A team of Leinster Leader journalists is gearing up for Run Kildare - follow their blood, sweat and tears here over the next few weeks...
So, here we are then, looking down the barrel of May 12th.
Just a few weeks to go to the Run Kildare. Weeks of thinking about it, training for it, praying for sunshine – and a wind that follows me around the course.
I was never much of a runner – blame a lack of sporting ability in general and leg length in particular. I always liked cycling, and in recent years that particular bug has embedded its dentures in me.
I am easing gently into MAMIL (Middle Aged Man In Lycra)-ness.
It’s the middle-age bit I’m easing gently into. The lycra requires more tugging.
Cycling’s been good to me - although not necessarily my wallet. It’s given me a greater level of fitness than I could ever have imagined, a chance to experience the Wicklow Mountains like no other – at 70kms - as well as many other wonderful places like the Golden Gate Bridge and the Pyrenees.
But more than that, it has given me a strong sense of the importance, for my mental and physical health, of being active, of generally taking care of myself, of eating and drinking well - and of the importance of making exercise a part of every day life.
So, my friends, who make up the core of the Kildare branch of OAA (Over-Achievers Annonymous), all tell me that, seeing as I have fitness from the bike, getting into running is a piece of cake.
“You just have to develop the running muscles,” they said.
“It’ll knock stones off you,” they said.
“Get the app,” they said.
“Be grand,” they said.
Ah yes, the app. In fact there are many – and if you search the app store, you’ll be inundated with them.
The one I went with is called ‘Get Running’, and it turned out to be a stroke of luck.
You plug your ear phones in and follow the instructions. It tells you when to go out, when to run, when to walk, and generally how you’re getting on.
Initially there’s more walking than running, but as the week’s go on that reverses, to a point where you find yourself doing 5k, or half an hour, with confidence.
With all forms of exercise, motivation is the toughest bit. I responded well to the app.
Having somebody - or something – telling me what to do made it much easier. I was free from worrying about whether I was doing too much or too little. The wise app knew everything. It pushed me hard enough that it hurt, but not so much that it was impossible to follow.
The other stroke of luck was the discovery of Killinthomas Wood, on the Edenderry road out of Rathangan.
It’s well kept, but not intrusively so. Its pathways are all-weather, it’s quiet and gorgeous. If you stick to the longest loop (there are several), it’s 4.3kms.
And that’s where, and how, I learned to run – and it did everything everyone said it would, and more.
For all those reasons, I’m not too concerned about the 10km. Hannah Nolan from Why Wight Ireland has done up a training plan for me.
I’m liking that fact that it includes intervals - where you vary how hard you run -something I’m new to.
I’m hoping to better my time for 10kms. It was an hour and 6 minutes, and this time I’d like to break the hour – but with four workouts a week for six weeks ahead of me, there is, as the poet says: “miles to go before I rest”.
Now, off to do “40 minutes easy”.
Since when the hell was 40 minutes ever easy?!
- Conor McHugh