Category : Run Birmingham

Overcoming Challenges: The Head Game! By Run Birmingham Activator Sally

I ran Solihull Half Marathon on Sunday and for those that asked how it went you would probably have received the response “My head wasn’t in it”. Like many I have a lot going on at the moment and have been struggling to stay on an even keel. Running is usually a good leveler for me but my running mojo also appears to have taken a holiday (hopefully just a mini break), so I’ve been feeling very low.

I woke up Sunday morning feeling knackered and not wanting to run. I felt off as the previous night I hadn’t even set my kit out with my race number so didn’t feel particularly prepared. I usually do this so that 1. I don’t forget anything in the morning (have a picture as my checklist), and 2. it helps mentally prepare me for the race ahead. Usually I am nervous and excited. I felt a lot of nothing on Sunday but running usually helps so got up and went anyway.

So I ran (asthma triggered at around 8k which didn’t help), got to about 11k then just wanted to be done. It then felt like the longest 10k of my life to finish that race! I walked loads, totally lost my head over it. Music wasn’t helping, I felt pretty miserable, everything started hurting and all of my stresses seemed to flood in and fog up my mind and my run. Didn’t think I had it in me to finish, couldn’t really chat to anyone else either as I was struggling to breathe. Had a high five from a spectator which spurred me on for about 600m, but the will soon dissipated. With 2k to go a fellow runner said to me as he ran past whilst I was walking (again!), you’re doing great keep going. Really needed that lift. So I picked my sorry butt up and ran. Didn’t feel like I was moving at all but I did it and I finished. Didn’t feel particularly elated at the end other than the fact that it was actually over.

Luckily for me, I was sent a link to check my happiness pulse by a colleague on the Friday relating to another piece of work. It’s a great tool to check in with yourself on different aspects of your life that can affect your happiness. By doing the survey it helped me to realise that not everything in my life was rubbish but a certain area could do with some (a lot of) work. In many ways it lessened the load somewhat. When it felt like everything was awful, I was quite overwhelmed. Recognising that the issues were in one particular area of my life helped. It didn’t feel then like the sky was falling in. Some massive rainclouds maybe but lucky enough to have some people and things around me to provide little pockets of cover. I’ve found that part of being able to move forward and out of the fog has been to recognise and then accept what’s really going on rather than lumping everything all in together and feeling like it’s all rubbish. It helps to recognise those little bits of sparkle and hopefully they will start to shine into other parts of your life.

So, for me, yes I struggled on my run on Sunday and didn’t really enjoy the majority of it. However:

1. I completed it, I didn’t call an uber to take me home (I did consider this). I ran/walked the whole way so earned that medal and t-shirt.
2. I did notice some pretty things whilst running along the country lanes, explored a new area and both received and gave support along the way.
3. On Wednesday an old injury flared up in my hip so at that point I didn’t know if I would be able to run. So to then go and run/walk a half marathon, that’s good going by anyone’s standards.
4. It may not have been my fastest half marathon but it certainly wasn’t my slowest so I actually did better than I perceived, even with so much walking. Stronger than I realised.

It’s been good to look back and reflect on this and find the positives even though it didn’t feel great at the time. I think having done the happiness pulse and being shown that it wasn’t everything that was horrible and there were positives, it helped gain some sort of balance and perspective. I know that in reality I am tired and have achieved some great running goals this year already and it’s hard to sustain a high. So for me, stepping back from races for a while and changing my focus will be beneficial. Although tough at the time, I am glad I ran. Lots of lessons learnt and I know I’d have regretted it if I stayed home.

I am sharing this to show that we all have “bad” runs sometimes, often pictures don’t show the real story, but it’s better to be out there giving it a go than sitting on the sofa. It’s probably not as bad as you think so it can be good to take a step back and check out our happiness health. Hopefully it will lessen the overwhelming feeling of sadness and help identify areas that may need more attention so we can find tools to help make them feel better.

If you want to check your happiness pulse you can do so here: . It will not only help you (hopefully) but will also help The Active Wellbeing Society check out the happiness health of the city so that we can ensure the services that we offer will continue to support both physical and mental health.

Congratulations if you got to the end… I hope that by sharing this may help at least 1 person. We often see the phrase “it’s okay to not be okay” but then folk don’t talk about it, so I have.

