In June, Caitriona Jennings finished third in South Africa's Comrades Ultramarathon. It was a remarkable feat considering she only committed to running the 87km race six weeks earlier.
Jennings had been training for the Rotterdam Marathon in April. She finished that in 2:38.42, 2:25 outside the personal best, set six years previous, which saw her qualify for the London Olympics.
The 39-year-old combines running with a high-pressure job. Up until June, she worked as head of tax for Goshawk, an aircraft leasing company based in Dublin.
"It’s time-consuming and there are long hours - it can be stressful at times," Jennings told Balls.
"I think that’s why running is so good. You can run at any time of the day that suits you.
"As long as you’re organised, you can fit it in wherever you can and because you need so little equipment to run wherever you are, you just throw on your runners and run.
"Once you have a plan in your head about what you want to do, what you want to get done that week… You have to be more flexible because there will be days when you don’t get to do what you planned.
"Now as I’ve matured as an athlete I’ve realised that you don’t have to panic if you don’t get a session done, you can change your plan and adapt around it if necessary.
"The worst thing you can do is try to do everything badly. If there’s a day where you can’t get done what you need to, you just accept that and, not necessarily make up for it, but maybe take it into consideration in your next session and make sure you’ve achieved your main targets for the week."
Photo by Eoin Smith/Sportsfile