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Guest Post- The Dyspraxic Tax Consultant @pslattery2014

You have heard about the butcher, the baker and candlestick maker. Now we have the Doctor, the midwife and the tax consultant. It might not have the same ring to it but it’s still worth reading about. Following on from the recent guest post by @Hermionemidwife, I would also like to thank @dyspraxicdoctor for allowing this guest blog. I would like to introduce myself, my name is Philip @pslattery2014 to the twitterverse. I am 32 year old tax consultant based in Dublin Ireland. When not helping people rob the taxman I am normally running around West Dublin or North Kildare. I was diagnosed with Dyspraxia when I was 12. Up until that point, teachers kept saying it was a phase. At the time I was diagnosed with dyspraxia the report mentioned a hint of dyslexia, over the years a few have seen touches of Asperger’s, but neither the Dyslexia or Asperger’s have been confirmed.
I do not believe that dyspraxia has stopped me doing anything in life; I work to the motto nothing is impossible it only takes longer. After 18 years working in some form or another the only task I have been given that I have not been able to complete is changing the labels on a pricing gun. Since that task will likely not stop me one day becoming a Tax Director or Tax Partner it moves from a being challenge to the butt of a joke.
While dyspraxia has not stopped doing anything, it has given some challenges. For one, I have a dire short-term memory. I can tell you who scored the winning goal for Man Utd in the 1996 FA Cup final but if I am sent upstairs for get four items, I will come down with three items and will not remember being asked to get the fourth item.
My organisational skills are somewhat non-existent but I have tried to build in methods to help this. Task planning with Microsoft Outlook is a god send. My normal thinking is: what I am looking for is in that pile over there. I also tend to keep a lot of files near me as otherwise I won’t remember where they are.
Driving was one task that as an adult with dyspraxia was a real challenge, I realised very quickly that a manual car was not for me and swapped to an automatic. It took me three attempts but I did finally pass my driving test.
One other area where dyspraxia can affect people, and one of my weakest points, is social skills. I always find it hard to operate in crowds or anywhere with loud noise. If I am in a small group of up to three or four I can cope but anything larger I feel out of place especially as separate conversations start up. On my second day in my current job the trainees were going out for drinks and someone invited me along, my response was “I don’t drink I don’t do noise”. I came across like a twat but certainly that was not what I meant to do. 
@Hermionemidwife mentioned that sleep is an important thing for someone with Dyspraxia; I would second this point. I would describe my energy levels like a battery pack that requires 8 hours of charging a night. If I don’t get the eight hours the effects can be seen the next day. As a result of this in work I need to plan my tasks to ensure that the tougher or mentally tough tasks are done early in the day when I have the concentration levels. Otherwise the level of work produced will suffer the more drained I am. To aid with this I have also found ways to do certain tasks on auto pilot. These are the simpler tasks that I would do a number of times a day like walking to the photocopier or walking from the bus stop to my house. Here I can conserve a little bit of energy that is more needed doing other tasks during the day. 
What positives has Dyspraxia given me? For one, the way I think or look at something is different to most people and as a result I tend to see stuff that others have missed. In the world of tax that is a very good club to have in your bag. I also tend to be a lot more patient with people as a lot of patience was given to me when I was learning. So I am only returning the favour.
If someone was to ask me would Dyspraxia stop him or her doing anything in life I would say no. You can achieve anything that you put your mind to. Dyspraxia is not the death sentence that it once was. The days are long gone of a parent asking me about Dyspraxia limiting someone’s life. If you are in doubt look at Daniel Radcliffe or Florence Welch, who are both dyspraxic.
I hope that over time we can get a few more guest posts on this blog to show and reinforce the points I have made above- that you can do anything once you put your mind to it.
What would be my top tips for people with dyspraxia?
1. Ensure you get your 8 hours sleep
2. Have a good diet
3. Have an escape
The above three will help with your energy levels. When I talk about having an escape this is something you enjoy doing. For me it is running, whether going for an easy 5K or trying to break 3.30 for a marathon. I also find Toastmasters a great escape as it’s one place where no part of my dyspraxia is showing and it allows me to be myself in the speeches I give (tax saving, mental health, parkrun and supermarket psychology are some of my recent ones). The escape releases happy chemicals into your body and these help with sleeping and your energy levels.
4. Be positive: This applies to everyone – the reason I have done everything I have aimed to do is that my parents never said I could not do something because I’m dyspraxic. I believe in removing the word ‘can’t’ from your vocab as nothing good can come from it.
5. The only person you should be is yourself. Don’t do activities because someone else wants you to. If someone truly wants to spend the time with you, they will. For example, I generally do not do pubs if there is a match or music on.

