RV Beginner's Running Course

Have you tried running before using the "App" and found that you just couldn't get past a certain week? Did you think to yourself "well running just isn't for me?" Technology is amazing and I think having fitness apps that support you to becoming active are a good thing. 

The RV Beginner's Running course is different from the "Couch to 5k" programmes that are very popular and the difference is that you are coached on the course by qualified coaches that have been trained by England Athletics.

I have developed the RunVerity Beginner's Running course from my years of experience as a runner, teacher and laterly as a coach. The 8 week course has been based on the England Athletics Young Athlete Development programme called Athletics 365.  Athletics 365 is a multi-event development programme which introduces athletes to the fundamental skills needed to be able master any sport.

Running is part of this athletics programme and therefore my beginner's course is very much based on developing the right skills needed to be able to run effeciently, correctly and with confidence.

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This inovative approach to running;  turns non runners into runners who enjoy running but who also believe right from the start that they are runners.


For the 8 weeks during the course you are supported and encouraged by having online access to articles that have been written to help you progress through your journey.  There are a lot of mental barriers that prevent people from being active and at RunVerity we understand these and help break them down.

If there is a teeny tiny bit of you that would like to give running a go, then get in touch, what's the worse that can happen?

Happy Faceversary!

Today Facebook told me it was my Faceversary!  11 years ago today I joined Facebook, how fitting as I sit to write my latest article on barriers that prevent people from running.  How does my 11-year anniversary fit into writing about barriers that prevent people from running? Read on...

I have spent over 20 years talking to people, men and women, sharing their fears, their doubts and their anxieties encouraging them to either try running or come back to running.  It is a part of my job that I love so much as I feel privileged to be able to listen and alleviate people’s fears so that they can achieve goals that they never thought possible. Sometimes I’m successful at getting people out of the front door and other times I’m not.

In my experience I have found parkruns to be an amazing concept and I have utilized this great free community run for the last 8 years.  My beginner’s running course always finishes with a 5k parkrun and the sheer delight and elation that people show when they’ve achieved this goal makes my job the best job in the world. I am often told that when people start my course, that they look around at all the other beginner’s and mentally tick off who will be able to achieve being a runner in 8 weeks, of course telling themselves that it won’t be them in a month of Sundays!  Week by week my runners are coached, encouraged and supported, often there are tears, more often there are beaming faces as they achieve more running time week by week! “18 ½ minutes! I’m still in shock”

A high proportion of my runners come to me later in life having experienced setbacks that has meant that sport was not an option for them and they gave it up as soon as possible.  For some this may have been the minute they realised they could “bunk” off PE lessons without much recrimination because they thought they weren’t “sporty”, others because they were told they couldn’t do it or they had the humiliation of being picked last for the team in PE.  There are many reasons, and I’ve heard a quite a few, unfortunately these negative thoughts can stay with you for a lifetime.  My job as a coach is to encourage and try and change the negative thoughts into positive ones and give people the skills to achieve, I really do believe anyone can run.

It sounds perfect doesn’t it? But I’m not a miracle worker and it can go wrong and it does. People do drop out of my courses for a number of reasons, life gets in the way, memories of PE teachers take over, feelings of not being good enough, and sometimes it’s because they physically and mentally cannot get out of the front door, 30 years of being told you are rubbish sometimes just can’t be undone.

I’ve learnt so much since setting up RunVerity and I’ve got so much more to learn, one thing I’ve learnt is how particular I am about which parkrun we graduate from, the toilets have to be accessible, there needs to be somewhere for bags to be kept, the atmosphere needs to be friendly and welcoming with not too many runners dressed in Lycra.  The main thing is that the route isn’t laps, I’ve learnt this at my cost as I’ve lost numerous runners on lapped courses.  A graduate who has just completed a beginner’s running course does not see themselves as a runner, I’m still not sure when that kicks in but turning up to a “race” event, (even though it’s not a race it is timed and perception is everything) is often scary and intimidating.  So much fear and anxiety because 5k is a long way; “will I come last? Will the tail walker really walk, what if they walk quicker than I can run, will I hold them up? They might get cross with me and I’ll be able to hear them breathing down my neck, will everyone have packed up when I’m finished, how is it timed, will I be laughed at because I haven’t got the right gear on, why do I need the toilet so many times, my heart rate is out of control, how am I going to be able to run without having a heart attack”. And that’s all in the first 2 minutes.

