“I am so grateful for the Couch to 5k group. I know I would never have taken that first step if it hadn’t been for this opportunity. I now feel fitter, healthier and motivated to keep going on my own. 10k next!!”
Having trialled the scheme before Christmas, our Couch to 5k journey began in earnest back in January. Having secured the efforts of a willing team of Run Leaders, and an equally enthusiastic group of Buddy Runners, we ambitiously set about delivering the scheme simultaneously at both Bay and Singleton Campuses.
In the post Christmas lull, interest was high, and participants were quick to sign up. After some fluctuation in numbers during the early sessions, a core group of participants was quickly established. Running the scheme at both campuses took some planning and coordination, but the benefit of doing this meant participants were able to attend sessions at either site depending upon work commitments. Some participants attended all sessions at one site, some attended both sites routinely, some chopped and changed. This flexibility was undoubtedly a factor in the success of the scheme.
For ease of communication, a WhatsApp group was established early on. The primary purpose of this was to easily disseminate session changes, keep the group posted with homework sessions and provide session feedback. But it very quickly became more than this with participants taking to the group themselves to arrange their own sessions, update the group on their individual sessions and generally encouraging each other along. This was fantastic to see from a Run Leaders point of view - the enthusiasm and determination of the group was really apparent, which made the role both so much easier and rewarding.
“I remember struggling to run 2mins all those weeks ago, now I’ve done a 5K…it shows how good the programme is. I couldn’t have done it without the Run Leaders’, the buddies’ and the group’s support”
At Singleton, we started our sessions on the athletics track. This provided a soft and forgiving surface for joints and muscles that hadn’t been tested in a while. From around week 4, we started to branch out onto the prom and the Clyne Valley cycle track. This offered a change of scenery from laps of the track, but also took the guys out of the comfort zone of the Sports Village environment, building their confidence gradually allowing them to become comfortable in the knowledge that they could go ‘out’ for a run, and make it back in one piece!
Whilst at Bay, early sessions were spent in and around the campus, allowing participants to ease themselves into the programme, safe in the knowledge base was never far away. As the weeks progressed and sessions got longer, we began venturing further afield, mainly utilising the sandy path through the SSSI site. A personal highlight was a session completed in blazing sunshine and unseasonably warm temperatures on the stretch of beach in front of the University, on a gloriously barmy February afternoon!
From the outset, the 5k attempt had always been earmarked for Swansea Park Run, Saturday 23rd March. On the day, 14 of us completed the run - 9 of whom were new Couch to 5K graduates. Subsequent to this, a further 2 have completed their own 5k efforts, having been unable to attend on the date of the Park Run. A tremendous effort all round that is really testament to the sheer determination of the participants, but also to the commitment of the Run Leaders, and the invaluable support and encouragement from the Buddy Runners.