By Sally, Run Activator

If you are interested in joining Sally or any other of our Activators and Volunteers check out our activities page at

11th April 2019  |  Adeel Khan

Join us and make International Women’s Day count….

International Women’s Day (IWD) is celebrated every year on March 8. It’s a day where women are recognised for their achievements and an opportunity to push for more gender equality.

1st March 2019  |  Adeel Khan

Active Communities in Meriden Park

An Inside look into the Couch to 5K programme

By Run Birmingham Activator Sally Bynoe

As you may already know, a lot of the work that we at The Active Wellbeing Society is to do is with people starting out on their exercise journey. With Run Birmingham, we work to support those taking their first steps and often have Couch to 5k running programmes taking place across throughout the year. If you don’t know much about the programme, it’s basically a good introduction into running and you start with lots of walking and just a little bit of light running to get you going.

Running activity in the park for beginners

In those early weeks, it’s about using your legs in a different way and engaging different muscles. I’m not going to lie, it will probably hurt a little as you’re using muscles that you probably didn’t even know you had but it is well worth it!

Lots of things will probably come into your head, “my feet/legs hurt”, “I can’t breathe”, “I can’t run”, “what will people think if they see me out trying to run?”, “I’m too slow”. All of these things are absolutely normal and pop into most people’s minds. It’s something new and it’s ok to recognise there’s a bit of fear. Remember, when you start something new you need to learn how to do it. You’re not going to be a top athlete just because you’ve decided you’re going to run. Also look to the reason you decided to start, and try to see ahead to how you will feel once you achieve your goal.

Once you complete a session you will hopefully feel a sense of pride and satisfaction. You’ve just achieved something you didn’t think that you could. It’s your first building block, so the following session when you return, try to remember how you felt at the beginning of the previous session and remember, you can do it, you’ve done it before!

It can take a little while to settle in when you start running and it’s always ok to walk if you need to. The programme builds slowly so initially it’s about learning to use your legs differently, what to do with your arms and how to breathe when you have a slight bounce in your step. It can feel a slow process but I promise you, that you will be making progress.

It’s good to check in with your body from session to session. You’ll find that something that was hurting before might not be hurting as badly the next time or you go a little further or a little faster. This usually happens without you noticing and as a Run Activator I like to highlight this so you can see the changes are coming.

A great thing to do is to get a jar and fill it with notes of your successes. Don’t forget, you’re already winning by putting your trainers on and stepping outside of the front door intended to get moving. This is a great tool to keep motivated as when you recognise the small successes, they soon become big!

S from Shard End, Couch to 5k, week 4, run 1.
“I can’t believe I’ve just run for 5 minutes and my back isn’t hurting!”

If you are interested in opportunities to exercise The Active Wellbeing Society can help you, check out our activities here

21st December 2018  |  Adeel Khan

Grans run too – Cheryl’s Run Birmingham Story

Here’s Cheryl, 44 from Birmingham. This is her Run Birmingham story:

Cheryl weight loss transformation

“I volunteer for the Real Junk Food Project here in Birmingham and that got me thinking about my health and wellbeing. I was focusing on what I was eating but I couldn’t remember the last time I did any exercise.

“Having four children and three grandchildren, I felt that I was not finding enough time in the day for me, never mind exercising.

“Now that the children and grandchildren are getting older, I decided to make a change and make time for exercise. My main goal was to lose a little bit of weight and tone up my mummy tummy.

“When my grandchildren’s school held a ‘couch to 5k’ programme I decided that this was the goal I needed to work towards! I was so proud of myself for doing it and have been running with Run Birmingham ever since.

“Joining the ‘5k group’ is the best decision I’ve ever made and I have achieved so much. I’ve lost weight, I’m fitter now than I’ve ever been and I have even completed a half marathon. I can now say that I enjoy running.  That’s something I never thought I would say.

“I keep running because of the other people in my group. They are so inspirational. I’ve never really been much of a fan of exercise but running as a group is different.  It gives you the push you need and you feel better after every single run.”

