Four Derby locals who collectively lost 20 stone before getting the running bug are set to inspire others with the launch of their own jog groups.

Michelle Wheatley, Norman Todd, Annmarie Winter and Lee Blurton were all new to running when they started a Couch to 5k programme through the Livewell weight loss programme, run by Derby City Council.

After identifying a lack of progression route for those who wanted to continue jogging in a group after the Couch to 5K course finished, Livewell were keen to work with Jog Derbyshire to fill the gap.

The four newly qualified volunteers will lead their jog groups in Alvaston Park, Oakwood, Allenton and Mackworth and will be supported by trained co-leaders.

Each group will welcome graduates from the Livewell programme as well as being open to runners of all abilities in the area.

Lucy Bartles from Jog Derbyshire said:

“We’re really excited to have these new Jog Derbyshire groups starting. The Livewell Couch to 5k groups have a really similar ethos to Jog Derbyshire groups in that the focus is on being fun and sociable – so the partnership is a really good fit.”

Cllr Martin Repton, Cabinet Member for Integrated Health and Care, said:

“Jog Derbyshire is a really easy way to get people up, active and into running. It’s also a great way to make new friends too. These volunteers are a real inspiration and I wish these new groups every success.”

 

Michelle Wheatley, 43, Allenton

Jog Allenton will meet every Sunday at 8.30am on the canal path by the entrance of Aldi in Allenton. The first group will be on 18th March.

Michelle started on the Couch to 5k after joining the Livewell weight loss programme, managing to lose 3 and a half stone. She still runs with friends she made through the group and is using her new-found confidence to turn this into a Jog Derbyshire group.

She said: “When jogging was first suggested through Livewell I thought it sounded like a good idea. But it was a bit of a taboo subject for me. I thought I couldn’t do it, I didn’t enjoy running at school and even didn’t like running elements in other exercise classes I was doing.

“But it’s so surprising what you can achieve. I really enjoyed it. The community spirit of being part of a group is amazing and everyone encourages each other.

“My lifestyle is much healthier and my fitness levels are up. I still do other exercise classes and I find them easier now. My confidence has increased and I really feel like I can help others which is why I was so interested in leading a Jog Derbyshire group.

“I just enjoy getting to know people and to help motivate and encourage them – I don’t really see it as my group, it’s just a group of people having fun. One of my main aims is to beat the stereotype that larger people can’t run. I am living proof that anyone can do it. I might wobble a bit and I’m slower than others but I get there in the end. Anyone of any shape or size can jog!

“My motto has always been: Running is not about being better than someone else it’s about being better than you used to be.

“Running gives you a real freedom to do it how you want, whether with others or on your own. It’s been life changing.”

 

Lee Blurton, 45, Chaddesden

Mackworth Roadrunners will meet every Saturday morning at 8am at Mackworth Youth and Community Centre, Prince Charles Avenue, Mackworth, DE22 4FN. First group begins on 17 March

Lee joined Livewell in June 2017 after seeing his doctor about his weight. He joined the Couch to 5k programme and through this and other classes has lost three and a half stone. His passion for inspiring other people to do the same has led to him starting a Jog Derbyshire group.

He said: “I was a little bit unsure when I started the Couch to 5k programme as I’d not run since school but I really surprised myself with how much I enjoyed it.  My fitness levels have improved so much and I’m doing as much as 10k twice a week now.

“The laughs we have as a group are one of the best things about it. I was keen to get involved with Jog Derbyshire and lead a group because I love meeting new people and inspiring them. I want to return the favour for what someone else did for me when I first started.

“One of the best things about being part of a group is that you only ever feel like you’re competing against yourself, it’s never against each other. It’s fun to run together and you’re never judged on how much you weigh. One of the main things I want to promote about the Jog Derbyshire group is that we’ll run together and stay together. No one will ever get left behind.”

 

Norman Todd, 63, Chellaston

Alvaston Park Joggers will meet every Tuesday at 10.30am in Alvaston Park, close to the café. The first group begins on 13 March. 

Norman joined Livewell three years ago after suffering a heart attack which was a big wake up call to do something to reduce his BMI. Originally weighing 21 stone he’s lost a massive 10 stone thanks to a variety of classes and taking part in Livewell’s Couch to 5k group. He’s now keen to replicate the friendly nature of the group through his own Jog Derbyshire group.

He said: “When Livewell suggested doing the Couch to 5k I said I’d give it a go but I’d never run in my life, and at 62 that was a little bit scary. But I slowly built it up and last year managed to do a 5k plus I’ve done Parkruns as well.

“Running keeps me and my heart healthy. It is better to keep fit rather than having to keep visiting my GP because of illness. My health has gone from really poor to there really being nothing wrong with me.

“I was so inspired by my experience with Livewell I wanted to be able to motivate others to do the same which is why I was keen to start a Jog Derbyshire group. There’s such a great atmosphere within the group. It’s fun, enjoyable and sociable. Going to a new group is scary when you don’t know anyone but I had such a warm welcome at Livewell I want to replicate that with my Jog Derbyshire group.

“Now I’ve retired one of the biggest parts for me is getting to meet new people. I’m really looking forward to it. We’ll meet near the café so people can sit and have a coffee and a chat before or after the run.”

 

Annmarie Winter, 31, Littleover

Jog Oakwood will meet every Thursday at 6pm by Springwood Leisure Centre in Oakwood. The first group begins on 15 March. 

When Annmarie Winter started with Livewell she was extremely overweight, smoked more than 20 cigarettes a day and suffered with low moods and confidence. After becoming more active and losing three stone she got a passion for running which has hugely increased her confidence in every aspect of her life. She’s now about to start leading her own Jog Derbyshire group.

Annmarie said: “Life is completely different now – I enjoy it, I am happier and I have achieved things I never thought possible.

“Before Livewell I was very shy and being around large groups of people was intimidating for me. Now I’m really looking forward to building my own confidence to be able to lead the Jog Derbyshire group and inspire others to achieve goals no matter how small. I think it’s important to encourage people and inspire people to try new things in an environment in which they feel safe.

“The feeling after completing a tough run is amazing. The pride and sense of achievement it gives me affects my mood in a really positive way. It makes me feel like I can achieve anything I want to and every time it boosts my confidence that bit more. The main thing I have learnt from running is that nothing worth having comes easy and this mindset has been transferred into all aspects of my life, not just running.

“My whole life has changed. Obviously a direct result of leading a more active lifestyle is weight loss but along with weight loss comes more confidence, which in turn helps me achieve goals I never thought I could. My friendships, mental state, work life and my general attitude to life in general has improved more than I can explain since taking up a more active lifestyle.

“Every day is a chance to achieve something positive now and I am constantly setting myself long term goals. A year ago I couldn’t even run up the stairs and this year I will be completing my first half marathon.

“I am so proud of myself for everything I have achieved so far. Although I have had fantastic support and help along the way, my achievements are because I have worked hard and continued to try even when things get tough. Leading my own Jog Derbyshire group will be something I am doing that is out of my comfort zone and something I will be doing independently. I am excited to meet new people and inspire other people to smash some personal goals!”