We caught up with Dublin Frontrunners member Orla to talk about her experience in the Frontrunners and to find out more about their Couch to 5k programme which kicked off last Saturday.
What motivated you to sign up for the Frontrunners couch to 5k last year? "A friend, who was already a member, took me out for a run the summer before last. I wanted to improve my fitness and try to lose some weight so I could feel better about myself. My friend encouraged me to join the couch to 5k, a 9 to 12 week programme which would start off slow but help you speed up at the end. I liked the sound of it and I decided to give it a go. I also heard that running and mental fitness was a way to escape the world and clear your head, so that was an added bonus. It has an eclectic mix of different nationalities and people of all ages so I liked the idea that it was very inclusive."
In what ways do you think you benefitted from taking part?
"I benefitted on a personal level and a social level. I never believed I could run as long as 5k. The coaches were amazing and encouraging. They cater for people of all abilities, shapes and sizes and they make sure nobody is left behind. From the fittest at the front to the slowest at the back, everyone is taken care of and looked after from the start. Everyone is made to feel included, and from the social aspect, I now have some of the best friends I could ever have. We meet up 3 times a week and encourage each other to work out. We have a laugh on the way as well which is handy."
What kind of training were you doing in the build up to the Pride Run, both with and without the club?
"Well outside of the club I was part of a musical society so I was dancing and singing and active in that kind of a sense but the couch to 5k meet up 3 times a week (a Monday, Wednesday and on a Saturday morning). The first week is a minute walk and then you gradually keep going to get your heart rate up, you do that for about 40 minutes. The coaches make it fun by bringing an exercise into it and challenges at the end, like running up and down the Papal Cross and doing planks. Also, the route changes every night so it doesn’t get very boring."
Tell me a bit about race day itself at the Pride Run. "Race day is fantastic yet a bit scary. I had never raced before and it was a bit daunting. We were lucky enough that the weather was fabulous. We met the coaches about 40 minutes beforehand for a pep talk. That was very encouraging. One of the coaches did a few stretches with us and put our minds at ease. We were told that we were representing the club and that it was the beginning of Pride week which made it really exciting. That really motivated me to want to do well and race to the best of my ability. The coaches were fantastic. They ran through the finish line and came back for each one of us and helped us cross the line. It was an amazing feeling. The party at the end in the Garda Boat Club was an added bonus."
If you had to pick out one moment as the highlight of all of your time with the Frontrunners, what would it be? "It is about fitness but for me the highlight was acceptance. The club has members from all over the world with different backgrounds and stories. I can now say I have made an amazing bunch of friends. Without the club and the closeness of the 2018 group I wouldn’t have found that. Everyone is different and no one is judged, it’s a lovely environment and a safe place where everyone can be themselves."
The next Frontunners couch to 5k is starting next Saturday, April 6th. What advice would you have for anyone who might be thinking of starting the programme but is unsure if it’s for them? "For anyone thinking of joining, just do it. It is daunting the first day when you pull up to the Papal Cross. I was really nervous as I didn’t know anybody. However, everyone was very welcoming, people did notice you were new and pulled you into the group. I was introduced to one or two people who have been there for years and it made me feel at ease. The coaches took us for a pep talk and filled us in on what would happen over the next couple of weeks. We then introduced ourselves to each other and everyone seemed really lovely. So my advice going forward is to just do it. Nothing ventured and nothing gained, you never know what could happen and you could have a whole new group of friends."
The Dublin Frontrunners Couch to 5k programme began on Saturday April 6th but it's not too late to join in! The group meet at the car park in the Papal Cross (Phoenix Park) at 10am sharp. No running experience or fitness level required. This is a 9 week programme that gets you up and running in time for the Dublin Pride run.
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