Couch to 5K


We hear about this problem again and again on the news, yet the Government and the powers that be seem to be blind to at least one solution. They talk about taxing fatty/unhealthy foods; they talk about gastric bands, but never about getting the nation to take more exercise.

In HealthUlocked, C25K, Parkruns and other groups they have the perfect way to promote the benefits of running. Many school could easily promote running, and many teachers [I know] are keen and dedicated runners. My wife's school does have a cross country team, but many don't. It could be a simple, cheap and very effective way of getting the nation moving. And, as we all know, it is cheap, can be done anywhere from a local park, the school field, on an inner city housing estate to the coast and moors that we are lucky enough to have in this country. There is NO excuse Government.

Please, lets ALL write to our local MP and start applying pressure. It is coming up to an election, so it is the only time that politicians actually listen to us rather than talking down to us. Make the most of the coming months and write to them....lots of times!

23 Replies

I absolutely agee with you Sallycycle but one thing always gets in the way of my thinking we'll get people off their ar**'s to run. Running is hard and an awful lot of people are fundamentally lazy. Have you noticed a supermarket or shopping car park? Most people park as close as possible to the entrance because they don't want to walk even a short distance ( even parking in the disabled parking even though they're not disabled! Grrrr. I could go to war on that one!). They take escalators instead of the stairs. They get in the car to drive to the next street.

I agree with you that running should be encouraged at school but how many of us here hated running at school? I do think this programme would make running more fun and achievable ( as we've noticed) but would young kids feel any differently than we did? I don't know.

I couldn't get my local doctor surgery to put up the C25K poster and they hadn't even heard of it! I think people just see the word "run" and think blimey we're not going to get people to do that!

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That is shocking about your Dr surgery!

I don't know if the school thing would work. At my school they set up a running club after school and gave people a £5 gift voucher for completing so many laps and so on. And whoever did the most laps got a £50 voucher. It definitely did the trick for me and I reckon it might for lots of other people too.

I think it's a shame though that people get fat shamed, it's part of what made me agoraphobic- I thought people would be disgusted to see me in the street, so stopped going outside which only made me fatter.

I think it's a complicated problem and I don't know if there is a solution without changing everyone's attitude so people feel encouraged to lose weight.

Reply sounds like a party I'd want to vote for!

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If only they had a local candidate...


Wow, that sounds like my kind of party, thanks for the link legion.

Sallycycle, a colleague (marathon runner) was making the same points as you recently, I do agree with the sense of it but it's hard to motivate others to exercise. Doesn't mean we shouldn't try though.


Good point, sallycycle. Though I dunno how to get kids into running -I teach secondary (though not PE) and it seems to be one of those things they either love or hate.

By the way, I am still blaming you for the fact that I spent lots of money on fell shoes and have started spending my weekends anointing various hills with my very own sweat, snot, footprints and, let's not lie, tears and swear words. ;) joking apart, thanks for the reminder that mountain running is a thing. I love it :)



I think we need to get-em-young... The Mrs is a primary deputy and they have a very, excuse the pun, active cross country team. If we can get the young interested then some may well follow it through. Secondary age ones are harder to persuade...although our now 16 year old son started rowing when he was a teenager and hasn't looked back since, except to see where he is going!

I am SOOO pleased that you love the fells. I only have little pimples here on Dartmoor, but add the dog into the equation and they can be quite interesting. I hanker after real hills and mountains. We use a holiday cottage at the foot of the Cuillins on Skye, and that is REAL running.


We have a cross country running team at our primary school. We have a lunch time running club and a large notice board with pictures of staff and children being active. One of our parents has started a youth running club because there wasn't one within about 15 miles and he has been inundated with children. He was hoping for 40 across the local district council and got 80! Long may it continue. I am trying to get a staff running club going; may need to wait for the spring though as no one wants to start running at this time of year.


That is truly amazing. I am incredibly impressed, and it just goes to show what can be achieved by dedicated staff and parents. To get 80 is quite remarkable.

Long may it continue and grow.

The success of Parkruns shows just what can be achieved, and if we get-em-early, and before the dreaded teenage lethargy sets in we may help the next 'lot' coming through.


I completely agree..I look around the children at my daughters' school. I have known them since pre-school, and some of them are obese...its heartbreaking...C25K would be so perfect for them, and also help them feel real achievement too.....


Let's ALL start writing to our MPs. If we start today, them so much the better, as tomorrow never comes.

Dear Dr Wollaston, MP

As both a GP and a constituency MP with the chair of the Health Committee....


I'm 51, and when I started C25K in Sept I hadnt run since secondary school. School put me off running. Thr PE teachers used to send us on a 5 mile run through the fields, but they never came with us to inspire us or motivate us. They stayed in the warm until we gor back.

Running to the other end of the sportsfield to get a twig off a bush was a punishment for talking in metalwork.

Such a shame we were never inspired and motivated at school the way C25K has done for us now.

It would have been great to have discovered the love of running at school


Unfortunately your story is all too common amongst our age group, but I feel that it is our duty to try and get the latest batch of youngsters up and active, and away from the computers and video games. Let's get them living a real life and not a virtual one.


I remember running doled out as a punishment at school too. The kids who were good at PE did sports. If you weren't good enough to be on a team then you were excluded. I was also positively discouraged from cycling to school, and have always been made to feel like an outsider for cycling. People do not understand that it's just a method of transport while staying fit and saving money, not some kind of exclusive lycra club. I think the problem is deeply cultural. Look how quickly the olympic spirit disappeared...


It can be a lycra club, as some club cyclists can seem rude, even to other cyclists. I would like to think that my solo or wife accompanied rides are full of good cheer, and that I/we give a great image of cycling.

