Ten weeks of hard work and training will come to fruition for hundreds of men and women across Inishowen this weekend when the Spraoi Agus Sports Couch 2 5k kicks off.
The programme has been a huge success this year and not only got the peninsula moving, but also led to new friendships, the strengthening of communities and ignited or renewed a love of fitness for many.
Firmly community-led, participants gathered at training sessions in five locations: Buncrana, Carndonagh, Malin, Clonmany and Moville. These were all held on different times and days to ensure flexibility for all taking part.
The participants had one goal in mind - to walk, jog or run the 5k by this Friday, June 25th.
They were mentored and supported by their coaches from Inishowen AC and Charlie Byrne Fitness, and also availed of weekly nutritional and injury prevention workshops.
The Journal recently met with some of the participants at the training session in Carndonagh, at which they spoke of the benefits they have received and personal goals they have achieved in recent weeks.
Kate Kelly from Malin and Catriona Skinnadar from Carndonagh told how they started the programme in order to “get fit and lose weight.”
They said that while they are well on their way to achieving that goal, they have also found there’s a “real community aspect” to their training sessions.
Catriona said: “Everyone is in it together. If you feel like giving up, someone spurs you to go on.”
The exercises in each session were built up week by week, aiming for each participant to be ‘5k ready’ by this weekend.
Kate told how she found this worked “really well,” adding that while she previously “wouldn’t really have been a gym person,” she found she was enjoying the exercise.
She said: “I would have done a bit of walking and got out and about. But, this has been really different and I’ve found I’m enjoying it a lot. You’re meeting a lot of people here you wouldn’t know as well and hopefully we’ll all be ready now for the big run.”
Collette McCloskey admitted she “couldn’t run the length” of herself before she joined the programme, but found it has really encouraged her to exercise.
She said: “I joined just to get fit and for the social aspect of it. I did a bit of walking before but couldn’t run the length of myself before this. I’ve found I’m really enjoying it and I find everyone is really supportive. I’ve made so many new friends.
She added: “The fact it’s built up every week and your fitness levels keep increasing really encourages you to exercise.”
Josephine Merrit from Carndonagh agreed, stating how there’s a “real sense of achievement each week.”
One of the programme’s coaches, Shaun McLaughlin said there was both excitement and nervousness as the participants geared up for the 5k on Friday.
He said: “The 5k is the goal but people are also delighted with how they’re getting on week-on-week too. It’s a real group effort and there’s a strong social aspect. They don’t feel like they’re doing it on their own and no-one gets left behind.”
Shaun told how there had been a structured programme in place since day one, with a training programme outlined by Niall McGee from Inishowen AC and the injury and nutritional classes overseen by himself and his brother, Patrick of Podium Fit (podiumfit.ie).
Shaun disclosed that many who had started and completed the programme in previous years had later gone on to complete marathons and the Ballyliffin Coastal Challenge.
The Couch 2 5k, which was made possible due to the support of the Coca Cola Thank You Fund, will take place this Friday, June 26th at 7.30pm in Carndonagh.
If you’d like to take part, you can pre-register by text 086 8420203 or on the evening from 6.30pm in Unit 5.
There will also be refreshments afterwards in Unit 5
You are asked to please support this event as all proceeds go towards Spraoi Agus Sport’s summer programme and their youth club for children with a disability.