Dyspraxia and parkrun

Dyspraxia has had a few different names over the years ranging from ‘clumsy child syndrome’ to its most recent name Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD). When I was diagnosed in 1998 very little was known about dyspraxia. When people heard I was dyspraxic most common responses were ‘dys-what?’ and ‘Do you mean dyslexic?’.

As things turned out I was the first person in both my primary and secondary school to be confirmed as dyspraxic. This was a learning experience for everyone. To put it in simple terms dyspraxia is when someone has a difficulty with hand eye coordination or fine and gross motor skills. This can range from simple jobs such as tying your shoelaces or catching a ball to spatial awareness. Like most specified learning difficulties (SLD) how it affects you changes as you get older.

When younger, tasks such as tying your shoes or a tie have a big impact, then as you get older they will not be seen as important but suddenly tasks such as driving a car become an issue or how you adapt to social settings. For one, I drive an automatic car as a manual involves too many tasks at once for me to handle. Some tasks will follow you no matter what age you are, my handwriting is as illegible now as it was when I was 10. Similarly, my social skills are still dire. With me I like small groups of three or four people – anything bigger and I will get lost, especially as smaller pockets of groups will emerge. One thing my sisters always spoke about was my lack of a sense of danger. I had a habit of crossing the road when the cars where coming. How I never got knocked down is still a wonder to my family.

The Dyspraxia Association of Ireland annual conference in May 2006 was a seminal day for both the Association and me, because it was the first time they had someone with dyspraxia as one of the key note speakers. That day I spoke to a room of around 250 people ranging from occupational therapists teachers, lectures and parents.

I think it took this long for it to happen because people were still unsure about dyspraxia and the people with dyspraxia had confidence issues as a result. This meant they would not have been able to stand up and talk about it to a large crowd. I still remember a man from Cork asking about “giving his child the label of dyspraxia” or the person who asked “If dyspraxia affected my dating life”.

Since 2006 I am aware of at least three other people with dyspraxia who have spoken to the annual conference and I believe this to be a watershed for dyspraxia. I look forward to the day when someone is speaking as a life coach or giving a Tedx talk about life with dyspraxia. They will reveal that the tricks and hints that got them to the stage can help people with many conditions and people with none.

The reason I mention this is that one message came out from that day – parents believed that since their child was dyspraxic it was almost the end of the child’s life, the child would not amount to anything. Since that day I have given myself the aim of changing that mindset. I believe that I have done this and will keep doing so.

Roll forward to my time at the University of Limerick doing a Masters and coming across this strange concept called parkrun. Like most things in life it was a simple concept, a free 5k on a Saturday morning. At the time I could count on one hand how many venues parkrun Ireland had and it was very Dublincentric. But on 15 June 2014, Griffeen parkrun started so I planned to see what all the fuss was about. However, best laid plans and all that, work changed my hours the night before so I had to wait an extra week for my debut.

I enjoyed my first outing and went back the few rare Saturdays I was working late or had a Saturday off. But it was not till June 2015 I was really bitten by the parkrun bug. While living in Dundalk I decided to set up a parkrun, and as it turned out I was not alone in that thinking. After talking to Ireland country manager Matt Shields, it was decided to join forces with a woman named Carmel Drumgoole and work together to set up Dundalk parkrun. On 6 June 2016 Dundalk parkrun had it first event and they actually trusted me with the scanner! Even more shocking was that for events five to eight, I was the Run Director! But alas nothing drastic happened.

Shortly after that I moved away from Dundalk but not parkrun. I knew Castletown parkrun was in the works so I split myself between Griffeen and Waterstown parkruns till it launched. Once Castletown started I was given an opportunity to volunteer at all roles. After a little while I was invited onto the core team of the event. Since then I have progressed and grown with the event. I also seem to have installed myself as the go to guy for the results (I may be the proof that you cannot break parkrun). To continue my growth within parkrun I became Event Director of Castletown parkrun in September this year.

What has my journey with parkrun taught me? For one thing, anything is possible if you put your mind to it. Secondly, parkrun will allow people to grow at their own pace and will never push someone to do something they don’t want to do. It has allowed me to grow and nobody has ever said I can’t do something because I’m dyspraxic, but in the same way as other people they have asked am I comfortable doing it. They have provided the training to allow me to do the roles I enjoyed.

