Sunday, 31 December 2017

God Means Business


I’ve been dodging using the word ‘intercession’ in connection with Walk2Run because I was worried it would turn people off. Writing the word ‘intercession’ into a business plan doesn’t seem like very sound business sense to me.

But then I got angry this morning when I was praying, thinking of all the crap that so many Walk2Runner’s have been or are going through. And also feeling really thankful as I think of some Walk2Runners who after 2 years, from such small beginnings, are overcoming lifelong struggles and are still running.

So here’s how I’ve been praying for some of the Walk2Runners lately. I won’t mention anyone by name of course, but if you recognise yourself or relate in any way, then that prayer is for you. Feel free to suck it up and ask for more.



  • For peace. For breathing space in daily life and to enjoy all that amazing creative energy, those money making ideas. I’m praying that you make time for the things that make you tick, because you’re important too.
  • For your tank to be filled, starting with your feet and filling you all the way up to the top of your head. For restored energy and motivation for life. To begin to take pleasure in daily things again.
  • To loosen the mess of life’s knots, to remove the briars and barbs that are stuck in it. And by the way, nothing can separate you from God’s love. He is holding you when you simply don’t have the strength to.
  • For life in abundance. There have been things that have hurt you and they hold you back from enjoying life in all its fullness. Well, no more. I’m praying that you will indeed be free to enjoy all of life in all of its fullness. And for your job. Praying that your employer gets you the help you need so you can be effective and enjoy your work, your gifts, qualifications and your role, which is so so important.
  • That you’ll find comfort in God as the stresses and strains of work and family life get you down. So full of life on the outside but so tired on the inside. Praying for real smiles! You are such a blessing to so many.
  • It’s so much fun when you laugh, when your childlike joy comes out despite yourself – mostly when you’re beasting those sprints.  More of that please God.
  • For Jobs and relationships that are perfectly suited to you personality and gifts.
  • Simple one – for healing. For a break from all that inner heartbreak and turmoil. Sooooo loved by your family and friends, so beautiful.

I am so grateful that in Walk2Run I get to meet people and go on adventures with them.

In 2018 I hope to become the kind of woman that when my feet hit the floor each morning, the devil says “Oh Crap, She’s Up”.

Come and run with us, it might just change your life





Sunday, 3 December 2017

Pooping diamonds

African Proverb:  “If you want to run fast, run alone.  If you want to run far, run together.”


I was nervous. I’d wrecklessly agreed to accompany my friend Andrea over the final hours of her 103 mile trail running event. Her last 33 miles would be run in darkness in an area of the country I’d never visited before, much less navigated through.

I was nervous because quite apart from my own physical challenge of running 33 miles, I wanted to make sure that Andrea had all she needed for every single step of her journey. I didn't want her to worry or be anxious for anything. I was there so that she could get the job done.


In Andrea’s own words…
"I had already been on the move for 15hrs when I met Jacky at 9pm on Saturday night. It was the 70 mile point and I felt cold, exhausted and in shock about how physically and emotionally gruelling the event was, but I was nevertheless still determined to make it to the finish line at 103 miles. 

In the week leading up to the race I was anxious at the news that Jacky might have to drop out of the role of pacer on the dreaded night section. No one else would do, it had to be Jacky. I wouldn't let anyone else see my vulnerability at the depths that I knew I would reach that night and no one else could give me the encouragement and companionship that I could safely expect from her. I trusted her completely, I knew I needed her and I knew she was completely reliable. 

Jacky dragged and hauled and coaxed me gently through the night, step by painful step. I ached all over. We worked slowly from one dangling way marker tape hanging down in the pitch black woodland to the next. Her patience was incredible. Her support was vital. She challenged, she entertained, she distracted, she comforted. We shared silence, laughter, secrets, a shooting star, a glorious full moon and a misty low-lying white blanket far beneath us as we traversed a sloping field. 

Dawn broke, I managed to jog a bit more, I wept with emotion when we were a few miles from the end, we dug deep and pushed hard around the track to finish at 07:35 - 25hrs 35 mins after I had started the previous day. I crushed Jacky in a delighted embrace, feeling on top of the world, my smile of relief and achievement was enormous. The medal should be hers, or at least split in two - a team effort. Such massive effort indeed, traumatic almost. Intimate definitely. Unforgettable, indescribable, intense and has bonded us even more tightly together. I am so grateful to my amazing friend for walking and running shoulder to shoulder with me through the most difficult thing I have ever done in my life."

