Series04 Nov 2013

Work, rest and play – Robert Heffernan


We find out more about Ireland’s world 50km race walking champion Robert Heffernan as he answers our regular work, rest and play questions.

Heffernan is targeting the 2014 IAAF World Race Walking Cup held in Taicang, China, 3-4 May.


What is your favourite training session?

Robert Heffernan: I love walking the 40km sessions. This is what really helps me reach peak fitness and it also helps me go through my race routine of when to take on board drinks and gels. It is a great feeling when you have finished.

What is your least favourite training session?

RH: The 10x2km hard followed by 1km easy session. It is very tough.

What are your three favourite things about being an athlete?

RH: One, to be healthy and fit. Second, it is meeting many great people from all walks of life and thirdly it is the many great friends I have from all different corners of the world.

Who is your favourite training partner?

RH: My wife Marian (an Irish 400m international) because I love her.

Where is your favourite training venue?

RH: Guadix in Spain is a great spot.

What is the worst thing about being an athlete?

RH: Not being able to do the things I would like to be doing with my wife and kids as the demands for the sport are so tough, I spend so much time resting and recovering.


What is your favourite music to chill to?

RH: I love Irish traditional music. Luke Kelly, Christy Moore and John Spillane come to mind straight away.

If you could pick any other athlete in the world to relax with, who would it be?

RH: Roy Keane (Former Man Utd and Republic of Ireland footballer), he is a Cork legend

Where is your favourite place to relax?

RH: Cork (My home city)

What TV shows do you like to relax to?

RH: I have just finished Breaking Bad. It was unreal.


I believe you have a passion for boxing, what are your first memories of the sport?

RH: I can remember watching Riddick Bowe v Mike Tyson as a kid. My mother got me up for it as the fight was on in the middle of the night (where Robert was in Ireland). I also remember watching Barry McGuigan fight as a child. He was a world champion from Ireland.

Did you ever try boxing and to what standard?

RH: We used to set up a boxing ring in my garden when I was younger. It was great craic (Irish word for fun).

Do you ever incorporate any elements of boxing training into your training programme?

RH: When I was in Australia last year we did boxing circuits. It was extremely tough but great craic.

Can you explain why you enjoy boxing so much?

RH: I love the idea and the principle of men preparing to go to war (in the boxing ring) as there is no hiding place. Other elements like the skill and fitness of boxers I also respect.

Do you have an all-time favourite boxer?

RH: Big Joe Joyce. He is an Irish boxer who was never beaten – a legend among Irish bare knuckle boxers. He was ferocious. His grandson, young Joe Joyce, I believe will win gold at the next Olympics in Rio.

Which boxer to do you think would make the best race walker?

RH: Manny Pacquiao.

Steve Landells for the IAAF