The benefit does not only show on a Saturday morning. Since joining parkrun I have come out of my shell a little bit. Prior to parkrun I don’t believe I would be able to speak to people whether in a group or on their own the way I can now. It has also given me the confidence to go for jobs I would not have considered myself good enough before. The reason is simple: parkrun has taught me I can do anything I want if I put my mind to it. For certain I would not have my current job working in tax for BDO Dublin had I not gained the confidence and support to grow within parkrun the way that I did.

The advice I would give to people with learning difficulties or disabilities is to go to your local parkrun and allow yourself to grow at your own pace. This may mean running or walking it until you feel confident enough to volunteer. It may be the case that when you start volunteering you only feel comfortable as a marshal or token sorter. And that’s fine – parkrun will allow you to grow at a pace that suits you. Going out the door for Griffeen parkrun event number two was one of the best decision I ever made, and a similar decision could be for you too.

Above I have spoken about how parents were at the conference in 2006 and the fear they felt. I think as we look 11 years later this fear is not as bad as it was. Parents have a better idea about what dyspraxia is and that it is not a life sentence. When we look at successful or famous people with dyspraxic we see Daniel Radcliffe (Harry Potter), Florence Welsh (Florence & The Machine) and Hannah McDonnell (Former Dublin Rose) to name a few. Having dyspraxia did not stop me, nor did it stop them. Look at Stephen Hawkins or Sinead Kane to see that disability won’t stop you unless you let it.

If I was asked to give two pieces of advice to parents of someone with a disability or long term health condition I would say:

•Remove the expression “We can’t” for “How can we?”. Look at like of James Casserly who has completed the last two Dublin Marathons in a wheelchair being pushed by Mark Lacey.
•Keep it positive. Your child can pick up body language more then we know. If they sense negativity around the condition they will develop a glass ceiling a lot lower than it should be.

parkrun has the ability to help you make friends, learn new skills, build confidence and get fit, all for an entry fee of nothing.

Philip Slattery
parkrunner A536756

Photo thanks to Eavan Connolly

week ending 11/2/18

So the last week before the training starts for Cork Marathon starts. I did something this week i have not done since 2014. I did a training run with a club, even better i did something i have not done since the 90’s. I went back for a second run with that club.
Monday morning started off nice and early with a 5am 5k. Average pace for my easy 5k was 8.16/km with a 123 average heart rate. Its a nice way to get the week started. It also had you very alert for by the time work starts at 9.
Tuesday night was a big step for to join a running club. 2014 was last time i ran with a club and that was ULAC when doing my masters. Did 1 session and went back to training by myself. I decided to jog the 3k to the club as my warm up. When i arrive i was greeted by some familar faces from parkrun. I was told tonight was 5×5 minute blocks. My splits for the 5 block were 4.00, 4.03,4.02,4.02, 4.14. Overall it was an enjoyable first night and im sure that it will help me over time being a member of a club.
Thursday was back to the club again. This time 3×10 minute blocks was the target. My splits this time were 4.24, 4.06, 4.15. I was happy again to see them in the low 4’s. I also think as I get used to running on tracks those times will get a better as well. Similar to tuesday it was a run to and from the club as my warm up/warm down
Saturday was back to parkrun as the journey to 100 continues. At the moment I am trying to take my parkruns easy so I am chatting my way around the 5k. Today i was just over the 30 minute mark which is grand as an easy run. I’m judging that off its easy if you can run and talk at the same time. But parkrun #77 marked off along with volunteer #84
Sunday the week finished off with a 10k LSR i decided to do it as a step back run ahead of the training for Cork. It was a 5 minute warm-up with 10k a 6 minute pace. Should have gone off heart rate but the monitor was not working. Followed by a 5 minute cool down to finish off.
Thats a 45.5k week that leave me just on the average for my 1,600k year.

Weekending 14/1/18

2nd week of 2018 done.
Monday started off with the normal 5k easy run. This was an after work run. The heart rate is starting to be a little more consistent on the easy run and not spiking as much as it was.
Tuesday was a 6k tempo run with 900m warm up and cool down. A bit like that last week it took me a little while to get into my grove but once i was in it the pace was very good. I ended with a 4:46 average for the 6k.
Saturday at parkrun was my next session due to fog making running a little to iffy to do. I decided the parkrun would be taken easy but also had no watch so could not measure heart rate. But 26.10 was my time for the parkrun so will consider that an easy run in my books. My plan was to start and the back and chat to a few people along the way. Near the end of the first lap I bumped into Alica Ashmore and stuck with her till the end.
Sunday was the good old reliable long run. This week i was stepping up to 14k. So i decided to try a different route. So i started in Celbridge running to Maynooth. Onto collinstown turning up onto the interchange towards Castletown then onto my normal 5k route. I ended with a 5.23 average for the 14k which is nice for this period of the training.
For Cork i want that near the minute mark and in Berlin to be under it. At this period of the training I am focusing more on heart rate and distance but always nice to see the baseline for time so you know that work that has to be done.
Hopefully the early morning runs will be back on Monday and Wednesday, also next week we have the VHI Roadshow and David Gillick visiting parkrun so will make for something a little different then normal. 
Yearly running total 74.2k
Average weekly milage 37.1k
I need to hit 30.8k weekly average to hit my yearly target.
Till next Sunday enjoy folks. 

