Martina Rafferty walked her first parkrun, and swore she would never run. A couch to 5k programme later, and with some encouragement from her parkrun family, she’s now got back the confidence she didn’t even realise she had lost.
On 9 May 2014 I “did” my first ever parkrun. I say did instead of “ran” because I actually walked it!
There were many times I was going to give up. I was so conscious about being last and keeping everyone back, but with some encouragement from the amazing parkrun family I continued.
Afraid to go round on my own, the exceptionally nice and inspiring Eileen Jack walked round with me. We talked about what my goals were and how to try and achieve them. At that particular time my goal was to do the shortest leg of the Belfast Marathon. The finish time I used to talk about but the time is now irrelevant.
She then introduced me to two people who have changed my life… Paula Hewitt and Stuart Kennedy. They told me about couch to 5k and promised the next parkrun I did I would be “running”. I kinda didn’t believe them but 8 weeks later, I did do another one, which I ran! Faster than my first but again times are now irrelevant. It’s all about finishing.
Every session was tough but so much fun. The support from everyone was unbelievable and it’s amazing how much adding a little bit on each week can make such a difference.
Couch to 5k with JogBelfast and with the help of Paula and Stuart, I got back the confidence I didn’t know I’d lost.
When my group graduated we all stuck together and with our coaches we carried on getting bigger and better and eventually our running group Belfast Coolers was formed.
Just over a year ago, Stuart asked if I would be interested in taking a course so that I could help out with C25k. I was very hesitant and surprised at first as I don’t look like a typical runner. Again with some encouragement I agreed and I love doing it! I love seeing people start their running journey and it’s so nice to know that I have helped in the small way I can.
With 76 parkruns under my belt, I don’t know how many 10ks, and 6 half marathons. I think it’s safe to say that I achieved my initial goal and my goals are now constantly changing and it’s all down to C25k.
The achievements are good to have but the most important thing I’ve gained through running is the amount of friends and running buddies I now have. It’s great to be part of this amazing running family.
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