Our run leaders have been recognised for their inspiring work in hosting an entry level Couch to 5K programme for university staff as they have been awarded the Health and Wellbeing Champions award as part of the prestigious Vice-Chancellor’s Award for Health and Safety 2019.

The run leaders, Grace Roberts, Louise Walton and Get Out, Get Active student activator, Ellie Dean, have been inspiring and educating participants to improve their health and wellbeing now and in the future by laying the foundations they need to continue to build physical activity into their everyday life.

The Couch to 5K programme included carefully planned sessions to help participants progress and build up their fitness whilst improving their technique and knowledge about running in a safe, social and friendly environment.

25 staff from across the university community took part in the programme which culminated this week in a graduation event for all participants at the Leeds 5K series at the Brownlee Cycle Centre. All runners completed a chip-timed 5K run at this EvenSplits licensed event.

Grace Roberts, one of the run leaders, said:

I’ve really enjoyed watching our runners develop over time – not just in their running, but also in their confidence, the way they work together as a group, support each other, and seeing them enjoying their running. As a leader, I love watching this process. I think it helps people realise they really can do anything if they try!

Couch to 5K participants were guided through a 9 week running programme which involved a mixture of running, jogging and walking. The run leaders developed the sessions so they were flexible and sensitive to individual needs. Many participants were returning to or starting exercise for the first time after illness and injury and long absences. Other motivations to take part in the programme included a desire to increase self-confidence around running.

The run leaders were contactable for all participants via the private social media group so any worries or questions could be addressed outside of the set coaching sessions.

One participant said:

I’ve always been a nervous and self-conscious runner and have avoided it at all costs.  But I’ve also been envious of those that do.  So I bit the bullet and signed myself up to the Couch to 5K programme.  From the very first session, the run leaders were supportive and encouraging. Their sense of fun made each Tuesday’s session something to look forward to rather than something daunting.  And the actual Coach to 5K programme meant the progression has been gradual and therefore manageable.  My ‘running’ confidence has grown enormously so much so that I quite willingly go off running on my own now.  My sense of wellbeing following each run is a joy and my overall improvement in fitness is noticeable.  I’m still slow-and-steady and was nervous about the actual 5K event, but that is a huge improvement from just a couple of months ago when I couldn’t even run to the end of the road!

There is a pathway for continuation for participants now that the Couch to 5K programme has finished; our GOGA run club meet twice a week for a lunchtime run. The Couch to 5K participants have been welcomed into this wider running community on campus.

We will be hosting another Couch to 5K programme in the New Year. This is open to all university students and staff. The programme will officially begin on Tuesday 4th February 2020 with an option to begin in the second session on 11th February if you’re unable to begin on the 4th.

The programme is 8 weeks long and will culminate in a graduation event for all participants at the Leeds 5K series at the Brownlee Cycle Centre on Wednesday 25th March 2020 at 7.15pm. All runners will complete a chip-timed 5K run at this EvenSplits licensed event.

The cost of the course is just £20 which includes all coached sessions, entry into the chip-timed 5K run on 25th March and you’ll also receive a commemorative certificate of achievement.

Book your ticket for the next Couch to 5K programme now.