Weekending 07/01/2018

Checking in after the first full week of 2018 and a busy week it was in that Monday started off the year with not 1 but 2 parkrun’s
griffeen and porterstown. I took griffeen a little easier knowing i had to do a second one completing the course in 24:37. Then i decided to leave nothing on the course in porterstown giving it my all and completing it in 23:31. As i was running two parkrun’s in one day i was happy with these times as New Years day is never one for PB’s. Just toshow a few castletown runner made porterstown we did take a selfie.

Tuesday between the rain and the wind i decided that staying in my be an idea.

Wednesday was back to tempo running and another 5k tempo run. It seemed to take a while for my heart rate to hit tempo pace but it got there in the end. It was tough than the week before but eating before the run may have been issue here.

Thursday was a nice easy 5k to shake out the cobwebs. The heartrate seems to be settling more now then the first few times. It only broke the zone with 500m or so to go.

Saturday was my second parkrun tourism of the week visiting Fairview parkrun. Very nice 3 lap parkrun. Nice and flat as well very good if looking to set a pace. Here I decided to push it moving up to 5th during the

first lap. During the second lap a made a slight misturn falling back to 7th but
slowly getting back into 5th and holding till end of the lap when i fall back to 7th. i stayed close to the the guy in front of me for most the lap but not being able to hold on a cross the line in 22:27 which is my fastest parkrun since September. After this I went onto Croke Park for an Operations Transformation Community Champions day. Some interesting stats from the day but i will post on them
another time. Before I left Croke Park I did get one photo with some of the experts from the show. Think they were more excited to get a photo with me then the other way around.

Sunday we finished off in the normal way with an LSR. This week it was 12k taking in laps of Castletown house. The pace ranging mostly from 5.30 to 5.50’s. as the time goes on getting below 5.30 would be the aim as i will need to run 4.58’s in a marathon to get my time. But was a nice crisp morning and good to see others out running as well. Moving up to 14k next week i will also be able to leave castletown and try another route.

I also decided this week as my savings plan for 2018 to save 50 cent for every km run and by my self a new suit come 2019 with the money so 41k run this week so €20.50 gone into the savings that may just get me the pocket square 

2018 The plan

Every year people talk about New Year New Me. In 2018 I wont be looking for a new me but my aim is to improve the old me  in the places I can.

What I will be trying to improve in 2018 outside of running

    1. More core work
    2. Better Diet
    3. More work on Mindfullness
    4. Update the blog more


  1. While the above will help running if successful they are more to do with enjoying your own self and they will also give me more energy to improve on my running. Diet wise I want eat as much as possible that I have made myself and with more variety, also cut take away’s from weekly to once a month.

    As for updating the blog more, I have a habit of doing very well for weeks then life pops up and gets in the way. So for 2018 I would aim to blog more. The reason is it helps my spelling and grammar but also writing stuff out can be very good for stress relief.

    What I will be trying to improve in 2018 inside of running

    1. run a sub 20 5k more than once
    2. Break 3.30 for a full Marathon
    3. focus more on enjoying my running


  2. The sub 20 i know is achievable if i can focus on speed work. This is not always possible when also working on distance work. The hope is by working on speed for marathon distance some of it will work its way down to my 5k time.

    Enjoy what you do and you will never work a day in your life. If you don’t enjoy something you are less likely to do it. So one item I want to work on is enjoying my running. One part of this I have started doing is running and not racing parkruns. I can also be seen skipping or jumping on parts of the course for no other reason then having the craic.

    My Marathons for 2018

    1. Berlin
    2. Cork City
    3. Dublin City


  3. The above is the order of importance of the 3 marathons this year. Berlin is my main hope for getting the sub 3:30. Cork will be used to see how the training is going so will aim for around 3.35 in Cork. Dublin is all about doing my home marathon. In order to focus on the above I will not be doing as many races as I normally do.

