I joined the Ealing Eagles Beginners programme in October 2016, having tried and failed many times to become a runner by myself. Right from the first session it was clear where I’d been going wrong. My strategy had always been to run fast for as long as I could manage (about 10 minutes), which would leave me half dead and wondering why I couldn’t go any further! The Beginners programme builds up gradually with short, slow sections of running interspersed with one minute walking breaks. It hadn’t even occurred to me to take a walking break, so this really was a lightbulb moment. The run leaders and volunteers were unfailingly encouraging and patient, and eight weeks later, after gradually building up the running distances, I was able to run 5k continuously. From that moment on I was hooked!
In the New Year, I officially joined the Eagles and signed up for the Improvers programme (designed for beginner graduates to progress from 5k to 10k). By the spring I could run 10k and took part in my first 10k race at Osterley Park in June. It was one of the hottest days of the year (30 degrees) and I wilted badly in the heat, but I was determined to get that finishers medal and just kept running. The sense of achievement when I crossed the finish line was amazing!
As well as the physical benefits (disappearance of headaches, toned legs, new found waist!) I’ve also found running to be massively beneficial to my mental health. My younger son has autism plus he’s a teenager, so life can be challenging at times. This is where running has really helped me. Running is my therapy - it calms me down and allows me to think clearly. Problems that can seem overwhelming never seem quite so bad after a run. That’s why I’m out there three times a week without fail, pounding the parks and pavements of Ealing. Sometimes I run by myself, sometimes I run with the wonderful friends I’ve made through the Eagles, but one thing never changes - I always feel better afterwards.
I’ll be forever grateful to the volunteers from the Beginners programme for teaching me to run properly. I’m now a regular volunteer myself and get so much pleasure from seeing the progress people have made. I’ll never be especially fast and I’m not interested in running enormous long distances, but that’s fine, I’m just happy that I can run at my own pace and enjoy it. Thank you Ealing Eagles.