Get running: Relay races with friendly faces: where will you run to this summer?
Relay races with friendly faces, a family fun run or a parkrun are just some of the options for a runner, says Mary Jennings
Running past incredible scenery is one way to make the miles fly.
Have you drifted far away from your new year’s running resolutions? For many of us, a busy schedule has meant that running has been sidelined by work deadlines, family life and general craziness this spring. Once you let the routine slip, it becomes harder to make the time to run.
It is also easy to get bored or disillusioned with the same running routes and distances. Get back in the running zone this summer by trying something new. Choose to go off-road, along a beach, take part in a relay, run long distance, get faster or maybe even enjoy a running holiday.
Many people run for the T-shirt, the medal or to set a personal best time. Others run for charity, to support a local club or for the post-run refreshments.
I run as an excuse for a day out or a weekend away. I love to travel at home and abroad to take part in running events. It’s a wonderful way to see a new part of the country, meet like-minded people and add some fun and variety into my running.
Knowing I have signed up to a summer event and booked transport and accommodation is enough to keep me focused and motivated through the spring. The event itself is the reward for the months of training.
However lapsed you are with your running right now, you can become a running tourist this summer. You don’t need to travel far. Most of us run the same routes every week. Travelling to the next town can be an adventure. Take your friends, challenge your colleagues or pack up the family and try out somewhere new this summer. There are many new events popping up all around the country. Here are a few of my favourites.
Wild Atlantic runs
Running past incredible scenery is surely one way to make the miles fly. Head to Achill Island on July 4th for the annual 10k and half-marathon. Finishing on the beach, the natural ice bath of the Atlantic seawater is the perfect recovery for tired bodies. Also on July 4th is the gloriously remote Midsummer Run on Bere Island in west Cork with 10k and 5k runs and a family fun walk.
Join me on May 15th for a Running Retreat weekend at the Cliffs of Moher. Combining running workshops and technique tips, cliff path and beach runs, amazing food and a wild food walk, it’s my favourite trip of the year. This will be my fourth time to lead this weekend adventure for recreational runners to have fun, get off the beaten track, find their running mojo, and come back refreshed and ready for a summer of running.
Escape from the city with regular Wednesday night runs off-road in Howth and in Wicklow this summer. The Irish Mountain Running Association (IMRA.ie) organises trail runs of varying degrees of difficulty all around the country. Running on these trails is totally exhilarating – and humbling – for anyone who is more accustomed to city road running. Business Houses Athletic Association (BHAA) also has a midweek schedule of running races this summer.
After a day in the office, these are the perfect ways to clear your head.
Go long distance
If you can manage 10k now, you can build yourself up to a half-marathon this summer. Marathon des Escargots on July 11th in Portarlington has a great reputation. The Dingle Half Marathon on September 5th is well known for its stunning route. One of the most popular events in Munster is the Boston Scientific Half Marathon in Clonmel on August 16th. The Causeway Coast marathon on September 26th has a series of distances from 10k upwards. If the weather is as good as the year I ran it, you will be very tempted to stop and take plenty of photographs along the way.
Take to the Park
The Phoenix Park opens to many events in the summer. Some of the best atmosphere and family-friendly races in the park include the Calcutta Run on May 16th and the Great Pink Run on August 29th. For runners who like the energy of a mass participation event, the hugely popular Irish Runner 5 Mile in the Phoenix Park on June 27th is the perfect step up from 5k.
Earn your cake and eat it
Rumour has it the Touraneena 5k in Waterford has ice-cream and strawberries at the finish line. I know that would certainly spur me on to a sprint finish. Most local club runs are renowned for their post-run spread of sandwiches, tea and cake. Check out races of differing distances such as Dunshaughlin 10k, Terenure 5 Mile or Dunleer 4 Mile. Contact your local athletics club to find an event close to home. Many of them are organised as fundraisers.
Sign up for an adventure
If you want to add kicking, cycling, obstacles or variety to your run, there is a growing number of adventure races popping up all around the country. Gaelforce is still one of the most popular but for anyone new to this discipline, start out with smaller events, embrace the mud and dirt and get stuck in.
Become a parkrun tourist
Every Saturday there is a free 5k in more than 20 locations around the country. Combine a day trip with a 5k run and you can enjoy your post-run picnic before seeing the sights. From Tralee to Tymon Park and from Wexford to Westport, there is one within a day-trip distance of you. See parkrun.ie.
Get roped into a relay
There are lots of fun and relaxed relay events this summer. Train together and keep each other motivated on race day. Nothing will make you run faster than knowing someone is depending on you down the road. Check out the Sionnach Relay on August 25th or earn a Cork Marathon medal on June 1st as part of a relay team.
Find a 5k
If you have never completed a 5k race, you are missing out. The feeling of completing your first 5k is priceless. It makes you believe that you are indeed a runner. Make your first 5k one to remember by running the Sonia 5k, which takes place in Dún Laoghaire on June 13th, to mark the 20th anniversary of the runner’s historic victory in the 5,000 metres at the IAAF World Championships. If you are swayed by medals, you will be rewarded with a replica of Sonia’s 1995 gold at the finish line.
How to get yourself moving
Find an event that is a realistic challenge for you. Too many people sign up and seem to forget that they need to train to get the most out of their race day. If you really want to enjoy your event, do the groundwork now and you will have a race to remember.
Full details of each of these events can be found at forgetthegym.ie/calendar/ races-and-events/
Mary Jennings is founder of ForgetTheGym.ie and coaches runners of all levels to enjoy running and stay motivated. She also designed beginners, improvers and 10k courses for Get Running, our online programme. For training plans, videos and articles on a range of topics, or to sign up for any of our courses at any time, see irishtimes.com/getrunning.