Tonight we’re on TV – our hardy band of six adventurers take to the small screen for the first time after a year where they pushed outside their comfort zone and took on a whole heap of challenges that they never thought possible.
Here’s how the idea began:
Get Off The Couch! follows six people as they seek to change their lives and take on active challenges that they never thought possible. This series captures the triumph of the human spirit through determination and the desire to better oneself by capturing the personal stories, achievements, and courage of these six ordinary people doing extraordinary things.
Get Off The Couch – by Athena Media for Setanta Sports is made with the support of the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland’s Sound & Vision scheme. The six part series is free to air on Setanta Ireland from October 24th 2013 at 10:05pm.
For more information on Get Off The Couch! please contact Rob Hope at (01) 4883352 or at email@example.com or visit www.getoffthecouch.ie
I moaned about the wind, the rain, the dark nights… the wind, the rain, the dark nights… and always the cold – but today in bright evening sunshine, running into a sunset, it all paid off. Thanks so much to all the trainers and volunteers at Le Cheile Athletics Club in Leixlip, especially Irish Ultra Runner, John O’Regan, who is so generous with his knowledge and time – and Sharon Ashmore (above), who quite literally ‘dragged me off the couch’ on occasion. I don’t find running easy, but after 10 weeks training, two nights a week, I finally made it from Couch to 5k and today I ran the distance without stopping, and even managed a wee sprint at the end. So the runnin’n’walkin thing is over – I’m a runner now! I’ve no excuses left, and the mental block that stops me running after 4 minutes has finally been lifted. I’ll be back at that start-line on Saturday for the Leixlip 5k, and now I know I can do it…
I joined Le Cheile’s Couch to 5k programme to get in shape for Run Kildare which is hurtling towards us on May 12th. I ran and walked the Run Kildare 10k last year and I wanted to return and do a better job in 2013. Ironically, the Television Programme I’m working with ‘Get Off The Couch’ has scheduled filming that weekend in Kerry. We’ll be bringing the team down to Carrauntoohil to climb with renowned adventurer Pat Falvey, and camp out at his Mountain Lodge. I’m absolutely thrilled to be able to share this beautiful mountain with my GOTC buddies who have now all become firm friends as well as colleagues. However it does mean I’ll be skipping a super weekend of running – or shall I say postponing it until next year, when hopefully I’ll be fitter and faster…
Along with a choice of distances to try in Run Kildare on May 12th – you can also have a go at the wonderful ‘Darkness Into Light’ 5k for Pieta House at 4am in the morning on May 11th – in Dublin’s Phoenix Park and right around the country. It’s a beautiful, inspiring walk/run, which begins in the dark hours of the morning and runs into the dawn and the brightness of a new day, in support of suicide awareness and prevention. I’ve done it for the last few years with good friends and I’ll miss being there this year. But I’ll be thinking of you all from the summit of Carrauntoohil and sending love and hugz… 🙂
I had an enforced ‘rest’ week between my active Paddy’s Day weekend and The Easter Bank Holiday. Close family visiting, a deluge that flooded and blocked the N11 to Wicklow, a truly unseasonal avalanche warning in the snow laden Mournes and a rather nasty tummy bug, all combined to keep me off the hills and out of the gym. Then an invite came to get out on Spinc Mountain on Good Friday with Concern/Uganda buddy Vera Baker, and I decided to push all thoughts of weakness aside and ‘just do it’. I was so pleased afterwards. It was a beautiful day in Wicklow with blue skies and bright sunshine, despite snow and ice underfoot; and it really stopped me feeling miserable and sorry for myself! Vera and her mate Lisa were just starting a new round of training for their latest charity appeal in Kenya later this year, and it was good to be out with them, as they bubbled and planned, all full with the sense of a new adventure.
When invite number 2 came to join Mountain Rescue volunteer Grainne Ryan on a trek up the Galtees on Saturday, again it was hard to refuse. I was probably quite weak after my tummy bug and I decided to take the train to Thurles rather than drive; the guys agreed to pick me up and drop me back afterwards to the station, which I felt was much easier than driving when I was feeling tired. It took the pressure off a bit, but I was still feeling a little nervous. I hadn’t climbed with Grainne or her mate Kevin before, and I wasn’t sure about my hill-fitness or strength. I just hate the thought of getting in ‘over my head’ and slowing people down. It’s always about picking your pace – but it doesn’t stop me getting a bit apprehensive first time out. Grainne reassured me they weren’t planning any hill-running…and off we went!
We headed first for Galtee Beag; intending to then skim the ridge and move on up to climb Galtee More 919m (3018ft) snow, ice and wind permitting. The pace was manageable, the company good, and the scenery stunning. Again another perfect climbing day, with snow underfoot and blue skies above; made all the more special by a natural phenomenon which I hadn’t seen before. As we left lunch and Galtee Beag behind and pushed on for Galtee More, we came out of the lee and the force of the wind hit us. Pushing onwards and upwards the cold was biting and it felt like being in a wind tunnel. I was using walking poles and could actually feel the wind tearing them from me as I walked. But I walked with care, staring in amazement at each footfall. I was nearly crying as I stepped on and smashed through these lovely snow crystals on the way up. Rime, Grainne called them. It was like walking through a bed of brittle diamonds… I’d never seen that before, the delicacy of the wind-blown ice formations on the frozen bog; I felt like an elephant in a china shop…
The last few measured steep steps to the summit; then walking across the flattened top to the cross, straining against the wind, leaning forward into it at an angle and pulling my fleecy buff up around my nose and mouth to try and help me breathe through the frosty air. We scrambled down a foot or two among the rocks and suddenly the wind stopped and I realised it had been roaring in my ears. Suddenly as if someone flicked a switch, we found ourselves in stark silence as we snuggled in to sit down among the frost-sparkled rocks, like ice-thrones in a winter wonderland at the top of the world. Swiftly turned to Ice Princess – I surveyed the 360 views of Tipperary, Limerick and perhaps Cork far off in the distance, with bright sunshine cutting through the bitter cold, now sheltered from the wind and feeling so incredibly grateful to be here.
