Sunday 18 February 2018

Join Al Porter and get fit for summer!


Al Porter will soon be ditching the couch potato lifestyle. Photo: Marc O'Sullivan
Al Porter will soon be ditching the couch potato lifestyle. Photo: Marc O'Sullivan
Al Porter

Comedian Al Porter is planning to ditch the couch-potato lifestyle and follow Derval O'Rourke's food tips and Karl Henry's eight-week training plan ready to cross the finish line in the SPAR FitLive 5k Run in Dublin this July. Here we follow the first steps on his journey from stand-up to running man.

As I type, I'm slouched in the corner of the couch in my mother's front room in Tallaght, my vinyls are playing and pizza is on the way. Sounds like bliss? Well, it does to me and that's the problem.

When I'm not sat at my desk writing my new stand up show, I'm sat in front of my mic and desk in Today FM. When I'm not sat there, I'm sat on a flight. For a stand-up comedian, that's a lot of sitting. The only comic that sat more was Dave Allen and he seemed glued to that high stool, whiskey in hand.

Over the last few years my exercise has reduced from minimal to just about nothing. Where I used to get the odd bit in walking the dog or swimming on a quiet weekday, I just can't seem to find the time anymore. Days seem shorter, schedules busier and the thought of eating up precious personal time with something that involves breaking a sweat (other than sex) seems horrifying.

But, it's time to do something about it. It may sound ridiculous but I'm going to start running. No, not for election (despite practicing my serious face on Claire Byrne and Brendan O'Connor's shows lately), I'll literally be running and, in another first, I won't be being chased or chasing someone - I do both, it's the only way I'd be described as being flexible. Almost offensively when I told my family, I had time to make a cup of tea before they'd picked their jaws up from the floor. They were genuinely shocked, which is why I know I need to do it.

I'm going to do couch to 5k, follow Karl's eight-week plan, get fit and run the SPAR Fitlive 5k in July. I can't believe I just typed that. Seeing it in print makes it true and it feels quite far off if I'm honest. Why bother? For me, it's not about getting a summer body or anything like that. I've always been fairly comfortable in my skin even if my body type is 'Ryan Tubridy'.

Instead, it's more about my health - physical and mental. The last 10 months have been the best of my life and that's thanks to my boyfriend. He's an incredible lad and a great support. The thing is, finally having someone else to think about other than yourself makes you consider your health and fitness.

Of course it's nothing like having kids but it still puts things in perspective. Do I want him to be going out with an out-of-breath, out-of-shape couch potato? Or worse still, having to support me through some illness because I didn't bother to look after myself?

I want us to be able to go play tennis together, look after his nieces, to swim at the beach, to be active and healthy. And yeah, why not have a nice body for him? I'm sure I'd like to look a little leaner, too! Believe it or not, under the suit is a bit of a beer belly, the beginnings of moobs and like Enda Kenny, that has to go!

Not just that, but I'm reliably informed time and again that a bit of fresh air and fitness will keep the head clear. I'm still taking anti-depressants daily and while practicing a bit of mindfulness and all that has helped me get into the best form in years, I know locking myself up indoors when I'm not working is no good for my head. The promise of a happier, healthier, clearer head that doesn't involve medication is very attractive to me. Let's be honest, I don't want to take them forever.

Now, that said, I'm most definitely out of my depth going from three-piece-suit to tracksuit, from Louis Copeland to JD Sports. When I go into a shop looking for high-vis running gear they're literally going to see me coming.

Unprepared is an understatement. 5k? To remember the furthest I ever ran, all I could do is think back to the furthest I've ever been when my bus was pulling up to the stop and thought 'yeah, I can make that'.

The worst thing is while I'm daunted by it everyone seems to emphasise how easy 5k is! "Oh, that's nowhere near a marathon, it's not even a fun size marathon, it's more a 'marathon from a box of Celebrations' size". Shag off, it's difficult for me!

Couch to 5k is a significant challenge for me. I'd struggle getting off the couch to find Special K in the kitchen.

So it's time to get started and follow the plan. No excuses!!! It's too easy to find excuses not to exercise in Ireland… It's raining too heavily, it's too sunny, it's too sunny and raining at the same time!

I'm going to stick to it, get fit and release a topless calendar before we know it!

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