One of their graduates, Deborah Baldwin-Sykes has decided to share her story.
It’s almost 2 years ago now when I was sat thinking to myself that I really need to do something to improve my lung function. Strange thought I know, but winter was just over the horizon and I am prone to chest infections and on occasion I have been sent to hospital with them. I have a tendency to get pleurisy, and those past bouts have left its mark on my lungs and how they work.
A friend of mine had shared a post on Facebook about a new C25K group that was starting. I had a look at it and thought why not? I had bought a treadmill which was sat in the garage and I had used a few times but was very easy to give up once I got a bit breathless or tired. I thought if I had company and someone cheering me on I might not give up so quick. I sent a message off before I changed my mind. I got the time and date through and put it to the back of my mind.
The first session soon arrived. That evening I was still very unsure, I didn’t know what to expect. Would everyone else be younger, fitter, faster, thinner, better? All doubts were persuading me not to go but my hubby ‘gently’ encouraged me to go saying ‘You’ll never know if you don’t try’. Not often I admit this but he was right. It turned out to be one of the best bits of advice he ever gave me!
I turned up at Eastbourne that 1st Tuesday and sat in the car looking at the people arriving, still thinking ‘dare I do this’? Then I saw someone with a clipboard taking names down and I thought well it’s now or never. I introduced myself and my name was then officially on the register.
We went over to the field and Mike gave us an outline of what we would be doing in the next 12 weeks. He was so encouraging and enthusiastic I thought I can do this, then we did the warm up. I thought I was going to die. If I couldn’t do the warm up without feeling exhausted and able to breathe, how on earth was I ever going to manage 5K. But with Mike, Jen, and the coaches encouragement, we continued with the session.
Running round in circles for a minute at a time felt like torture, my legs were heavy, I couldn’t breathe and I was sweating heavily (attractive I know). As I looked at the other people in the group I realised that everyone else was just trying their hardest and not judging anyone. Some people were faster and fitter and coming back to running after a period off and others like me were starting from scratch. Some people appeared to have all the ‘gear’ whereas others like me had found a pair of leggings and a t-shirt that fit!
Everyone was so friendly and encouraging, and the session was soon over. The coaches were really supportive, cheering everyone on and encouraging them, and somehow got us all to agree to come back on Thursday. I blame those exercise endorphins.
On Thursday we did much the same but then, to my horror, we got running homework for the weekend. That meant I had to go out on the streets on my own where people might actually see me. I got up early on the Saturday morning and went before any civilised person would be about. That’s something I still prefer to do now but that’s because I love the peace and not because I don’t want people to see me.
One night we turned up for training and Mike announced ’this week we are going out onto the road’ – we all looked at each other with trepidation. He outlined the route and assured us there would be plenty of stops to regroup.
We set off and it wasn’t till our first stop that I realised that I had run for 10 minutes without stopping. We all kept going, encouraging each other and arrived back at the complex tired but happy.
The weeks ticked by and we ran further and longer each time, and always with homework for the weekend. Soon it was our graduation at the park run. A small group of us could not attend the official graduation day but to make sure we still had that sense of achievement the coaches gave us an alternative day.
What a fantastic day for our group. We all wore our Harriers C25K t-shirts and off we went. We supported, encouraged, cajoled each other all the way round and then we were done. We graduated and received our first medal, which may have started a bit of an obsession with me. What a fantastic sense of achievement If I am being honest I still didn’t really think I would be able to do it but I did!!
I have learned a lot about myself in that time. I have accepted that I am never going to be the fastest or manage to do great distances. I am never going to be that lovely slender woman running down the road for miles and miles. I am built for comfort and not speed and do you know what? I am absolutely fine with that. This realisation has not come easily however. I felt I was not quite good enough, holding groups up, letting people down and maybe I should just quit. But with the support of the amazing coaches and brilliant friends I have made through this I have kept going and come out the other side of it.
I have learned I am quite stubborn when it comes to completing a run, that probably won’t shock those that know me. I have learned you have good days and bad with running and just to embrace it all, a run is still a run. I have learned some days you have to force yourself out of the door to run but you feel amazing when you have finished. I have learned that you can spend a lot of money on running gear. I open my wardrobe now and it appears to have more trainers than heels, more running kit than other clothes- what’s that all about?!
I have learned it really does help your lung function, not a surprise I know but fingers crossed I have not had a chest infection since I started when I used to get at least 3 a year. I have learned that I will willingly sign up for 10k runs now and actually look forward to them.
I’ve learned I do not like out and backs, much prefer twisty, windy route. I’ve learned I seriously love a good bit of bling. I have learned that I can be a bit of a running bore at work but I don’t care! I have learned that some of the best friends are made when you push yourself out of your comfort zone as you meet people you would never normally meet. I have learned that anyone can run if they really want to.
I have learned that I AM A RUNNER.
If you’re interested in knowing more about our C25K group, you can view their page HERE