Ash, from None to Run Leader

April 2021

It had been a long and miserable winter, we were just about out of the prolonged covid lockdowns, which had not been kind to me both physically and mentally. I’d packed quite a few pounds on over the period and was suffering from a bit of cabin fever. The local gym I had been using pre-covid was still closed, the golf courses were still out of action due to restrictions and poor weather. I decided I needed to do something. One day, a post for Sawtry Walk to Run (SWTR) appeared on my Facebook page, which seemed like a great thing to do to get out and moving again. 

Apprehensively, I booked on for the following Sunday morning 4th April. 

I turned up as nervous as anything but was made to feel extremely welcome by the leaders and the group – I had never been a runner, hated it at school. I’ve played lots of sport throughout my life but never running. The suggestion was that I joined the ‘60/30 jeffing’ group for my first run – 60 seconds running, 30 seconds walking and repeat – how hard could it be? Less than a mile in I was already hurting, calves impossibly tight, feet hurting, ankles throbbing. I gave up, turned around and walked back to the start point thinking this running lark wasn’t for me. 

When I got back to the start Nib and Nona (the SWTR leaders) were there waiting. They gave me a couple of pointers on stretching my calf muscles, some advice on using a foam roller and said come back and try the 30/30 jeffing group next week. So I did. I booked for the following Tuesday. 

What an amazing difference. I joined the 30/30 group for the next few weeks, 3 times per week, and bit by bit, my calf muscles loosened up, the weight was dropping off, my speed got a little quicker and the distances increased. It wasn’t too long before I joined in the club handicap championships over that summer. Several handicapped races based on individual pace, I managed to jeff my way through 6 of the 7 races – 5k’s/10k’s and a 10 miler. I finished 4th in the championship. I couldn’t believe what I was achieving. 

At this point I started thinking about the next challenge, winter was around the corner and SWTR were starting their next 10 week “none to run” course, culminating in a graduation 5k park run race in early December. I joined in. Best thing I ever did. 

The run leaders and the group were so supportive, before I knew it, I’d gone from running 30 seconds, to 60 seconds, then 2 minutes to 5 minutes and then in mid-November my first ever 20-minute continuous run. Two weeks later I ran for 34 minutes non-stop. The progression was unbelievable. It was time to have a go at my first continuous 5k, which I did one week later in just under 37 minutes. It wasn’t quick but I didn’t care – I’d done it. 

At the beginning of December, I went and did my first 5k park run – look at me, an actual running event with real people I didn’t know – I was apprehensive but my newly improved mental strength (also known as gutsy determination by some😊) made me do it. I ran it just over 35 minutes. 

The following week I was awarded Sawtry Walk to Run member of the month. 

In January 2022, I treated myself to a running gait analysis at Advanved Performance and purchased some proper fitting running shoes 😊 

In February 2022, now some 3 stone lighter in weight, I joined the 5k improvers course, which was just what I needed – this included some sprint training, some hill efforts and for me culminated in my next park run in May, paced by coach Nib. I ran this one in a little over 28 minutes. 

Now regularly running 5ks, in June I took on my first 10k race, which actually ended up becoming 3 10k races in as many weekends. The first one, Peterborough Midsummer, I ran in 1hr 02 mins, followed by a team relay event 10k which I ran in 1hr 01 mins, then the last one at Rutland Water, I ran in 59:49 – I’d done it, I’d achieved my first sub-60 10k race and was super chuffed. 

Later that month the opportunity came for me to qualify as an England Athletics run leader, so I took the opportunity, did the course and passed. Me. A licensed qualified run leader. WTF. 

In the space of just over 12 months, I’d gone from not being able to run for 60 seconds, to running a sub-30 5k, a sub-60 10k and now being a run leader hopefully helping and inspiring the next wave of runners like me. Most recently I’ve completed a 10-mile handicap run, finishing in well under 2 hours. Whats next? A half marathon? I don’t know. 

If you want to get out and start running or return to running, this group is amazing. There is a place for everyone. If you want be part of something special, get healthy, meet some great people, get booked on – just do it.