Learning to run was an incredible journey and a huge achievement for me. I realised as well as an improvement in my fitness, running was good for my mental health. I decided to become a run Leader and then a Coach, to be able to support other people to start running and discover the benefits. Initially I ran a group for friends and family, then at my workplace where there is still a running group meeting each week!
After some big changes in my life I decided to join Alton Runners, an actual running club. I was terrified and thought I wouldn’t be good enough but it wasn’t that scary at all! It wasn’t long before I was leading the Rookie Runners and helping others to discover that they too, could run.
The courses take people from beginner (or recovering from illness or injury) to being able to run at least 5k. It has been amazing over time to be part of the Rookie’s progress as some of them have gone from 5k to 10k, 10 miles and even marathons! What I enjoy most is seeing new friendships forming as my ‘graduates’ get to know and motivate each other and become active members of the club. Many come to training sessions and taking part in events, cross-country and social runs.
It is such an honour to be able to share each and every person’s journey and to see the benefits to their physical, mental and emotional wellbeing. I love seeing everyone blossom as they grow in confidence and realise; they can do it!
I saw an advert in the local paper, Alton Running Club were to be running a ‘Rookie Runners’ course for people who were new to running or had never run before.
A week previously I had made a deal with my doctor to try to drop a stone in weight as a last ditch attempt to postpone taking blood pressure and cholesterol tablets. My Dad had suffered with this too for many years and after monitoring me for some time now my doctor thought that it was time for me to give in to the inevitable.
I wasn’t sure if running was the answer, but I was determined to give it a go. So every Saturday for the next twelve weeks I turned up at Jubilee playing fields, to be encouraged by coach Claire, to run for firstly two minutes, then three minutes, and so forth, increasing each week. There were times when I felt like my lungs where going to pop or my legs were like lumps of lead and there was homework of repeating our Saturday session ourselves at least twice more in the week!
To my surprise I did manage to complete the programme, the Rookie Runners even ‘graduated’ by running the Woodland Woggle 6K in May. Even more surprising though were the results of my next and subsequent blood pressure and cholesterol tests – perfectly normal.
I have dropped a little weight and I have definitely toned up, so much so that in August I wore a bikini for the first time in twenty years! I am delighted with the impact that running has had on my life and lifestyle, gone are the long years of dieting, I now enjoy eating sensibly and burning off the calories, I am healthy without medication and I feel great!
As someone who has avoided exercise like the plague for the first 26 years of my life, much to the detriment of my weight and health, something had to be done. It was my Mum, a keen runner herself, who introduced me to the Rookie Runners! Claire was starting a club for complete beginners, any ability would be welcomed and encouraged to run 6k by the end of a 12 week programme. For someone that literally couldn’t run for more than 40 seconds at a time (I couldn’t keep up in week 1 where we had to run for just 1 minute), a 6k seemed beyond impossible, but with bridesmaids duties looming and diets failing, I decided to give it a go.
If I had done this alone, I can hand on heart say I would have given up after week 1, however, the encouragement from my entire group got me out of bed every Saturday morning and the pressure of this, of course, meant that “homework” had to be done, or I wouldn’t be able to keep up.
Since “graduating”, we’ve not only remained friends but continue to push each other onwards, from booking races together, to Facebook motivation. Without their encouragement I could have easily given up a long time ago.
A year down the line I have lost almost 2 stone, dropped 3 dress sizes and am the fittest and healthiest I have ever been. My journey to this point kicks me out the door on the cold, dark nights but I’ve also been mad enough to sign up for the London Marathon, and “lucky” enough to get a place. So my motivation to continue will be the looming 26.2 mile course, a feat that still seems impossible but one thing the last year has taught me, is that nothing is impossible if you try hard enough.