Insights from my ‘Couch to 5k’ running course – the story continues…blog 2

So, they did it! 5 very brave, determined and dogged individuals, successfully completed the ‘5k challenge’. In tribute to them, here are some further things I’ve learned over the athlete’s journey from ‘Couch-2-5K’.

Mental strength – Wow – what strength and determination they all showed – and that has been pretty much the case through the whole programme. It takes a while to believe the training is making a difference. Huge improvements in the final bleep test results created a buzz and a belief that they could achieve their goal. Doing it is another matter. What the group achieved was inspirational – even when they were tiring towards the end…it was clear they dug deep, believed in themselves and their training and pushed themselves to the finish.

Health and well-being – All of the runners, like most of us, have busy lives and conflicting priorities. Finding the time to include exercise is often a challenge – especially if you’ve not been in the habit of doing it for a while. If you’ve not run before…the prospect can be daunting. Much is known of the positive physical benefits of running – and this article in The Telegraph discusses a number of these. Running also has a number of mental health benefits – just take a look at the article from Women’s Running UK to find out more. All of our beginners over the last week or 2 have stated they’re fitter, they talk passionately and confidently about the benefits running has given them and many are now planning their own race goals to keep the momentum they have built – a step toward a healthier lifestyle. As 1 of our finishers said ‘I’m not a couch potato anymore, I’m a runner’. 

Community – Much is made of the running ‘community’. At races, you often see familiar faces from other clubs. Out running, there’s often a friendly wave or acknowledgement of a fellow runner as your paths cross. For me, being a runner is not just about performing to your best ability, but also taking joy from seeing others excel – even if they are your main competition – as it drives you to work harder. This sense of community has been evident throughout the group – but also beyond. Southend AC members gave up their time to help out with sessions. Graduates from the summer beginner’s group, who knew what the current intake were going through, provided positive support and words of encouragement. Such was the enthusiasm to help, we even had ‘buddies’ from the club who volunteered to run the 5k time trial with group members. This for me sums up what community is about – whether in a coaching or a business environment.

Enthusiasm – My final learning is really a reminder – of the immense power enthusiasm can have in effecting change – whether at work or as a coach. It’s infectious, it makes you feel good, it makes you want to try harder, it makes you feel you want to be part of it. All of these and more were experienced over 8 weeks with a formidable bunch of people. The energy, enthusiasm, camaraderie and determination to improve and succeed shown by the group with each new challenge they faced was humbling. I can honestly say, they taught me as much (if not more) than they learned from me – and for that I will always be thankful.

Coming soon – For my next blog I’ll draw out some of the areas I’ve discussed over the last couple of blogs. I’ll try and draw some examples of how I’ve used them in my work life over the years…however I’m also sure many of you will already see examples in your careers where lessons like these apply.  

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