In July of this year, New Limits Run Coaching and Decathlon teamed up to put on a free couch to 5k programme. Based at Leverhulme Park in Bolton, aspiring 5k runners took part in weekly sessions for a period of 10 weeks with the help of Ian, Debs and I. At the end of the 10 weeks they then put there training to the test, taking on the 5k distance at Burrs Park.

Here is Cath's Experience

Hi Rob, I am delighted to write about my experiences on your recent Couch to 5k running course. I am in my 50's and although I regularly attend sessions at my local gym, I do have a history of poor health. A few years ago I had breast cancer. I survived and made a full recovery but the treatment was brutal and I have never been the same since. I have tried to participate in running events, mainly for charity, but I could never get my breathing right and struggled to complete the course. When a friend told me about your Couch to 5k course I felt quite daunted but wanted to have a go, to try to improve my stamina.

When we all met up at Leverhulme Park, I realised that I was one of the slower participants. However, Ian and his team made sure that I was really well looked after. Sometimes they adjusted the course so I could complete it and they always made sure that I had someone to run with and wasn’t being left behind. Without that care and support I would probably have dropped out and quit running. Debs gave me some great advice about breathing, Rob taught me about pace and Ian was very funny and kept me feeling positive. The courses were varied which kept me interested and engaged. The sessions were tough but achievable and everyone’s efforts felt equally valid, no matter how fast or slow they were running.

The culmination of the course was on Sunday morning at the Great Run Local at Burrs Country Park. The ground was wet but the atmosphere was warm and friendly. I was not sure that I would actually be able to run the 5k without walking, as I never have done before, but with the help and support of Ian’s team, the marshals and the other runners I did make it round in one go. Even though I came in last it was still a personal best for me in that I had never run 5k before, so I felt elated.

Cath on her way to completing the 5k

I want to keep running now so I have joined Ian and Rob’s club, Radcliffe Athletic, and I want to improve my speed and stamina. I feel so lucky to have participated in this scheme and have benefited both physically and psychologically from Ian’s expert tuition. Thanks again to everyone involved and to Decathlon for making it possible. I wish more people could see how running could benefit them in the same way.