At school I was a sprinter and jumper, but hated distance. In fact I set a new record for the inter-house competition....the longest time ever taken! OK, we did spend some time sitting at the side of the road watching cars go by!!!

I now love running, even though I may not be very good at it, but cycling is still my equal number 1, along with hill waking.

I agree about the quickly we forget and slide back into old ways.

Take care out on the roads, whether running or cycling, and enjoy whatever you do in life.


I think image is a big part of it all. Those school teams had a great image, and cycling/running can also seem sometimes to be something you have to buy your way into image-wise. I think I've been burned by those few rude lycra-wearing folk and developed a general aversion, and perhaps that is the same for a lot of people.


I pootle along on my MTB or my touring bike, and if they pass me, they pass me. I'm out and enjoying myself, and if I don't get as far, does it matter? Same with running and walking. I enjoy it.

I do wear lycra in the legs, but not on top...ewwww...but that is just for comfort.

I console myself with the fact that I may have a picnic with me, and I can stop, lay out the blanket and watch the world go by, before mounting my trusty steed once more; whilst they have to find somewhere to stop.


Great post and not sure what the answer is to resolving our national obesity problem. We know that running (unless doing longer distances than 5k) really doesn't burn sufficient calories to lose weight, the toning is great, but losing weight needs more.

Obvious points from where I am sitting, on the couch :) :

Protective parents - all the children I see are driven everywhere. When they are old enough to take the train/bus on their own, they are drive to the station/bus stop. I see the need to keep children safe but wonder if sometimes this is taken a bit too far? Not a parent so not really qualified to say more.

Corn starch and its relatives. Sugar syrup is included in just about any processed food you care to take off the supermarket shelf. Can't remember if the documentary about added sugar was by Michael Moseley but was a complete eye-opener. Also a good article in New Scientist (not my usual reading material I hasten to add). This and the artificial sweeteners which over-ride the 'I am full now' feeling seem to have a lot to answer for and are also addictive, sending the consumer on a cycle of eating more and more. But the food industry is not about to change any of that without being forced. Are we (unwittingly) force-feeding sugar addiction to children more or less as soon as they start eating solids?

Obesity now seems to be classed as an illness. Is this really true? Is it an addiction to food? Lack of willpower? We know obesity leads to serious illness, but is it, in itself, an illness? Not sure about genetic inheritance. We are all influenced and conditioned during our formative years but that is not the same thing. We can choose not to continue that conditioning if we don't like the results just as soon as we are old enough to do so. I still love my mum's baking, but we know there are consequences if we eat too much of it!

Political correctness forbids us to point out the obvious when someone wails that losing weight is hard/impossible/doesn't work/runs in the family.

After listening to a Radio 4 prog about obesity recently with taxpayers' dosh being used for gastric bands, I was amazed, dismayed and then seriously worried about the state of our wellbeing as a nation and the lack of courage to grip it and tackle it (food industry, social attitudes to obesity, policy).

As for running at school, I was active enough outside of school but hated PE and the whole competitive sport/house points thing then. Perhaps if the competitive element had been removed and personal scores, PBs, were the aim, this might have been more inspiring to someone like me.


Thanks for the excellent and well thought out response.

I agree about much, if not all all of what you say, and I firmly believe that the Government of the day can do far more, but are just too scared of the food lobby and their direct and indirect power to sway. However, at the time of an election build-up we as an electorate have greater sway with politicians than at any other time in their tenure-ship; and we can use this time to bring pressure to bear. The likes of 38 Degrees can manage to 'persuade' oil companies, so I feel we can sway the politicians at their most vulnerable time. It's time to remind them that they are elected to do our bidding, and not to tell us what to do on such issues!

The move to exercise could very well go hand-in-hand with a drive [if you excuse the pun] to stop the school run. As a parent, I fully understand the desire to protect our vulnerable children ~ but it is the cars on the school run that cause the problem! If we can get that message across at the same time we may be on to a winner. Walk your children to school and get them to exercise and we will all be winners....except the government's coffers which will be drained by less fuel revenue and smaller taxes being paid by the the problem is somewhat deeper that the initial one may seem.

I suspect the answer is to lobby MPs NOW and to keep doing so. Write to the likes of the Jeremy Vine show and get the issues highlighted nationally on the radio and TV.

It CAN be done...we CAN achieve it...and we CAN have a healthier population.

If we all write to our MPs today, and do so again and again over the coming months; and if we copy each letter to the Heatlh Secretary, then they may, just may start to see that we mean business.


You could be on to something with the 'School Run' it would be non-competitive, it would get parents moving and clear up the rush hour traffic a bit.

If politicians can have an easy to deliver message, they will be more likely to take it. The School Run (or walk, but anyway, movement) might just be catchy enough.

I have no school connections, but would be happy to promote your School Run or whatever movement it takes to get us as a nation more aware of the lives we are plotting out for our younger generation.

Might be worth looking at the Danish initiative on this? Bit more hardline than the UK!


The idea of re-branding the School Run to the Schoolrun (just like the Parkrun) could be a winner. If we can get parents to join in ~ and I know the 'yummy mummy' brigade wouldn't be able to show off at the school gates ~ then so much the better.

My wife teaches and they have so many cars all trying to get onto the school site they have closed it at those times to encourage walking. They do have an attendant for the disabled etc. to allow them to park.

Now, I'm off to write to Dr Wollaston MP....


It looks like that as you were posting this a few people involved in the running world were having "afternoon tea " in the House of Parliament!


I had no idea, but what a springboard for ustro hijack and start bringing more pressure to bear on MPs.


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