Follow Worksop Guardian reporter Hayley Gallimore as she embarks on an eight-week beginners running course...
I MADE every excuse not to take part in the dreaded cross country run at school.
Hiding in bushes and finding short cuts were my strongest points. Running was not.
So for me to have signed up for a running class is still a shock to the system.
I’ve always wanted to be able to run. At least for more than a minute or two without feeling like I’m going to die.
But I’ve never felt cut out for it. Setting out on a run around the neighbourhood is a scary prospect when you’re overweight and unfit.
And the thought of huffing and puffing as the early morning Lycra-clad fitness freaks glide past me has always stopped me.
Running under the cover of darkness wasn’t an option either – too scared of getting mugged, being hit by a car or falling down an uncovered manhole.
Excuses, excuses... I’ve used so many over they years. And they stop here.
I’m swallowing my inhibitions, pulling on my trainers, and heading out to pound the pavements.
The good thing is I’ll have a gaggle of girls behind me (or way in front of me) all the way.
Run For It is a running club which caters for beginners right through to more experienced runners. Even those mud-loving trail runners.
But it was an eight week course that caught my eye, which promises to build your fitness so you can run for 30 minutes.
After jostling with my confidence and extreme lack of fitness, and after a few encouraging words from my colleagues at the Guardian, I signed up and agreed to write this blog about my experience.
Last year our former news editor Debbie Sansom blogged about her training for the great big London Marathon. Read about it here Read about it here
And Guardian sports editor Graham Smyth has just completed a gruelling yet life-changing six month fitness training regime at Worksop’s Apple Fitness and Wellbeing Centre. Read about his results here
So here I am at my first session with running coach Roger Laidlow, his partner and fellow coach Sharon, and eight other Worksop women who look just as terrified as me.
As Roger talks us through the aims of the course and the basic principles of how to put one foot in front of the other (I told you we were beginners), I look around to see my nervous grimace reflected on everyone's faces.
We just can’t believe we’ll be able to run for half an hour in eight weeks time, let alone tonight’s light jog around the Gateford estate.
But after a few wise words of advice, we are already feeling better. Roger and his partner Sharon are licenced athletics coaches. He set up the running business after taking voluntary redundancy from the prison service.
He seemed to understand our running worries and insecurities, even giving advice on how to deal with every woman’s nightmare – the bouncing bust.
“Don’t run with your arms up by your chest, just invest in the right kit,” he said.
To which one woman replied: “I’ve got three bras on!”
When the fits of laughter died down, we set off at a stroll.
The idea is to walk for two minutes then run for 30 seconds, and repeat it eight times. This way you can catch your breath after every burst. And the whole session lasts just 30 minutes.
Roger used his stopwatch to tell us when to start running and when to slow back down to a walk. But to be quite honest, the walking was probably more tiring than the running.
He said many people make the mistake of setting off running too fast to start with. So we went slowly, almost shuffling along.
This way, no-one was sprinting ahead or left behind, and we were still getting the benefits.
The 30 minute session took us along residential roads, across fields, down paths and back to our cars.
To my surprise it was an absolute breeze. Each 30 second burst of running felt like ten. I never got out of breath and hardly broke a sweat. Looking around me, the other runners enjoyed it too.
And best of all we could chat along the way. I found out that women had come from all over Worksop for this first session - from Kilton to Costhorpe and everywhere in between.
And it was supportive to know we were all in the same boat – the beginners boat.
Roger reassured us with regular facts and tips on running. He has seen more than 100 people complete the beginners course, and every single one has reached the end goal of running for 30 minutes without stopping.
Sounds impressive, doesn’t it? I still feel it’ll be a miracle if I can achieve this. But maybe, just maybe, Roger and Sharon are miracle workers…
Now I’ve got to go away and do my ‘home work’. I need to repeat the 30 seconds run / two minutes walk eight times, and do this twice before next week’s session. It’s an essential part of the course and builds up your fitness gradually.
Running just once with the support of a group has already given me the confidence to go it alone. So this week I’ll pound those streets and stick my tongue out at the Lycra brigade.
I wish everyone on the course the best of luck on their runs this week. Let’s do this.
• Find out more at Run For It
Classes take place in Worksop, Harworth, Doncaster, Barnsley and Dinnington. They are open to men and women of all ages and abilities.