Tuesday 21 January 2020

Week 5 with Al Porter: Your workout clothes should be comfortable

Comedian Al Porter is edging closer to the SPAR FitLive 5k Run finish line with help from Karl Henry and Derval O'Rourke

Al Porter
Al Porter
Derval O'Rourke
Cocoa and hazelnut bombs
Karl Henry
Jump squat 1
Jump squat 2
Jump squat 3

It's getting close to the actual 5k run and, like a true showman, I am in my element. Why? Because it is time to buy a new outfit and pick out a new pair of shoes. If the 5k run is an examination of my fitness, then getting the outfit is like photocopying notes: if you know what you're doing you get on with it quickly and get down to the real work. Other people will take far too long fixating on the outfit in the belief that it is fundamental in how they pass the 'exam'. Training has another parallel with exams too - the prep work for both involves an obsession with fluorescent yellow.

Seriously, have you seen half the people working out in the gym these days? They look like they were attacked with a highlighter marker. I walk past them wondering if they were worried about getting run over by a car while they're on an exercise bike? I know some motorists don't make allowances for cyclists but I think you're safe in the gym.

The right training clothing needs to fulfil a basic function, namely: comfort. If you want to run in a baggy tracksuit then do, if you want to pump iron in skin-tight Lycra then do (and send me photos). I love seeing people that enjoy working out and don't care what they're wearing, they're just having fun. Seriously, if you can't wear your Ritchie Kavanagh t-shirt powerwalking then when can you wear it?

Working out is for yourself, so be comfortable in your own skin. Don't feel bad if you can't fit into some skin-tight outfit that looks like something Spiderman wears on the pull.

Some people like to wear certain clothes for exercise as it puts them in the right mindset. If that works for you then brilliant. Get your game-face on. I'm not sure what that means but it sounds good.

Following Karl's plan, my runs have been getting longer and more intense and I find myself considering keeping them up even after the 5k. It's like weighing up the benefits of a one-night stand versus a long-term relationship; I am motoring along and thinking, do I want this to be the rest of my life, or will I just get a pizza and watch X Factor on my own? As I get older, it definitely seems that a long-term relationship with fitness will be of more benefit.

Plus X Factor isn't even on at the moment!

Al's exercise of the week: Jump squat

Jump squat 1

• Step 1: Start with your feet shoulder-width apart


Jump squat 2

• Step 2:   Now bend down, keep your back straight and tap your ankles


Jump squat 3

• Step 3: Jump as high as you can

Karl Henry training plan

Karl Henry

That's it, you have broken the back of the training plan, you're officially past the halfway mark. Boom! Now it's time to tweak your training and really push your body so that you can build on the foundations you have laid in the first half of the training plan. Building that foundation is so crucial to your success, it takes patience and often restraint but by doing that you will be reducing the risk of injury in the future. It's a great lesson to learn going forward too. No matter what you are thinking of signing up for in terms of fitness and health, aim to build up your progress over time. It's safer and healthier, leading you to your goal in the best way.

Now would also be a great time to put your reward in place for when you cross the finish line in a few weeks' time. What are you going to do when you cross that line, putting all your effort into that race, setting a personal best and changing your health for the long run? Take a look online, reserve a table for a nice meal afterwards or whatever suits you. Just do it this week and make that treat visible. It's a great way to keep you working hard.

Spar FitLive Run Series 5k and 10k running plan

Monday Walk 1 min, jog* 4 mins, repeat 7 times

2 sets resistance exercises

Tuesday Rest

Wednesday Walk 1 min, jog 4 mins, repeat 7 times, 2 sets resistance exercises

Thursday Rest

Friday 25-30 min slow run

2 sets resistance exercises

Saturday rest

Sunday One hour fast walk

*A jog is anything faster than a walk. Ideally you should be out of breath but still able to hold a conversation


Monday 4k run

Tuesday 3 sets resistance exercise

Wednesday 5k hilly run

Thursday 3 sets resistance exercises

Friday 3 sets resistance exercises

Saturday 7k run

Sunday Rest

Derval O'Rourke's fit food

Derval O'Rourke

You have officially crossed the half way mark and the end is in sight. I don't know about you but I'm super excited for race day.

It is important to remember that when you are exercising you are going to need extra fuel to ensure you have the energy to train, that you get the most from your session and that your body recovers as quickly as possible afterwards. On those days when you are busy with work and family life and are also training, you need to eat the right kind of food that enables you to do both.

Healthy snacks such as these energy bites are an easy option to help meet your body's need for more fuel during training periods. I would recommend making small changes to your food intake to accommodate the big changes going on in your life.

I try to aim for three good meals and two to three snacks each day. Listen to your body and adjust accordingly, we are all different.

Aim to eat every three to four hours and use your snacks to keep you going between meals. Remember though, a snack is not a meal, so the portion size should reflect this.

Healthy snacks help to keep our blood sugar levels balanced between meals. Low blood sugar can lead to feelings of irritability, tiredness and lack of concentration. Ensure that you are drinking enough too. I have to remind myself to drink all the time.

Snacks are an important part of a healthy, balanced diet but are an easy place to fall down and make less than ideal choices. Here are some zero-prep options for when you find yourself short on time:

• Fresh/dried fruit: packed with vitamins, essential minerals and antioxidants, a fantastic option for snacking. Add a protein source if you can. I love apples and nut butter.

• A few squares of dark chocolate: Great in the evening with a cup of tea to satisfy sweet cravings.

• A handful of nuts: they are high in protein, healthy fats and fibre, so great to satisfy your hunger.

• A smoothie: great if you need something a bit more substantial. Adding a protein source makes it a smart nutritional choice. Add some greens if you are feeling brave.

• Pot of natural probiotic yoghurt: aim for no added sugar and sweeten with some honey or fruit compote. Add a handful of homemade granola for something more filling.

• Vegetables and hummus: carrots are my favourite but sugar snaps and cucumber are good too.

• Trail mix: my saviour when I'm sitting in traffic. I love apricots, dark chocolate, dates and cashews.

Cocoa and hazelnut bombs

Cocoa and hazelnut bombs

This is my go-to recipe when I want a little snack with a hint of indulgence. I love eating these with a mid-morning coffee or after dinner with a cup of tea. They are also very handy to throw in the gym bag so that you have an energy boost before your workout.

Makes Eight balls

Prep time: 5 mins

Cook time: 0 mins


100g chopped hazelnuts

6 Medjool dates, chopped

3 tbsp maple syrup

1 tbsp ground chia seeds

3 tsp good quality cocoa powder

1 tsp vanilla extract


Spread the hazelnuts on a plate and set aside.

Place the dates, maple syrup, ground chia, cocoa powder and vanilla extract in a food processor and blitz until you have a sticky paste.

Use your hands to shape the paste into balls roughly the size of a golf ball. Then roll each ball in the chopped hazelnuts until coated.

Your bombs are ready to eat straight away.

* Couch to 5k - You have three 'runs' to do this week, and a one-hour fast walk. Try to have a rest day between each run if possible. You also have an optional resistance exercise (above) to improve your strength. You can do your resistance exercises after your run, or on your rest days. Complete two sets of 20 each time.

* 10k - You have three 'runs' this week. Try to have a rest day between each run if possible. You also have an optional resistance exercise to improve your strength. You can do your resistance exercises (above) after your run, or on your rest days. Complete three sets of 20 each time.

Register now: SPAR Fitlive 5k/10k Run - Phoenix Park on July 15

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