Having a lapped route where you are passed by other “runners” who seem to know what they are doing because they look so professional can be soul destroying, seeing the same spectator 3 times as they stand cheering you on, offering fantastic words of encouragement like “not far to go” can be off putting when you feel vulnerable as your face is the colour of a beetroot, you are sweating and all of Verity’s words of wisdom have gone out of your head as you remember horrible days of cross country when you thought you were going to die as you came in last, too late to shower as you had to catch the school bus home, sweaty, hot, red, smelly (or was that just me).

 What does an adult do when all these feelings come flooding back again on a lapped parkrun? they leave the course and get in their car and go home, never to be seen again.  I have found many a graduate in the car park crying with frustration and anger because they “gave up” And who can blame them, no-one knows if you are there or not, there is no pre-registration, you just turn up and run, if you don’t finish it doesn’t matter, there won’t be a detention.


For those runners who tame the tiger and grab it by the tail, learning to run and break down these barriers can bring about feelings of euphoria and strength that they never knew they had possessed, they are achieving goals that they never ever thought would be possible “in your face Miss Black! I am a runner!”


However, once more, in my experience it can sometimes all go wrong as PB’s are chased as new runners experience a real honeymoon period where achievements are in abundance. I can advise and say “remember the terrible toos’, don’t do too much, too soon, too quickly” “Only chase one rabbit” “You need to rest and let your body recover”.  But unfortunately injury can occur after years of not running where the body has adapted to a sedentary lifestyle and created weakness’s that rear their ugly head when you put too much stress on the body.  These are the physical downsides of running too many PBs, but what about the psychological downsides of achieving PBs or not achieving PBs.  We are living in an age of envy as we can now compare ourselves to the rest of the world with a swipe of a screen and envy can be for anything, career envy, holiday envy, six pack envy, arm envy and of course run envy.  Our lives are filtered and whitened and plastered all over social media 24/7, we carry our accessible devices for comparison everywhere we go, how many times a day do you check social media? Is it the first thing you do in the morning and last thing at night.  Have you uploaded your latest amazing run on Strava or filtered running photo? and yes I am guilty as I uploaded a great photo of me from the AGEAS 10k last week presenting the very best of my life to all my old school friends and acquaintances? You won’t see the one of me running on Sunday at the RNLI with my big moon face wrapped up in my bandana and my boobs down to my knees! We present the very best of our lives and by doing so we are creating a lifestyle that is not sustainable and most of the times unachievable.  The Facebook app just shows the good bits, the pbs, the great photos, the amazing holiday, the wonderful beautiful friends who are having an equally wonderful beautiful holiday.  The Strava app tells us how good we are up Strawberry Track compared to all our other running buddies and who this week is on the top of the leader board. We are ruled by numbers and therefore we compare ourselves using these numbers.  But not having a pb each week (or a new house, new friends, new holiday) does not make any of you less succesful or your achievements less important. And whilst I am proud of everyone’s achievements and celebrate every success we also have to remember why we started to run in the first place and what’s important.  One very wise runner told me this week


“I feel I have achieved by just getting myself out there, being within a group of people and not feeling like I have made a complete prat of myself, but there is no app for that!”


So happy faceversary J



A runner a year in the making

This time last year my world fell apart when my Mum passed away after a short but fierce battle with lung cancer.

Whilst all mums are great she was my great. Having supported me though a messy divorce. She was the one person who stood by me whilst I battled the depression of losing my family, my home, my business, my friends and eventually my self-confidence and self-esteem. 

I spent 6 weeks off work after she passed, at this time Nicola (the new and improved Mrs Wilson) became my rock, allowing me my tears and tantrums of pain and lose and tending me in my broken state. Putting aside our battle with IVF which had been raging on for 9 years in which we had sold our home and our souls in the emotional turmoil. 

After 4 months of grieving Nicola suggested that we start back on the journey to start our own family. To improve our chances though she wanted to be as fit as possible and to do this she wanted to get back into running with RV and suggested that I should attend to support her. 

Begrudgingly I agreed although I had always had the same mind as my mum which was.. “if you need to go that far then why not take the car!?!”

I was unhealthy well over weight and not interested in running but still to support my wife in her endeavor to get fit I went to my first run. I remember asking on the way to the session how far the run was. When Nicola replied 3 miles I started to panic looking for excuses to return home. 

I made it round but something else happened on the route of that first session. For the first time since mum’s passing my brain paused. It paused because I was concentrating on breathing. The stillness which the run brought me inspired me to come back again. I trained not just to exercise my body but to relax my mind. I pushed myself and began to enjoy the sessions. Thinking I was a runner at this early stage I suffered the “terrible toos” (too much, too soon, too quickly) and I remember the frustration of not being able to run, as much because of the mental relief it gave me. 

