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