The hazards and highs of Beat the Couch

  • I did it! Francine Dill crossing the finish line at the end of Beat the Couch season 9 (Photograph by Amy Harvey)

    I did it! Francine Dill crossing the finish line at the end of Beat the Couch season 9 (Photograph by Amy Harvey)

I had a great idea for how to start this column halfway through teaching a class yesterday, and now ... nothing. Canít remember! So annoying as I remember thinking it was funny too.

It as probably some fantastically inappropriate joke to get your Friday off to a good start but now we will never know. Damn. Seems my mind is overloaded with Beat the Couch logistics as we have a new programme coming up. This time itís season ten and we are really excited to celebrate this milestone. Beat the Couch started as a one-off project to see if the idea would take off. Weíve now had more than 550 people take part ó from 17 to 65 years old, men, women, executives, waitresses, engineers, busy moms, hairdressers, lawyers and customer care agents. It really is for everyone.

Some people use the programme to improve existing running skills or to add in a new layer of fitness, but the vast majority of participants are complete beginners. If you donít think you can do it, call me, because I bet you can. You can also check out all the information online. Go to the Whatís On page at and scroll down (we have a lot on)!

Now I wonít pretend that running is always easy. Itís been a saving grace for me but itís not without its fair share of interesting moments. To paint you a fair picture, see the hazards and highs below. Then go to our website to read more. We can have you 5k fit by Christmas ó honestly the best gift you will ever give yourself, so come and join us. We specialise in helping diverse groups reach a common goal and we would love to have you join us!

Running hazards

Trash trucks

Beat the Couch training starts off very gently at Bulls Head, in the Botanical Gardens and at Horseshoe Bay. However, there will come a point where you are breathing deeply as you run along the roads. Being behind a trash truck at the peak of your run is never good. It will however, make you run faster. Always a silver lining!


With so few indoor smoking spots, most of the smokers are outside. Thatís great until you run behind one. Here you are, training your heart out only to inhale a lungful of someoneís second-hand smoke. Not okay.

Flat batteries

Some people love to run in silence, others prefer a steady beat to motivate them and drown out their own heavy breathing! If you are the latter, an iPod meltdown right at the crucial moment can seriously take the pep out of your step ó especially on a hill or the home stretch. Mine has stopped halfway through Titanium, running back from Spanish Point over the Longest. Hills. Ever. If I could have caught the bus, I would.

Singing as you go

Singing as a substitute for your iPod just wonít cut it. It is, however, a good sign that your breathing is under control. Sometimes I belt out Bruno Mars lyrics at night. Maybe a little Alicia Keyes: ďThis girl is on fiyah ...Ē I am not sure what the people at bus stops think ...

Low-flying insects

On occasion, especially at night, I have been hit in the face by some kind of low-flying insect. Bigger than a mosquito. Smaller than a bird. Could have been a cockroach. I try not to think about it too much. It has never, fortunately, coincided with the singing. There once was a runner who swallowed a fly ... (shudder)

Hello humidity

Ah humidity hair. Mainly a girl problem, but boys with long locks could have a hard time too. An attack of the frizz is worsened only by a sweaty face and neck. Fortunately we avoid the really hot months and thereís usually a breeze to keep you cool-ish. But nothing worth achieving ever came without sacrifice. Just invest in a good dry shampoo!

Running highs

Drink in your Bermuda

Sometimes weíre too busy to notice the small stuff. The lizard on the wall, the sun on the water, the cool old ladies on the porch. Running gives you time to drink it all in. The random, the beautiful, the completely hidden away.

Time to think, or NOT

Running gives you time and space to think. Sometimes no music is the best music. Iíd love to know how many inventions, start-ups or marketing campaigns were born on a run. But sometimes itís therapeutic to plug in, drown out the world and go. Either way, running becomes YOUR time.

When you see progress

Progress isnít always measured by times and races. One weekend, halfway through my own 5k training, Belle took off across the grass towards a busy road. I was by her side in the blink of an eye. I didnít have to heave myself up. I wasnít out of breath when I got there. I was finally fit enough to keep up with my kids. It was something so simple but I was completely elated. Mission accomplished.

A biochemical boost

Running will improve your body tone and composition, but it will also improve the way your immune system functions, reducing the severity and duration of colds and flu. Regular exercise is associated with better disease prevention and management outcomes as well as stimulating lymph flow and digestion. My personal favourite for Bermuda is that, as exercise helps to manage weight and improve the efficacy of insulin, itís a powerful tool against type 2 diabetes. Whatís not to love?

Itís a catalyst for change

Completing a goal in one area often leads to success in other areas too. Our participants repeatedly report more confidence and determination in general as a direct result of the running they have done. If you can go from unfit to 5k-fit in 10 weeks, thatís amazing. But what are you going to do with the next ten weeks? We love seeing what everyone gets up to!

You will never, ever regret it

No one comes in from a run saying they wish they hadnít gone. No matter how hard it was to leave the house, you always feel great when youíre done. I still remember one of our clients saying to me, ďThis is the first time I have completed a fitness goal, ever!Ē That was just the beginning.

ēThe advice given in this article is not intended to replace medical advice, but to complement it. Always consult your GP if you have any health concerns. Catherine Burns is a fully qualified nutritional therapist trained by the Institute for Optimum Nutrition in the UK. Please note that she is not a registered dietitian. For details:, 236-7511 or, Facebook, Natural Nutrition Bermuda

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Published Sep 29, 2017 at 8:00 am (Updated Sep 28, 2017 at 7:45 pm)

The hazards and highs of Beat the Couch

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