Friday 14 December 2018

#My1000Hours: Park the ego and enjoy the process

In week three of our #runyourlife challenge, Niall Breslin reminds participants to take the challenge at their own pace

Niall Breslin
Niall Breslin

Niall Breslin

I'm just back from my long run session in the Phoenix park. The days when we predominately used the facilities of the park for relaxing walks with the kids and visiting the zoo have long passed.

It has become one of the biggest and busiest gyms in the world. On today's visit, there were thousands of people out running on their own and in groups, or cycling with mates, while countless GAA teams were out doing energy-zapping hill sprints. This cultural shift towards wellbeing and fitness in Ireland is a welcome development and needs to be nurtured in the future.

While in the park, I also noticed a few things that I wanted to point out to you guys training for the My1000Hour 5/10k run this march: I spotted quite a few runners that were close to passing out as they tried to maintain the same pace as their friends, who were clearly seasoned runners. The look of pain was evident on their blood red faces as they fought for each breath as if it would be the last one they ever got to take, too proud to tell their experienced running partners to slow down.

It is massively important to point out that while training for the run in March, you should train with peers of the same ability if training in groups. You may think running to the point of exhaustion is the way forward when it comes to getting fitter, when in fact it is completely counter productive in relation to the programmes we have put in place for you guys. This is for a couple of reasons.

Physically, if you train outside your ability for a sustained period, you will rob the muscles of the oxygen required to let them function adequately, and you will pick up joint and muscle injuries which will prevent any training whatsoever. The absolute key to the my1000hour programmes, designed by Sports Med Ireland, is consistency. Gradually, you will notice improvements in your run and fitness levels without sustaining an injury, which is the complete enemy of consistency.

So, if you want to train with mates in a group, which is strongly advised, make sure you can hold a conversation while training, otherwise, you are going too hard and run the risk of injuries over time.

Mentally, if you train with runners that have more experience than you, you will slowly lose motivation and dread having to go out for your runs, as it's more a form of torture than a chance to get into the open air and clear your head of any stresses that occupy it.

Running allows you to become present and embrace the current moment. It's virtually impossible to experience this if you are concentrating more on not coughing up your lungs as you desperately try to stay within touching distance of your mate. So, park the ego and run at your pace so that you can enjoy the process rather than hate it. You will gradually notice yourself getting a little quicker and fitter, and this will increase your motivation towards completing this challenge.

Something I have also noticed in the social media interaction and the mail we have received, is that quite a few of you are worried that you have to finish the race in a certain time. This is not the case at all. Whether you crawl, walk or run the 5/10k, you will not be alone. The vast majority of people have informed me that they want to be part of the event but can't run. That is 100pc fine. It's not about that. It's about a couple of thousand people in the park, each starting their own journey, for their own personal reasons. It's about the atmosphere, and celebrating the fact that although we may all have varying fitness levels, we all share one common goal.

We want to be part of a movement that aims to normalise the conversation surrounding mental health, a movement that wants to promote both positive physical and mental fitness, a movement that puts mental health on the agenda in a pro-active and positive way.

It's the beginning of a community that can grow together and this is just the first step. So, if you are still wondering whether you can take on this challenge, remember that there will be thousands of people on the day that share the same concerns and we'll support each other until the last person crawls, walks or runs over the line. I can't wait to see you all there.

My 1000 Hours, the Niall Breslin mental health and fitness campaign.

The Irish Independent My1000Hours 5k/10k will take place on Saturday March 7.

You can sign-up for the event here.

For more information on the work of the My1000Hours team, follow them at @my1000hours or go to

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