My perfect Easter weekend didn’t end on the hills. I splashed my way through large waves in Malahide in bright sunshine on Sunday morning with Fergal Somerville and the Low Rock swimmers. I’d actually turned up with a wet-suit, but I was shamed when I saw them all getting into the surf in their swimming suits, so I decided to leave it in my bag and take the plunge – literally. It was icy cold. 4 degrees apparently, but it was beautiful being bounced around by the icy waves in bright sunshine. I didn’t last long; getting through about three swells before turning around and swimming like the clappers for the shore. But as my skin burned with fire afterwards and I drank hot coffee and pinched someone’s chocolate biscuits, there was no doubting I was alive.
Monday the holiday continues and I’m still off work, so I’m hitting the gym in the morning – then meeting the ‘Get Off The Couch‘crew as the six participants in our new TV series on Setanta go through their paces on the track at the prestigious Morton Stadium with Triathlon trainer, Eamonn Tilley. It’s our second session and I’m dying to see if we’ve made any progress. Last time we were training with Eamonn, the wonderful Katie Taylor gave us a pep talk and that really fired us up. The show’s taking 6 men and women from around the country and encouraging them to get out and active in the great outdoors. After my exciting ‘holiday’ break, I’ll have plenty to talk about!
It was a grey, misty start to my first trip to Greystones – but I didn’t mind, I was buzzing with excitement. I was joining the six participants of Setanta TV and Athena Media’s new programme ‘Get Off The Couch’ for a Triathlon Training session with fitness guru Eamon Tilley, followed by swim-coaching with Channel Swimmer and ‘ICEMAN’, Fergal Somerville. This was the first day of a two-day ‘festival of fitness’ for us, with our first GOTC hill-walk together planned for the Wicklow mountains on Sunday with John and Frank at Wilderness Tours.
We’ve only been filming for a few weeks, but already there’s a huge bond forming among the six participants of the show which follows their journey from Couch to 5k – and perhaps a lot further. If you don’t believe in magic, watch ‘Get Off The Couch’ this Autumn and I’ll guarantee you’ll change your mind. The growing confidence, the physical achievements, the dedication and discipline, the healthy bodies and healthy minds, growing stronger every day before my eyes. I’m already stunned by the power of the great outdoors as a life-changer and worker of miracles.
On a cold, wet and misty Greystones morning, the group’s enthusiasm was warming my heart… and if any of us held any doubts about what we were doing, a true sparkle of gold lit up the morning when our stunning Olympic champion Katie Taylor put her own training session on hold to come over to us on the track and wish us well. That young woman inspires in so many ways and every one of us visibly glowed after meeting her, the rain disappeared and the sun shone in our hearts as our souls soared with a growing belief in ourselves and our team. As Katie says, to achieve your goal you’ve got to “plan for success and then do the work to get the job done”. Easy isn’t it. 😉
Despite illness, wonky knees, cartiledge problems, and consultants telling my I wouldn’t…… I’m running again. Well, if you call putting one foot in front of the other at a slightly more animated pace than walking, then I’m running again.
It’s all coming together rather nicely. I’ve had a couple of sessions at Le Cheile AC and each session felt better than the last, the lovely folk at Run Kildare have invited me back again this year, and I’m off to Limerick this weekend with ‘Get Off The Couch’ participants, Karen and Cathy to take part in a triathlon workshop.
I really believe in learning about technique. When I started getting out into the great outdoors and trying out new, activity based hobbies, I was on my way back down from 23 stone. I really didn’t think I’d be able to do anything, and as soon as I discovered that I could, my whole world changed. Training helped though, and I’ve a huge amount of people to thank, for sharing their knowledge and passion for sport and the outdoors. I will be thanking people for the rest of my life, and whenever I catch up with the thanking bit… I have a whole new wave of people and blessings to be thankful to and for.
One of those people who helped me then and is helping me now, is the hugely generous Irish ulra runner John O’Regan. We’re pictured here at Run Kildare last year, when he spotted me about to jog out – knowing darned well that I’d just been told I shouldn’t. Thanks to John’s advice on the day, I got around the course without further damaging my knees – and he’s been giving me great advice ever since.
Starting back running again 2 weeks ago wasn’t easy. It hurt, my chest heaved, I couldn’t breath and I really wondered if I’d just imagined being able to run. But this week felt better. I know it will take many more weeks to get back to anything like the fitness I had before. But something wonderful happened this week, as I ran I remembered that I like it. I got that feeling that runners get, where your body does what you ask, you find a rhythm and you’re suddenly confident that you can run for ever.
Even on a rainy day, you feel the sun on your face in those moments.