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Couch to 5k: recap 2021

The popularity of running has soared during the pandemic. Part of the appeal is its simplicity – running doesn’t cost a fortune, you can do it anywhere and go at your own pace – but it can be hard to get started and harder still to keep going, especially on your own. Romsey Road Runners’ 2020 couch to 5k course (C25K) was cancelled because of the pandemic, but this year things looked more positive.

Run leader Steve Geary said:

‘over the last year we saw so many people out walking, running and riding their bikes during Lockdown. We wanted to keep that momentum and enthusiasm going.’

C25K, an NHS approved 9-week course that takes people from non-or lapsed runner to 5k runner is a tried and tested formula. This is the fourth year that Romsey Road Runners have hosted the course and it remains as popular as ever.

Run Leaders Steve, Moira and Dorota, supplemented by guest appearances from various members of RRR, were on hand to help the 25 men and women who signed up for the course, encouraging them to keep going on their Tuesday sessions as the running bits got longer and the walking bits shorter.

C25K course member Emma Peel explained her reasons for taking part.

‘I signed up for the course as I wanted to improve my fitness. I found the course structure helpful and the team and coach support amazing. I hope to carry on running as it has helped me meet people, enjoy the outdoors and I don’t want to go back to square one again! Thanks to the friendly people at Romsey Road Runners for organising this course.’

Another participant, Jane Bucke, said:

‘joining the C25K course was a leap of faith for me after a fear of exercise, however, since starting I have not looked back. The support you receive is second to none and you are among beginners like yourself. I took things at my own pace and made it my own personal challenge. The programme really does work and I have amazed myself at the level of fitness I have achieved in nine weeks. I have met some lovely people along the way and plan to continue running to maintain my fitness.’

Nats, another member, added:

‘I joined the programme as I needed to lose weight and increase my activity levels. I have tried to complete C25K on my own before and never succeeded. The support, encouragement, guidance and best practice tips shared by members of the coaching team of Romsey helped break those physical and mental barriers, increasing my self belief and helping me to achieve success in completing the course and running 5k.’

Last week was the final week of the course with the graduates completing a 5k run along the Test Way. Many of them are now going on to an ‘RRR Lite’ course which will prepare them to be full club members. Helen Bull is one of those. Having previously tried to do the C25K course on her own and struggled to complete it, she can now call herself a 5k runner. Helen said:

‘the encouragement and camaraderie of the group has kept my momentum going until the end. You can’t believe when you start that it is ever going to be achievable to run non-stop for 30 minutes, but the programme, along with the support of the fantastic team leaders, does actually work. I plan to continue running to maintain my fitness; I’ve even got to quite like it!’

Current Government guidelines is for 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity, or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity, per person, per week for good health. Running is a great way to get those minutes done. It improves your cardiovascular fitness and looks after your bone and muscle strength (particularly important for people over 40), and it helps with weight control. Romsey Road Runners offer two training sessions a week throughout the year catering for all speeds and levels of ability and we welcome new members. Please visit our website for further information.

Couch to 5k celebrations

Voice of the runner: what you want from your club

Thanks to everybody that took the time to complete our recent members survey.  Our original plan was to get this summary out to you in the very next Relay, but with everything turned upside down that clearly hasn’t happened.

But even though we can’t meet and train together right now, that doesn’t mean we can’t plan for all the amazing stuff we’re going to do together once’ we’re through this.

What we need more than ever right now is positivity, and you delivered in your droves with the amazing and constructive suggestions you gave us.

Overall, I think it’s fair to say we are diverse bunch of runners, but what ties us all together is a love of running and a desire to retain the heart and soul of what makes us Romsey Road Runners. The challenge for the committee and session leaders comes from the fact we have members on both ends of a number of spectrums:

  • Some want shorter session, others want longer ones
  • Some want more change and variety, others want consistency and familiarity
  • Some want more fun and social running, others want focus and structure

The secret will be in trying to offer choice, whilst not fundamentally changing the nature of the club – a challenge we accept!!

Training: When it comes to Mon and Thu training the preference is, just marginally, to try and keep to these two days but offer more variety of session types.

In terms of the types of new sessions we could add they all seemed popular; but strength & conditioning, winter-track, coached sessions and cross-country come out top.

Looking for quick wins we are planning to some new session types, when we are able.  As ever we encourage you to give them a go and provide feedback:

  • A return to meeting at Woodley Hall for Mon Braishfield sessions now we can run out on the new pathway
  • An optional cross-county training session every other week run alongside regular sessions, led by James Battle and Steve Geary.
  • A 10-week strength and conditioning course led by Becky Tovey
  • And for later this year/early next year some structured training programmes for particular races/distances led by coaches Becky and Ian

Social: The clear theme around social events was for us to just try some different things and a larger number of smaller events throughout the year.  Lee & Steve has some great ideas, including combining the cross-country sessions with some social elements in the summer – look out for the run/pizza/beer combo!

Relay: Whilst Relay is clearly loved, a number of you raised the issue of going digital and asking if there was a more modern way to share news from across the club.  Well, they do say that necessity is the mother of invention and the new blog that has evolved over the past few weeks is evidence of that.  And we are already trying to accommodate some of your suggestion for content; recipes, book/podcast reviews and a focus on a wider range of distances and event types, etc.  I am sure Relay will be back before too long, but maybe in a slightly different format??

