You might never walk anywhere except to the car or round the supermarket or you might already be a walker, maybe you've got a dog, do the school run or walk in to town and you are thinking what can this group offer me?
Walking to Fitness is a programme designed to improve your fitness. It's interval based, meaning you walk faster than normal for a specified period of time and then slow down to recover. The aim is to raise your heart rate and get you a little out of breath, then the slower recovery period allows you to re-group. Walking this way will help to improve your cardiovascular (heart and lungs) system and also help you to feel fitter.
Don't just take our word for it, here are some comments from our walkers...
A nervous non-walker....
"When I first started my fitness was at such a low level that I really struggled. Any time I walked I was out of breath and was thoroughly miserable with myself. I joined Walking to Fitness and now, a couple of years on I am often out in front and and am able to recover easily with a short slower walk between the faster intervals. I can easily walk for 4 kilometres in an hour now. and have completed ParkRun as a walker, which was one of my goals.
The most important thing though, has been the social side of the walking group. Meeting every week with people with a shared aim is lovely. They very quickly become friends and make the weekly session something to look forward to rather than dread!"
"I already did some walking, but not like this...Happy Feet welcome everyone and combine fitness with friendship, I nervously started the walking group as a stranger on my own but have now made some very good friends"
A dog walker.....
"Happy Feet, what an appropriate name for our walking group, we meet every Wednesday morning whatever the weather. Every week the route is planned with professionalism around the local streets, the riverside and other sites of Worcester by our leader. All members are full of fun, and comradeship, come and join us!"
An occasional walker.....
"I started the Happy Feet Walking to Fitness group a year ago, my first walk I was out of puff and struggled to walk up a hill. With Marie's vast knowledge of fitness we receive encouragement and advice, my fitness levels have significantly improved. We are a friendly, fun and supportive bunch, enjoy our walks (even in atrocious weather)plus on a Wednesday many of us go for coffee and a chat afterwards. (not obligatory, but cake is available too)
If you'd like to come along and see if this is the group for you, why not contact us by email to book your place.
Most of you know that my journey with Happy Feet started in 2016 when I completed the Couch to 5k – well the first of 3. I have had an up and down journey since then.
Since Lockdown 1, I have been running far more and gaining confidence, and more importantly belief in myself. During lockdown 3, I am running three times a week and improving my speed and stamina and seem to be doing well. Such a change to this time last year when I was struggling with couch!
This week, I found myself reading Rhi’s blog about mental attitude with running and it hit a nerve. Because I had been there just a few days earlier.
Last Sunday, I set out to run 10k with E. I know I can run 10k but was a bit apprehensive before I started. My mind just wasn’t in the right place and I was stopping all the time. I kept watch checking, thinking “have I only done 2k so far?” I just knew I didn’t have a 10k in me that day. I was beating myself up and pushing myself, but just knew it wasn’t going to happen. I had to admit defeat and went back to the car, leaving E to continue without me. I did manage 6.3k. I should have looked at it as I still managed 6.3k which is great, but I thought I “only” managed 6k! I was so disappointed in myself and was quite low all day. I couldn’t explain why I had failed, as that was how it felt.
As I had struggled with shin pain that day, I decided to give myself a rest. I didn’t run until Wednesday and decided to do intervals (run/walk) rather than run a set distance. I could walk for some then and not push myself too much. I ended up running for 30 minutes before walking for just 1.5 minutes…I was beginning to get my mojo back….
So, Friday I set out for a run after work, not really planning on doing anything awesome, but somehow, I did! I did my fastest 5k, knocking 10 seconds off my time. I was buzzing.
Sunday morning rolls around and it’s 10k day again. The sun is shining, the sky is blue, and I am feeling good. So off we set…and I am flying. Chatting and enjoying the run. Get back to discover, not only was it my fastest 10k but I had knocked a whole 3 minutes off my time. I just can’t believe the change in a week.
The old me would have probably decided a 5k was better this week, or even not run at all. But I made sure all that negativity was used to good effect and turned into a positive and ran two cracking times!