    My parkrun aims for 2018

    1. Join the 100 Club
    2. Get the Cow Cowl


  4. After my 2 New years day runs I am sitting on 72 runs. 28 in the year should be possible depending on how often I  volunteering and the jobs I do.
    To obtain the Cow Cowl you need to run in 20 different parkrun venues as of January 1st I have 12. The aim is to reach 20 in 2018 and to reach 30 in 2019 and make the parkrun most events list.

    While i know as ED of Castletown parkrun completing the above 2 will be harder so if I hit one by the year end I will be happy.

DCM 17

The day started well an extra hour in bed thanks to day light savings. Got up to a simple breakfast of wheatabix’s and zero tabs. Meet up with a few from Celbridge AC for the bus into Dublin. As we neared Westmoreland st we could see all the runners heading to the start. In what was a first we arrived before the gate was open so we waited around for a few minutes till we were sent to a different gate to get in. While waiting I bumped in Liz O’Neill so I was talking to her before we went to drop our bag in. After dropping the bag in I chatted to some of the parkrunners who were working the bagdrop. After waiting around for a few minutes and bumping into Neasa Ni Dhoibhilin I went to warm up then was time to get into my starting place.

The plan was to set off with the 3:40 pacers but could not see that at the start so I set off near the 3:30 pacers but planed to go at my own speed. My average time needed was 5:12/km first km was a little slow at 5:24 so i sped up and a bit to much and did the next one in 4:45. At 10k I knew I had not had a big enough breakfast as my stomach was rumbling so I took a gel to fill the gap. For the 1st 18k I was between 4:44 and that 5:24 from the 1st km. My left ankle was a little dicey from 11k I was walk running but more running then walking. At 10k I was 90 seconds up on my expected time. 19-21k went 5:24, 5:45 5:55 meaning at the half way stage while I was on 3:40 pace it would not finish near it.

My 24th km time of 5:57 was the last sub 6 minute km in the race the 25th km to 33rd km floated between 6:10 and 6:41. The 34km was my first to be over 7 minutes. 4 of the next 5 were in this range. At this stage I saw a sign saying 5 miles left by now i was walking more then running. I messaged the girlfriend who was meeting me at the finish to say I had 5 miles left but they would be 5 slow miles. At this stage I was trying to stay positive and try to give a thumbs up to anyone to shouted my name but inside I was struggling I knew that if needed I was walking to that finish. At this point I was only able to run maybe 200/300m before the ankle was flaring up and walking continued. Some people have done lamp posts. I was doing bus stops then again I was also different, Starting to run at one stop and continue to the next. I was starting to see the regular places I knew which helped me alot but I dont think I have ever been smiling come UCD this year was no different 200m was all I could run at this stage and was very much gritting my teeth to continue.

As the numbers went up I was getting a little more positive knowing I would complete the course. Come the RDS I was not well I was maybe able to run 50m in one go. Just after this I meet my sister, brother in law and nieces. My sister admits she nearly cried at this point as I did not look well. As I nearly the 2k remaining mark I was running as much as I could it was a mixture of the crowd support and determination getting me to the finish even as I saw the 400m to go sign I tried to run but even at that only got 100m running so I walked a 100, jogged lightly for 100 and ran the last 100 to cross the line in 4hrs 11 minutes 47 seconds. This was my 4th Dublin and 7th marathon but easily the hardest one since my first in Dublin in 2013. Now rest up and see what the plan is and my journey for a Sub 3:30 will go into 2018. I’ll take the winter now to allow my body to be pieced back together. Thanks to all the support along the route especially Sharon Ashmore, Alicia Ashmore, Joan Ryan and Niamh Adams. right now i say i’m done with Dublin but next year ill be back at that starting line.


They say to run you need to be a little bit mad. I think to run marathons you need to be totally mad.

My name is Philip Slattery and i have a running addiction. This blog will be my trails and tribulations of all things running.

From my journey to get a constant sub 20 5k (so far I broken it once) to the journey to run all the marathon majors. Major number 2 in Berlin coming in 2018

When not running the roads of North Kildare and West Dublin Dublin training I can be found at Castletown parkrun where I am Event Director. If you don’t know what the fuss about parkrun is get yourself to one you will not be sorry.

The sub heading to the site “the run is only part of the story” is due to an old Muhammad Ali quote “The fight is won or lost far away from witnesses – behind the lines, in the gym, and out there on the road, long before I dance under those lights” 

As a friend once told me a marathon is not 26.2 mile race that just the end of it. Its the early morning and late nights training building up to it that will really define the race.

Have a look around the site and enjoy the visit. I will try post a new blog at least once  a week.