Couch to 5km with Croí

Welcome to the Couch to 5km plan  – don’t forget to register for the 4th annual Croí Night Run on October 12th – let our event be your target!

This program is intended for a complete beginner, so as long as you are injury free and in relatively good health you should have no problems with getting through this challenge.

*Please consult your GP prior to partaking in any physical activity.

Any physical activity can be made that much easier if it is done with others and it is a great way to stay motivated. Especially as the nights are getting longer and the couch is calling, it is made that much easier to get out when you know someone is there with you through the tough patches in your training when your already a little tired from work, so the more the merrier.

Remember to always stretch and warm up correctly before you exercise and a good cool-down stretch at the end to ensure your muscles keep there suppleness and you don’t get to sore.

Choose the right clothing and footwear, its not a bad idea to get online and look at some independent reviews if you are unsure on what is adequate. Also remember this is Ireland so make sure to wear good bright colours so you can be seen on those dark evenings.

The very best of luck and try to enjoy!

Week 1 Couch to 5km

Day 1: 50 minutes of constant walking, cool down stretch

Day 2: Walk for 20 minutes, then 20 minutes alternate – jog 100m then walk 100m repeat, cool down stretch

Day 3: 60 minutes walk, cool down

Day 4: For 20 minutes jog 200m then walk 200m and repeat for the full 20 minutes,  walk for 15 minutes then cool down

Day 5: 30 minutes walk

Any questions don’t hesitate to message our event page and we will get in touch!

Don’t forget to register for Croi Galway Night Run – October 12th @ 8pm!


*Always consult your physician before beginning any exercise program. This general information is not intended to diagnose any medical condition or to replace your healthcare professional. Consult with your healthcare professional to design an appropriate exercise prescription. 

Proudly supported by Evergreen Healthfoods 


Croi couch to 5km plan

Couch to 5KM tips

When you decide to start Couch to 5K such as our Night Run on the 12th of October this year, you need to firstly make a training plan and examine all the potential barriers that could get in the way and work out in advance how you’re going to deal with them. Making a commitment to becoming more active is great and is so important for your health, but making a change like this will require effort and dedication.

“Being physically active is one of the most important steps that people of all ages can take to improve their health and well-being” Janette, Physical Activity Specialist, Croí


In terms of clothing, you don’t really need technical gear. You just need something loose and comfortable in a breathable material, like cotton. Try not to wear new clothing on the day of the event. Always wear clothing you have trained in previously. It is strongly advised to purchase good supportive running shoes. Any distance above the 5km distance should be shock-absorbent especially if running on the road. It can take 25-30 miles to ‘break in’ a new pair of runners so purchase them well in advance of the 5km event and clock up the miles by walking around in them as much as you can. This will help prevent injury and blisters. Do not buy new runners within 4 weeks of the race. Running socks will also help prevent blisters and are advised in wet weather conditions and when new runners are purchased.

Each training session should include a warm-up and cool-down. This can involve a 10-minute walk or slow jog with some mobility exercises to get the joints moving especially the hip, knee and ankle joints. Don’t just go out the front door and start running. As for stretching before a run, opinion is divided on whether this is necessary or even helpful however muscle activation and range of motion exercises are extremely beneficial. For a warm-down, the worst thing you can do is stop running and immediately sit down, so keep walking until you’re fully recovered. You may want to put on an extra layer of clothing while cooling down, as this will stop you getting cold. Stretching can be done during the cool-down but make sure your muscles are still warm. Never stretch cold muscles. If you have known cardiovascular disease then the warm-up should be at least 15 minutes and the cool-down must be at least 10 minutes.

Warm-up tips

  • 15 minutes in length
  • Should be progressive
  • At a light intensity
  • Include range of motion exercises particularly hips, knees and ankles
  • If you want to include stretching (only stretch muscles when warm aka end of warm up). Include all major muscles.

Don’t worry about how fast you are running. Speed will come later once your aerobic baseline fitness has improved. Just increase the duration of your runs gradually. It is important that your first runs should be completed at an effort and pace that is easy and comfortable. Most beginners don’t know what an easy or comfortable pace should be so they tend to push too hard. A comfortable pace is one you feel confident you can sustain for the duration of your run. A simple way to determine your pace and effort is to listen to your breathing. If you aren’t gasping for air and you can talk while you’re running, then your pace is just right.  Don’t be afraid to walk.

