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Dublin: 6 °C Friday 14 December, 2018
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Catherina McKiernan's guide to taking up running in 2018

The two-time Olympian says having a goal in mind is key.

Who better to give you running tips than a two-time Olympian.
Who better to give you running tips than a two-time Olympian.
Image: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS get a bad rap, with gym memberships tossed to the wayside like last year’s decision to give up alcohol.

But with the turning of the year, there is an opportunity to try something new and, for many, running their first 5k, 10k or even marathon might be on the cards.

If you are thinking of taking up running for the very first time in 2018, we’ve asked two-time Olympian and European Cross Country gold medallist Catherina McKiernan for her five tips for taking that first step.

Tip 1 – Follow a plan like Couch to 5k

It really does help to have a structure in place — whether it’s on your phone or a sheet of paper on your fridge — so that you know exactly what you’re going to be doing for the week. If you have that, then it’s going to make it much easier for yourself.

If you don’t have a plan, Monday will come along and you’ll think to yourself: ‘Ah, I won’t bother going out today’ and you take the same decision on Tuesday.

It’s important to have a structure in pace.

Tip 2 – Get out as often as you can

You’re going to need to run a minimum of three days a week, and if you can get out a fourth day even better. If you do any less than that, you’re making it very hard on yourself and it’ll take a long time to get fit.

If you’re someone who doesn’t like running alone, maybe organise to have a friend join up with you every now and again, just to freshen things up.

Not everyone likes running in groups though, so whatever suits yourself.

Tip 3 – Set yourself a goal

Maybe it’s something as simple as, at the end of your five or six weeks training, to run a 5k with other people.

You have to be realistic with your goal too. I think a lot of people when they’re starting out they have unrealistic expectations of what they can achieve. Running is not like cycling or swimming and you have to build it up very, very gradually.

I always say that the most important thing in the early days is to get the movement going but, if you go out and you race off down the road for 500m and you’re out of breath, you’ll get demoralised so make sure your goals are realistic.

KIA Race Series 2018 Launch McKiernan was speaking to The42 at the launch of a new nationwide running race series in association with Kia Motors Ireland. Source: Sam Barnes/SPORTSFILE

Tip 4 – Invest in yourself

If you’re running for the first time, make sure you invest in a comfortable pair of runners and that will be your most important purchase.

I also think that, depending on the individual, starting off with some training apps isn’t the worst thing in the world as it can help you with your planning and pacing until you become more confident in your own ability and you’ll know yourself what pace you’re able to go at.

Tip 5 – Enjoy the rewards

Not only will you get the reward of starting to feel fitter in the New Year, but the Park Runs are also a lovely way to introduce yourself to running in big groups without any pressure to set a time.

Crossing the finish line is a great way to acknowledge all the work you’ve been doing to get to that stage and taking part in your first organised run is definitely a milestone for a lot of new runners.

Afterwards, you can go and have a nice cup of coffee and a big bun or cake as a reward before you start thinking of training for a 10k or beyond.

The42 has just published its first book, Behind The Lines, a collection of some of the year’s best sports stories. Pick up your copy in Eason’s, or order it here today (€10):

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About the author:

Steve O'Rourke

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