In a twist to our usual MHC Life series, this month as part of our WOW Month (Working on Wellness), we chat with some of our colleagues who give us an insight into their favourite sport, and give us some fitness and wellbeing tips. This week we speak to Conor Irvine, an associate on our Construction team. Conor talks about how he got into ice hockey and mental preparation tips.
How did you get into ice hockey?
I grew up in Canada, so like most Canadian kids I started skating when I was 3 or 4 and started hockey when I was 6.
What do you love most about ice hockey?
The fast pace and unpredictability. You never really know what can happen out there! It’s also a good outlet to blow off some steam!
How do you make time for training, work and family/friends?
Training is in Belfast every weekend, so I usually have to forfeit one of my weekend evenings. Luckily, the ice times are quite late so I’m only missing out on a few Saturday nights out rather than full days.
What’s been your best sporting highlight to date?
Representing Ireland at the International Ice Hockey Federation Development Cup a few weeks ago in Bratislava and notching my first international goal.
Any tips for beginners on how to get started?
Just get started! Find something that you enjoy to do, whether that’s a new sport or something you’ve stopped playing ages ago. Try something new with a friend, there’s plenty of beginners classes or things to do out there!
Any other passions besides ice hockey?
My golf game isn’t the greatest. I’m trying to get better and will definitely be taking up the MHC Golf Society’s lessons that are on offer this summer!
Do you follow a strict diet on the run up to a game/event?
There’s nothing too strict about the diet I follow before games. It’s usually a large carb heavy meal the night before like pasta or meat followed by lighter meals the day of You don’t want to have a full stomach for a game but you also want to be sure you have the energy needed to perform your best.
Do you find that motivation comes and goes? If so, how do you get back on track?
Definitely! The best way of getting back on track is just getting back out there. I also usually find that I’m way more fit in the summer when there’s more of an opportunity to enjoy evenings and there’s more activities to get involved in.
What mental preparation do you do before a competition/game?
I always like to stay loose. I’ll usually find some teammates to go throw/kick a ball around with before a game and not get too wrapped up in the performance aspect of things. I find that I play my best when I’m having a good time.
If you were to start your fitness journey/sports career from scratch today, what would be the first thing that you would do?
I took time off from ice hockey when I was in college, and first arrived in Ireland. I knew there was a rink in Belfast, but I never bothered trying to join a club and make the effort to get up there. In hindsight I lost a few years and gained a lot of rust by taking those years off! If I was to do it all over again, I really should have tried to keep playing, there was even a rink in Dundalk at the time so the commute was only half as bad!
From your own experiences, what advice would you give to anyone starting their fitness journey today?
Start off with a reasonable goal and be consistent. It took me years to learn how to ice skate and I’m still learning every time I go out, it’s easy to get frustrated when you see results as fast as you’d like but when you look back over several months the changes are always worth it.
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