Bishop's Stortford Running Club ready to relaunch 5k course for beginners
If coronavirus lockdown has turned you into a couch potato, Bishop's Stortford Running Club has come up with a new course for novices.
Coaches have revamped the successful beginners' programme to make it Covid-safe and introduced new elements prompted by the pandemic.
In accordance with Prime Minister Boris Johnson's roadmap out of restrictions, the club's nine-week course for beginners will launch on Wednesday March 31, with the aim of participants being able to run 5k (3.1 miles) by June 2.
Mike Grant, part of the organising team, said: "This ever-popular course is targeted at those who perhaps haven't had the confidence to undertake a couch-to-5k course alone or who like the support of a group setting to help them achieve their goals.
"It's also well suited to the many people who have completed a couch-to-5k course during lockdown and want to progress their running in a social environment under the guidance of experienced England Athletics-qualified coaches."
He stressed: "A number of changes have been made to the course to comply with the requirements of creating a Covid-secure environment for participants and coaches."
The clubhouse at Beldams Lane will not be used for the traditional briefings. Instead, these will be held online, via Zoom, and ramped up to include subjects such as mental health advice, Pilates and strength conditioning as well as injury prevention and nutrition.
Mike said: "There'll be an information session every week rather than just the first few weeks of the course. The coached sessions will be broken into smaller groups to avoid mixing and ensure that social distancing requirements for organised sports are observed.
"Masks will be required for arrival and departure and hand sanitiser will be available, all as agreed by the club's Covid compliance officer. The first half of the course will be on the club field at Beldams Lane and, as we progress to longer runs, separated groups of six will be taken along local tracks and footpaths."
The aim is that by the end of the course, participants will be able to run steadily for up to an hour and comfortably complete a 5k parkrun, just in time for lockdown restrictions to end in June.
Then the club also hopes to resume its social activities, including offering a meal in the clubhouse, which also has a licensed bar, at the end of Wednesday running sessions.
The £50 cost of the course includes club membership until March 2022 and beginners will be encouraged to step up to a 10k event as part of their ongoing participation. A BSRC '10 Week to 10k' technical T-shirt is also included.
To book a place, see https://www.myclubhouse.co.uk/BSRC/Registration/Register?id=2 and register on the Beginners 2021 link. Your place on the course is secured only once payment has been received.
Coach Sally House: "I started running in my 50s as a way to wind down after a day at work.
"I joined the beginners' course in 2017. The course was perfect for me. As a slower runner, I was initially concerned that I wouldn't be able to keep up, but the coaches were very supportive and encouraging.
"The drills and gradual build-up of run/walk intervals eased me into running further and built up my confidence.
"The way the sessions are organised means nobody's ever left behind and there's always somebody running at your pace to keep you company.
"The club members are friendly and hugely supportive – I remember being clapped home when I completed my first 10k at the end of the course.
"After completing the course I went along to club nights. These sessions provide the opportunity to continue running with people at a pace right for you and I've made some great friends as a result.
"I helped with the beginners' course in 2018 and was then asked if I'd like to join the coaching team. I now help coach the beginners' course and also juniors on a Saturday morning.
"It's wonderful to see beginners stretch themselves and improve during the course, and the energy and enthusiasm of the juniors are endless. If somebody had told me 10 years ago I'd be running regularly and involved in coaching runners I wouldn't have believed them!
"The beginners' course is a great introduction to running and a perfect way to get back into running if you've had a break for a few years. It's totally inclusive and an ideal way to get fit and meet new people. Give it a go!"
Coach Kirsty Reid: "I run because it makes me stronger both physically and mentally. I've been part of the coaching team for about three years now, focusing on beginners and juniors.
"Working with beginners is a fantastic experience because you see people who were not confident to run at the start build experience by running in a safe and structured way.
"Every week there are the highs as people improve and surprise themselves with what they can do. The course is always fun and everyone is friendly – it's an unbeatable atmosphere."
Former beginner Ian Lyons: "I played rugby for years but could never face longer runs. Short, sharp sprints were my thing.
"I never felt I'd run a mile without stopping. I took the plunge with the beginners' course; everyone was super-friendly and I found a level I was comfortable with.
"Everyone had different abilities but was allowed to progress at their own ability. The structure of the early runs was such that you didn't get left behind.
"Group running provides the motivation to keep going. Terrain and scenery vary with a choice of routes. Coaches were supportive and there was a goal of a five-mile event at the end of the course. It takes some commitment to do the homework but if you're serious about being able to make it to your goal it's worth the effort."
Former beginner Simon Latham: "I joined the 2016 course aged 56, weighing around 17 stones and struggling to run even short distances without getting out of breath.
"The coaching team put me at ease from the start and the progressive structure of the course worked really well.
"There were plenty of other beginners at my level so always a group to run with at the weekly sessions.
"The targeted Takeley 10k was a great achievement to end on but really just the beginning of continuing love for running and a platform for greater challenges. I've found the running community to be very inclusive and supportive."
Former beginner Lizzie Jones: "I joined the beginners' course in 2019. I'd been a keen runner when younger but work and family had taken over free time for getting out and exercising regularly.
"After having my second child I decided I needed to improve my fitness and joined the beginners' class with a couple of friends.
"The coaches were great, very friendly and informative, and it was lovely to mix with others with a similar interest.
"I ran the Takeley 10k as part of the beginners 'graduation' and have run other races since. I still regularly run and enjoy it. Would highly recommend it to others."
Former beginner Jo Louise Williams: "I used to watch parkrun with envy. Then someone recommended joining BSRC as they could help and support anyone.
"As I was overweight, very unfit and had two hip replacements I didn't think this was for me. How wrong I was.
"Runners aren't geeks, they're a very friendly, welcoming bunch that have nothing but encouragement.
"The coaches are amazing and always answer all questions – they provide knowledge on everything from warm-ups to what gear to wear.
"You only start by running one minute, so just join in. What better way than to get rid of those extra pounds.
"I cried when I completed my first ever parkrun. Now I've done 65, including New Zealand and Australia. I'll be there again this year!"
Former beginner Deborah Bridges: "Best course I've ever attended. Inspiring, supportive and easier to complete the 0-10k than I ever thought possible. Having never run before, other than for the bus, I came to truly enjoy my weekly sessions at the club."
Former beginner Sue Last: "I never thought I'd be able to run for more than two minutes. I did the course and by the end completed a parkrun without stopping.
"The final briefing was that some of us would go on to run marathons. 'Oh yes, not me,' I thought. Well, guess what? I did and have continued to surprise myself with what I can achieve. You never know what you can do until you try."
Former beginner Ita Boyle: "I joined the beginners' club in 2019 having had a lapse in running for over five years. It's a really friendly club with mixed abilities to suit everyone. The coaches are really supportive and encouraging, and there's a good sense of camaraderie within the club.
"It's a great place to meet new people while getting fit at the same time. You get to explore Bishop's Stortford's running routes and countryside.
"I enjoyed the beginners' course, it put confidence back into my running and I felt that sense of achievement at the end. Thank you, BSRC."