So, thank you Rhi for writing that blog. It gave me the boost I needed to know that I am not the only one who has a bad run. And to know, from experience now, that it is just one run and the next one is much better. I am so looking forward to running with everyone again. I am feeling a lot of hope now and that things are changing – not just that Spring is on its way, but with Parkrun coming back and group runs back again, it feels like normal life is returning too.
Running is all in the mind, ok well not all but lots of it.I
It’s been ages since I’ve written a running blog so here it is, I’ve been spurred on by my lovely friend to get pen to paper.
Over the past few weeks I have been upping my distance as I am doing a virtual half marathon in March (the day before my birthday) and so far, up until this weekend it has all been going really well. I have managed to get up to 10 miles (16KMs) and then….
I went out on a run last Saturday with a route planned out for 11 miles, I had prepared well the previous day. I ate really well, was properly hydrated, slept well the night before and had all my kit ready to go. It was raining when I got up, but I had a great breakfast and laced up and off I went. After the first mile I could have come home, every footstep was tough, and it took all of my mental strength to take each step. My body didn’t feel tired I just felt like I couldn’t do it!
This is worlds away from when I did a 10 miler the other weekend, we’d had a chippy tea the night before and I’d even had a couple of glasses of wine and I to be honest I was dreading the run BUT I absolutely smashed it, it felt good, I felt good and I could have kept on going.
After I finished my 11 miles, by running up and down the road, on the phone (to mum) needing every ounce of enthusiasm she had for me. I asked myself a big question, why? Why was that run so different? Why was it so hard but most importantly how did I manage to do that?
On paper, my 11 miles should have been easier, I was better prepared, I had the confidence of 10 miles under my belt and I had no reason to doubt myself.
Distance aside, all of us will have had runs that are just tough, for no reason, to me these runs are all about mental strength and the ability to overcome the seeds of doubt in your mind and control the challenges we face.
I do have a few strategies to get me through the barrier (not the wall, that’s a completely different kettle of fish BUT these mental runs help prepare you for hitting the wall).
My first strategy is to have run with someone else, it’s so much easier to bounce off each other and bounce back by simply having someone next to you but that’s not always possible especially at the moment.
If I am on my own, I start by allowing my mind to wander off on a thought, about anything. Usually, a replay of something that has happened in my life or a memory of something nice. I always try this early on into my run as it’s hard to detached yourself from what you are doing and becomes hard the more tired you are. For me it really makes the first miles fly by.
Next up, if I notice that I’ve looked at my watch 50 times in the last mile, I turn off the display so I can just see the clock time. As a runner for many years, I spend far too much time thinking about pace, heart rate and distance. I am constantly calculating my finish time from my current pace and although this does motivate me, some days like on Saturday it really wasn’t helpful so removing this temptation makes things feel a little more relaxed which always helps.
I do still occasionally have a look to see how far I’m at, but that is usually as the wave of uncertainty passes across me, it’s hard to describe. It’s not a constant feeling, it can come once, twice or 20 times during a run and there is just no reason for it, just as I have conquered one wave and feel good, the next could be right round the corner or could be gone all together.
Once I am over 4-5 miles when the bout of doubt creeps in my mind, having a drink or some of my snack really helps, it gives my body readily available energy and boy that makes such a difference, I honestly don’t know how long-distance runners run without a drink or food!
I also have a few final strategies that I save for my darkest times, I know I have mentioned this before. I count, I count to a number then start again or go as high as I can. I do easily loose concentration, so I find just counting up to say 100 then starting again is best for me.
The final and probably hardest to master strategy is visualisation, my body has helped me achieve some amazing things and by simply reminding it of the feeling of success it triggers so many happy hormones I can keep going.
For me, I visualise the last 2 miles of the marathon I did in Wales, I can clearly see the mile 25 and 26 marker in my head, I re live getting to mile 25 thinking, I’VE BLOODY DONE IT. Even if something major happens to me now, I know without doubt that I can get over that finish line in good time.
It’s taken me a long time to perfect this art, I practiced at night time first, thinking and allowing myself to fall back into that moment, that feeling. Once I’d got that nailed, I worked on it while I was running and now I can easily (most of the time) spend a few minutes in that moment while I’m running.
Don’t get me wrong, my strategies don’t always work and it’s pure determination that keeps my legs going round and round.