As we turned into the Julie Rose Stadium in Ashford with just 500 metres to go, I choked up, I could hardly breathe for the tears. My work was done. I’d run shoulder to shoulder with Andrea all that way through the night and now I could let her go. She didn’t need me anymore, I knew she would finish her race and I dropped a few paces behind to let her run. She ran across the line, strong, smiling, victorious, and deserving of her medal.

Those 33 physical miles were straightforward - but it’s the heart miles that I’ll remember forever.

And apparently I poop diamonds 
Andrea's 'Thank you' card















Come and run with us, it might just change your life...


Tuesday, 28 November 2017

Crossroads

I’m in bed sniffing and spluttering today. Actually I’m grateful because it’s given me time to sit in the silence and think a bit.

I’ve been feeling a bit cross-roadsy lately you see. There are lots of opportunities in the pipeline, lots of things to do, huge potential, all of which will mean wonderfully exciting hard work and adventure. It thrills me to the core.

It’s just that I frequently doubt, and I wonder if I’m really up to the task.

I found myself accidently watching a clip from Chariots of Fire and then looked up a few quotes from Eric Liddell. Here’s one of his most famous.

"God made me fast. And when I run, I feel His pleasure."

I’m not so fast but I do believe that I (and you!) have been given a purpose. And when I run, or when I take people running, I definitely feel His pleasure.

But here’s the quote that really caught my attention.

“If, in the quiet of your heart, you feel something should be done, stop and consider whether it is in line with the character and teaching of Jesus. If so, obey that impulse to do it, and in doing so you will find it was God guiding you.” 

Am I up to the Walk2Run task? Am I up to seeing the Walk2Run Vision become a reality, the vision to see every life lived in all it’s fullness and not one be lost to suicide? Will I trust God and honour Him like Eric Liddell did?

Here’s one more quote for the (cross) road….


“No man who really is a man ever cared for the easy task. There is no enjoyment in the game that is easily won. It is that in which you have to strain every muscle and sinew to achieve victory that provides real joy.”

This one brought tears to my eyes, and I’m back to feeling thrilled to the core. So. I’m still at the crossroads, but I’m standing up, fixing my eyes on the road ahead, toeing the line, and getting ready to run my freaking socks off  - to achieve the victory that provides real joy.

Click here for the film clip

Come and run with us, it might just change your life. 



Thursday, 16 November 2017

USP

I’ve been asked several times what makes Walk2Run different from a regular running club. It’s a good question that I ask myself often. I must admit that when I was challenged on it this week, I went for a bit of a mental wobble. IS there really anything different? And if so, what?

Trollied
The answer sometimes comes from the most unlikely of places. Today it came from the sign inside the back of a trolly, saying “Our values make us different” (Sainsbury’s).
And that’s it in a nutshell. It’s Walk2Run’s values that make us different and I’d like to take this opportunity to tell you about some of them.

Life in All it’s fullness
Walk2Run started out to beat suicide. True story. But honestly, that word is not a great selling point is it? Initially I found it difficult to talk about and to make any connection between running and suicide prevention. But it came to me one day that rather that ‘selling’ suicide, Walk2Run is in the business of LIFE, and not only that, but LIFE in all its fullness. Of course that’s going to take a LIFEtime of unpacking, but I believe that it’s the right response to suicide. We will Walk2Run for life in all its fullness.

Go low, go slow, and stop for the one
Whilst this phrase is not unique to me or to Walk2Run (it was said by Heidi Baker, Iris Ministries, I believe), someone spoke it to me and it became personal. Since then I’ve adopted it as a value for Walk2Run. It means Stay low: stay humble, think servant-like. Go Slow: take your time, don’t rush on to the next thing or person. Stop for the one: stop for the one right in front of you.
This is radical in business terms when of course, numbers matter, and increasing numbers matter even more. But lest I get anxious when ‘only’ two show up for a session, it does me good to remember to stay low, go slow, and to stop for the one in front of me. 

