I joined the Tees Barrage beginner programme when it started in summer 2016. I had hated long distance running at school, preferring the 100 metres, and dreaded those PE lessons.
I had tried running with the encouragement of a friend, but I struggled to get my breathing so it didn’t last long. In November 2015 I had major surgery too, hopefully to end years of illness and other operations. Although active, I felt I needed something to get my fitness up and to help me lose some weight that medication and a love of food wasn’t helping.
Through a friend, I heard about a Women’s Running Group called ‘Sisters R Doing It’ (SRDI) so decided that I should give running another chance. SRDI is a women’s only running network this is led by female leaders, which is a 10-week programme that teaches women to be able to run 5k within 10 weeks.
I liked the idea that it would just be women and that it was designed to get me running comfortably – hopefully! I signed up, although I was very nervous about being there on my own. There were lots of women at the sign up of all sorts of shapes, sizes and ages and this gave me a bit of encouragement. I wouldn’t say I enjoyed running, particularly those first few sessions, but I did feel that I could do this as I learnt how to breathe and pace myself. There was a real sense of achievement when I ran that first 5k at 10 weeks. After completing the beginner programme I joined the next stage, the Aspiring group, through which I have met some great people and made some wonderful friendships.
The Aspiring programme that is designed to improve stamina, pace and strength, and at this stage, participants are encouraged to venture out into other mainstream activities such as parkrun, Trail races, Race for Life and many more.
Some of the women from the Aspiring group had done Tees Barrage parkrun a couple of times and they encouraged me to try it, so I finally decided to sign up and run my first parkrun. I then followed it up with another one the following week, achieving a personal best! Since then I have become a regular parkunner, each time running a little faster. I was really surprised when I got another PB recently as I had found the run quite hard!
For a lot of the women, it was a huge achievement not only to complete the beginner programme but to then muster up the confidence to start running outside their usual group at parkrun. But with a bit of encouragement and support from their leaders, more and more are trying parkrun. Sisters R Doing It is now listed as a ‘club’ that parkrunners can select when they first sign up, or by accessing their profile through the weekly e-newsletter or their results/volunteering emails.
I particularly enjoy doing parkrun and running with the Aspiring group, as running on my own at times can be hard going. I have learnt ways to help myself push on or help myself get back into a better rhythm, and in a recent run I persuaded myself to add an extra 1k. It felt like running through treacle at the time but I achieved it! My running journey continues…
Exciting news: parkrun is coming to the Netherlands! In 2020, parkrun will be launching in the Netherlands, becoming the 22nd country in the parkrun family. We are in the process of confirming start dates and locations, but there has been an overwhelming amount of interest from all over the country. Plans are currently in development to see…
After the birth of her second child, Gail Seal was feeling overweight and unfit, and her confidence was at an all-time low. It took a year for her to work up the courage to go to parkrun for the first time. This is her story. I just celebrated my 100th parkrun! It was a…