This is the story of Dianne Sorensen, who I have known my entire life. She would like everyone to believe, that anybody can run.
This is her story so far which she has kindly written with the hope of inspiring my C25K ladies.
If we roll back to mid 2018, I hit a low point in my life, 49 years old, struggling with perimenopause, overweight, asthmatic, not in a good place at work and in an equally bad place mental health wise. I’d like to say there was a point that said “do something” but there wasn’t. It was simply a notice on one of the boards in the club where I do archery advertising a couch to 5km group at the same club. It was along the lines of ‘ you don’t need to be a runner, just join us and we’ll help you all the way’, so I sent them an email and was invited along to the first session. I really don’t know what made be respond to that notice other than the comfort of already knowing the main club…maybe the word “free”, had something to do with it!
Week 1 run 1, late July 2018– it was hell. How time stretches, 30 seconds, you could have fooled me, it felt more like 30 minutes running before we were told to walk and recover. I’m sure the coach had a dodgy stopwatch and was just making it all up. The group bonded in our misery and hatred of the coaches broken stopwatch, and in the end, I have to say I enjoyed it. The whole group did!
Before I knew it, we were at a local parkrun to do our first 5km and graduate from the programme. I still couldn’t do a 5km without stopping at that point so was really worried about it. A lot of the runners from the club the coaches belonged to turned out to support us. It was amazing, one or two runners each ran with every one of us, talked us through the hard bits, encouraged us to keep going and cheered us on to the finish line. The finish line… the actual finish line of a 5km timed event…me… I felt like I could conquer the world at that point.
I ended up joining the club and am now a proud member of Mossley Hill Athletics Club Running Section. I realised during the couch to 5km programme that it wasn’t just the run that made me feel good, it was the group I ran with too. I now run with a group from the club twice a week plus am a regular park runner.
It didn’t end there…. Somehow at the club Christmas party in December 2018 I made a deal with one of the runners (Mark), who helped with our couch to 5km group, to enter the Liverpool Spring 10km race in May 2019. He said he would run with me if I entered. A wet, cold January 2019 rolled in and I started to wonder what had I done, I still struggled to do a 5km without walking a couple of times and now I had a 10km to do in a few months. I started to run an extra day in the week, started running with the main group at the club and stopped electing to do the short route on club nights. On club nights we averaged around 7.5km (with breaks waiting to cross roads); but one particular route was closer to 9km, it wasn’t an easy night at the club that night, I struggled to keep up at times but… I might just be able to do this 10k lark! Mark was on my shoulder all the time saying “you can do this!”, I started to believe him.
10km race day, my first proper race ever. I was a bit nervous to say the least. Once again, Mark was on my shoulder saying “you’ve got this”. Before I knew it, we were at the 5km water station; how did that happen, 5km and no stopping? The 8km point was a struggle as it was a slow uphill, but then I could hear the announcer at the end. OMG, I thought finishing the couch to 5km was good… this was something else. World, BRING IT ON, I am ready for you!!
Over the rest of the year I entered regular 10km races, my times slowly improved, but I was still not doing any of them without having to walk a bit. I realised that walking was ok, it didn’t make me any less of a runner. Once I forgave myself for the walking, races got more enjoyable. I did races with a bit of a walk strategy and walked for a bit at the water stations and carried on. Over the year I got fitter and I walked less. The day crept up quietly but after a race late 2019 I realised I hadn’t walked and I had finished 11 minutes quicker than my 10km first race.
Then something happened… I got chatting to one of the other C25k graduates at the club and somehow, we decided that a 10-mile race was a “good idea”. We had about 3 months to up our mileage and prepare. Again, there was Mark encouraging me. We started doing long runs on Saturdays, training with the club, extra mileage mid week when work allowed. Race day arrived and we were as prepared as we could be. It was a great day, perfect running weather, with a finish line by the iconic Liver Buildings on the Liverpool waterfront. Mark ran with us and paced us all the way. It was a brilliant race. We are now looking to doing a half marathon… Don’t ask.
On the weight front, about 6 months in I realised I was doing all this running, but my weight was staying exactly where it was. I was this 87kg, 5’2” tubby person. It took a bit of soul searching to find my overeating triggers – I stress eat and comfort eat. Running did make me feel better, but I was still unhappy with me. I joined Sara (SBR) on her HEED programme, took stock of what I was eating, added in regular strength training in with my running and the weight started slowly coming off. I am not there yet by any means but I am now at 68kg and good few kilos off my goal and it’s taken over a year to get here. The person who looks back at me in the mirror now is so much happier.
I have struggled with a number of strange issues like numb feet since I started running but I have just looked for professional advice for it from a sports physio, added in some running specific strength training and it is now under control. The big thing is to not let niggles put you off. I used to be proud of the fact that I wouldn’t even run for a bus, so of course there were going to be a few sore bits having never really run before. Some of the niggles come back when I step things up, but I know what to do about them now, and I have learned to love my foam roller.
For all of you worried about starting out running, what I found on my C25K graduation day and in general for that matter, was nothing, but positive. No one judged us, looked down at how slow we were, nothing, they were just completely supportive and continually reminded us how well we had done. The running community is like that you see, we all know how hard it is and how long our own journeys have been to get where we are, and we are in awe of the people at the back who keep showing up and keep going and keep looking at those kilometres square in the eye and saying they will not be beaten.
We were all there once. You’ve got this!
Dianne Sorensen, Liverpool.