We can afford 10%
As many of you know, of every £3 paid in runner fees, 30p is donated to Out Of The Blue fundraising. OOTB supports 4 front line charities working to prevent and raise awareness of suicide, and to support survivors. If I gave 10p for every £1 for every time I’ve been ‘advised’ that that’s too much money, or that businesses generally stick with 2 or 3%, OOTB would be so loaded right now! This is a non-negotiable at Walk2Run, and a tangible way of investing in the area of life we care so passionately about.

Shoulder to Shoulder
When you train to be a coach with Run England, you’re taught to observe, and rightly so. It’s important to look at your athletes, to watch them run and then make adjustments. At Walk2Run we totally take that on board, and if you need to lift your feet, knees, eyes, or left arm, trust me, we’ll let you know!
However, at Walk2Run we just love to run shoulder-to-shoulder with people.

One day I’ll write a post unpacking this one a little more. But for now, just know that we coaches at Walk2Run are prepared to run shoulder-to-shoulder beside you when you need it, because sometimes in life and in running, we all need a little company.

Please return me when you’ve finished
This is not a Walk2Run value! But it was the other thing that was written on the trolly, and it made me col (chuckle out loud). I think it will become my daily prayer 😉


Many thanks for reading, and if you get time, please do get inspired by reading Kevin or Sam’s stories.


Come and run with us, it might just change your life.

Thursday, 2 November 2017

Our very own Mr Strong

To Sam from his mum
On Saturday 28th October 26 year old Sam Brown from Sidley, Bexhill completed the Beachy Head Marathon, 26.2 miles of gruelling but beautiful off road running. So did 2157 others and of course everyone that crossed that finish line is to be admired. But Sam’s achievement is particularly remarkable because in May this year he tried to end his own life.

Sam’s story starts 12 years ago on what should have been a normal bank holiday Monday afternoon in Eastbourne. He was attacked by some young people who assaulted him and photographed the incident.

This horrific attack deeply affected Sam and his mental health. He recounts that he felt unable to leave the house for several years afterwards, and found it difficult to trust people. He suffered feelings of anger and fear, and not surprisingly perhaps, became very depressed.

Walk2Run
But in 2015 Sam’s life began to take a more positive turn. With support from family and friends he started volunteering at the Pelham in Sidley, working in the new kitchen washing up and preparing delicious food for customers. It was here at the Pelham that I first met Sam. I run an organisation called Walk2Run based at The Pelham, which teaches people how to run to support their mental, physical and social wellbeing. Encouraged by friends Sam came out for his first Walk2Run session.

This is Sam in the grey t-shirt at Walk2Run at The Pelham back in September 2016.

Image may contain: 13 people, people smiling, people standing and outdoor

I’d like to write, ‘the rest is history’, because Sam basically became an unstoppable running force. He came to Walk2Run every single Friday morning, taking to running like a duck to water, and it wasn’t long before he started entering local races.

However, in the spring of 2017, illness and the anniversary of the attack triggered suicidal feelings in Sam and he made several attempts to take his own life. Thankfully he was helped by his dog Crystal who alerted passers-by. Sam remembers too the kindness of strangers who heard Crystal barking and contacted the police, and Sam was then able to get the help and support that he so desperately needed.

And he kept running. He also joined a local fitness class called Total Nutrition where he regularly breaks his own plank record, currently standing at longer than 16 minutes!

On 1st October he ran the Eastbourne 10k, which meant returning to the place of the attack. In Sam’s own words before the race, “I’m feeling really nervous and excited now and I can't wait to race and I ain't been to Eastbourne for 7 years now cos to much bad stuff happened to me there so I'm really going out my comfort zone.” He crossed the line in 46 minutes. “I'm really proud of myself and it was amazing feeling when I crossed the finishing line and thank you everyone today for the nice messages”.

4 weeks later Sam was back in Eastbourne toeing the line of the Beachy Head marathon. Friend and training buddy Rob Thomas joined him for the event and comments “I am very proud of Sam. Beachy Head is no easy option for a first marathon. Sam has shown remarkable mental and physical strength with both his planning and performance on the day, I am sure he will be even quicker at his next running event!”