If you are sat reading this thinking, well that doesn’t apply to me I’m not a long-distance runner, then STOP.
No matter how far we run the challenge is still relative, I have been running for years, I have run marathons, halfs and many, many shorter runs but it is relative to my fitness.
If you are starting out on your journey or want to stick with running 5ks, you will have hard run’s too (If not, I want to know why not, as I am very jealous).
Some days, even for an experienced runner, running a relatively short run can be just too much for our bodies and minds. Although I have talked a lot about over coming mental barriers it is important to listen to your body. You should NEVER run through an injury or if you just aren’t physically well enough.
So, in conclusion to my ramblings, I am not sure why Saturday’s run was so hard, why I exhausted all of my strategies and still had nothing left to keep me going but I kept going. All I know is that my next run is a new run and overcoming my mental barriers this week will make me strong than I was before, better equipped and more prepared for the next time I have a run that seems impossible!
Keep running all
Love Rhi xxx
We are very excited to be partners in the Worcestershire Ambassadors Walk the Walk 2021. Their aim is to walk (run) to the moon and raise money for local Mental Health services at the same time, and we are really pleased to be helping.
We know how important exercise is to our mental health, many of our blog posts shout this out.
Sometimes it is hard to get motivated to go out and exercise, there are many things that put us off, we had a recent thread on our facebook group about this.
For some it's the weather, too hot, too cold, too wet, for some it's the thought of having to get your kit together and get dressed, for some it's work, dark nights and mornings, staying in bed, going out on your own.... any of these things can make us want to stay at home.
BUT when we do go out to run or walk, and feel that improvement in our mood, that's when we remember why we do it, why we love it once we are out there!
If you can keep the memory of that feeling in your "feel good box" and look at it when those barriers pop up, if you can recall how much better you feel once you have, you'll find it that bit easier to get up and go.
Some days you can't wait to get out there, some days it's like wading through treacle, but at the end, there is always the satisfaction of a job done.
Running has kept me going through some tough times, illness and anxiety, it's not always been easy, but it's always been worth it!
The 4 weeks of lockdown are now behind us and I think for runners and walkers it was slightly better than the summer lockdown as we could get out with a buddie.
When the lockdown rules were announced we wondered how we could help everyone find a buddie to get out with, so we set up some WhatsApp groups for all our regular sessions and people applied to join their group.
It was a roaring success, people linking up and running/walking routes that were new to them.
Motivation was high and so many more of us kept going through this lockdown.
We had some good fun on our Facebook group too, Challenge Tuesday made a comeback and Fun Friday was.....fun!
Now we are settling back in to our groups, it's really great to be back with friends we haven't seen for a few weeks, catching up on news, discussing Christmas plans and, oh yes, running and walking!
Getting back to groups is so much more than the exercise, it is about the running and walking of course, we all want to get fitter, or get outside, or be able to eat a few treats without worrying about our waistline, but it's also about the camaraderie, the friendships, the chat, the connections, all the things we missed so much during lockdown.
We do keep to all the UKA Covid-Secure guidelines, and our groups are smaller so that we can keep to the rules. We are constantly monitoring the space between us and we fall in to single-file when there are other path users. We want to make sure that everyone is safe!
We may face another lockdown, who knows. The vaccine is here but it'll be a while before we can all benefit from it.
So until then, Stay Safe everyone!
,My running blog. 0 - 26 miles in 18 months - by Paul
It was a sunny day sitting on Brean beach with my friends and parents, I had recently been off work with depression / anxiety. It came up in conversation that Cheryl (my friend who was there with us on the beach) was to run the London marathon, the next week. Being me at the time I could not even comprehend that this was even possible and was sort of stunned that someone I knew was going to be doing it.
I did however think it was quite exciting and found out that it was possible to track her progress on the phone. Sun 28th (marathon day) soon came round, we were actually at a van meet that day but I was eager to get the app on (unfortunately due to technical difficulties the chip didn’t work, so I couldn't follow the progress anyway)
I was back to work the next day. Even though I felt well, I didn’t feel the reason I was ill in the first place had been addressed. Because of this I did want to change things to try and reduce the chances of a repeat illness in the future. So with this in mind, I was back home watching clips of the London Marathon, including Cheryl finishing ) and I literally said to myself "this time next year I want to do that" and I entered the ballot as soon as it was open.
