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Dublin: 14 °C Thursday 15 November, 2018

Working 9-5 and beating the professionals: Eoin Morton looking to repeat last year's Rás feat

Eoin Morton spoke to The42 about fitness, his hectic life and THAT Rás stage win last year.

“A LAD WITH a 9-5 job takes a stage in the Rás, I’ve honestly no words to describe it. I don’t even believe it this moment. I’m on cloud nine, cloud nine.”

Eoin Morton Eoin Morton. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

That was Dubliner Eoin Morton’s reaction as he was the star of the show on the second day of last year’s An Post Rás, his win coming after a monstrous breakaway effort in the 185-kilometer stage from Mullingar to Charleville in Cork.

The UCD-Fitzcycles rider was the first full-time working man to win a stage since 2013, an incredible feat which he looks back on with great fondness.

But like every great sportsperson, Morton doesn’t focus on the past. His eyes are firmly fixated on what’s coming next.

“I got a bit of luck last year, but we’ll keep the fingers crossed and go again,” he tells The42.

“As somebody who has a job competing against these guys whose job it is to ride a bike, you’re like how do you think I could compete? But you do.

You do the training, you get out there and get among it. Regardless of if they’ve got a lovely continental name and very tanned legs, the pasty Irish fella mixes in with them.”

His get-it-done attitude is something that strikes you immediately.

Morton’s life is pretty crazy at the minute. He works full-time in communications, has recently bought a house, is newly-engaged and all the while training like a professional.

Eoin Morton celebrates winning the second stage of the Ras Morton on his way to winning Stage 2 of last year's Rás. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

He cycles 100k a day, mixing between heavy interval sessions and endurance sessions. That translates to 20-25 hours a week on the bike along with 3 or 4 hours in the gym, in his own words.

The 28-year-old finds it more of a lifestyle though.

His day goes like this: get up, get on the bike and cycle to the office, work the 9-5 grind and possibly hit the gym at some stage during his shift, get back on the bike for an intense session on the way home. Recover and relax, sleep and then do it all again the next morning.

“It’s challenging but it’s about time efficiency. As much as it might seem daunting to a lot of people, it’s very manageable for me and I just work it into my lifestyle.

“I don’t do a huge amount of training before work. I live in Bray so I ride the hour from Bray into town, and that’ll be me with or without breakfast. I do half my training in the morning and then on the way home, that’ll be my proper training, a proper session.”

“Monday to Friday would be all heavy sets of intervals — find a road, put the head down and keep going.”

When asked about the possibility of turning professional, Morton states the obvious: “It’s the dream.”

But his level-headed nature brings him back down to earth.

“I’ve a mortgage, and it’s a big risk. The entry level of professional cycling, to step up to that, the money is not exactly economically viable. Look I’ve a good job where I am, I’m perfectly happy but that said, if the right opportunity came down the line for me I’d have to think about it.

It’s always been a dream but it might have to stay that way. It’s all a bit of craic.”

Like in every sport, strength and conditioning and gym work is becoming more and more prevalent in cycling. In order to compete at the top level, the hours must be put in away from the bike too.

Eoin Morton 'It’s always been a dream but it might have to stay that way.' Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

Morton admits that this year is the first year he’s properly put in the effort in the gym, but he can see it reaping its benefits already.

“We’d be doing very very light weights, and working on TRX [a type of suspension training] and that. It’s all about core stability, if you want to be able to sprint fast you need to have a strong core.

“In the winter, November, December, January, I’d be doing a lot of squats and working on the power in the legs. It’s kind of a mix. Now, coming into race season, I’m really focusing on building up the core area and making sure the back and the stomach are in good nick and ready to go.

“To be honest, this year is the first year I’ve really started putting in the gym work along with the bike and I actually really enjoy it. I kind of nearly find it therapeutic. I don’t know if I’m kind of sick in the head with that attitude, but I actually really really enjoy it.

“It’s a nice break, especially with the gym in the office we can get away from the desk, do an hour in the gym and I’m back refreshed and ready for another few hours of work.”

With the importance of strength and condition and a variation of training, comes the importance of nutrition.

Morton takes us through his typical day:

“Breakfast consists of a huge bowl of porridge with a scoop of chocolate protein powder in it. Then ride to work, I’d have a cup of coffee in work then around 9 o’clock. Come 11, I’ll have a protein bar.

“At lunchtime I’d have a small salad, nothing much, I don’t have a huge amount of calories at work because I’m sitting at a desk, I’m pretty stationary during work hours.

Eoin Morton 'Regardless of if they’ve got a lovely continental name and very tanned legs, the pasty Irish fella mixes in with them.' Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

“Come 4 o’clock, I have probably the strangest meal of my day, I have another huge bowl of porridge. I have everybody on the whole floor in work kind of looking at me like I have 10 heads, asking me ‘what are you having breakfast for now? Is the cash running low?’

“I’m a bit of a headcase having a bowl of porridge at 4 o’clock in the afternoon, but it needs to be done and it’s easy before the ride home. Then you’re looking at a normal dinner in the evening, fairly standard affair.”

He does keep a strict enough diet plan on a daily basis, but that being said ‘balance’ is a word he uses, one touched on quite a lot by sportspeople.

“I’d be eating 4000-5000 calories a day, every day. It’s about the balance and the quantity and not taking in lots of crap. You’re looking at a lot of protein shakes, healthy snacks. I swear I keep the sports nutrition industry going.”

“It’d be very rare that I’d have a chocolate bar or something like that, beer would be a no-go. At this point it’s more of a lifestyle. I focus on it, it’s just something that I do. If you look in my fridge, there’s very rarely a big chocolate bar or a tub of ice cream. I’d make my own protein balls, I’d keep those in the fridge and that’s just the way I’d do it in our house

“Don’t get me wrong though, every so often I’ll have a chocolate bar or a beer or a bit of ice cream. I wouldn’t be ridiculously stringent, but it’s all within balance. I wouldn’t be one of these who eat absolutely just fish and nuts.”

With his first race of 2017 under his belt, Morton is relishing what lies ahead.

He’s been working away quietly over the past few months, but now comes his time to shine. He still has a while to go until the 2017 An Post Rás kicks off on the 21 May, but it’s always in the back of his mind.

He’s been training for the event since October, with all of his focus culminating to point towards that highly anticipated week in May — one of the highlights of the Irish cycling calendar.

Training’s going really well. The power, everything is measured off watts rather than speed, it’s about how many watts you’re producing – the same as light bulbs, and the watts are up.

“Fitness seems to be going really well, so I’m looking forward to getting back racing week-in, week-out and what 2017 brings.”

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About the author:

Emma Duffy

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