I have been a recreational runner for, maybe, about 10 years, before I joined Fit4Life I had done 2 or 3 10k’s with no outstanding times just glad to get over the finish line!! My cousin had joined Fit4Life in Ballina which she found very beneficial; she strongly recommended I find a group in Castlebar to join as she found she met loads of new running partners through it. Hence I rang Anne Ronayne in Mayo Sports Partnership to see if there were any plans to organise a Fit4Life group in Castlebar, she was very anxious to start a group but needed someone to do the organisation so here’s how I came to being one of the organisers of the group in Castlebar.
Two of us went along to a training night in Claremorris about 2 weeks before we were to start the group where we met up with Paul McNamara from Athletics Ireland and also members of other Fit4Life groups in the west. This was a real eye opener for us, we had felt we were pretty organised to start our group but to hear of the other groups experiences really made us realise what exactly is involved to form and maintain a Fit4Life group.
We started the beginning of July 2009 with the first night mainly about informing people what the idea behind Fit4Life is. Since then we have built on numbers, it’s fantastic to see all the people who spent the first few nights walking the track only doing a very little bit of jogging to now jogging the whole time.
My proudest moment as a Fit4Life leader was in Hollymount last November watching those from our group completing their first 10km. The majority of the group just completed the first West of Ireland Mini Marathon, it was great to see so many bitten by the running bug and now understanding why I rave about the buzz you get on finishing a race.
I have often wondered what keeps people coming back week after week to the Fit4Life meetings, the resounding response is that it’s so relaxed, that nobody feels under pressure to perform, that the only person they’re competing against is themselves. Personally I always felt running around a track was a bit pointless, you’re not getting anywhere, but when you have people there along with you the surroundings really don’t matter. I can also see new friendships being formed within the group, personally I have met so many new people through Fit4Life and now always have someone to text if I fancy going for a run in the evenings where as previously I would always have gone running alone.
It’s far easier to motivate yourself when you know there is an organised meeting point. A lot of evenings, particularly in the cold, dark, wet ones, it would be far easier to curl up on the couch in front of the TV but once you’re out and get moving the endorphins kick in and you can’ t remember why you wouldn’t have come out in the first place, Fit4Life provides that motivation.
Certainly for me Fit4Life has been very beneficial on many levels. As I said I have made several new friends and running partners which have really improved my running, I will never be a contender as a serious athlete but improving my 10km personal best time by 7 minutes recently I certainly attribute in part to Fit4Life. Also as a very shy person it has given me the confidence to speak in front of a group of people, something which would always have terrified me previously.
For anyone remotely interested in keeping fit and healthy I can’t recommend Fit4Life highly enough, whether you’re a walker, jogger or runner there’s always room for improvement and it’s hard to beat the motivation of your peers. For me, I’m looking forward to a summer of running in the Mayo countryside and taking part in some of the Mayo AC road races.
Ann Mc Donnell