This was quite a tall order (no pun intended as I’m only 5ft 3 ) but as I hadn't run for over 20 years and even when I had, it was just because it was PE at school and wasn’t through choice. I was also 13 stone 5. To start with, for a couple of weeks, I did a lot of walking. Even that was energetic for me, but I realised I was enjoying it. A friend of mine agreed to do a couple of short runs with me and even though I was slow (I mean people on zimmers were coming past) I was enjoying it. She also introduced, me to park run which I remember well, it took me 45 mins and I couldn’t run it all (but it was ace!) and the next one I did I remember knocking 3 mins off.
I was enjoying it so much I booked up 3 events (I needed this so I had something to aim for) - 10k March for Men (9th June) - 10k Race for life (14th July) - Cheltenham half marathon (29th Sept)
By now I had managed a couple of 5ks and wondered where to go from there, I wasn't a fan of running alone and remembered that Caitlin ran with a local running club. So on Friday 31st of May I joined Happy Feet, it was the best decision I had made so far (and still is) it’s been brilliant.
Over the next few months I got stronger and got my parkrun time down from 45 mins to 35 mins, all within 4 months of starting. I also got my distance up to 10k to complete both the March for Men and the Race for Life which was my first official run. I was now starting to up my distance to get prepared for the Cheltenham half marathon in September. This soon came round and there I was standing towards the back of the start line thinking it’s better to overtake (like that’s going to happen) than be overtaken. Apart from losing my headphones and being overtaken by a few people, the start went well. I was adamant I wasn’t going to rush at the start and it paid off. Not only was I not being overtaken but I was overtaking those who shot past me at the start, I had met someone to run with and I was having the best Sunday morning ever.
Although my aim was just to finish, I really wanted to come in under 3 hours. All was well until mile 10 I think, when my running buddy wasn't feeling well, I said we would stick together and even though we had to walk a little we both finished at 2hr 57 mins, a bit close for comfort lol.
It was shortly after this that I found out I was unsuccessful in getting a space in the London marathon. I then found out that Stratford marathon was on the same date and it looked like a nice one, so I booked to do that. From then on, I was getting as much training in as I could, trying to get as fit as I could. Ready to start doing longer distances after Christmas, to be prepared for the big day.
Shortly after this I unfortunately picked up an injury, possibly caused from over training but I think if would have happened anyway. I had what I thought was a bad ankle and tried everything to try and sort it.
I didn’t run for at least 4 weeks, possibly longer. Everything I tried just didn’t seem to do anything and it got to the point that it actually hurt to walk, I really thought I had no chance to be ready for the marathon now. Then a glimmer of light. The University of Worcester were advertising that they would be happy to take on case studies for the students to learn and with that I contacted them.
Straight away they pointed out how bad my balance was and quickly diagnosed my problem as peninsula tendonitis. Over the next few weeks, I had exercises and stretches to carry out and I quickly began to see improvements. By early February I was back to it but I had lost about 5 weeks of training. Even though I didn’t think I would be ready for a marathon in April, I restarted training again and within 3 weeks I was back up to half marathon distances and getting more confidence.
March continued with progressively longer runs, but I was thinking that perhaps a run/walk approach to the big day might be safer. I thought it would give me a greater chance of finishing. By the middle of March however the world had different ideas and with Covid taking over, the marathon was postponed. I was gutted as it meant a lot to me to do it on the date, but it was out of my hands and I really didn’t want to do it on my own.
Throughout lockdown I didn’t do the longer runs as I didn’t want to burn out not knowing when the race day would actually be. By July I was itching to get going again, I changed my goal to just doing a marathon sometime in 2020. I then found out that Ian ( a friend from Happy Feet) was training for a marathon, he wasn’t sure when or where but kindly said I could join him and we started training with the idea of running a non-organised marathon at some point in the year. Shortly after this Jenny, another friend from Happy Feet Fitness and Shane a friend from camping, started to join us.
