PHIL Healy is running faster than ever before. Her stats don’t lie.
This past year the Ballineen bullet (23) set five new personal bests (60m, 300m, 400m indoor, and 200m indoor and outdoor) and was only one hundredth of a second away from breaking the Irish 60m senior record.
‘It’s great being able to take that momentum and positivity into winter training,’ she explained.
‘What I achieved in 2017 also meant that I took a certain level of speed into winter training, too.’
Comparing 2017 to what’s gone before, she can see the gains in training, in her speed, strength and endurance and in her gym work. That’s hugely encouraging for West Cork’s top sprinter – but she’s not resting on her laurels.
‘There is always room for improvement,’ she stresses, as she prepares for the indoor season that starts in January.
These times Phil is based in Waterford where she’s in the first year of her Masters in enterprise computer software at Waterford IT.
The change of scenery from UCC and Cork has brought its own freshness.
‘There’s a different vibe here. It’s going great,’ she said.
‘My coach Shane McCormack is here, that’s a big help, he’s able to oversee all my sessions now, and there’s a great support team around me.
‘The facilities in the WIT Arena are top-class, the high-performance gym, there’s an indoor strip of track right next to the gym, there’s a nutrition and physiologist; everything I need is here.
‘Training wise, the winter is always the toughest part, but the hard grind needs to be put in. These are the sessions where you are close to getting sick at the side of the track, but you need to lay a base down for what’s coming.’
Her gradual transition from the shorter 60m, 100m and 200m distances to the longer 400m also continued this past year, and that will be the case again in the new year.
‘I’ll still dip into 60m, 200m and 400m indoors,’ she explained.
‘At the end of the day, the 400m is a long game.
‘No one is going to become top-class over 400m as quick as it takes to get to a higher level in other events.
‘The 400m long-term will be the main aim, and I will continue to do it indoors and outdoors in 2018 while switching it up with few 200m indoors and outdoors, all based on competition schedule, as well as a few 60m.
‘The 60m-400m combo can go well together if the timetable allows.’
While 2017 saw Phil race for Ireland in the European Indoor Championships in Belgrade and the World University Games in Taiwan – the latter being her highlight of the year as she qualified for the 200m final where she finished seventh in the world – 2018 is also full of opportunities for her to take a step towards the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo.
The big targets in 2018 are the European outdoors in Berlin next August and the world indoors in Birmingham next March, but Tokyo will remain in the back of her mind.
‘That always is the goal and it’s these years that matter,’ Phil said.
‘It’s a four-year cycle so the work never ends.
‘In 2019 we can qualify so that would be the main goal – but there are plenty of other majors between now and then and a lot of hard work to put in.’
Phil’s 200m PB from 2017 was only 12 hundredths of a second off the Olympic standard so if she keeps improving, as has been the case, then 2018 promises to be another exciting year for one of Ireland’s top women’s sprinters.