You have run the course, so now reap the rewards
Well done to everyone who persevered over the past eight weeks of running
From speed to hills, technique to mental training, we have covered a lot. Photograph: Getty Images
Welcome to the final week of our Get Running: Stay on Track programme. Eight weeks ago we asked you to get moving, to dust off the running shoes and make the effort to stay running for the eight weeks.
Well done to everyone who made the effort and can now feel the difference. And thank you to everyone for all the wonderful feedback. We all know how easy it is to give up on a challenge, so we would like to congratulate everyone who has persevered through rainy days, dark evenings and all the rest of the running excuses.
Now is the time to look back over what you have achieved over the past eight weeks. Take a look over your training log and see how you have progressed. If you have taken the time to write in detail in your training diary, you will really enjoy the read. Notice everything you have learned about yourself and your running. Notice how much stronger and confident you are compared with eight weeks ago. From speed to hills, technique to mental training, we have covered a lot.
I want this week to be your reward for all your hard work to date. It’s the week to see how far you have come and to celebrate your achievements.
We are going to do a final 5k to mark the end of the programme and let you see how you have progressed. The first step for this week is to set out your 5k route for the weekend. We hope you have found an event, such as a parkrun or a charity race, in your area, but if not, map out the distance yourself. Ideally use a route you are familiar with, so you can compare it with how it felt a month or two ago. We want this weekend run to be a good one, to build your confidence and help you realise how the body can adapt when you put your mind to sticking with a programme for eight weeks.
Your weekend run is your priority this week. You are not going to get any fitter midweek, so save your legs for the weekend event. Indeed, I would like you to complete your two midweek runs. You will see in the plan that the time and effort on these are reduced, allowing the body to recover and be fresh for the weekend.
A few weeks ago, in the training plan, we gave you a list of reminders for you for your first race. I know some of you have already taken part in formal 5ks before, but it’s no harm reading these notes again. We learn something from every race. Think back over previous 5ks and the lessons you have learned from them. No matter how prepared we are, it is normal to feel nervous or anxious. You must believe that your body can do it and then you might just surprise yourself on the day. Think about everything you now know that you didn’t even think about eight weeks ago. You are a stronger runner and you have got to tell yourself you are; otherwise those negative voices will creep back into your head.
Here is my final piece of advice. Treat yourself at the end of this programme. You could maybe invest in an item of running gear, go for a sports massage, or even treat yourself to something unrelated to running. Mark the day and reward yourself for your dedication.
You have worked hard. It would have been very easy to give up along the way. This weekend’s long run is your reward for all your hard work. Go out, run, smile and enjoy every minute of it. You deserve it.
Get Running: Stay on Track is designed for people who can squeeze a 30- to 40-minute run into their life three times a week, but who need a kickstart to get going, and support when they run out of excuses.
To sign up to this, or to our beginners’ or 10k running courses, which you can start at any time, see irishtimes.com/ getrunning. You can also keep up with us on facebook.com/irishtimesrunning, @IrishTimesRun and email us at email@example.com.
Mary Jennings is a running coach who works with beginners, improvers and marathon runners. See ForgetTheGym.ie