Mountaineering Man is a bona fide runner. He started about 5 years ago and, countless 10 k’s later, has never looked back. Rain, sleet, snow or shine he’s out there, pounding the pavement 4-5 days a week.

Me? I’ve always been one of these sporadic worker-outers. I’ll  join a gym, religiously hit the cross trainer for several weeks before burning out and quitting. I’ll take a few months to decide what to do next, and then do that for a few weeks before taking another extended break.

It was during the last one of these hiatuses that I decided something had to change. I was tired of gyms, particularly as they are SO overpriced here in Ireland (I used to go to one of LA’s best gyms for 75% of the price of what I was paying at the mediocre gym in Clontarf I just left). And as I prefer morning workouts, I was also getting tired of the whole gym rigmarole – you know the one that involves packing all your work clothes, makeup, hairbrushes and other girly bits just to realise once you’re at the gym that you’ve forgotten something essential, like your underwear.

Sinead Dennis

Still, I never considered running until I met up with a friend of mine who I hadn’t seen in several months. When she arrived at the café, I couldn’t believe my eyes. Not only had she lost about 65 lbs (that’s 4.6 stones!), she looked positively radiant. Sinead has always been a confident, go-get-‘em kind of girl with a positive attitude – her smile can light up the darkest of rooms. But that day she exhibited something else: a sense of self and calm I hadn’t seen in her before. She announced that she’d just left her successful job at a big ad agency and was heading off to South East Asia to travel for a few months.


What brought on all this change? Running.

And though it took me another few months after that meeting, I finally signed up for an online running course with Run With Tina (Sinead had done one of the group courses through the same program). The first run day was absolutely miserable: it was pissing rain and very windy. Though I could have put it off another day, MM encouraged me to get started. “It will never be as bad it is today – just know that,” he said. And so I laced up my brand-new runners, plugged into RunKeeper and went out the door. (See lovely post-run pic of that fateful day, below!).


That was September 30th. In late November, I completed the 8-week running course and met my goal, which was to run for 30 minutes straight with no walking. By Dec 7th, I met my second goal, which was to run 5 kilometers. MM signed us up for the Jingle Bells 5K in Phoenix Park, and I finished it in 34 minutes – my best time yet.

It wasn’t easy. There were blisters, sore legs and lots of bad weather (though MM was right, there has not been a day as bad as the first!). But at the risk of sounding cliché, it was worth it. I am now a runner, and I can say that with absolute confidence. During our 2-week holiday to Los Angeles for Christmas, I ran 5K every other day. My next goal will be to run 6K, which I will set for mid-February.

Running allows time to reflect. It clears my head, challenges my physical capabilities and gives me a sense of accomplishment because I’m doing something I never thought I could do.

And that, out of everything, is the best possible reward.

*Picture courtesy of Sinead Dennis


Roasted Beetroot with Basil Yogurt Dressing

This is a super easy side dish that’s low in calories and high on taste. I make this all the time, and use the dressing for a number of other dishes (salads, roasted potatoes, as a dip for carrots).

5 medium-sized beetroot, peeled and cut into large wedges

4 tablespoons hot water


6 tablespoons low-fat, natural yogurt

Small handful fresh basil leaves

1 garlic clove

Juice of 1/2 small lemon

Sea salt to taste

Pre-heat oven to 180C. Place a large sheet or tinfoil into a large roasting pan. Place the beetroot pieces in one layer on the foil, leaving at least 1.5 inch border on each side. Now place another sheet of foil on top of the foil and fold in the edges, to create a big pouch – but leave one side open. Tilting the baking pan so the water doesn’t run out, pour the water into the pouch and seal the remaining side. Place into the oven and bake for 40 minutes.

In the meantime, place all the dressing ingredients into a small food processor or blender and blend until smooth. Alternately, you can use a mortar and pestle and mash the garlic, basil leaves, sea salt and lemon juice together, and then add into the yogurt. Let sit for 15 minutes before serving.

Remove the beetroot from the pouch once done (should be fork tender) and arrange on a plate. Drizzle with the yogurt dressing and enjoy!