2016 Jog Belfast graduate, Peter Lock, shares his thoughts on the programme and the obstacles he has overcome to get there.
"I graduated at Waterworks parkrun 19th November alongside my wife, Sharon, and two daughters, Lauren and Charlotte. I felt so proud of all the runners who had taken part in the 10 week Jog Belfast programme with me and my family.
The journey to 5k has been a personal and tough challenge for Sharon and me. We are both registered with a significant sight loss. My condition is known as Stargardts and means that I have little or no centre vision.
Before the programme, I met with my Running Guide, Vivien Davidson. We discussed my sight limitations and the extent of guiding that I needed to support me in the sessions. We would use a tether and an agreed series of announcements such as when coming to a turn or an obstacle or to a change in gradient.
I vividly remember the first night – where after about a minute most of us were out of breath and holding out for the first walking interval. 10 weeks later, we all took part in the same 5k graduation run.
There were certainly points when you question your judgement especially when a hill or two is thrown in at Waterworks! but within a minute or two, okay maybe 5 minutes of finishing, you forget all that struggle and you’re thinking of the great experience and a huge achievement for everyone.
Since then I’ve continued to enjoy running with North Belfast Harriers, and in June 2017 I plan to run 10k as part of my fundraising for Guide Dogs for the Blind and to raise awareness about Stargardts condition and highlighting that sporting activities are accessible for people with visual impairments with some support.
The Jog Belfast programme has been much more than Couch to 5k for my family as it has provided a great opportunity to meet new people and the team spirit has supported everyone participating. It was good that the whole family have been able to join in, allowing us to all be active together.
To anyone who says they can’t run, I challenge them to give it a try! Programmes like Couch to 5k are ideal for people who don’t think they can run; the support from others and the jog coaches can help you become a runner… You just need to take the first step."