Last Sunday, I took part in the Fingal 10k run, the first in the race series for the Dublin Marathon. What it showed me, more than anything else, is the power of sport, of team work, of health and of events. You see this race series is what got me healthy.

In first year of college, I partied, put on weight and was generally unhealthy. I decided to try running, starting with a 5k event. When I crossed the line I got such a buzz, I decided to try to run the Dublin Marathon. So I researched a training plan and began on a journey that would lead me not just to a marathon, but eventually to an ironman and ultra marathons.

It would be a journey that shaped my business as well as my lifestyle. I can still remember all those years ago, the nerves and fear I had as I walked up to my first marathon series race, a stepping stone of three races that helped you get ready for the big one every October in Dublin.

The first in the series is now a 10k — last sunday’s race — but when I did it first, it was a five mile. I had never run anything over 5k in all my life.

As I parked the car I wanted to turn back, at the start line I wanted to opt out, but in the end I did it and I crossed the line.

That feeling has driven me ever since. It gets me back on track when I lose my way. It keeps me going when I think I can’t do it. It becomes addictive and I’ve felt like that several times over the years. But running last weekend brought me back there. This last 12 months has been stressful with a capital ‘S’. Moving house. Selling an apartment. Several sales unexpectantly falling through… six to be exact. Double mortgaging. You get the picture.

When I get fully stressed, I struggle to exercise and my training is haphazard. This past year has been exactly that… haphazard. I suppose that’s what separates me from so many of the social media trainers — I am just like everyone else, not obsessive about health, not portraying the overly perfect lifestyle. I have to work at my health and work hard.

Last Sunday marked a line in the sand. An apartment sale finally. A sense of relief that was nothing short of empowering. To see that this event was doing for so many just what it did for me all those years ago was powerful.

The thousands worked together, helped each other, gave support and comfort to all those who took part, beginner or advanced, confident or nervous — it didn’t matter, no one judged. This is why group events are so crucial for health.

The positive association and endorphin rush will keep that group training towards the next event, eventually culminating in the group running the marathon, something so many thought was just too far, just too tough and out of reach.

Today’s column, I suppose, is saying just do it. Sign up for something. Surround yourself with a group who have the same goals. Like the 4,000 people of all shapes and sizes, all fitness levels, just dare to believe you can do it and you know what? You can!

This article appeared on Independent.ie