome such adversity
AN- I’ve been lucky to be quite consistent with training, and had no real injuries, though I do get low iron if I don’t my supplements or up my training too much. I had finally got my iron to a normal level at the end of last summer, and it completely dropped again during my winters training so my performances were pretty poor! I took some time off, started off again on really low mileage, and tried to run super easy on my easy runs so i could perform in sessions and races, where it counts!
FB- Lots of people suffer with iron deficiency in sport and I’m sure our followers will be interested as we are to see how you’ve dealt with this deficiency through your training! What support networks do you rely on the most to push you such as family, friends etc and how did they feel about you stepping back from the other sports and choosing athletics as your #1??
AN- my family were super supportive and we made the decision together, and my friends are soooo supportive of my sport it’s brilliant!! Honestly my support systems, my coach, training partners, families and friends just support me, I mostly push myself an put pressure on myself!!
FB- That must be a great feeling knowing your whole family are behind you and willing to get the best out of the sport for you! Lastly Alannah before we finish up, what is next for you and where do you see yourself in 5 years time? What are your goals in the sport?
AN- Next up I’ll just be running the last few races of the season looking for PB’s and then I’ll have to train for cross country!
In the long term I see myself with a degree in maths, hopefully running somewhere sunny! It’s the dream to make the olympics and hopefully win a major medal!!
FB- Lovely interview Alannah it really was our pleasure, keep up the hard work and hopefully in 5 years we can look at this and all of your goals have been reached! We wish you every success!