I was race ambassador for the Grant Thornton 5K team challenge which took place recently around the docklands area of Dublin. This is its third year and it is a very well organised race, supported by Athletics Ireland.
The race is aimed at companies who can enter a team of four people. I was speaking to someone at the start of the race who told me their company had six teams taking part. I can well imagine the rivalry between work colleagues in the weeks leading up to and after the event.
I lined up along with nearly 4,000 other runners on a beautiful September's evening. There was a great buzz and atmosphere around the city. While there was a certain competitive edge to it, there was a little more banter than what I would be use to at the start of a race. As an athletics person it gave my heart a lift to see so many people out running and keeping themselves fit and healthy.
The message is getting through about the benefits of running to overcome anxiety and stress. My day starts with a run around Phoenix Park. Personally, I cannot function if I don't get out to exercise in the mornings.
Most people like company when running and that's why the likes of the Grant Thornton 5K team challenge is such a great idea. A group of people can go out at lunchtime or after work for a run, and it creates a feel-good factor among work colleagues as well as friendly competition. It also creates great team building and there are really social advantages of running together competitively.
I believe that business and companies should embrace the idea of flexibility for staff who want some time to run and exercise and this choice will benefit business in numerous ways.
Fit and healthy employees tend to be happier and more productive and there will be lower absenteeism in the workplace. By providing workers with the opportunity to exercise at lunchtime, companies are improving well-being and job satisfaction. People who are fit have more energy and self confidence and they tend to have a physical and mental balance that results in a more positive attitude towards work.
Finding the time and energy at the end of the working day can be a challenge. Employers should give their staff an extended lunch break three days a week so that they can do some form of exercise. The welfare of employees has a direct impact on the success of the company. I can guarantee this would increase productivity and people would work much better. I can vouch for that 100pc, as I can concentrate and work far better after a run.
The 5km corporate challenge is a fantastic idea and I really think it is something that should take place in all our major cities around the country. Promoting exercise in the workplace is something every company, regardless of size, can do.
'People who run together, work well together.'
Health & Living