How does a top runner spend the Christmas break? Is it a well earned rest with their feet up or is it training as normal?

Irish international Ciara Mageean enjoyed a successful year winning two national gold medals on the track and her first senior cross country title.

Following her move to England to team up with Steve Vernon and the Team New Balance Manchester training group, the 2016 European bronze medalist strived to rediscover her best form.

The 26 year-old competed for Northern Ireland over 800m and 1500m at April’s Gold Coast Commonwealth Games before winning double Irish gold in the events in July.

It was then off to Berlin to compete in the European Championships where she was denied a 1500m medal after a strong finish from GB’s Laura Weightman, but still clocked her fastest time of the year in the final.

Mageean then made a return to the cross country terrain where she showed her class to win a first Irish National senior cross country crown.

Now back in Northern Ireland for Christmas, will the Portaferry athlete enjoy a well earned break? Fast Running caught up with Mageean to find out.

Fast Running: Will you train on Christmas Day?

Ciara Mageean: I will, I have a bit of a tradition to do a run on Christmas morning at home.

I try to get my family out (usually only my daddy is persuaded) and as many people from the town. This year the run will be a bit harder as I actually have a tempo session to do on Christmas morning. I haven’t warned the regular Chrismas Day runners yet!

FR: What about Boxing Day?

CM: Every day is a running day, so I will be out on Boxing Day too. I’ll have to run early as I usually spend the day out in the country with my daddy and our Springer Spaniels.

FR: Have you ever run a race over the Christmas period?

CM: I didn’t grow up in a running environment and being a camogie player when I was younger Christmas was usually the off season.

I have a lot of friends that have local Christmas Eve runs or Goal Miles but that’s not the case with me. I will be racing on New Year’s Eve this year though in Italy which will be fun.

FR: What is the best running related present you have received at Christmas?

CM: Hands down my first pair of spikes were the best running related gift I ever received.

My grandparents bought them for me. Up until then I ran cross country races in my football boots or borrowed some of the other girl’s spikes when I went to the All Irelands.

FR: What is your favourite childhood memory of Christmas?

CM: Oh I don’t know how to narrow this down. Some of my fondest memories are of the mundane things.

My family always got together on Christmas day, aunties, uncles, and my grandparents. I do miss that, and I miss my Granny Kathleen falling asleep in front of the fire after Christmas dinner.

FR: Do you have a funny Christmas memory that stands out?

CM: Even though I’m 26 years old, Santa still comes to our house… I know, I’m very lucky!

My sister is always up at the crack of dawn to wake us at 5 am on Christmas morning. I’ll add that she is now 19 years old. Needless to say, she is sent back to bed.

Another funny memory was when my brother drank fish oil that was sitting in a cup. He thought it was orange juice and it certainly ruined his appetite for a while.

FR: Who are you spending Christmas 2018 with?

CM: I will be spending Christmas with my family, my parents, three siblings, my grandfather, and my uncle. Plus our cat Michia and dogs Rio and Duke.

FR: What is your favourite food at Christmas?

CM: I love roast potatoes, though I can never make them the way my mummy does. My granny taught my sister how to make stuffing the way she always did, and I love that.

Oh and I also love the prawn cocktail starter and my mummy’s pavlova. I love it all!

FR: Will you be doing the cooking?

CM: I will be the first to admit I am the least talented Mageean in the kitchen. I’m usually out running or sorting the dogs in the garden, but I’ll help where ever I can.

Most likely chopping and cleaning as the rest of the family won’t leave me in charge of anything.

RELATED: A runner’s Christmas: Marc Scott

Are you a fan of Fast Running? Then please support us and become a patron. For as little as the price of a monthly magazine you can support Fast Running – and it only takes a minute. Thank you.