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One runner's inspirational story

Cathy Burrill Woods

​‘Running – you’re joking, right?’

Friends and family were astonished when I told them I was going to do the 0-5k beginners running course.

I wasn’t surprised; I’d questioned myself from the first time the little seed started to grow. I was 55 years old, very overweight and I hadn’t done any significant exercise since school. I decided I needed to try and get fitter.

I’d heard of Run To Be and its ethos of inclusivity and that anyone will be welcome. I wasn’t sure how this would work but thought I would give it a go. If I hated it – I’d stop!!!

From Week 1, the obstacles I felt were removed.

Wearing suitable running attire – no-one reacted so I soon forgot I didn’t look like a runner.

Being slow – the first thing you are told (over and over again!) is that pace isn’t important and it certainly isn’t a race. However, I did worry that others had to wait for me but after the first week the coach organises the runners into groups so you run with those of a similar ability.

They are extremely skilled at letting the groups set off at different times so that you all finish about the same time. This means the cool down is done together.

Over the 8 weeks, people are moved between groups if their journey warrants it.

Each group has a mentor, someone who started off as a Run To Be beginner; someone who understands how you feel and can talk you through tips to help when it gets hard. They are all positive, encouraging and motivational. My journey would not have been the same without them and the Coach who leads the session.

My final obstacle was the homework; going out twice a week in between the group session – I thought people would laugh at me but I am either ignored or given words of encouragement. I have never been belittled whilst out alone.

I completed the first 0-5k in November 2017. After a period of illness, I am now back. This time I have the weekly pass and I'm running with the group twice a week. This means only one solo run. Many in the group arrange to run together - I have a lovely daughter who encourages me and comes out with me.

I am writing this as we reach Week 5. This week I have run 3.5k on 3 occasions and have enjoyed each time. I can now run comfortably, able to breathe and talk. I have made progress much more quickly than I remembered last time and I absolutely love it. I’m remembering so much from the first time.

The group is truly inclusive and is made up of women and men, young and older, all different shapes, sizes and abilities. I’ve met some really interesting people from all walks of life. The positivity and support is awesome and I feel happy I overcame the doubts I had.

My next steps are to repeat the 0-5k. There are other options which increase the challenge and distance but my goals remain to move more and increase my heart rate. I have no desire to run further or race and there is no pressure to do so. In the future, who knows...?

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