From Walking around Shops to Smashing the Hills

JULY 2018: Last December, I received an email from Liz Pemberton. Her husband, Mark, was an existing RunBrighton member. Liz had got in touch with me, as she wanted to arrange a place for Mark on our spring training camp in the Algarve, as a Christmas present for him.

Liz, herself, was not a runner.

But, in April this year, she joined RunBrighton’s Introduction to Running course.

Seemingly hooked on her newfound sport, Liz subsequently signed up for our summer 2018 training.

How sporty were you, Liz, prior to joining RunBrighton?

I have a gold medal in walking around shops and art galleries – does that count?!

Ha ha, I’ll take that as ‘not sporty’ then. What prompted you to sign up to our Introduction to Running course and what did you hope to achieve from it?

At the start of the year, I downloaded the BBC Couch to 5km challenge, and was being trained by DJ Jo Whiley whilst listening to Desert Island Discs!  It was solitary affair.  I was hoping that committing to a course and being part of a group would eliminate the demons in my head telling me to walk or stay in bed!

What aspect of our course did you enjoy the most?

Difficult to single out one element.  The three weekly sessions combined really well to not only provide diversity, but also camaraderie.  It was beyond my wildest dreams that I could go from a 30-minute jog to running for an hour.  This certainly wouldn’t have been possible without the encouragement of other runners, particularly Ruth and Annie.   The hill strength training in Hove Park is a standout – to ‘sprint’ up and be applauded at the top was a magical moment.  Since the course ended in June, we’ve actually set up a WhatsApp group and several of us try and meet, once a week, for interval training.

And how are you enjoying our summer membership? We’ve taken you on some challenging runs and it’s been pretty hot out there most Sundays!

You certainly have.  I missed two weeks, due to a cold – the old Liz would have given up, laid on the sofa and watched hours of TV… but I turned up and walked with Annie.  It was a brisk affair and my gluts hurt the next day!  Every week has been a personal best and I’m amazed at my progression.  To think, a matter of months ago, I couldn’t run around Hove Park, and this week I ran/walked for 1hour40 and finished with the 2hour20 half-marathon group. I was drenched through, but with a smile on my face; a big thank you to Dave Hull for keeping me on track!  The week before, the sun had been blazing and the start of the run was the hill I mentioned earlier. I wasn’t fazed by it; that was a good feeling.

What has surprised you most, so far?

That I’ve remained injury free!  When I’ve tried to run in the past, my back and knees would give out.  I think the gradual build-up and strength work has paid off.

As part of the Introduction course, we introduced you to weekly strength & conditioning sessions at Riptide Health & Fitness. Is that something you’ve continued with then?

Yes, I cancelled my membership (aka donation to profits) to a large impersonal gym that I never went to, and I recently signed up to Riptide.  The groups are small, you can get into classes, and Matt is not only encouraging, making it fun, but adapts each exercise to my capability.

Have you set yourself any specific running goals, going forward?

I want to be able to go sub-30 minutes in parkrun.  Also, I’m part of a team for the Hever Castle Triathlon.  I’m doing the 10km run. We did this last year, but I didn’t train and basically walked the entire way.  This year I want to be able to run the entire course.  The start is a hill. (Who puts a castle at the bottom of a hill?!)  That totally threw me last year, but this year I’m going to smash it!

We’ll be repeating our Introduction course in the autumn. What advice would you give to anyone thinking of joining but daunted about taking the plunge?

Our group was made up of people of all ages and abilities, some returning from injury, some from years of inactivity and some like me new to the area and wanting to meet new people.  There was always somebody of a similar standard to run/walk with, and to talk to you and get you through those mental dips.  Talking and laughing is a major part of training and it’s been fantastic to meet people who wouldn’t normally enter my bubble.

I know this all sounds like you’ve paid me to promote RunBrighton, but each word is honestly meant, and experienced. Will send bank details later;-)

Liz, I’m delighted your experience of the Introduction course was a positive one, and that you’re now enjoying your summer with RunBrighton. Good luck with the triathlon, and I’ve no doubt you’ll soon be breaking 30 minutes at parkrun.

By Mike Bannister