GOGA gets active!
Couch to 5k with Notts Women Runners
Hi, I’m Helen, I’m 38, mum of two from Nottingham. Many of you may know me as the GOGA programme officer. I wanted to tell you my story of how I became involved in GOGA myself. As many partners know, a huge part of my role is focussed at collecting and sharing programme impact so I wanted to share the impact it’s had on my own well-being.
I was involved in the original development of GOGA for Nottingham in my previous role as a regional advisor, so it was a real pleasure when I got the opportunity to join the team at a national level. It is great to see the sheer diversity of GOGA and the fantastic work going on in so many localities alongside the valuable expertise through national partners.
I was always active in my younger years. However, with two young boys a year apart in age, I have found it hard to find the time juggling work, family life and staying active. GOGA changed this and my perspective of getting out and active.
I’m privileged in my role - I see how getting active can really change people’s lives. I see the difference it’s making, I get to visit many activities and meet so many fantastic people. All this inspired me to take time out of my own life, become active again, and reap the benefits.
On Facebook, I saw a beginner’s couch to 5k advertised through Notts Womens Runners. It’s a group which encourages women runners of all abilities to develop, meet others and enjoy the activity. Only after signing up, I later found out that it is one of Nottingham’s GOGA activities! GOGA supported the training of the run leaders to expand the sessions they were running across Nottingham, this was an even greater reason for me to continue my running journey!
We followed the couch to 5k programme over a ten-week period. I met many amazing women and got to learn their reasons for getting involved, this varied from wanting to become healthier, lose weight, make friends, be more social, boost mental health and wellbeing and of course fun! 120 women were involved in the programme and week-on-week we were supported by experienced runners alongside those who had completed their journey the month before. These women had achieved such huge milestones - saying last year they were in my position and this year many had completed half and full marathons.
It was impossible not to laugh, smile and enjoy meeting women in the same position as myself. It enabled me to escape from my busy schedule and enjoy time for me, it felt amazing!
Initially many of us thought we would never run a full 5k but as the weeks went by we all felt stronger and the runs got easier. We were all there to encourage each other, along with the volunteers and Angela and Julie - the dedicated run leaders.
As week ten grew closer, we planned our graduation run on a Saturday morning Parkrun held at Forest Recreation ground. We all came out in force on the day. Many supporting the run, some marshalling and others cheering along the route. That morning every one of us achieved our first 5k run and I was met at the finish line with my two boys, cheering me along! It was a great achievement for myself and fantastic to see the delight on all the women’s faces after the run. Many said it would not have been possible without each other’s support.
What next? I am now part of Notts Women’s Runners alongside 4,000 other women in purple. I will continue my running with them, start my improvers’ journey (5- 10k) and also sign up to Junior Parkrun with my boys. I will also be supporting the next couch to 5k as a volunteer and then potentially a run leader. This time next year, I may also do my first half marathon- wish me luck!