This weeks Competitor Spotlight is about a man who has an awesome job. Part of this job is getting people in tip top shape for Adventure Racing. He is regularly seen bringing hordes of adventures to races. He is good at his job. He is not bad at racing either 😉
I give you Bernard Smyth…
Where are you from? Trim Co Meath
How old are you? 32
You own a gym that trains Adventure Racers. Can you tell us a little more about it?
Ultimate Conditioning is a gym that I own and run. I specialize in athlete development, Personal Training and I have a very committed group that train for, and compete in adventure races. The work I do with clients involves designing and implementing personilized and specific training plans. I am the Strength and Conditioning Coach for the local GAA team and Rugby team. I spend a lot of time designing programs for Athletes in team and field sports, triathletes and endurance athletes. A Highlight to date has been designing and implementing the strength program for the only 2 man team that have competed in, and completed RAAM.
For adventure racing we train most weekends as a group and enter races based all around the country. You cant really miss us in our Ultimate Conditioning kit so if you see us at a race come say HI!! We love chatting to fellow racers!
What got you into Adventure racing?
A client I was training at the time wanted to do an adventure race so I got a group together and we trained for Achill. Unfortunately I tore my achilles playing rugby that year so couldn’t compete in that race. After it healed up, I found myself having less interest in the game I played for 15 years and more interest in training for adventure races and I haven’t looked back since.
How many races have you done? 15
When was your first race? 2015
Which race was it?
Achill Roar as it was called at the time.
That’s a tough one, they all have their own unique twists or difficulties, but if I had a soft spot for one it would probably be Achill.
For the last couple of years I’ve started to follow Race around Ireland when its on and start to think about doing it, so maybe some day ill give it a go.
What inspires you?
Seeing ordinary people do extraordinary things. I was part of an 11 man crew on a 2 man team for RAAM this year and watching the 2 lads, graham and Declan, complete that race was hands down was the most inspiring thing I’ve ever witnessed.
Which would you consider your strongest discipline…Kayaking, running or cycling?
I don’t think I excel in any one discipline. I am relatively new to this so I have a lot to learn! Each race I learn more about racing and where and how I need to improve. Then I take that and incorporate it into my training plans.
Bike of Choice
Any one that could make me faster! I am currently on my 2nd ever road bike, a Kuota Kyron which i really enjoy riding.
Do you use GPS watch? If so, which one?
Yup, a Garmin Fenix
Week before race…what do you do?
Reduce the distances and intensity of training and reduce gym work and load but it would depend on previous training and the upcoming race
Morning of race…what do you do?
Obsess over my gear bag and make sure I have everything!!
Any race superstitions?
I hate to admit it but I always use the same kit, same food and find it hard to change anything up a few races into the year!
Any embarrassing moments you wish to share?
Nope…but its early days!
Post-race…do you spoil yourself, if so, how?
A bag of chips with heaps of salt and vinegar!
Some people race for the medals, some for the jerseys, are you either of these people?
Its nice to get something after the race but I really like the competitive and social aspects, racing fellow athletes and the banter after the race with the guys from the gym and with the guys you competed against. No matter what level you’re at you will always be in a battle with someone…whether they know it or not!!!
Most beautiful scenery?
Staring out across Keem Beach from the mountains in Achill or across the lake in Killarney…bliss, when your head isn’t down gasping for air!
Hydration/Gels? Do you use them? Do you use any particular brands?
Not really, get horrible heartburn off them! Jellybabies have all the carbs you need, no heartburn or hefty price tag!
Do you use a GPS watch? If so, which one?
I use the Garmin Vivo active. I find it a great watch and easy to use and instant updates when linked to my phone. Battery is decent also. I wear it all the time now and get a bit of a kick out of the Garmin challenges such as the step challenge and the running group I’m involved with on it. It’s a monthly mileage challenge and the banter is lively on the forum. I also have it linked to my Strava and it updates that account automatically.
Cant say I have one but I admire anybody that signs up to a race and sees it through. It takes a lot of hard work and commitment to get to the start line no matter what the distance.
Advice for absolute beginners?
Learn to Kayak. You will make time there if you have good technique. Learn to run down hill, another area a lot of people don’t utilise…its free speed!!! Get to know the gears on your bike….they are your friend!
Do you have any social media links we can follow your progress on?
Yup sure do. Our face book page is regularly updated with our training and race weekends. Search “Ultimate Conditioning” on face book.
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