Training, with Eddie McDonagh

WOMEN'S distance running in Ireland is in a healthy state at the moment -- the only Olympic event that has three athletes qualified is the marathon. Congratulations to Linda Byrne, Ava Hutchinson and Maria McCambridge, and also to Fionnuala Britton, reigning European Cross Country Champion, on their wonderful achievements.

The warm-up period should be of great help to get the lungs expanded to accept the oxygen demands of the muscles much more quickly than before.

It is one of the best feelings one can encounter, when the fluency of movement carries you effortlessly along. If you have not reached that point yet, keep up the effort and it will be sure to happen shortly.

For those who find it quite easy now to run up to four miles, it may be the time to consider entering one of the many road races on offer all over the country at this time of year.

As the training schedules are designed for beginners to intermediate standard runners, do not get carried away when the starting gun goes.

Start off at your training pace and wind up gradually to a pace that you can maintain to the finish line. Do your warm-up for about 15 minutes beforehand and stretch out those muscles so that there is no risk of injury. It would also be a good idea to run with a familiar group or friend, so that you can control the pace, as emotions can make us overly competitive on these occasions.

Make sure you are comfortable up to the halfway point and then, and only then, lift your pace to above the comfort level, but not to a level that will see you exhausted and totally dehydrated. Remember, this is just a fun run and can become a really good day out if treated as such, ensuring you will want to return to enjoy the atmosphere and competitiveness of the world of the athlete.