Saturday 16 December 2017

Go the distance: Couch to 5k

Walking, jogging or running the race, Louise Heraghty advises on staying the distance


Whether you plan to walk, jog or run the 10km on June 2, now is the time to start preparing and setting your fitness goals.

First things first, it is vital that your heart and lungs are in good working order and you have doctor's clearance to begin exercising. Once this is all in check, grab your runners (it is worth investing in a good quality pair) and you're all set.

For walkers, 10km may seem like a huge distance but, with over 13 weeks to go, there is plenty of time. You may already be a regular walker but a good half-hour or 45 minutes walk may see you only cover a distance of 3 or 4km. The key is to break it all down.


If you currently walk for 30 minutes three times a week, increase it to 35 for the next two weeks and then 40 minutes and keep upping the time until you find you can walk for up to an hour.

Take the talking test: You should be able to hold a conversation but be slightly out of breath and working up a sweat by the end of your walk

For first-time joggers, aim to get up to 5km in the next six weeks. Follow a good couch to 5km plan (which incorporates interval training, eg, walk for four minutes, run for one, repeat four times). There are plenty available online. It is a tried and tested method and there is no doubt that if you take up this type of interval training, you will be well prepared by June.

Finally, the runners! Many of you have run the 10km and want to improve your time. Believe me, this is a hurdle I face every year.

Remember that there are factors outside our control that may affect us on the day, like weather being too hot or too wet (it is Ireland after all) or perhaps we may just be having an off day.

In order to best prepare to improve your time, try speed sessions. Run your normal route but for about 10 minutes pick points to speed up and give 100pc (I usually find poles or trees as good landmarks). Speed sessions (or fartlek) will improve your time, undoubtedly, if you stick to them.

The main goal this week is to get moving; remember, no matter how slow you are going, you are lapping everyone on the couch!

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