Kit: It would seem that on the whole you are happy with the kit offered by the club, but Tam is going to look into options for some sort of zipped/hooded top to be worn over our running kit for travelling to and from training and races.  We also loved the idea of a sew/iron on badge so we could customise our own pieces of kit.

Coach Nick and the EA Club Run

A big thank you to all of you that came and got involved in our recent flying visits from (top coach) Nick Anderson through England Athletics’ Club Run initiative. For those attending I’m sure you’ll agree it gave us lots to think about, provided three thoroughly enjoyable club nights and has left us pointing onwards and upwards as runners as well as a club as a whole.

So what’s the EA Club Run all about?

EA have a clear goal in mind with their Club Run initiative…

“The England Athletics’ Club Run programme is a free initiative specifically aimed at supporting road running clubs to support runners, leaders and coaches in working towards improved performance at a specific event or race distance. Since launching two years ago the programme has supported over 100 clubs up and down the country involving over 5,000 club runners, over 800 club leaders and coaches and a team of around 40 experienced coach deliverers”.

And you can now add Romsey Road Runners to this list!

What did we do with our three sessions?

For those that weren’t there, Nick ran three sessions for us across February and March. Session one was a threshold session round Abbotswood estate with warm-up and form drills followed by 5 x 5-min intervals run at ‘3-word conversational’ pace. The aim being to train the body at the zone at which we should be able to sustain our speed over a reasonable distance/time. Nick talked to us about the importance of doing these sorts of sessions on a regular basis to get our bodies used to working in this zone and, over time, being able to run quicker without running harder.

The second session was focused at VO2-max, or that pace above our Threshold where we can no longer hold any sort of conversation, and should be out of breath at the end of it. This took the form of 6 x 3-minute efforts; 90s out along one of the Abbotswood paths and 90s back, with a relatively short recovery. Those in attendance on a cold Feb evening can testify to the steam coming off all our bodies, proving just how much harder we were working than the previous session. Nick positioned this sort of session as ‘the icing on the cake’ that should be done as we get closer to race day for those key 5km, 10km, RR10 and CC6 races.

The third and final session was a talk at Woodley Hall from Nick about the importance of the three key elements of performance running – TRAINING, RECOVERY and NUTRITION. Over the course of 2.5 hours (and a lot of pizza) Nick took us through his theories on these three elements, backing them up with personal experiences as well as data and case studies. I for one went home with my head swimming with information that I am already beginning to make sense of and think about how I can apply it to my own training.

Really positive feedback

Thanks to all of you who provided feedback following these sessions. Here are just a few of the positive things you had to say:

“(Nick) was really engaging and authoritative, and gave us loads to think about.  I’m really looking forward to adjusting the way we run sessions to benefit from what we’ve learned.”

“A very inspirational talk from Nick once again… I think the whole 3 sessions from Nick has been a good turning point for the club.”

“(Nick) has a great ability to enthuse and inform people in a way that makes sense and is easy to follow.”

“This was a brilliant set of sessions and we have all benefited so much from Nick’s expertise and dedication.”

So what are we going to do now?

As the EA mission for these club runs explains, the aim is not only to inform and assist runners but to up-skill run leaders amongst the clubs. And your very own session leader team have already met to discuss how we might be able to apply some of these principles Nick has brought to us in our own training, as well as build in the great feedback many of you have sent us since these visits started.

Our Spring training schedule will be out soon and hopefully you will this come to bear. But we are very aware that whenever you try anything new, some things will work and some might not, so please let us know what you think and if necessary we can try something different next time.

And a big thank you to everybody who made this happen; Karen for kick-starting the whole thing, Becky for writing our application, the session leaders for helping to plan and of course Mark and Liz for sorting out the pizzas.

Here’s to even better training, recovery and nutrition for us all…

England Athletics: Coached Sessions

We are proud to have been selected by England Athletics for a series of FREE sessions with a leading endurance running coach; Nick Anderson.

Nick is the national marathon lead and regional endurance lead for England Athletics, as well as a part of the Winchester & District A/C. So both experienced and local!

Nick will host three sessions during Feb and Mar, each of which can be booked (for free!!) using the links below. The focus will be on preparing for the spring 10km races (e.g. Eastleigh) but will be relevant for all distance training.

You don’t have to make it to all three, but we encourage you to try as Nick will link each one to the other as he guides us through the why, how and progression of a structured training programme.

Each of the first two sessions will consist of both a full training session as well as a Q&A session with Nick back at Woodley Hall afterwards.

The third session will be a talk from Nick on endurance training, with an opportunity for us to probe Nick with all those questions we’ve always wanted to ask. Food will be provided to make this a truly fun & social (as well as educational) evening.

So, what are you waiting for?  Click on the links below to find out more about each of the three sessions and sign-up!

  1. First session: running economy (threshold)Mon 4 Feb @ 18:30 
  2. Second session: aerobic endurance (VO2 max)Mon 18 Feb @ 18:30 
  3. Third session: A theory talk on training, nutrition & recoveryMon 4 Mar @ 18:30 

Please do book your attendance so we have an idea of numbers and can make appropriate arrangement for the venue, session leader support and refreshments.

Message from the Session Leaders

Just a reminder from the session leaders that it may be necessary, from time to time, to make late changes to the advertised training session. This is usually for safety reasons – a recent example of this was changing the Industrial Estate session following the opening of the new climbing wall. Our usual congregation point for this session is now a car park.

While changes are rare, they are more likely to happen in winter months so please be aware of this if you are planning to join the group at the session itself (rather than at Woodley Hall or the Sports Centre).