Running makes me feel fab. by Gill McKay

Here is my list of what I have learned as a runner and an Eagle since joining as a beginner in October 2017.
1: Running makes me feel fab. Full stop. It has been the best thing for my mental health – note – outside, not on a treadmill.
2: Running has been physically transforming. Not only have I dropped a lot of weight, but I feel so much fitter and stronger.
3: Running with others is super motivating. Hearing “come on you can do it” has really spurred on my old mid-50s body multiple times. Thank you Eagles for your constant encouragement.
4: Running is for everyone. It doesn’t matter how old you are, what size you are, what fitness level you are at, what speed you go at, how competitive you are – you can find your place in this club. It’s super inclusive and I love that.
5: Listen to your body to avoid injury. A trip on a pave stone pulled my achilles tendon last year and very grumpily I knew I had to rest. It worked and I was back in no time.
6: Listen to Wei Hei and Rob 🙂 – my coaches from my beginners’ sessions. Sound advice which I think has kept me relatively injury free in the last 2 years.
7: There isn’t ever a stupid question – the Eagles facebook group is great – a font of knowledge, generous sharing and inspiration.
8: Go to as many of the events and training options as you can. Mixing up sessions helps with endurance and motivation – and you always meet new Eagles.
9: Volunteer when you can. I have loved volunteering with the beginners and seeing others come through the same path as I puffed my way through.
10: Enjoy fab new friendships. I just feel so lucky to have met such great local people through the Eagles and long may it continue!

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I can’t run! by Janet Ballard

Even at school, I couldn’t run more than 220 yards (yards? yes, it was a long time ago) without gasping for breath.  In all my 68 years, I have never been able to run.

Earlier this year, I was reading about an NHS app called Couch to 5k, and Googled it to find out what it was about.  Now, as you know, Google knows where you are, so a link for Ealing Eagles popped up.  Curious, I clicked on it only to find that the club was running a Couch to 5k Beginners course, starting in four weeks.  Even more curious, I emailed and Wei Hei sent a very encouraging reply, saying there were still places on the programme.  On the very deadline for applications, I sent mine in.  Wow, why did I do that?  I can’t run! 

May 2, 2019: I made my way down to the bandstand in Walpole Park to sign in.  What was I doing here!  After an introduction from Wei Hei, and some warm up stretches with Jane, this was it.  We were going to run gently for two minutes, then walk for one minute, for about 30 minutes in all.  Run, for two minutes, – never!  Before I knew it, we were off and I found Fiona and Amanda either side of me.  As I chatted to them, someone said “walk”.  Wow, my first two minute run completed!  However, the one minute walk was soon up and off we went again.  Somehow, with loads of encouragement from the ladies, I completed session one.  I felt elated. 

As advised, I went out on the following Monday to do my practice run.  Well, that didn’t work.  I lasted about five minutes, so was concerned about week two when I would be expected to run for four minutes repeats.  But again, with the company of an Eagles volunteer, I managed week two.  Wow again! 

Each successive week was a challenge – eight, then ten and twelve minutes before the one minute walking break.  But I kept going because of the incredible support and encouragement from the Eagles volunteers, and also because I did not want to let them, or myself, down.  It helped that I found some running buddies in the group to run with on Mondays for my additional run.

June 24, 2019: I ran my first continuous 5.2k, I ran for 44 minutes.  Wowee, but surely a fluke.  Clearly not, as I repeated this three more times before our group graduation on 4 July. 

So, I can’t run?  Oh yes I can!

I still don’t know what induced me to sign up for this course, but I do know I’m hooked.  I don’t have aspirations to run a marathon, or even a half marathon, but I am still running twice weekly and feel so much better for it.

I am so grateful to all the Ealing Eagles volunteers who support the Beginners Couch to 5k programme.As well as those named above, they include Jane, Kim, Juliet, Christina, Eddie, Rob, Edwina and several others whose names my elderly brain has forgotten.I have never met such a friendly, encouraging bunch of people.Thank you all.