  
Shame replaced by pride
As for Sam, he says that running and fitness have had a massive impact on his life. He’s made new friends, he’s lost over 4 stone in weight, his confidence has grown so much that he recently lead a fitness class on World Mental Health Day raising £220 for Together Wellbeing. And these days, rather than being too ashamed to leave his house, Sam is now proud of himself.

His motto for life is now proudly tattoed on his arm. It says “Keep going, you can do it, believe in yourself, never give up.”

Sam, you’re an inspiration. Keep running, you’ve not given up yet, proving to us all that every step counts.



Come and run with us, it might just save your life. 


Friday, 27 October 2017

For those who believe they can't...

So for whatever reason, you decide that running is the way you’re going to lose weight and get fit.

You throw on a pair of jogging bottoms and a t-shirt, grab an old pair of trainers and head out the door full of enthusiasm. 3 minutes later (or 1 minute, or 8 minutes, or the end of your cul-de-sac) and you’re forced to surrender, totally and uncomfortably out of breath.

Maybe you feel a little bit sick. So you turn and go home. You believe that you can’t run, and you decide you’re not a runner after all.
 
I know because I repeated that process several times myself over the years before I finally learned something. And it’s something that I’ve become passionate about.

The thing is, if you’re a runner reading this, the chances are that you were never taught to run. And if you’re reading this and you don’t consider yourself a runner, you probably believe you can’t run.

But I’m here to shout that IT’S NOT TRUE! We wouldn’t expect to be able to swim, or ride a horse, or throw a javelin without being shown how! What on earth makes us think we can run without being shown how?

One of the most fulfilling things for me at Walk2Run is teaching men and women of all ages how to run. 80% of people that come to Walk2Run have never run a step before (bus catching and school 100m excepting). I can almost guarantee that when I first invite people to come to a session, they will say ‘I can’t run’, ‘I’m not a runner’, or ‘I’ve never been able to run’. I understand that. If you’ve tried and failed as above, then you will mistakenly think you can’t.

But Walk2Run is different.

And the fulfilling bit is watching people develop both physically and mentally as they learn to run with the support, supervision and encouragement of our qualified coaches. You can hardly believe it until you see it – people walk taller, smile wider, their self-talk changes, you can actually watch self-belief emerge as their ‘can’t’ turns into ‘I did it’.

Walk2Run is different because we teach you how to run, starting wherever you’re at. The sessions are planned and structured in such a way that each participant can start, learn and progress at their own level. Walk2Runners don’t need fancy gadgets or kit and we won’t blind you with traditional running club speak. All you need is a comfortable pair of shoes, weather appropriate clothing, and perhaps a bottle of water.

You can find details of the classes on the ‘Timetable’ tab above, just turn up to a session, no need to book. Or you can email your comments and questions to me at  Jacky@Walk2Run.org

If you believe you can’t run, I would love to prove you wrong.


Come and run with us, it might just change your life.



Monday, 1 May 2017

What's happened to Kevin?

Let me introduce you to Kevin. Kevin has very kindly given me permission to rave on about him in this blog post.

I first met Kevin in an IT class (I was the tutor, he was a student). Every week after class he would sit outside eating oranges – lots of them, an absurd number. And every week I would say, “so, Kevin, you coming running tonight?”. Honestly? I don’t think either of us really believed that was ever going to happen. It became a running joke. (See what I did there).

But one day last spring, Kevin came running, and he hasn’t stopped.

And all around him, people have been noticing the changes. 

Starting point
We all have a starting point in running, as in every new thing we try. I’m not giving away any secrets by telling you that Kevin was not a runner. He had never run, and until Walk2Run never had any intention of running. To meet him at first you would see a gentle, kind, quiet man, who could appear shy in company. He is also very honest: if you ask Kevin ‘how are you feeling today?’ you are sure to get the truth. ‘Good’, or ‘not so good today thank you’. Kevin also has diabetes and has lived with a mental health condition for some time.

Last week, another Walk2Runner saw Kevin for the first time in a few months, she saw him sprinting on the shingle on Hastings beach and exclaimed ‘What’s happened to Kevin?