This was great, our own little group for the day. Back in September half marathons were “if I finish it would be great” now they were a regular occurrence! I think it was 5 or 6 , in 3 months and 1 of them even banking a medal, even though it was a training run (always making it more worthwhile ).
Ian found out that the London marathon would now be a virtual event on October 4th, it was great that we had a date to aim for. Time was suddenly going extra fast, juggling life and training was hard work, but I persisted with long runs most Saturday mornings. This meaning being up at 6am on the weekend, but I knew it would be worth it and that it had to be done - even better I was enjoying it.
Before I knew it I was doing half marathon + mileage, and not before time. The big day was just around the corner, plans were being made. I planned our route, which I really enjoyed and thankfully the others were happy for me to do this. Water stops were all organised and it was all becoming very real, I was actually going to do this!
The weekend before, plans were made with fellow runners who said they would join us, which as I found out on the day would be a god send. My friends all teamed up to come out to support me on the route, I felt like everything was falling into place.
After a week where for the first time ever I had the best ever excuse to eat loads, the weekend was finally here. Obviously there had to be one final disappointment (like in the films), my friend Cheryl, who I mentioned at the beginning, was unable to attend due to issues out of her control. I don’t know who was more disappointed me or her. I knew if I was going to succeed, I needed to get myself back onto a high and after talking to a few friends, I was back on form and ready.
6am Race day, up for my normal bowl of granola and a banana and just for good luck a few jelly babies. Unfortunately, the weather wasn’t great, but at 8.35am we set off for what I kept telling myself was just a long training run.
We set off in great spirits all of us having a big build up to the day, all was going well and we were bang on schedule until mile 19, with the odd struggle mentally, not physically, I gave myself a good talking to and overcame this.
Mile 21 came and unfortunately Ian’s knee started to play up after an injury earlier in the year. I had always said I would possibly have to run/walk the last 5 miles, and so I wasn’t too upset to do this. I'm not sure if I could have run the rest or not, but the aim was to finish.
At the last water stop it felt like we had been going for ever, and now the tables had turned. My head wanted to get finished and was saying push, and my legs felt like they had been attached to lead weights, but I was so close to finishing and this feeling was incredible, so many feelings and emotions!
The final few yards, and apart from accidentally pushing Ian into a puddle, I got the "YOU HAVE COMPLETED THE 26.2 MILES" for the Virtual London Marathon! Giving me a massive boost to put a sprint finish on, and I’ve never, ever, felt so good!
I had finally done it. That night sitting in my recliner I remembered that day 18 months ago when I made the decision to do it, it took 4 days for it to really sink in that I HAD done it!
If you want to do it you can, it just takes persistence, time and patience but it can be done.
Well as proud of my achievements as I am there was a sense of sadness, as I had completed my challenge so what now ? - Well I’ve set myself a goal of doing Stratford marathon in 4 hr 30 next year, but as we all know, plans don’t always go to plan. So, watch this space lol.
So, we seem to have a battle of the groups on our hands!
The Monday morning, evening and Friday morning groups are trying to out-do each other in a Boomerang challenge!
Sadly I can't rotate one of the clips!
As you can see the evening group is giving in gracefully this week....but they have plans!!!!!
The weekend of 5th, 6th and 7th September 2020 was the first Virtual Worcester City run.
Due to covid restrictions we couldn't all run together, but lots of us signed up anyway, as profits were going to the Grace Kelly Childhood Cancer Trust.
Events of the North organised it from a distance, and all we had to do was enter, download the app, run or walk the distance and then submit our proof.
We stayed in our normal groups and either did the 5k, or did a bit more and got up to 10k, a few hardy runners managed the half marathon!
There were some pretty pleased runners as you can see from their photos!
It was nice to feel that we had participated, but we can't wait till next year when we hope we can do it for real!
Keep running and walking, and keep safe!
Over on our FaceBook page we had a post this week about comparison, and it generated quite a discussion.
I've been mulling it over for a few days and thought I'd share my thoughts....
When I stared running I didn't have a running watch, I didn't even think that much about time, I did need to know how long I'd been running for as I was doing a version of couch to 5k, but that was it.
As I started to run more I became more interested in how long I'd been out running and I think I used a phone app to see how far I'd run, I then had to work out on a calculator how fast I'd run, I had no idea there were gadgets out there that would work that out for me!