Inspired by Cheryl’s story?  Find an activity to suit you.  Go to and load up which day and type of exercise that suits you and find your nearest group: 

3rd December 2018  |  Adeel Khan

How Sadaf discovered her healthy habit

Here’s Sadaf, 41 from Birmingham. Before she came across our running project, Sadaf says she never believed she could become a runner and struggled to run for 30 seconds without feeling out of breath. Here’s her running story…

How Sadaf went from beginner to runner!

“I was feeling really stressed so I began walking with friends in the neighbourhood as a way to relax and lose weight when we encountered local activator Taz Parvaz at our park.

“We enquired about running as Taz was leading a group and he welcomed us to that running group in an amicable way.

“The fact that it’s free helped me decide to come along and pluck up the courage to get involved. After all, I had nothing to lose from trying it out.

“Running has made me feel happier and helped me find friends from my local area. My running group is great.  We are comfortable with each other and understand that we all have different running abilities. The social aspect of running is amazing and it is something I look forward to every week.

“The run leaders are there to help and support everyone by motivating and encouraging the group to persevere, helping to change any doubts you had before about running.

“Running makes you fitter, stronger and happier. Your life problems might not go away but running makes you feel better about yourself and your outlook of the world becomes more positive.  Well that’s how it makes me feel at least!”

Do you want to feel comfortable trying a new activity just like Sadaf?

16th November 2018  |  Adeel Khan

Super Saturday at Stechford Arts Trail

If you haven’t already heard, Stechford arts trail launched in July 2018 and is a new art and walking trail with sites dotted around the East Birmingham neighbourhoods of Stechford, Glebe Farm and North Yardley.

All 10 new public art pieces have been created with the help of residents, community groups and local partners. Along with two existing pieces, Arts In The Yard have formed a free, fun and family-friendly art trail that is best explored on foot.

All artists are Birmingham based with many having links to the trail area. The project is delivered by Arts In The Yard; a grassroots, community-led arts organisation who are part of the city’s Local Arts Forum network supported and funded by No. 11 Arts and Birmingham City Council.

This Saturday Stechford Neighbourhood Forum are offering 3 chances to come and get involved, no need to book, just turn up!

Stechford Art Trail – Super Saturday
Saturday 27th October

11.45am – 1.15pm /// St Edburgah’s Church /// B33 8PD
Join Arts In The Yard and Run Birmingham for a led walk of the art trail, suitable for adults and families, meet at St Edburgah’s Church

1.00pm – 3.00pm /// The Green, outside North Star Pub /// B33 8BD
Stechford Sounds Half Term Jam
Free music, food and activities at Stechford’s Bandstand

2.00pm – 3.00pm /// Glebe Farm Library /// B33 9NA
Free Halloween Craft suitable for families

For more information about the event contact Tahir Parvaz on 07903 789665 or email

For other information about local activities please visit our activities page here


26th October 2018  |  Adeel Khan

Handsworth is running and here are five reasons why

Whether you’re a keen runner or a total newbie who doesn’t know where to start, now is the time to tie those laces and hit the pavements and parks – that’s what more and more people in Handsworth, Birmingham, are doing every day.

Many of us dread the thought of running on our own.  Wouldn’t it be a bit boring or would I embarrass myself?  By the time we’ve sorted out our kit, our ‘get up and go’ has often ‘got up and gone’.

However, the people of Handsworth are proving they’re made of sterner stuff.

Locals are meeting weekly to run together through the award-winning parks, streets and hills of Handsworth and they’re loving it. Here’s why the Handsworth group’s growing by the day:

  1. Handsworth is beautiful

Handsworth is much misunderstood. Popular perceptions see it as a grey, inner-city suburb with lots of problems but Run Birmingham’s, carefully-planned, routes will take you through another world – one where you discover beautiful vistas and scenery.

Clinton Gordon, Run Birmingham activator: “Handsworth Park is a hidden gem.  Only 15 minutes by bus from the city centre, the park is 63 acres of landscaped, grass slopes, a large boating lake, ponds, beautiful flower beds, trees and wildlife plus our very own band stand. Our park is definitely not what you expect to find in inner city Birmingham and it is a beautiful place to run on a sunny Sunday morning.”

  • Making new friends

What you don’t always hear about is the running friends you meet along the way. From your run club buddies to social media mates, running and friendships go hand in hand. The friends you meet through running might just enrich your life in ways you never imagined.

