And so our second Heathfield Road Runners Couch to 5k programme is up and running. Around 30 new runners turned up to the first session on 15th January 2018 – so many I couldn’t count them all – but I certainly hadn’t purchased enough reflective bibs as the 20 I had with me were quickly snapped up! Fortunately, I had excellent help and support from some of the other run leaders in the club as well as other runners there to help and run with the group to make sure they were all okay.
It was June 2017 when we organised our first Couch to 5K programme that was a great success and we are now hoping to run this course twice a year to encourage people to get started and to build their confidence to the point where they can join the club if they wish.
The course is run and supported by UK Athletics Run Leaders and aims to guide people through the NHS 9 week programme to help new runners get up and moving and running 5K by the end of the course. In our first course we had 16 new runners – 14 of whom managed to get to 5k by the end of the course. Those who did not manage 5k had a range of health and life problems that made progress more challenging but we hope they may join us again in the future.
The course is very gentle to start with and really just gets people moving and used to jogging for a minute or two. Almost all people expressed disbelief that they could move from this slow start to running 5K – but we think it is the slow start that really helps. It builds confidence (more than 50% of the difficulty for most people) and helps to “injury proof” new runners by giving their muscles the time to get used to a new activity. Many of the graduates of the course have gone on to join the HRR Club and some have run 10K and even a half marathon!! Others have struggled with illness and/or injury and kept running at a lower level – although they tell us they are still glad they did it! So much so that some are repeating the course this time – and helping some of the newcomers along the way!
So what do people who completed the course last time really think? Caroline, Sharon, Donna and Ely – all completed a questionnaire for me and I have had the chance to chat to other “graduates”. These are some of the comments we have had:
“I enjoyed meeting new people and the support network – and doing something I never thought I would be able to do!”
“go for it – don’t be scared – if you can afford it invest in some new trainers”
“I’ve inspired my 11 year old daughter who is very proud of me!”
“I had been suffering from Post Natal Depression – running has really helped me keep a clear head and focus on something good”
“running on your own can be daunting at first – so running with others really helps keep the momentum going”
“running has really made me feel better about myself mentally and physically”.
“Once you get running and talking the time will fly by and you won’t even feel like running is a chore”
“I enjoyed doing something for me, escapism, making friends, improving my fitness, the challenge – I feel the course was perfect for everyone”
“I can run 10K now!”
“go for it! Don’t be scared – and if you want to progress invest in decent trainers”
“always try and get to the group once a week and try and do the other sessions in between – run with someone different each time to get to know them (and the chat keeps your mind off the running)”
“I absolutely loved having a goal each week and for us as a group achieving it together”
“Running for 20 mins without stopping – we just could not believe we did it”
“I did not expect all the help and support from all the HRRs that came along every week – There was always someone making sure we were okay and offering advice and encouragement”
“Running has been life changing for me – something that is just for me. I sleep really well and legs are toning up nicely!”
I think these comments say it all! I hope that our new runners enjoy it as much – so watch this space to see how everybody gets on!