The answer
Kevin can run. And he’s a beast at sprinting – who knew????? He has become noticeably more flexible, his balance and coordination have improved, and he can now master the pre-run and post run dynamic and static stretches with ease. Kevin’s enthusiasm is spreading, and he now brings his neighbour to the sessions. Not only that, they are going out together for short fartlek sessions (yes, Kevin now knows what fartlek means). Kevin has lost weight – not so long ago he had to buy new (smaller sized) trousers.

Smile on...
But the biggest thing, and the one thing that people most mention to me, is Kevin’s smile. At work, in class, in running sessions, people talk about his smile. Even if he starts a session with a ‘not too good today thanks for asking’, he finishes it with a smile. 


If I can do it, if Kevin has done it, if other Walk2Runners are doing it, you can do it too. You don’t have to start out as a runner, you don’t have to have the right kit. You just have to do it. Every step counts, one foot in front of the other, and one day, you’ll be running along the beach, or prom, or the streets where you live, and someone will shout, ‘What's happened to …….?’ 

Come and run with us, it might just change your life...

Sunday, 23 April 2017

Tin Man

Today I’m walking like the Tin Man from the Wizard of Oz – stiff legs, painful knees, had trouble picking up the Mr Freeze icepop I dropped on the floor. I love it of course. I ran the Fox Ultra 60K event yesterday, and carrying this feeling in my legs reminds me that I did good.

It never hurts! (yes - it does)
As a side note, I do find it quite funny that fairly regularly a beginner runner will ask me if I ever get out of breath. Or say ‘your legs never ache!’, or ‘Jacqueline, you never even break a sweat’.  But it’s all about effort you see. When I’m coaching, or running with a client, we’re working at YOUR effort, and YOU’LL be the one sweating it out. But when I’m training or racing myself, I put in as much effort (more??) as you do in your Walk2Run sessions. But we’re no different. I feel the same as you – that satisfying tired achy sweaty out-of-breath feeling that tells you you’ve worked at your best effort.

The cost
I crossed the line and chatted to Becky, one of the race organisers, about what it feels like when you cross the finish line. To date I’ve not managed to successfully put it into words.  Relief that it’s all over, immense sense of achievement, the very basic physical need for a hot bath…. But as we were talking I realised that the only way you can know how it feels is by paying the price for it yourself. There is a cost you see. You have to put in your best effort for yourself. Many people who watch others do incredible things and ‘win’, sit on the sidelines and say ‘I wish….I can’t, or even I’m afraid I’ll fail or fall’. But the only way to get that success is to pay the price yourself isn’t it. Of course it doesn’t have to be 60 kilometers! That’s MY best effort at the moment, maybe not yours. But it could be being brave enough to come to a Walk2Run session. It could be pushing yourself a little bit harder when we’re doing short accelerations. The point is, YOU put in your best effort, YOU will reap the rewards.

Of Ostrich, Lama and Bluebells.
Running is amazing. I loved running past the lama and ostrich farm, the woods of Surrey in April are full of bluebells, the meadows full of cows, sheep and horses. We ran through villages and past pubs that were all so quintessentially English. Even their names amused me as I ran through them: Worplesdon, Hurtmore (perhaps NOT so helpful in this instance), Wonersh, Shamley Green….

So get out there and enjoy running. Give it your best effort. And if you find a way to describe the joy of what that feels like for you, please do write it in the comments below.

Happy running!

Come and run with us, it might just save your life.

Wednesday, 12 April 2017

David and Goliath

I’m little. 5 feet and 2 inches is all. I live in a small-sized seaside town on the south coast of a small-sized island.  What’s more, I remembered yesterday that I’m just one of 7 billion other people who live on a small-sized planet in a small-sized galaxy in a vast, vast universe.

Cause to pause.

Yet there’s something in me that longs to make a BIG difference in my small-sized world.

Many of you will know that my personal mission in life is to beat suicide through running. And before you ask, no, I’m not sure exactly how. I just know that there’s a divine connection between running and the downfall of suicide, so I keep running in faith even as the details are being worked out.

In the interests of research, I’ve begun reading a paper per day on the subject of suicide, and I’ve recently taken up suicide prevention training.

In all that I’ve read and heard about, two things strike me.

