Getting to know ….Kal
Recommended reading for anyone considering our January C25K. An inspirational story from Kal, one of our recent C25K graduates, pictured here on the far right.
Unlike many of my amazing fellow SE fitness colleagues, I don’t have a transformational story to share, just one of a steady determination. I have suffered from asthma and anaemia from the age of 5, which has meant that any sort of physical activity would always be an agonising and humiliating experience. I went to school in Yorkshire and with open countryside on the doorstep always meant lots of outdoor running. This, I was often forced to endure, unless I was looking particularly pale, I would then be asked to sit out of by worried PE teachers.
In my early adult life, I stuck to swimming, yoga, and weights in the gym and avoided running. This was until my mid 30s when as a result of a prolonged illness and prescribed steroids. I gave up all forms of physical exercise and lost my confidence. The result being a lot of couch time and significant weight gain.
Determined to get from a size 16 back into my size 10 dresses again. I spent the next five years getting myself healthy, determined not to crash diet just eating differently. The weight slowly and steadily came off. I starting to think about new challenges. A colleague at work suggested jogging, I laughed and thought nothing more of it. I cannot do that, I told myself. This was until I watched a couple of women running past my house. Inspired, I put on my trainers and decided to run up the road. It was like a comedy sketch, I lasted 30 seconds and I felt humiliated, hoping that no one was watching.
Three years later, I moved to Sutton Coldfield and with Sutton Park on my doorstep, there was no excuse. I started running at 6am in the mornings. Less people around then. I loved it, but I was slow, I then tried a couple of fun runs including one for charity with my friends Zoe and Karl (who are now fellow SE Fitness runners). The first one being disastrous, I finished, but slow, I recall thinking people were walking faster. To top it all, I also managed to throw up at the finish. But determined, I carried on. I did a couple more fun runs including one for charity just accepting the fact that I was slow but I was enjoying myself.
Earlier this year, I started a new challenge, Parkrun. I felt less conscious with people walking, pushing prams and taking their dogs, their children and themselves around the 5k course. The whole experience felt good and inclusive.
On one summer Park run I saw, a group of runners, many wearing orange tops. I recall admiring their running technique as a trudged the other way. I made eye contact with one of the SE fitness leaders stopped me briefly and told me to push my shoulders down and back a little, lift my head up and look head. So I did, and felt much better for it.
I ran the rest of the course wondering if I had the confidence to run with SE? With the power of google, I emailed SE fitness and Helyn replied inviting me to join the next couch to 5k.
I turned up, feeling very nervous with the aim, to run consistently and pick up my pace. I have managed the first bit. I could not imagine pushing myself in a group like this. What made it easy and fun was that everyone encouraged each other along and told each other well done, especially on those hills. The leaders front and back really helps me to choose a pace depending upon how I am feeling.
I now don’t beat myself up about being at the back on run days when the weather is working against my asthma and my energy levels are low. I also love running in the dark, bizarrely, it feels easier. Helyn’s mini tutorials on techniques and her email tips are a great way of improving.
The 5k graduation, led to my personal best time for all Park run. It was still slower than I would have liked but it’s a journey and not a sprint, not just yet any way! So what next? Along with my C5K graduate class- mates, I have started joining the 5 -10k group. Its all a bit daunting, on the first session, I recall saying to the new run leader this feels like a bad idea. But, we survived and it felt amazing afterwards. I have started now so I will keep going. I also continue to do the Park runs, it’s a different course to SE and another way to regularly keep the 5k distance under my belt. I also find that my morning yoga routine is fantastic for stretching everything back out especially after the Monday night run.