Running Wild

An Carn 5k Run May 16 (1)

Running Wild round Droim nDamh Nature Reserve – Wild-Fitness

Well summer truly feels like it has arrived, as indicated by the fact that people have started to complain about the heat.

Our Couch to 5km programme has entered it’s penultimate week, and the participants are all doing amazingly. It never fails to amaze me how much progression people make in such a short time. For some, they struggled with running for a minute on week 1 but by week 7 are running for 25 minutes straight, in uncomfortable heat, with minimal moaning. I know that they will all smash this weeks schedule as well.

So what makes this C25K different from many of the others cropping up everywhere?

Well, apart from the obvious reason of my charm and charisma, It has to be the venue.

We are following a fairly standard C25K programme, but the venue is anything but standard. Whilst many programmes will have you running laps of a pitch or track (death by repetition to me) or running round town streets, Droim nDamh (Drumnaph) offers something more for the mind, body, and even the spirit.


Running around Droim nDamh’s stony and undulating paths means every footfall is differen, so the muscles in the feet, legs and core have to react differently with every step. This builds far greater strength and stability than running on a homogeneous pitch or a track. It’s harder, yes, and it will take someone a bit longer to run it, but they will all the stronger and healthier for it.

Running around Droim nDamh any time of the year is a marvelous experience, but right now it’s pretty special. From the cool breeze along the Droim (ridge), to the stunning coconut scent of the Aiteann (whin/gorse) along the Loch Bran Trail, from the shaded shelter of the seanchoill (ancient woodland) on the woodland trail, to the dappled babbling of the Abhainn na Griollaí (Grillagh River) along the Ruachan Trail. It’s crying out to be explored.

Away from the monotony of running in circles, or the blast of noise and stench of city traffic, Droim nDamh really does offer itself as a tearmann (sanctuary/refuge) from the hustle and bustle of a chaotic modern life.

Running through the reserve, the only sounds I hear are that of birdsong, breeze through the leaves, and the crunching of stones beneath my feet. These somehow make the sound of my laboured breath more musical, more fitting.

Just being out in nature reconnects us to the sense that we are part of something far greater than ourselves, that we are a part of nature not apart from it.

Being in nature has a myriad benefits health-wise, both physically and mentally, many of which have been well documented through research.

So if that’s not enough reasons to start walking/running around Droim nDamh, I don’t know what is.

Come and join us all for a delightful 5km run on the 19th June at 11 am and see what I’m banging on about. Details here.

Hope to see you out there.


Conquering the Mountain

The mountain in this instance is health and fitness and not the gargantuan Hafþór JúlíusThorBjörnsson from Game of Thrones. Admittedly this would be one hell of a workout, but probably ones health would suffer in the long run.

battling the fitness mountain wild fitness

Battling the Fitness Moutain

This morning, as I got up bright and early for a personal training session, the view of Carntogher Mountain took my breath away. Bathed in the early morning sunshine and shrouded in a light, low lying cloud, it could have been a CGI scene from Lord of the Rings. Totally magical. It reminded me that we have just over a month till the annual ‘Rith An Carn/Run the Carn’ 5km mountain race.

It was whilst staring up at the mountain, contemplating a training run with a sense of excitement and no small amount of trepidation, that I thought that a mountain is a great analogy for health and fitness.

Uphill Struggle or Reaching New Heights?


Fitness is about taking one step at a time.

So you’ve decided that something needs to change. That person looking back at you in the mirror is not the person you want to see each morning. You feel weak. You have aches and pains. You’ve had a wake up call regarding you health that must be answered.

Whatever the reason, the simple act of making the decision to do something about it has set you on the way to better, healthier you. Well done!


But standing at the bottom of this new mountain, at the start this new journey of health and fitness, can be quite a daunting experience. But fear not, you are not alone. Everyone feels this way, regardless of their athletic prowess.

Every new challenge I set myself is faced with some doubt as to whether I have the ability to complete it. And the truth is, I never know for sure until I have completed it.

Nagging doubts and fear have their place, but too much is detrimental. For years I have fallen victim to these voices.

Then I remembered two voices from my past, guardian angels you might say.


The first voice addresses my doubts and fears:

jibber jabber

Thank you Mr T

The second is my own voice, remembering the man every boy from the 70’s and 80’s wanted (still wants) to be:

what would chuck do

and thank you Chuck


At this point I can clearly visualise both Mr T and Chuck Norris giving me that look. Maybe it’s exhaustion, dehydration, or oxygen deprivation, but I know that my two heroes would never let me give up.

When you start a new fitness regime or a new eating strategy it really can feel like an uphill struggle. It feels so hard to keep going and the distant heights don’t seem to be getting any closer.

This is when you have to stop, turn around and look at where you have come from. Every step forward is a step higher. It doesn’t matter how quickly you make it up that mountain, just remember that the higher you go the better the outlook.

This is the key to making it with any health and fitness plan. Stop viewing it as a struggle, a chore. Even the word ‘workout’ carries the connotation of labour and strife.  From this day forth we shall refer to them as fitness adventures, as health expeditions.

View each day/session of your chosen health plan as a ‘challenge’, something to tussle with, sure, but something to inevitably overcome. And if you fail at an attempt? That’s great, because it gives you another chance at that challenge. If things came easy we wouldn’t appreciate the effort and perseverance needed to truly own a skill, of truly conquering that peak.


Failure? It’s just another shot at succeeding










When we decide to make the mindset change to stop struggling but rather start challenging and testing ourselves it becomes much more about the journey than the destination.

When we reach that initial peak, whatever our goal was, we realise, with joy, that there are a whole heap of mountains out there waiting for us to discover.

And if we start to feel daunted, we just turn around and see how far we’ve come.

Remember as Lao Tzu said:

The Journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.

So don’t judge yourself against others, but on the progress you have made. Even the smallest amount of progression is still progress.

You might not be Chuck Norris or Mr T but you deserve to be on this mountain.

See you at the top. x