1. Statistics.
800,000 people per year die by suicide, and for each of these, an estimated 20 others have attempted suicide. (source ,WHO). That brings the total to 16,800000. Add to that all those that are deeply affected by suicide, the friends, family, colleagues and communities who are the survivors of suicide. Let’s say that’s 15 each. We can add another 12, 000,000. This brings our total to 28,800,000. Nearly 30 million people each and every year are affected by suicide.

You’d be forgiven for feeling it’s a David and Goliath type fight.

2. Life wants a way
One of the very most important lessons I’ve learned about suicide through my own experience and supported by professional training and my research so far is this: people, by and large, want to LIVE. Please listen to this. People want to live. It’s just that they want so badly to stop hurting.

This alone gives me so much hope. This, THIS is where our battle really is.

It is a David and Goliath fight for sure. But lest we get downhearted about that, remember who won.

 So I say, bring it on, let’s do this.

On Saturday 22nd April 2017 I’ll be running the Fox Ultra, a 60 kilometre trail race, and as I run, I’ll be taking you with me.

Every Step Counts, right? And Every Step I take will be for anyone who is affected by suicide, in any way. I need your help. Please email me, I would love to hear from you if you or anyone you know is affected by suicide. Please tell me where you’re from and a brief prayer request.

Every Step we take Counts, so here are some ways you can join in. 
  • Email: where you’re from and a brief prayer request
  • Sponsor: (the 100k London2Brighton event at the end of May) https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/OutoftheBlue
  • Run: join any of the Walk2Run sessions starting Easter Bank Holiday Monday
  • Pray: Pray on 22nd April 2017, and/or as you run your own sessions. 

Personal Disclaimer
I’m just a runner. If you or anyone you know is feeling suicidal right now, it’s really important that you contact someone in your area straight away. Help is near. 

Come and run with us, it might just save a life. 


Tuesday, 14 March 2017

Every. Step. Counts.













Either way, every step counts. And here’s why.

I love my FitBit, and like many other fitness trackers, it sets a starting goal of 10,000 steps per day. The FitBit blog says “…the benefits of a 30-minute daily stroll are nearly boundless, from slowing mental decline and lowering blood pressure, to improving sleep and relieving depression.”

This is supported by the NHS who say that “Setting yourself a target of walking 10,000 steps a day can be a fun way of increasing the amount of physical activity you do…….Walking is classed as a moderate-intensity activity and counts towards your recommended 150 minutes of weekly exercise.”

The benefits?

Well, just look at this list from the NHS website…

It's medically proven that people who do regular physical activity have:
·         up to a 35% lower risk of coronary heart disease and stroke
·         up to a 50% lower risk of type 2 diabetes
·         up to a 50% lower risk of colon cancer
·         up to a 20% lower risk of breast cancer
·         a 30% lower risk of early death
·         up to an 83% lower risk of osteoarthritis
·         up to a 68% lower risk of hip fracture
·         a 30% lower risk of falls (among older adults)
·         up to a 30% lower risk of depression
·         up to a 30% lower risk of dementia

Those percentages are staggering aren’t they?  Not only can we live longer, we can live happier, just by STEPping up and STEPping out.

And there’s more….

At Walk2Run we are so proud and delighted to be teaming up with Out Of The Blue fundraising to raise money to prevent suicide and support survivors and their families. For me personally it's a way of strengthening the connection between running and surviving suicide, to continue to engage people in that conversation, and to support those on the front line in a tangible way.

How can how can we make every step count?
  •  Join the Walk2Run groups. There are several weekly sessions; you’re welcome to as many sessions as you want, no need to commit to a number of weeks or anything, just come along and pay as you go. EVERY STEP you take, either walking or running, COUNTS towards your health and happiness.

  •  Join the Walk2Run groups. Each session costs £3, and every time you pay your £3, 30p is donated to Out Of The Blue Fundraising. EVERY STEP you take COUNTS to support those on the frontline to prevent suicide.

  • I’m walking the 100k London to Brighton event in May to support my cousin Mark. Mark is raising money for Macmillan Cancer Support, and I’m fundraising for Out Of The Blue. More details to come, but in the mean time, please follow the links below to make a donation. Many thanks.


And finally, Confucius say…

“It does not matter how slowly you go, so long as you do not stop.”

Every Step Counts. 

Come and run with us, it might just change your life.