Running became meditation, a change to stop all the noise which life was throwing at me. 5k became 10k at my first race in Eastleigh in March 2017. Something I know my mum would have chuckled at me doing. One 10k turned into two, then three and suddenly The Great South Run!! Training got more serious but still proved the mental pause from life. 

All of a sudden Nicola stopped running. To both our surprise the final IVF implant was successful... we are having a baby!! Due 21st March 2018 a year since my first 10k.

With Nicola stopping a dilemma approached. I still suffer with a lack of self-worth and belief in my own abilities. So to attend a session without my shield was a bigger step than running in the first place. 

I have good days and bad days so forgive me if I’m not talking whilst running sometimes. Know that the encouragement, support and friendly environment of RV have reminded me why I love exercise and inspired me to believe I can achieve goals which I thought had passed me by. 

I now look forward to sessions, and keep signing up for races including Pieces of Eight, GSR and my new big challenge the Gosport Half!! 

Fitness has been my b byproduct; my reward is a mind in control of my emotions. If you start a journey don’t expect it to lead straight to your goal, enjoy the journey and breathe. 


I wish I could run but I'm not a runner

One of my clearest memories of the Great North Run 14 years ago was standing in the start pen waiting for the mass start and 2 girls behind me were laughing and pointing at me because I’d got 2 “normal” bras on under my non-tech cotten vest. I remember thinking why are they laughing at me, these 2 bras do the job of keeping my boobs in place and what’s wrong with my cotten vest, again it does the job. The phrase “you only know what you know” springs to mind because back then I did not have a clue. I just used to head out of the front door and run, no gps, no jels, no strava, no music, no sports massage, just me and my mate (she used to drive around a route to clock the distance the day before) and most importantly no coach. I used to listen to advice from my dad who ran, so we must have had some idea on how to increase the mileage slowly and comfortably because I never got injured.

This year I was stood in the toilet que at the Great North Run listening to a group of girls who were giddy with excitment, a bag of jelly babies between them, laughing that some people actually run this without a charity place and just for fun, they actually said “who does that?”. Of course we started talking (northerners do that) and they told me that they hadn’t trained properly they didn’t have gps, or gels or music or strava and they were all wearing fashion trainers but they were running for charity and couldn’t wait to give it a go. We were all runners and I didn’t laugh at them.

What have I learnt in those 14 years since my first half marathon? Here’s just a few things;

  • Anyone can run, you just need a good coach or group to guide and support you.

  • Ask lots of questions about other people’s experiences, this could be how they got on with a running app or running group, are there toilets at the start of the group, what is a parkrun like?

  • You don’t need fancy equipment or gadgets to start running (although I do now reccomend a sports bra and a good pair of trainers).

  • Find a supportive group or friend to run with, when someone is counting on you as much as you are counting on them, it’s easier to head out of the front door.

  • Start off slow, talking pace is enough to begin with, you may think you could walk quicker but that’s ok, we all have to start somewhere.

  • Find a time to run that fits in with your life and make yourself the priority; don’t feel guilty about it.

  • Get a coach to teach you to run so you can improve safely, getting faster is not just about running faster.

    Keep it simple, don’t over complicate it as you never know where running may take you. Nine RunVerity members ran the Great North Run in September and we have 80 RunVerity members who are runnin the Great South Run in a couple of weeks. All of these runners found a good club and a coach; so if there is a little bit of you that wishes they could be a runner and you don’t know where to start, RunVerity can help you find the answers.

5 Tips on How to Start Running

  • The hardest thing about starting to run is actually getting out of the front door. Your perception about what's going to happen may interfere with what actually will happen.  There is a myth surrounding running, people assume that you have to have some kind of sporting gene to be able to run and that's just not true.  Anyone can run given the right tools, put your trainers on and walk out of the door, set yourself a small goal of running between lamp posts, then walking, then run again.  10 mins is more than enough to start off with.


  • Slow it down...another myth that surrounds running is that you have to be fast. No you don't, in fact most runs should be run at a comfortable, talking pace and if you can't talk, slow it down even more, as long as one foot is off the ground at any one time you are running.


  • It's ok to walk, I am giving you permission to walk, everyone has to start somewhere and walking is the right thing to when you first start running.


  • Breath through your mouth, it's bigger than your nose airways so get the air in and out through the bigger airway of the mouth (see above; you have to talk with your mouth open).


  • Relax, nobody really cares what you look like, most people are too busy thinking about what they are having for dinner and if anyone does shout anything, just ignore them. Hold your head up high, not only will it make you look like a runner but it will give you a confidence boost and nobody knows if you've just finished a 20 mile run or a 10 min run/walk.

The next RunVerity Beginner's Course starts in October in Fareham and Whitley