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Castle Park Couch to 5k: 'The scars on my face may have faded but that sickening fear of falling has not'





Indie news editor Sinead Corr has signed up for the Castle Park Couch to 5k fitness programme in Bishop's Stortford...

By my second training session, I’d been rumbled by coach Laurence Foote. As he jogged us through our five repetitions of running for 90 seconds, interspersed with a two-minute walk, he was clearly evaluating his class and noted I stared at the ground as I trotted across Sworder’s Field.

Well, it’s not my first time at the rodeo. In 2013, I joined Bishop's Stortford Running Club's annual beginners’ class. At the end of the course, I was ready to complete not one, not two, but three 10k races and, in time, a Men's Fitness 10k obstacle challenge at Wembley. I wasn’t quite Mo Farah, but I wasn’t a couch potato either.

Sinead suffered a nasty facial injury while out running in 2013
Sinead suffered a nasty facial injury while out running in 2013

And then I fell – while running, chatting and generally not watching where I was going, I tumbled, headbutted a rock and ripped a large chunk out of my cheek. The scars on my face may have faded but that sickening fear of falling has not.

In 2019, I decided to get back in the saddle and rejoined the running club to repeat the beginners' course but ended up walking with a stick for six months instead.

I was diagnosed with trochlear dysplasia, which means I have the knees of an 80-year-old and a very unstable patella. As Rivers Hospital consultant Paul Allen explained, most people have a knee that operates like a ball bearing running along the channels of a draining board. My draining board is flat.

Now Sinead keeps an eye out to avoid a repeat of her fall
Now Sinead keeps an eye out to avoid a repeat of her fall

Physiotherapy with James Boyd and weight training with Danny Livings, both based at Koru gym in Bishop’s Stortford, got me back on my feet, but the threat of needing new knees also means I’m even more scared of stumbling and constantly scanning for uneven ground.

Thankfully, as he puts us through our paces, Laurence, who runs Stortford-based FooteSteps Coaching, is constantly checking that everyone stays in their comfort zone. There is no pressure to perform and we all progress at our own pace.

After week two of the eight-week course in partnership with Active East Herts, I’m increasingly optimistic about crossing the finish line.

* The Castle Park Couch to 5k started on January 12 and will finish with a group parkrun at Castle Park on Saturday March 12.

The Castle Park Couch to 5k group – including Indie news editor Sinead Corr, far right – being led by Laurence Foote of FooteSteps Coaching
The Castle Park Couch to 5k group – including Indie news editor Sinead Corr, far right – being led by Laurence Foote of FooteSteps Coaching


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