News - 27th May 2021

Feeling happier in myself


Louise Evans never thought she could be a runner, but she decided to try it last year to keep fit and help improve her mental health. She is now fitter, stronger, happier and looking forward to parkrunning for real as soon as possible.


Last June, I was starting to struggle with extra hours at work due to staff shortages and not having any time for myself. I am a prison officer and need to have time to unwind and clear my head after a long and stressful day.


The year before, my mental health had suffered as I wasn’t taking time for me and time to relax. I had joined the gym and was trying to go two or three times a week. Then, due to the pandemic, the gym was closed on and off and I found I hadn’t spent any time exercising for months, other than the walk to and from work, and being on my feet all day while I was there.


I decided I would start the Couch to 5k programme. I hadn’t really run previously as I was always quite self conscious about running in public on my own. I tried to go to the gym a couple of times a week, mainly using the cross trainer and the treadmill.


For the first couple of weeks of the C25k programme, I would walk down to the local park, put my ear phones in, click on the app and huff and puff my way round. After about week four, I was really enjoying it and could see a noticeable difference in how far I could go without having to stop and I was generally feeling better.


Louise Evans 1


Then week five hit and at the end of the week came a solid 20 minute run. My first thought was, “I can’t do that, you must be crazy!” BUT, I put my ear phones in, turned the volume up and went for it! How wrong was I? I completed the 20 minute session and it felt so good.


The following week we went to Cornwall on a family holiday and I ran every morning along the coastal path with my Mum. This gave me the running bug for sure.


When I got back home I knew I needed to set myself a challenge to keep myself motivated and to keep going. So I signed up to a 50 mile challenge to support cancer research in September.


I ran most nights, after work, around the local park on my own, gradually adding up the miles towards the 50 mile target. By the end of September I could run a solid 7 miles. Not only was I feeling fitter and stronger, but I found I was feeling happier in myself. The bonus was, by doing something I loved, I also raised money for cancer research.


This then got me thinking, maybe I needed to set a bigger challenge and raise some money for something that was especially close to my heart, so I signed up to run the Brighton Half Marathon which is taking place in June 2021.


I wanted to give myself a goal, keep motivated and raise some money for those who are living with dementia. My Nan had battled with vascular dementia since 2015 and all we could do as a family was watch, as little by little, we lost her to the cruel disease. In April 2020, Nan caught Covid and sadly passed away. So this challenge is for my Nan, every step will be for her and every pound I raise will go to help support another family who will have to go down that horrible road.


Challenge set! I started to set new routes that took me away from home so that if I got tired I couldn’t stop and head home so easily. I’m lucky, in Bedford we have a lovely country park and the river which is beautiful to run alongside, I have upped the milage little by little each month in preparation for the Brighton Half Marathon. I was hampered a little by the snow and bad weather at the beginning of the year, not to mention a stress fracture, the need for good trainers is a must!


Louise Evans 5


Then on Sunday 21st March, I had set myself the goal of running a good solid 11 miles, the weather was good and I was feeling great, so I just kept on going. I completed it in 2 hours 14 minutes, I was so proud of myself!! This felt amazing and I loved every minute of it, I can only imagine what it’s going to be like on the Brighton Half Marathon day running with lots of other people!


I still run the (not)parkrun every weekend at Bedford park and log my time. I have the running bug for sure and can’t wait to get out on my day off. I always feel so much better after a run. I can’t wait to join in the ‘real’ parkrun when it starts again!


Louise Evans

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