As someone who was very overweight and could hardly walk, let alone run the length of myself, I decided 3 years ago to make a total lifestyle change with the goal of geting fitter, healthier and happier.
I started off with walking to lose some weight and when I heard about a new running initiative in the parks, I signed up for Jog Belfast at Ormeau. As a novice runner I attended the coached sessions twice a week and soon found myself running and completing drills in the surroundings of the park. This is someone who never took part in any school sports or games.
The focus from the get go was very much on fun, participation and inclusion. Our group consisted of all ages, abilities and covered all levels of fitness and we were actively encouraged supported and coached to run to the best of our ability throughout. There was absolutely no pressure to run fast and if we needed to walk we walked. Jog Belfast is all about enjoying your running.
Controlling your breathing and consistent pacing are two of the areas most of us struggled with at the start but with the help and side by side company of coaches and volunteers, the fitness levels and ability to build up distance improved week on week.
I was so delighted after 10 weeks to complete the 5k graduation along with the group and since then haven't looked back as I have completed countless runs including 5k, 10ks and building up to longer distances. To date I have now completed 40 half marathons and in June 2016 I completed the Walled City Full Marathon. Imagine if someone had told me I would be some day running 26.2 miles that very first night at Ormeau Park!
Jog Belfast has played a massive role in my life and kick started my love of running and since completing it I have returned on a regular basis to volunteer as support for others starting off on their running journey. If I can run...believe me...anyone can do it!