Couch to 5k- Gemma’s Story

Couch to 5k is the perfect way for a beginner to start exercising. It uses a structured programme with realistic and achievable targets to help remove the barriers people face when running for the first time.

The 9 week plan starts with a mixture of walking and jogging to gradually build up activity levels and the duration allowing complete beginners to be able to run for 30 minutes or a distance of 5km within 9 weeks. 

As well as the physical fitness benefits, there are also the mental health and wellbeing benefits too. Proving to yourself that you can set a target and achieve a goal can do so much to boost your confidence and self belief which can help in other aspects of life too.

Gemma recently completed the Couch to 5k course after deciding she “wanted to get fit and healthy and take up a running hobby”. Before the course she explains “My life was living with anxiety, taking medication, my fitness and health wasn’t that good, I wanted to meet new people and gain new friends”.

She decided to start the Couch to 5k programme led by Run Birmingham now known as Big Run Project. She said “from the moment I started I loved it, I had an amazing, encouraging run leader Taz and I immediately made some new friends”.

When the sessions were tough, having the support of the group and run leader helped her to keep going. She says “having the encouragement from the run leader definitely helped to push me a bit further each week, it made me feel so good within myself”.

Gemma describes how different her life is now she has finished the Couch to 5k course. “My everyday life has changed immensely, I no longer require medication to control my anxiety as the running now is my medication. I have gained a lot from running, it’s helped my confidence, fitness, health, made new friends and it’s showed me I can do it when I put my mind to it”.

From someone who was a complete running novice, she now wants to encourage others to give running a go. “Starting the Couch to 5k was the best thing I ever did. It was such an accomplishment for myself and seeing the progress each week was amazing. I would encourage anybody from any health or fitness level to give it a try. As my running leader says, anyone can run.

I didn’t believe I could at the start, but I have actually completed a 5k and even a 10k which I never thought I’d be able to do”. Big Run Project set up the Couch to 5k programme that Gemma was able to take part in in her local area. She says of the organisation, “The work they do for communities is amazing, bringing people together and helping with health and fitness”.

Big Run Project is part of Active Communities and aims to reduce inactivity levels, and get more people out of the house and running in Birmingham and Solihull. The friendly, supportive groups led by qualified run and walk leaders particularly support new or less confident runners to progress. From social runs to the Couch to 5k programme, the sessions aim to improve health, boost your mood and build up confidence all whilst meeting others in a friendly, relaxed group setting.

If you would like to come along and start your running journey with the Couch to 5k programme you can find your local course at:, or keep up to date with all our walk and run activities by following ‘Run Birmingham’ or ‘The Active Wellbeing Society’ on facebook.

Author: admin