So you've done the 9-week course, got a certificate to prove it, maybe even a club tee shirt and can be considered a bonafide ‘runner’. Where do you take it from here? The choice is obviously yours. You can, for example, decide ‘thanks very much, I’ve known how to run since before I can remember, I’m quite capable of doing this on my own, so I’ll take myself off for a run if and when I feel like it’.
Well, true. For some who choose to, but who feel the need for structured post-C25K assistance, there’s always the NHS app where over headphones you can hear the dulcet tones of ‘Laura’ urging you for 30 minutes to modulate your pace, breathing and running posture to a background of suitable-tempo musak. But there’s one major drawback to sustaining the go-it-alone approach: it demands a lot of self-motivation.
Humans are social animals. We do things better when we cooperate in groups. We spur each other on, although we’re barely conscious when it's happening. In a group we are likely to pick up the pace of those of immediately around us and then push it to the edge of our individual comfort zones.
In the process we learn through our feet upwards how our musculoskeletal and cardiorespiratory systems work and how we can improve our physical performance. Best of all, we have mutual support and benefit from shared experience. In the case of Medway Fit - and no doubt this is true in other local running groups too - we’re lucky to have run leaders and coaches trained to England Athletics standard who provide excellent training tips and advice focusing on running technique for all phases of running, be it up-hill, down-hill, road or trail, wet or dry. And that’s for anything from 5k to marathon.
Always the emphasis is on health and safety to whether that be due to individual physical challenges or simply overstraining yourself. While pushing the boundaries and improving our health and fitness, it’s all about doing so to your own potential. And it can’t be overstressed that all abilities are welcome. There’s no exclusivity at Medway Fit; all that’s needed is some commitment. That’s a small payment when you consider that (amazingly) all the above is free!
It’s perhaps not surprising therefore how quickly running in a group becomes a habit - proof that not all habits are bad. This one even has its own highs. In this case, the endorphin rush you can get after a good run is free, legal and wholly beneficial. That’s likely to be better for wellbeing than any drug that you might get for depression, on prescription or otherwise.