Friday 19 October 2018

So you’ve mastered a 5k run, what next? Top tips to increase fitness and stay motivated in 2015

Pat Divilly
Pat Divilly

In the words of leading fitness expert Pat Divilly, “Look after your body and your body will look after you.”

The biggest reason people don't bite the bullet and take on a new challenge is because they have a lack of belief in their ability.

Galway-based trainer and nutritionist Pat Divilly has a new book called Naked Paleo – Food Stripped Bare
Galway-based trainer and nutritionist Pat Divilly has a new book called Naked Paleo – Food Stripped Bare

Perhaps you have mastered the “couch to 5km” and you are looking for a new goal or to take your fitness journey up another level?

For those ready to step up and move on, I’m encouraging them to sign up to Tough Mudder -  a team orientated 10-12 mile (18-20km) obstacle course which takes place this July 11th and 12th at the Loughcrew Adventure Centre.

Tough Mudder is no doubt a challenge but it is not out of reach for you if you are willing to go that step further. If you are ready to up the ante, here are some key tips to think about.

* Realise the potential of your body, take some time out and look back on all your body has taken you through to date. That alone shows you just how strong you really are.

* Start with short runs/workouts and build the difficulty up gradually. Tough Mudder is in July so there is no need to push yourself too hard straight away. The race is all about endurance.

* 5km is the longest consistent run/jog you will need to do in your training. Preferably on soft ground so it matches the terrain of the course, along with the reduced injury risk involved in comparison to road running. (Tough Mudder has lots of different obstacles throughout the course, all new for 2015, so the longest distance you will run consistently on the day is 1.5km. If you can run 5km by the time Tough Mudder comes around you will smash it.)

* Join a fitness class to help build up some strength for the obstacles or follow the home workouts I will be posting on social media in the build up. If you are already a gym goer then you are probably ready to rock already so just keep up the good work.

* Watch your daily food intake, start to eat real food, single ingredient foods are the easiest. They have no label so you get exactly what you see. Increase your greens intake and drink 2-3 litres of water a day. Be conscious of the amounts of carbs you consume daily and where these carbs are coming from.

* Tell people what you are doing, why you are doing it and who you are doing it for. The most empowering and motivating thing you can do is tell people your intent, because that will drive you to show them you did it. Also if they see that it's for an amazing cause then you might just recruit some more friends and family to join you on this journey.

Preventing Injuries

A competitor participates in the Tough Mudder challenge near Winchester in southern England
A competitor participates in the Tough Mudder challenge near Winchester in southern England

In the lead up to any adventure race or event where there is an increased risk of injury as you push yourself further physically and mentally, it is essential that as you increase your training time and volume you also increase the time you put into looking after yourself outside of the gym.

In order to prevent injuries you need to be paying increased attention to your:

Nutrition- 2-3 litres of water a day and a large focus on real foods from nature and not processed foods is essential. You don't put cheap fuel in a Formula one car and in much the same way we need to see our bodies as only being able to function optimally when fuelled with the right foods.

Sleep- When we sleep our bodies recover on every level. It's also in this time that our hormones are optimized. A minimum of 6 hours sleep per night and ideally 8 will help ensure your body is recovering from your increased training. Tulsi tea and magnesium are two great natural sleep aids.

Recovery Strategies- Epsom salt baths, foam rolling and where possible sports massage can help as training volume increases. For every tough session you should have a recovery session of some type. This could be a yoga class, meditation, foam rolling, physio etc.

Last year, we brought 533 people to Tough Mudder Ireland, the largest ever team to participate in any Tough Mudder event. These people took off over the start line and all 533 made it to the finish line with their heads held high.

This year, I am hoping to break that record and so I am inviting people to join my Tough Mudderteam in aid of the charity Console.

Console is the perfect pairing for Tough Mudder, as it is not an individual race, it is a team race and I firmly believe that team related fitness has a positive impact on mental health. Remember, over 95 percent of people who come on board take part in a team with friends, family or colleagues.

If you're up for the challenge, sign up on

To join the conversation, follow Tough Mudder on Facebook, on Twitter @ToughMudder, and on Instagram @Tough_Mudder.

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