“Join a running group like Active Parks Handsworth on Sunday mornings and you’ll see people are more concerned about whether you’re having fun than how fast you can run,” advises Tonya, 38, from Birmingham. “My running friends and I push each other to achieve more and have lots of fun! Running friends form a deep bond. To push yourself, you have to dig deep and also be vulnerable so I think this makes your friendships stronger.”

  • Handsworth mum’s ‘me time’

Taking time out a few times a week to get some fresh air, clear your head and raise your heart rate can leave you with a classic dose of the dreaded ‘mummy guilt’.

This should not be the case, Hayley, 36, from Birmingham explains why running is perfect exercise for busy mums: “Being a single mum can be quite lonely at times so the social side of my running group is one of the things I enjoy most. I think running is perfect exercise for mums because you can fit it around family life, it is so flexible, easy and free. Running for me has become ‘me time’. Time to get out of the house, breathe some fresh air, forget about cooking meals, chasing after kids and tidying the house.”

  • Happy Handsworth

It is well documented that running is great for reducing stress and improving well-being. It releases endorphins giving a sense of happiness and increasing energy levels.

Fiaz, 34, from Handsworth explains why he runs: “I was new to the city and was finding it hard to settle in and meet new people.  I was still looking for work and started feeling isolated and a bit low which is hard for a guy to admit. Joining the ‘5k group’ with Run Birmingham is the best decision I’ve ever made. I’ve met loads of new people.  I now know and love my local area far more and feel happier and fitter than ever.”

  • You might shed a few pounds

Any exercise is good exercise but when it comes to losing weight, it’s hard to beat running. After all, running is one of the most efficient ways to burn calories.

Working towards a goal will always help boost confidence and lend a sense of achievement.  That goal may start as getting fitter or losing weight but for those runners who ‘get the bug’ there’s a busy calendar of challenges across the area – from free weekly 5k up to full marathon and beyond.

Birmingham grandmother, Cheryl from Birmingham, said: ““Joining the ‘5k group’ is the best decision I’ve ever made.  I’ve achieved so much. I’ve lost weight.  I’m fitter now than I’ve ever been and I have even completed a half marathon. I can now say that I enjoy running.  That’s something I never thought I would say.”

Inspired? Go to and load up which day and type of exercise that suits you and find your nearest group. For Run Birmingham activities visit

20th October 2018  |  Adeel Khan

Running for your life

Trittiford Mill Pool Run Birmingham

Approximately 1 in 4 people in the UK will experience a mental health problem each year, most commonly anxieties and depression.  Mental Health Day (10th Oct) is about challenging the stigma and discrimmination that can worsen mental health problems and raising awareness of the issues and what we can do about it.  I joined a Run Birmingham group at Trittiford Mill Pool last week and talked to some of the runners and found out how joining a running group can help:


11th October 2018  |  Marcus Belben

Quick tips to add exercise at home

You can exercise anywhere!

A lot of people tell me that they don’t have time to do exercise or be active as they are busy at home being Mum. There are ways that you can get your heart rate up though doing everyday tasks.

Pop some music on when you’re doing your housework. It’s amazing how your favourite songs get your wiggle going, a little bit more effort when vacuuming or dusting and you break out into a little sweat.

Strength exercises are important as well as running. I know it sounds silly but when you’re brushing your teeth, get some squats going. That’s a good 2-3 minutes where there’s not much else you can be doing but this is a great thing to multi-task.

I love music so my tips will often include putting on your favourite tunes. So if you have stairs in your house, why not use the first step and use up, up, down, down for the length of a track? Radio edits are about 3 minutes long, a bit of time for you.

Do you walk the kid’s to school? When you’re walking anywhere, try swinging your arms a bit like marching. Get the kids involved too, they will think it’s fun and you’ll be getting your heart rate up a little too.

If you can add in some skipping or funny walking as you go, all the better. Getting fit with laughter is so much easier as it just happens accidently. Plus you’ll be working your tummy muscles if you’re laughing too. It all helps.

Ideally you want to as an adult do 150 minutes of moderate exercise a week. You can build this up
with 10 minute slots so if you look at that it’s much more manageable.

If you need inspiration and support you can also join one of our group sessions, from Zumba to cycling, there’s a lot you can do and it’s all free! Visit

21st September 2018  |  Adeel Khan