Once the fitness levels improve you can start to work on speed. Once a week is adequate enough e.g.

Week 1: 30 seconds @ 75% effort 2-3 minutes recovery (walk/40% pace) repeat 6-8 times

Week 2: 30 seconds @ 80 % effort 2-3 minutes recovery (walk/40% pace) repeat 6-8 times

Week 3: 800m with 3 – 4 minute recovery periods. Repeat 4-5 times.

Week 4: 1000m with 3 – 4 minute recovery periods. Repeat 4 times.

If this is your first 5km race then I would strongly advise not to worry about time or how fast you run it. Your overall goal is to cover the distance and get to the finish line. Overall the most important objective on the day and of the whole training process is to go out there and have fun.Croi Night Run couch to 5km

It’s important to have energy for your run, but don’t overdo it. Avoid having a large meal within two hours of your run. There is completion for blood flow during exercise as our muscles require more energy and oxygen. If we consume a large meal too soon before exercise there will be an increased demand for blood flow from the digestive system and as a consequence there will be less oxygen and nutrients available to our working muscles. However, a light snack, such as a banana, before running is fine. As for water, provided you are drinking enough throughout the day, this should not be problem. Some people like to have a water bottle with them while running and it’s important to re-hydrate afterwards.

Janette, Physical Activity Specialist, Croí

Take a break from Stress

Take a break from stress!

Constant stress — whether from a traffic-choked daily commute, unhappy marriage, or heavy workload — can have real physical effects on the body. It has been linked to a wide range of health issues, including mood, sleep, and appetite problems — and yes, even heart disease.

Doctors don’t know exactly how chronic stress affects the heart. Most likely, stress triggers inflammation, a known instigator of heart disease, but that hasn’t been proven. “I think the conventional opinion is that stress is bad for your heart, but the data are much murkier,” says Dr. Deepak Bhatt, director of the Integrated Interventional Cardiovascular Program at Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

Yet stress may influence heart disease in more subtle ways. “Stress does cause some people to act in ways that increase their risk for heart disease,” Dr. Bhatt says. For example, when stressed, people often eat unhealthy food and don’t have the energy or time to exercise. Stress can also lead us into other heart-damaging behaviors, such as smoking and drinking too much alcohol.

Breaking the connection requires both learning to deal with stress and managing unhealthy habits.

These five simple tips can help you do just that.

  1. Stay positive. Laughter has been found to lower levels of stress hormones, reduce inflammation in the arteries, and increase “good” HDL cholesterol.
  2. Meditate. This practice of inward-focused thought and deep breathing has been shown to reduce heart disease risk factors such as high blood pressure. Meditation’s close relatives, yoga and prayer, can also relax the mind and body.
  3. Exercise. Every time you are physically active, whether you take a walk or play tennis, your body releases mood-boosting chemicals called endorphins. Exercising not only melts away stress, it also protects against heart disease by lowering your blood pressure, strengthening your heart muscle, and helping you maintain a healthy weight.
  4. Unplug. It’s impossible to escape stress when it follows you everywhere. Cut the cord. Avoid emails and TV news. Take time each day — even if it’s for just 10 or 15 minutes — to escape from the world.
  5. Find ways to take the edge off your stress. Simple things, like a warm bath, listening to music, or spending time on a favorite hobby, can give you a much-needed break from the stressors in your life.

Reference: Harvard Health Publishing

Ladies find time to care for your heart

Many women spend so much of their time chasing after others that their own health gets neglected. Did you know 1 in 2 women will die of cardiovascular disease? That’s about 5,000 Irish women every year – making it the number-one killer of women in Ireland and the world. Understandably, with work, family, fitness, cooking, cleaning, education, fashion, socialising etc., many women feel there’s simply no time to look after themselves.

But there are a few ways you can slow the pace and take time to care for your heart – you and your loved ones will be grateful in the long run.

