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Join us and get 5k fit in ten weeks

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Going the distance: Beat the Couch participants celebrate after finishing their 5k

Earlier this week I was giving a talk on stress-management, sharing nutrition and lifestyle strategies that help to effectively buffer our bodies from stress.

A small voice in my head was telling me to practise what I preach. Like lots of people, getting enough sleep and managing my workload is a challenge, especially with my own company.

I have everything to gain and everything to lose — and both are huge motivators. I’m lucky to love the work I do but everything seems to happen at once.

Over the next ten days, after the lull of the summer, both Nutrifit and Beat the Couch take off again. I am not sure what it is about Beat the Couch but whenever we recruit for a new season, we seem to get interrupted by an almighty tropical storm.

Sometimes I worry that a little hurricane intermission will hurt our numbers, but Bermudians know how to rally.

If you have never run before, or if you have long since lapsed, then Beat the Couch could be the solution you’re looking for.

It’s a non-intimidating beginner’s programme, designed to improve your ability and endurance through careful intervals over ten weeks. At the end, you’ll be fit enough to take part in a fun 5k race event and it is staggering how far people come within that timeframe.

We have three professional trainers and two social trainers, providing 11 training options a week (you just need to pick three), so almost anyone can fit it into their schedule.

We have podcasts, too, so even if you’re housebound by a tropical storm, you can complete the training by running laps of your living room.

We’ll be kicking off the programme on Thursday with our introductory seminar and then training starts on October 3.

We now have a Corporate Cup and a Friends & Family Cup, too, so you can participate either as an individual or as part of a group.

Our amazing sponsor, Bermuda Telephone Company, is submitting a BTC-Digicel team. They did a fantastic job last season but were just pipped to the post by KPMG. Who will take the title this time round? We’ll have to watch and see!

Our Friends & Family Cup was won by mother-daughter duo Barbara Willis and Sara Willis-Lewter, who both made enormous progress as the weeks went by. Points are allocated for race day performance, but also for training attendance, progress and team spirit.

I won’t pretend that running is always easy. To paint you a picture, see the hazards and highs below. Then go to our website to check out the details. We really can have you running a 5k and feeling amazing well before Christmas!

Younger, older, male, female, a little fit, completely unfit … we specialise in helping diverse groups to reach a common goal and we would love you to join us!

Running hazards

Trash trucks

Beat the Couch training starts off very gently at Bulls Head and in the Botanical Gardens. 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 pretty vomiting-inducing. It will, however, make you run faster. Always a silver lining!


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

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 — 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 won’t cut it. It is, however, a good sign that your breathing is under control. In my experience it’s worse than drunken karaoke, especially if you are tone deaf and only singing the words you remember.

Sometimes I belt out Bruno Mars lyrics at night. Maybe a little Alicia Keys. “This girl is ON FIYAH.” I’m 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 was a #couchbeater 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 there’s usually a breeze to keep you coolish. But nothing worth achieving ever came without sacrifice. Just invest in a good dry shampoo.

Running HIGHS

Drink in your Bermuda

Sometimes we’re 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.

Time to think

Running gives you time and space to think. Sometimes no music is the best music. I’d love to know how many inventions, start-ups or marketing campaigns were born on a run.

But sometimes it’s therapeutic to plug in, drown out the world and go. Either way, running can provide great mental agility or downtime.

When you see progress

Progress isn’t 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 didn’t have to heave myself up. I wasn’t out of breath when I got there. I was finally fit enough to keep up with my children. It was something so simple but I was completely elated.

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 also 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, it’s a powerful tool against type 2 diabetes. Run for your life! Really.

Catalyst for change

Completing a goal in one area often leads to success elsewhere. 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 ten weeks, that’s amazing. But what are you going to do with the next 10 weeks? We love seeing what everyone gets up to!

No regrets

No one comes in from a run saying they wish they hadn’t gone. No matter how hard it was to leave the house, you always feel great when you’re done.

A client said to me: “This is the first time I have completed a fitness goal, ever!” That was just the beginning.

•The 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 BA Hons, Dip ION is the Managing Director of Natural Ltd and 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, please go to www.natural.bm or call 236-7511. Join Catherine on Facebook: www.facebook.com/ nutrifitandnaturalnutrition bermuda