Once upon a time I was a champion sprinter. The day before the England trials I got knocked over by a car and during my recovery period I discovered boys and smoking; my running career was all but over.
Fast forward 26 years, three children, two grandchildren and a huge weight gain later… I heard about GroupRun whilst attending a Slimming World group. I agreed to sign up with a couple of friends so that we could reach some “Body Magic” goals which would help with the weight loss.
After that first session (60 seconds of running, 90 seconds of walking, repeated 8 times) I wanted to curl up and die in a puddle of my own sweat and tears but I’d achieved something I didn’t think was possible after taking so long out of the running game. So I turned up for the next session and the next and the next. And before I knew it, I’d completed the 9 week programme and I could run five whole kilometres.
“At the start line, everyone is equal”. This was on the certificate presented to us after completing our first Celebration Run and it’s a quote that’s stayed with me ever since,
Running distance didn’t come easy and I really struggled to find the motivation but I’m not one to give up easily. I decided to go through the programme again to ensure that I was keeping up my fitness and knew, from experience, that this would improve my stamina. Somehow I ended up at the ‘volunteers’ meeting rather than the first session of the next programme and was talked into running a group during the next programme (that Rick Wilson is very good at convincing people to participate).
The “couch to 5K” GroupRun programme is very addictive, mainly because of the people that join in. You are all equal – race, religion and riches don’t come in to it because everyone who participates have all been at that Day One, Week One point, regardless of where they are now. There is always someone to help you through the difficult times and there is always someone to celebrate with you at the end. I’ve lead a group of 30-ish people through the programme four times, I’ve ‘warmed up’ over 300 people on a Saturday morning with dancercize before a mass run and I’ve even been convinced to move on to learning to run 10k. I’ve completed some personal goals and have set myself many more that I couldn’t have even contemplated 18 months ago and I’ve got a whole new ‘family’ who completely understand how and why I rave about ‘this running thing’.
And most of all… I’m fitter, faster and have fabulous friends. All because I turned up to run one Saturday in June 2014.