Janet Ballard with fellow beginner graduates Lorna and Angie

Janet Ballard with fellow beginner graduates Lorna and Angie

Running is my therapy by Jane Marland

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!

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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!

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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.

This club has helped to extend my life...by Eddie Eagle

59 years. Nearly 59 years it has taken me to successfully run a continuous 5k. I graduated from the Ealing Eagles Beginners Running Club last Thursday, Nov 16th, 2017 as part of the October intake.

I had CHD repair via open-heart surgery in 1966 and again I needed open-heart surgery in 2013. Running for me is not easy, especially as I am on Beta Blockers and have a diminished cardiac output but with the help of the Eagles and my fellow beginners I was able to fulfil a dream.

I now raise the bar to 10k. I may fail but I will never fail in trying for one never knows what is achievable until one tries. When it comes to running though, there is no such thing as failure,you either run or you don't.

No matter where you run, no matter what distance you run, no matter what pace you run at, it is still a run.

I have applied for membership and I will be the club's proudest member. This club has helped to extend my life. Thank you.

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You Never Know, You Might Enjoy It! By Caroline Wilkinson

When I signed up for the Ealing Eagles beginners programme it was a very spur of the moment thing. I hadn’t told anyone I was going to do it and had never before thought that running was for me. It hadn’t mattered that some of my friends had professed what a wonderful club Ealing Eagles was, I had never thought of myself as a ‘runner’. When signing up I thought that I would be waiting weeks, if not months so it was a surprise when I got an email from Wei Hei, who oversees the beginners programme, not long after, in February 2016 to say that I would be starting in a couple of weeks!   

I think my husband was just as shocked as I was when I said that I was going to start running. I hadn’t been doing any exercise at all so was nervous going to the first session. I didn’t know anyone and worried that everyone else would be much fitter and faster than me but there was no need to worry, you start by running for 2 minutes and walking 1. The coaches are all volunteers and are extremely encouraging and supportive. I’ve also made lots of friends and together we graduated from the beginners group 6 weeks later as we were able to run 5k continuously.

We then went on to run the Ealing Eagles 10k on the 8th May which was extremely hot but good fun! Aside from the running there’s the social side of the club which is summed up by the fact that we are known as ‘a drinking club with a running problem’. 

For anyone thinking of signing up to the beginners, I’d say stop thinking about it and just do it, you never know, you might even enjoy it! 

Caroline Wilkinson - February Beginner & Ealing Eagle

 

A Beginner's Tale by Anne Stott

Get off the sofa, go outside where it’s just above freezing, wear very little clothing and run / walk around Ealing for 4km

Had someone said that to me 5 months ago, I would have laughed, very politely. 

Fast forward to May 2016. I now absolutely love my 2 to 3 runs per week. OK, I don’t have great aspirations, and am happy to stick to slow 5ks, but it’s a heck of a lot more than I was doing.  And, what gave me the encouragement and inspired me to think I could actually do it? The Ealing Eagles Beginners Programme.  
 
It was a quirky little piece posted on one of the local Facebook forums by Wei Hei Kipling that caught my attention. It was reassuring, full of optimism and it got me thinking: “could I really run 5km, a whole 5km?” So I signed up. 

Completing Gunnersbury parkrun

Completing Gunnersbury parkrun

Wednesday 6th January 2016, 1830 and we were off, and so it went on for the next 6 weeks starting gently and building up.  Each week, I could run just that bit further and guess what? I could run and chat at the same time, I didn’t have to run fast or get out of my comfort zone. People encouraged me, made me laugh along the way, and had faith in my abilities, even if I didn’t have them myself. I met new friends, both beginners and Ealing Eagles volunteers. The tail runners got to know me well!

Getting my Beginners Programme certificate

Getting my Beginners Programme certificate

I have since volunteered at the Ealing Eagles 10k and the atmosphere and camaraderie is astounding. I am a convert to running, and as one lady said to me at the end of a run; “you probably won’t be thanking yourself for doing this now, but you will be later in life”.
 
Anne - Ex Couch Potato and proud Ealing Eagle