A successful fitness programme which has already helped scores of non-runners from across the city achieve the previously unthinkable is set to begin again later this month.
Kingston upon Hull Athletic Club’s free Couch to 5K programme will launch on Wednesday 29th March, giving aspiring runners or those who simply want to become a bit more active the chance to get fit and have fun in a supportive, friendly environment.
The Couch to 5K programme is completely free of charge and is led by UKA qualified run leaders. The club ran the programme twice from Peter Pan Park in 2016, with more than 140 people signing up to take part in the 9 week programme.
Participants build up their confidence, distance and ability each week through a combination of walking and jogging, culminating in a 5 kilometre parkrun at the end of the programme.
And if proof of the programme’s success were needed, previous graduates of the club’s Summer 2016 Couch to 5K programme will be returning back to the club to offer advice and inspiration for new starters.
Those graduates include Ken Brown and Sally Fisher. Seventy-one year old Ken’s first stab at running came when he joined the Couch to 5k programme last year, and since then he hasn’t looked back; his new found love of running has already taken him to a parkrun in western Australia and, later this year, he will be taking part in the Hull Marathon as part of a four-person relay team.
“I started the Couch to 5K programme in August having never ran before in my life. The friendly people you meet and the encouragement you get are fantastic; there’s such a feel good factor and it costs nothing except for the effort you’re prepared to put in. I was 71 when I took up running so age is no barrier. It’s certainly given me focus and a lot of pleasure, and now I’d like to give something back and show other people what can be achieved.”
Meanwhile, running has been life-changing for Sally, who has lost more than 5 stone and who will also form part of the marathon relay team, ‘Couch Fit ‘n’ Fab’ with Ken and fellow graduates Shelley Bell and Adele Robins-Glenton in September.
“This time last year, I was more than five stone heavier. I lost two stone by walking, but decided to join Couch to 5K to try and lose more weight without honestly thinking I would do it. Every week I thought I would have to stop but never actually did. Seeing the same faces, and having a chat every week with people who are finding it just as hard, stops you feeling alone.
“Completing the first parkrun was a great achievement and fortunately, because of the instructors and the other graduates, we didn’t stop there. I can’t imagine not running now or not seeing everyone who I’ve met along the way.”
Both Ken and Sally have made a new group of friends who continue to support and motivate each other to run, and both are now looking to give something back to the club and show new runners what can be achieved.
Lee Smith, Run Leader with Kingston upon Hull AC says the club’s Couch to 5K improves more than just fitness:
“The primary reason for running the Couch to 5K programme is to get people active; getting off the sofa and out into the fresh air can bring many health benefits, including weight loss and that feeling of ‘head space’ or time to think. Perhaps one of the things people don’t expect, however, is the social aspect; as was the case for Ken, Sally and many of our previous graduates, there’s also the chance that you’ll meet new people who will help to keep you going both during the programme and after it’s finished, which also great for people’s well-being.
“Whatever the reason; a holiday, a wedding, or simply wanting more energy to run around after the kids, we want to make exercise accessible to everyone. We’d love to see anyone who wants to get off the sofa and start doing a bit more physical activity, and would encourage them to come and join us on our Couch to 5K programme and see what we’re all about.
“We’re a friendly and supportive bunch, and many of those who have previously completed our Couch to 5K programme will be returning to help as volunteer guides this time, so new starters can talk to those who were in their shoes seven months ago and find out just how much is possible.”
The Kingston upon Hull AC Couch to 5k programme begins on Wednesday 29 March at 6.15pm, meeting outside Costello Stadium, Anlaby Park Road North, Hull. The programme is free of charge but those wishing to take part are asked to register in advance via the Run Together website: http://bit.ly/2miDCSq.
Participants should come dressed in suitable clothing for exercise, including comfortable training/running shoes.
For more information, visit www.facebook.com/C25KHull or call Ian Coupland on 07779 875598.