    1. Forget about the ‘24 hour day’ structure. Yes, there are only 24 hours in a day… but there are 168 hours in a week. The average Irish working week is 40 hours, so you could get eight hours of sleep a night and still have 72 hours –three full days – left over. Examine how you need to use your hours and see if you can make more of your time.
    2. You might be able to adjust your work schedule – 9 to 5 doesn’t suit everyone. You could try working ‘split shifts’, where you do the same number of hours divided between morning and evening, leaving you time in the middle of the day for your health, family and other priorities. Or you could work late on some days then leave earlier on the other days of the week, perhaps even taking one day off.
    3. Cook healthy meals in large batches – you could even dedicate one day a week to ‘meal prep’. You can freeze the leftovers for another day. They can also be used as healthy lunches for you and your family, which can save you money and help you to avoid temptations. Check out our top tips on Meal planning here.
    4. Have everything ready to go and think ahead. Put a set of exercise gear in the car so you always have it handy, and keep another set washed and ready to go at home. Try to keep your keys, bag, shoes and phone in the same place so you don’t waste time hunting for them in the morning (though we know this can be hard if you have untidy people or tiny kleptomaniacs in your household!). Plan your outfits for the week instead of trying on everything in your wardrobe in frustration every morning. Keep bills and other important documents in organised boxes or folders so they are easy to find.
    5. Quit smoking. Busy women can be driven to cigarettes to relieve stress, but even ‘social smoking’ greatly increases your risk of heart disease and many other problems. The World Health Organisation says that you can add 10 years to your life expectancy if you stop smoking at age 30, 9 years at age 40 and 6 years at age 50. Your risk of coronary heart disease is halved just one year after quitting, and if you have children, it lessens the complications related to second-hand smoke, like asthma and ear infections.
    6. Try to avoid stress eating. Don’t keep junk food in your desk drawer, especially if you have a tendency to binge without thinking while your mind is on other things. Go for healthy snacks like bananas, small portions of nuts or dried fruit (without added sugar) when you need an energy boost. Check our top tips on being treat aware here.
    7. Ask for help and learn to say ‘no’! Stress is a massive contributor to heart disease. If you feel too much is expected out of you, let someone know, whether that’s your boss, neighbour, parents, partner or children. Delegate some of your regular chores, like picking up dirty clothes, cooking or doing the shopping, to others in the house – they might not even realise how much you do without them noticing and appreciate your workload more. Ask friends or family to look after children every now and again to give you a breather. Finally, don’t take on tasks just to be polite if they will significantly impact your day.
    8. Put a time limit on everything you do. Dedicate 10-15 minute blocks of time to different tasks, whether that’s grocery shopping, packing the dishwasher or checking emails. Not everything has to be done perfectly – if you feel something needs more of your attention, just schedule more time for it. Don’t be afraid to politely shut down meandering phone calls or meetings that are running over time. And remember to schedule in down time, too.

Sixty-somethings who keep moving may lower risk of heart disease

 Adults in their early 60s who spend less time sitting around and get more exercise – even just a little gardening or a leisurely evening stroll – have better markers for heart disease risk than their sedentary peers, a UK study suggests.

Researchers asked 1,622 adults ranging in age from 60 to 64 years old to wear movement and heart rate monitors for five days. These sensors detected how much time people spent sedentary and also how much of participants’ active time involved light activities like walking or gardening versus moderate-to-vigorous workouts like cycling or dancing.

Researchers also tested participants’ blood for levels of certain biomarkers that can help predict the risk of atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries that can cause heart attacks and strokes. Biomarkers in the blood indicating elevated levels of inflammation, cholesterol and clotting can be an early warning of atherosclerosis and heart disease.

We found that increased sedentary time was associated with worse levels of these biomarkers whereas increased time spent in any intensity of activity (including both light and higher intensity activity) was associated with better levels,” said lead study author Ahmed Elhakeem of the University of Bristol.

 “The 60 to 64 age range represents an important transition between work and retirement, when lifestyle behaviors tend to change,” Elhakeen said by email. “It may, therefore, be an opportunity to promote increased physical activity.”

Overall, half of the study participants spent at least 18 hours a day either asleep or sedentary, researchers report in the Journal of the American Heart Association.

Women spent a bit more time engaged in light physical activity, and men spent slightly longer doing vigorous exercise.

Half of the women spent at least 5.4 hours doing low-intensity activities, compared with 5.2 hours for the men. Half of the men spent at least 0.7 hours doing moderate-to-vigorous exercise, compared to 0.4 hours for the women.

For men, each additional 10 minutes of sedentary time was associated with 0.6 percent higher levels of interleukin 6 (IL-6), a protein in the blood that can indicate inflammation. Every extra 10 minutes women spent sedentary was associated with 1.4 percent higher IL-6 levels.

