Wednesday, 14 September 2016

Guest blog by Claire Baird (Tea and Tarts WI) for WI Sports Week

Thirteen years ago I had left university, was working shift work, and met my husband. Life went on and the weight piled on from my new lifestyle. I was able to lose a couple of stone with sensible eating, but I wanted to get fitter as well. I dabbled in different forms of exercise, but shift work took away the ability to have an exercise routine.

In January 2015, I contracted severe pneumonia, and I was determined to never feel that way ever again. I used to see hundreds of people swarming to the Greenhead Park, Huddersfield every Saturday for the Parkrun. I decided that was my goal, to run the 5k Parkrun.

At the start of my recovery, I asked if I could volunteer for the Parkrun. The 15-minute walk to the Park and back was a challenge in itself. As I became stronger I started using the NHS couch to 5k podcast to build up to the 5k challenge. At this point my fellow Tea and Tarts WI members decided to support me on my journey. Samantha, Laura and Charlotte pushed me and supported me to my goal.

In September I did my first Parkrun with 650 other runners and my fellow tarts. And guess who got Park runner of the month? Me! Since then I have not looked back.

At the Parkrun, I spotted a few people with very bright ‘Acre Street Runners’ T-shirts, so I stopped one and asked them about the club. The man I spoke to was very enthusiastic and I arranged to go the following Thursday (with my tarts).

The club environment is so supportive – nobody is ever left behind, and because I am a slow runner this has always been important to me. All the runners take it in turns to encourage and support the beginner runners. We are also running a 5k heroes 8-week course with more Tea and Tarts members starting to run!

This year I completed the Jane Tomlinson 10k series, I have completed a 10mile race, and next year I am going to do the rock and roll half marathon in Liverpool.

So why do I run? Running is therapy. I feel physically and mentally stronger, healthier. I have new passion. I have made lots of wonderful friends. I get to explore my surroundings. I would recommend running to anybody. Everybody has a reason to start running and I find that inspiring.

Remember a 20-minute mile is just as far as a 6-minute mile.

Thank you to my friends at Tea and Tarts for their ongoing support, and to Nicola Ingle for helping me write this article.

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