As time went on I found out about GPS watches, and invested in one. Wow, I was hooked! I could see at a glance how far I'd run and how fast I was going, in the beginning that was really motivating, if I felt tired, I'd look at my watch and think, only half a mile and I'll have reached my target, so I'd push on..... Luckily I didn't injure myself doing that, but I have seen others do so, not wanting to stop until the watch shows the magic number can become a bit of on obsession.
I have used my watch to help me train for races and improve my times, and I really do like having that instant feedback with me but.....as the years went by I became more focused on that task master on my wrist, I'd catch myself thinking "last week I was 3 seconds faster at this point" and I would beat myself up for that perceived failure. Eventually I started to vary my routes more so that I couldn't do that en-route comparison as easily.
My comparison has always been with myself, about how I could have run those few seconds faster, gone those few 100 meters further, been more even with my splits......on and on that comparison goes, there was a time that I thought that I wasn't making any progress and felt like giving up!
Then along came the running community apps, yet more opportunities to compare myself to others. To be honest, by the time I got round to joining (I'm definitely not an early adopter!) I was much more comfortable with my own running and was more interested in other people's stats than comparing them with my own.
However I do notice others talking about how they compare themselves with others, feeling that they should be running further or faster or for longer, that so-and-so hasn't been running as long as me, but has improved quicker, that mega mileage is being done by running friends and that they can find the time to do it so why can't I....
Gadgets are great, I still love mine but I use it for my own benefit, my watch also counts steps and some days I love just saying "Yah-Boo" watch, I'm not going to do to target you've set me and I DON'T CARE!
In our groups we really try to embrace the health benefits of running and walking, rather than just looking at speed and distance. The improvements to our mental and physical being are huge, the social feeling is so important too.
All our groups are mixed ability which means we have some really quick runners alongside those at a more sedate pace, this might look a bit unusual to start with, but we know that for us it works. No one gets left behind and as all our paces vary slightly we don't really compare ourselves to each other on the run. I'm not saying we don't have some good natured competition, but at the heart of it we are all working as hard as we can, be that at 6 minutes a kilometer or 11, and we all respect the effort that each one of us is putting in.
Sometimes I think that I should leave my watch at home, that I shouldn't upload to that running community app, but you know what, I do like to see what I've done, I'm proud of every step I take and I'm proud of the steps that others take too!
So is Comparison the thief of Joy? Yes, I think it can be. Comparison with ourselves or with other can take away the Joy we feel in the pure energy of running, but only if we let it. X
For the last 5 weeks we have been running and walking as groups of 5 plus a leader, and it has been brilliant!
When the Government changed the regulations at the beginning of June, we were really excited and straight away we looked at how we could get back to social running. We looked at all the guidance available and put together a plan for us all to follow, to make sure we could meet again safely.
Our biggest priority is to keep everyone safe, so we keep a 2m distance when we walk, run and stretch, we arrive at our meeting places on time so we don’t have to wait around, if anyone feels unwell in any way we ask them to stay at home and we keep to quiet roads and paths to minimise our contact with other path users.
We were all really excited to get back together, we have all kept motivated in the virtual world, with our great “Challenge Tuesday” and we have had strength and conditioning and stretching classes live online, but there is nothing quite like being out in the fresh air together.
We were all a little apprehensive to begin with, after all this virus has not gone away! But we knew we needed to restore a little normality to our lives. Exercising outside is so important for both our physical and mental health, and we had all been missing it!
So, on Sunday 7th June we started back, to begin with we offered a few groups on different days, they were immediately oversubscribed so we slowly added more groups in to the mix and now have 15 going out each week. It’s great to be able to offer most people at least one group run a week.
We are so grateful to our leaders too, for taking out groups and keeping everyone safe.
We are already looking towards the future; we can’t wait for the time when we can restart our popular Couch to 5k groups and our longer distance runs. We will need to wait for further relaxation of the guidelines before we can plan these though.
For now we will keep on providing a great, fun, safe environment for our runners and walkers.
Keep safe everyone!
Marie and Rhiannon
Happy Feet Fitness