Iron woman

Apr 03, 2018
Grant Thornton’s Sinead Donovan FCA shares her passion for endurance sports. 

Quite often, I pinch myself and look in surprise at where I am and what I have – partner in a superb, fast-paced, growing firm, mother of two fantastic daughters, on the Council of Chartered Accountants Ireland and chair of CA SUPPORT.  How did this happen and how was I so fortunate to be in this position? At times, it’s overwhelming and, I won’t lie, it can cause stress when juggling all the commitments. However, I know that I need a constant challenge in my life to ensure that I push myself and operate outside my comfort zone. It’s who I am and it is what makes me happy.  

It was this awareness of the need to operate outside my comfort zone that attracted me to endurance sports. With the responsibilities of family and work, as with most working parents, there wasn’t a whole lot of “me” time. I realised some five or six years ago that not only did I need “me” time to clear my head and deal with everyday stress, but I needed an outlet to ensure I had the physical and mental strength to deal with the day-to-day challenges.

Triathlon became my “thing”. Cross-training over three sports intrigued me – what do you focus on first? How do you split the time between the three events? I enjoyed learning about the disciplines and training became part of my everyday life. I generally try to get the bulk of my training done early – before the girls get up – so that I have no excuses. I fell in love with the progression of the training and the fun of taking part in events, which were getting longer and longer over the years. Very soon the goal became an Ironman.

Training for me is my release from work and from domestic stress. It gives me the head space to clear the mind of issues and the physical release to manage frustrations. My life currently falls into three buckets – family, work and training. The key thing is ensuring the balance is correctly maintained between the three – not always easy.  However, it’s a bit like training for a triathlon – I know there will be times that each discipline will need more attention than the other.

I achieved my goal of completing an Ironman last year and had such fun along the way. However, more than just physical achievement, it demonstrated to me that determination is everything – the body will achieve what the mind believes; consistent training is key; quick wins are not a long-term option; and a support team is critical. You can only do so much on your own but with a support team, the sky is the limit.