Whether it be skateboarding sessions on Facebook live, or using activity packs delivered to their door, people have been finding new and innovative ways to keep active.
But for all of the new ways to get your heartrate up over the last six months, one of the most popular has been around for almost 25 years – Couch to 5K.
In July, it was reported that almost 900,000 people had downloaded the NHS-backed Couch to 5K app between March and the end of June – a 92% increase on the same period last year. The app, known as One You Couch to 5K on the Apple App store and Google Play store, aims to equip people who have never run consistently before, with the stamina to tackle a 5000m (3.1 mile) circuit over nine weeks.
It’s not just individuals trying it for the first time – Rawmarsh Runners is a social running club founded in 2018, but they’ve never had a Couch to 5K group. That was until Adam Kent, Community Champion for the Active Dearne project, got in touch with Barbara Hudson, founder of Rawmarsh Runners.
Barbara created the group, wanting to provide a free running club for local people.
The club welcomes people of all ages, with their oldest participant in their late 70’s. As well as Rawmarsh Runners, there’s Rawmarsh Ramblers for those who enjoy walking; and Ramwarsh Runstars, which sees children as young as four take part in running activities.
But how has Barbara found her first experience of Couch to 5k?
“The Couch to 5k has bowled me over,” she enthused. “People come along and they’ve got no confidence in themselves. They’ve talked a friend into coming with them or they’ve come on their own and they’ve got no idea what they’re letting themselves in for.
“I give them a sheet which shows what we’ll do across the nine weeks. In week one, you start by running for a minute. By week five, you schedule to run eight minutes, and they think they’ll never do it because one minute felt so hard.
“But they can do it and they do, do it. The look on their faces is brilliant.
“So many people want to do it but they’re on their own and they’ve got no support network. By the end of the first week they’re all best mates.”
The group started in mid-July, and was the first time the club had held sessions since the start of the pandemic in March. Running in Rosehill Park, at the end of the nine weeks they held two graduation runs and presented certificates.
Given the challenges of the last six months, Barbara believes both the benefits of Couch to 5K on both physical and mental health are “immensely valuable.”
“Every time I go up to that park and I see people walking towards the bench, it is amazing. There’s not a feeling like it for me. Being with them for the moment they finish just brings a huge smile to my face.”