DW Fitness First Merthyr - Running Journeys

April 17 2019

With ones of our DW gyms just a stone’s throw away from the Merthyr half marathon, we couldn’t sit idly by without getting involved. Back in January, DW Fitness First Merthyr Tydfil teamed up with Run Wales to create a special 12- week run programme and set up a running group to take on the challenge.

The 12-week programme brought staff and gym members together to train for the big day. To prepare, the group would meet twice a week, once on Mondays (6pm - 30+ runners) and Thursdays (10am - 10+ runners).

We caught up with Run Wales coordinator and the organiser of the Merthyr Tydfil running group, Hannah Phillps, as well as General Assistant Sarah Louise Ward, General Manager Aynsley Evans and run group member Abigail Sullivan and learnt all about their journey.

Hannah said:

“It was fantastic to be part of the Run DWFF Merthyr group on their journey to the half marathon, having led the group from the beginning. Having a half marathon on the doorstep seemed to be too good an opportunity to pass up, so with support from the team at the club, we began tailoring our social running sessions towards a 13.1 mile target.”

“The team smashed it! On the day it was awesome to have the support of the staff who didn’t run, as it showed that we built a really lovely running community from the gym. Now we are looking towards the Barry Island 10k!”

Sarah Louise Ward – General Assistant, DWFF Merthyr Tydfil

What made you take up running?

I took up running because I wanted a fitter healthier lifestyle, and I wanted to be an inspiration to my three young daughters. After being a stay at home parent, I built up the courage to find a social running group to help boost my confidence and make new friends. I lost 5 stone within the first year. I then took a break from running for a while after a death in my close family and then slowly put some of the weight back on. I then joined DW Fitness First as a member, and now as part of the team as a General Assistant. This opportunity came up for the half marathon and I thought it would be the perfect time for me to get back into running.

How did you find the 12-week program and your progress/journey?

It was good having a plan in place, and running with some of my work colleagues gave me the motivation to keep going.

How did you feel when you completed the half-marathon?

I felt relieved and proud that I had the support of my daughters who crossed the finish line with me.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to start running?

Join a social running group or run with a friend. I wouldn't have completed this half marathon without the support of my fellow runners.

What items of kit could you not run without and what running shoes do you wear?

My sports bra, and my Brooks running trainers. Our fitness manager Adam recommended them to me and now I can't run in anything else. I have recommended them to many people including our General Manager, Aynsley, who was running in non-suitable trainers.

Abigail Sullivan – Member, DWFF Merthyr Tydfil

What made you take up running?

In my last 2 years of school and the year after I left, I started gaining weight. By 2011 I was 3 stone overweight. My parents and sister were members at DW Fitness First, so I joined them to begin my journey to lose weight and get fit. It was then that my mother got me into running. It was at DW that I met my running buddy and then my mileage built up, I got stronger fitter and lost my weight.

How did you feel when you completed the half-marathon?

I felt amazing when I completed the half marathon as I made a PB. All my family were there cheering me on including my 2-year-old daughter.

What advice would you give to someone wanting to start running?

I would advise people to get the correct running gear, especially trainers. I would also advise people to do other training as well, as I'm a great believer that it makes you stronger.

What items of kit could you not run without and what running shoes do you wear?

I wear asics trainers. I always run with my running buddy and my watch.

Aynsley Evans – General Manager, DWFF Merthyr Tydfil

What made you take up running?

I needed a new challenge. Running is not a strong point for me and not something I would usually include in my training. The Merthyr half marathon was exactly 12 weeks into the New Year, so it was a great goal and with the support of our run leader Hannah, she assured me she could get me ready. It coincided with the re-launch of our running club, and as they say, practice what you preach. What better way to showcase our running club to members than to be a part of it myself?

How did you find the 12-week program and your progress/journey?

I was very happy with my progress up until week 6 when I took part in a 10k. At this point, I fell off track with the longer runs due to other commitments but ensured I completed 2 of the 3 weekly runs in our plan.

How did you feel when you completed the half-marathon?

So happy to have completed it and very happy with my time. The route is extremely hilly, and with 7 miles being the longest training run I had done I had no idea what to expect.

What advice would you give to someone wanting to start running?

Find someone to run with or join a running group, and book that event. Whether it be a 5k or a half marathon, as this will motivate you to not quit!

What items of kit could you not run without and what running shoes do you wear?

I love to track my run with my FitBit Ionic which also syncs up with the DW core app to track my progress. For short distances, I've always run with Nike free run and I love them. I have recently purchased the Brooks Levitate 2 and these are what I wore for the half marathon.

 

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Visit DW Fitness Merthyr and get your free 3-day guest pass here or visit Run Wales, RunTogether, JogScotland to find your nearest running group.