Get Running, Week 8: ‘I realise I am capable of much more than I thought’

It’s the last week of my challenge. I completed the ‘big one’ today, a 30-minute run

‘I should probably consider retiring from running now, quit at the top as they say, but I still have my 5k race to come.’ Photograph: iStock

This is the last week of my Get Running challenge. I completed the "big one" today, a 30-minute consecutive run.

I felt more confident going into this run than I did in the early days which is a marker of the remarkable progress I have made in eight short weeks. A lot of people have applauded my running efforts and some have even committed to trying it for themselves. Some have said they would love to try running, but they simply cannot run – “au contraire” I retort.

My daughter asked me if I would be participating in the marathon. No, not unless I see the word “mini” in front of it at least. Running for 26 miles is still an insane thing to do in my book. Legend has it that the marathon race commemorates the fabled run of the Greek soldier Pheidippides. He supposedly ran from Marathon to Athens or about 26 miles to deliver the news that the Persians had been defeated in battle. He is presumed to have uttered the words “Joy to you, we’ve won” before he keeled over and died. You have to wonder who, upon hearing this tale, decided to repeat this endeavour, voluntarily and for fun. You also have to wonder if there may have been deeper psychological issues to consider.

Claire McMahon, in an effort to lose weight and to get healthier, has signed up to the Get Running beginner’s course. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill / THE IRISH TIMES

I should probably consider retiring from running now, quit at the top as they say, but I still have my 5k race to come. My goal for the race is simply to finish without stopping but whatever happens I know I will be setting a personal best. If, like Pheidippides, I keel over, I would be ever so grateful if someone could pause my GPS watch.


If I complete the race, I get to atone for gluing a potato to the spoon and winning the egg and spoon race when I was about nine years old. My other half likes to jest that whoever came second in this race became bitter and disillusioned with life at this point after realising that hard work and training don’t pay off.

Now that I am an established runner with a full eight-week track record I feel entitled to impart my own running wisdom:

You are likely to hear the phrase “the hardest thing is getting out the door”. It’s not – getting out the door is the easy part.

Don’t try to do too much or to go too fast. The advice about slowing your pace is critical. If you are struggling on any part of a run, slow down. Slowly steady wins the race as they say, although I am pretty sure they are fundamentally wrong about that. However, slowly steady may finish at least.

Claire McMahon thinks the new year, new me mantra would have a much better chance of success if undertaken at any other time of the year.

Your fitness, however poor at the beginning, improves very quickly. If you can push through the first three weeks, your body adapts very quickly.

Getting into a run is the most difficult part. I mentioned this to some friends who have run countless marathons and they reassured me that this still happens to them. It takes about five minutes to get going.

Overall the Get Running experience has been hugely positive and I am thrilled that I have completed the challenge. I have improved my physical fitness and lost a modest amount of weight from the place where my waist used to be. Far more important, however, I realise I am capable of much more than I thought.

I am not quite a running convert yet but I will keep running and see where it takes me.

Who knows? Maybe I will catch the bug after all.

– Claire McMahon followed the Get Running programme ( and wrote a weekly column about how she got on.
Part 1: You can sit on the couch and get fat
Part 2: The truth is I don't like exercise
Part 3: Dubious and hopeful
Part 4: Signing up for 'Wine on the Line'
Part 5: Looking forward to the next run
Part 6: Out of my depth buying new runners
Part 7: My motivation dipped

Sign up for one of The Irish Times' Get Running programmes (it is free!). 
First, pick the eight-week programme that suits you.
- Beginner Course: A course to take you from inactivity to running for 30 minutes.
- Stay On Track: For those who can squeeze in a run a few times a week.
- 10km Course: Designed for those who want to move up to the 10km mark.
Best of luck!