 Each additional 10 minutes of light activity for both men and women was associated with 0.8 percent lower levels of a protein known as tissue-plasminogen-activator (t-PA) that can signal the presence of blood clots.

The study wasn’t designed to prove whether or how exercise levels might directly influence biomarkers of heart disease.

To improve overall cardiovascular health, the American Heart Association suggests at least 150 minutes a week of moderate intensity or 75 minutes a week of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity (or a combination of the two) and muscle-strengthening exercises two or more days a week.

For the most benefit, however, people need to get active and stay active, said Dr. Nieca Goldberg, medical director of the Joan H. Tisch Center for Women’s Health at NYU Langone Health in New York City.

“You can’t bank your past physical activity,” Goldberg, who wasn’t involved in the study, said by email. “Physical activity lowers heart disease risk while you are actively participating in the physical activity.”

 SOURCE: Reuters Health, online August 8th, 2018


Be Treat Aware

Long gone are the days when treats were limited to after mass on a Sunday or in the lunch box on a Friday. Nowadays every day is a treat day, so much so that the word ‘treat’ no longer really applies. Biscuits, cakes, chocolate, crisps, sweets, ice cream, fizzy drinks, desserts, etc. have all become a staple in our daily diet.

Treat foods are high in calories and sugar which can lead to weight gain. They can also be high in salt which can cause raised blood pressure and saturated fat which can cause high cholesterol levels. These side effects can all lead to increased risk of heart disease and stroke which are the current leading causes of death in Ireland.

A recent study by SafeFood1 found that on average, Irish families spend 19% of their weekly supermarket food shopping budget on treat foods and only 10% on fruit and 7% on vegetables.

These figures don’t take into account money spent on treat foods in petrol stations, cafes, cinemas and other locations where treat foods are often bought.

While treats can form part of an overall healthy diet, how much is recommended? Current national guidelines say treat foods should ‘not be consumed every day, maximum once or twice a week’.  However, a 2016 survey conducted by Healthy Ireland2 found that most people consume snacks high in fat, sugar and salt and sugar sweetened drinks up to 6 times per day, well above recommendations.

In Ireland, 1 in 4 children and 6 in 10 adults are overweight or obese. While there are numerous factors that influence our weight, a high intake of treat foods is one of the factors contributing to these statistics. The ease of access to and the cheap cost of treat foods make them a desirable and easily purchased item. Clever marketing, branding and product location can also influence our decision. How often have you been in the queue at a petrol station, completely surrounded by sweets and chocolates and given in to temptation, even if you were really trying to avoid them or go for the healthy option? It can be very difficult to avoid treats but being more mindful of what you are having and how often you are having them can help you to reduce your intake.

Another issue facing consumers is that treat portions are now becoming supersized or it may actually be cheaper to buy a multipack of chocolate or sweets rather than one bar.  If you buy a four pack of chocolate, eat one bar and leave the other three in the press, it’s going to be very difficult to resist eating the rest if you know they are there.


Treat Aware
In this situation, the best option is to just buy the single bar if you are really craving a treat, unless you plan to divide the four pack among four people.



Be Treat Aware



The same applies for supersized treats. If you are having a treat, try and avoid going for the larger portions as these can be extremely high in calories. A good example of this is a bag of crisps or nachos. Large bags can have close to 900kcal – putting this into context, this is about half the calories an adult woman needs in an entire day! Going for the smaller bag could save you about 700kcal – the equivalent of an entire meal.




 Top tips! 

  • While treats can be consumed as part of a healthy, balanced diet, try limiting them to once or twice a week.
  • Avoid buying multipacks, supersized or sharing bags.
  • Remember that the best way to avoid snacking on treats at home is to not keep them in the house. If you have a ‘treat press’ consider emptying it out. If you really want a treat you can always go out and get it but the effort involved might make you reconsider and by the time you have reached the shop your craving might be gone.



Aisling Harris

Cardiac and Weight Management Dietitian




The research is based on purchase data sourced from Kantar Worldpanel Ireland. The analysis looked at the spend in Euro (€) the percentage of overall spend on food / drinks purchased in the supermarket for the period of March 2017 to February 2018 for households with children under 18 years and for households with no children’