The Ysgol Maes Y Gwendraeth School Staff run group started in January of this year. They were contacted by Run Activator Sharon Leech who went into the school for an information session, giving staff a brief overview of the Run Wales Couch to 5K programme and answering the many questions they had. Most of the participants had never run before and so they were quite anxious at the beginning of how they would be able to manage a 5K distance within 9 weeks.
As with all groups, the key is to aim for three run/walk sessions per week. Many manage on two sessions, but it’s almost impossible to advance comfortably by doing just one session a week.
The run leader at Maes Y Gwendraeth is Petrine Burton. She is a Welsh teacher and a keen runner herself, so is a great role model for the staff! She also recruited another member of staff, Rhiannon Daniel, to help as it quickly became apparent that some of the staff would progress quicker than others. The hope was to meet twice weekly so that both run sessions were done in guided company. The group met straight after school, with a Facebook group set up to keep in contact and remind runners of sessions. As is often the case, some drop out and others are less keen to run on rainy days (of which there are many in this part of West Wales!), but with a little coaxing and cajoling, the groups has remained a healthy number, with many keen to enter a few races in the future.
Some of the staff run within the school grounds, happy to lap the netball courts, the slightly more advanced prefer an out and back or a loop course, of which there are a couple of options. This part of the world is hilly, but hills make you stronger is the mantra, so it’s not put too many off!
On Saturday the group headed down to Llanelli to complete the Parkrun there. As the photos show, it was well supported, the fastest runner completing it in just over 28 minutes, which is a superb effort for a first 5K. The plan is to aim for Ras y Maer in Carmarthen, Ffit Cymru Parkrun and the Sospan 10K in Llanelli.
Ysgol Maes Y Gwendraeth is a showcase example of how a school staff can achieve the goal of a 5K, despite the huge pressures of the job. Petrine’s motivation is key and the runners are very grateful. Petrine is also planning to do a Couch to 5K with one of her Year 10 classes, as part of their Duke of Edinburgh fitness. Please get in touch with your local Run Activator if you’d like more information on how to set up a group in your own School.