The challenge is on. One minute I am sitting nice and cosy on the TV3 Midday panel with Elaine Crowley and the next thing I know, we have talked ourselves into running a 10k before Christmas.
As we sat, discussing the benefits of running for both your physical and mental health, Elaine had a ‘Eureka’ moment, picking the Aware Christmas Run as the target for our newly motivated running prowess.
I am confident we will achieve it too, because we’ve got an amazing support team. Irish International Ultra Runner John O’Regan has taken us on board and is going to make runners of us. Now you may say that HE is the one with the real challenge… and you could be right!
John has a pedigree that would make any girl’s knees weak. This Irish running legend has travelled the world, trail and ultra running and taken on some of the most hard-core challenges including the Yukon 100 Mile Arctic Ultra and the 246km Spartathlon in Greece. (Yes, 246k – that was not a typo). He has represented Ireland many times in the Ultra Marathon; competing in 24-hrs, 100K and Ultra Trail.
Could getting Elaine and I to run 10K in the Phoenix Park on December 12th be John O’Regan’s toughest challenge yet?
This man is an amazing coach and he’s all heart. I mean that in several different ways. As we arrived for our first training session at John’s club-track Le Chéile Athletic in Leixlip, we were already overwhelmed by the on-line endorsements that were rolling in on social media for John’s legendary patience and generosity as a trainer. He is clearly a star on the running field but he is also clearly passionate about passing on his love for the sport to newbies and up and coming talent. He is also ‘all heart’ in the way he approaches our training. It’s all about our heartrate. John has us got us walking and running within targeted cardio zones and we monitor the length of time we are active rather than the distance we cover. His message is to pay as much attention to rest and recovery as you do to your training. It is an easy introduction and I am surprised to say, that I am really enjoying it a lot more than I expected.
On John’s advice and with the support of Dublin adventure store Great Outdoors, we have been fitted out with ‘FitBits’ – activity bracelets that monitor our heart-rate, sleep, activity and much more. I have already learned that I need to be a lot more organised about my exercise and my SLEEP! The mantra we are following is about recovery as much as exertion.
Our opening week’s training includes a walk/run fitness plan that is based on walking and running a couple of times a week, with our heart-rate elevated but not overly so. We’ll be doing other exercise too; as I love swimming and hiking and yoga and Elaine has taken on a ‘Strictly’ dancing challenge for Breast Cancer Ireland. So we are definitely well motivated for our #Couch2Christmas.
If you feel inspired to join us in the Phoenix Park on December 12th, you can follow our progress on TV3’s Midday 11.30am to 12.30 and here on my blog www.teenagates.com; or follow us on Facebook or Twitter.
You can also check out Fit4life which is a programme for all runners whether you are a complete beginner or a regular jogger/runner. Parkrun is another option – where you can register free, online, for a timed 5k run held every Saturday morning in parks all around the world.
Here’s to getting up and getting active in time for those Christmas parties, and helping support awareness for our mental health along the way.