WHILE next Monday many Leesiders will be recovering from the Bank Holiday weekend excesses, Eoin Fehily will be heading off on a gruelling trek to Dublin.
The Ballincollig man is walking from home to Dublin in a fundraising drive in aid of Crumlin Children’s Hospital, with a target of €10,000.
“I’m aiming for a minimum 65k a day, a marathon and a half, and I’m hoping to do it in four days but it might take five,” he explains. “The first day I want to break the border past Mitchelstown into Limerick. Once I get past day three I should be driving on then no matter what has happened.”
It will be an incredible physical and mental challenge, as he tries to recover each evening through ice baths and hot showers, and attempts to get enough calories on board to complete the daily mileage. Once you spend time in Fehily’s company you wouldn’t doubt his ability to complete it for a second.
The owner of the F1T fitness centres in Ballincollig and Grange lost 10 stone, through walking and nutrition, when he was in his 20s before going on to work in the industry. He’s cool and calm and remarkably focused in everything he does.
“I was going to bring a support network but I’ll be just by myself. I wanted to send a message out that you can always get out and walk and just clear your head. You don’t need anyone else to get out that front door and walk.”
Eoin and his wife Serena are hugely grateful to the role Crumlin Children’s Hospital played when their son Eli took ill after his birth last November. The soon to be one-year-old is recovering now but it was a very dark time.
“It was Christmas Day last year when I came up with it. I wanted to give something back to the universe. I walked 10k on Christmas Day and I got it in my head I was going to walk to Dublin. I used Christmas week to do a few 20k walks and I made my decision then on New Year’s Eve.”
The training, though now complete, was an epic journey in itself.
“85km was my longest walk, to Midleton, on to Ballycotton. It was back-to-back marathons. People ask me ‘how does Serena let you off?’ but I wouldn’t be at home, I’d be working. I just make time in my day for extra projects, set the alarm earlier.
“I like my day to be very structured. I have a system that’s the same every single morning I get out of bed for 15 minutes to set myself up. I always use lists to make sure I don’t miss out.
“I did three months of training at the start of the year and I tore all the muscles in my calf and hamstring. I took two months break, working on strength in the gym, and then I’d another two months opening our new gym.
“I analysed all my training and rebooted it completely. I’ve chatted to loads of people, physios, other trainers just by asking them ‘what would you do?’ The plan I’d mapped up in August was ripped up and you have to be adaptive in that way.”
He did suffer an injury in September that could have derailed his plan.
“Everything from shin down was suffering and it was a borderline stress fracture so that cost me two and half weeks but I’m back on track now.
“When you’re training you must respect the pitch, respect the opposition, respect the bar if you’re in the gym and I didn’t do that when I was preparing for this. I changed my routes at times because I was going well and I wasn’t disciplined enough.
“That’s how I got injured and at some stage I was badly dehydrated. If something is working you don’t need to change it, you don’t need to try fancy flicks or nutmegs in a match if you’re beating your man anyway.”
Despite working in the fitness business, Fehily has a very holistic approach to wellness – both of the body and the mind.
“There’s nothing wrong with wanting to look good or feel good. We all love getting dressed up for a wedding, whether you’re male or female, and how that makes us feel. There’s a certain vanity to the gym but the key thing is not to get fooled by social media and being obsessed with projecting a false image.”
He worries about modern teenagers who can drift from team sports towards the gym culture without appreciating what they’re missing.
“If you’re in school until 4pm you can go to the gym after then go home and do your homework and have your dinner and the evening is free to watch the Champions League or whatever. The thought of going down to muddy pitches can really put off some people and that’s why I think every club has to take a hit and put in an astro-turf pitch for training.
“The gym is a great release but there is nothing beats the sitting in the changing room with your team-mates. Whether you win or lose, that bond is incredible.”
And after every big game, there’s a bit of downtime. He’ll certainly need some after next week.
“This is the first Christmas I can honestly say I’m looking forward to having two weeks off. Serena is an accountant and she’ll do the same. We swore blind that we needed that.”
If you want to contribute to the cause you can visit www.gofundme.com/belief-walk