I can’t run

Danielle Stanley

In March 2020, the furthest I could run was the 200 yards from my office building to the train station platform and even then, I would struggle to run up the stairs at Leeds train station. I blamed it on a busy lifestyle and quite honestly, I would rather have had the extra hour in bed, rather than get up to run before going to work.

 In April 2020 like many people in the UK when the COVID lockdown was implemented, I was placed on leave for the foreseeable future. With an empty diary, an inability to find a temporary job, and the prospect of looking at the same four walls for several months, I began taking daily walks. The Samsung Health app sets a monthly challenge of completing 200,000 steps. To accommodate for the lockdown, they dropped this to 100,000. This seemed completely doable to me.

Initially I would walk around the garden, listening to an audiobook and easy beat the 100,000 step challenge in April and May (despite the heatwave!) For June and July, I decided to double my challenge each month, and ventured further afield to Temple Newsam. By August I walked 500,000 steps.

In September, my friend talked me into joining Couch to 5k. She said that with all my walking, I’d be running in no time. I was initially sceptical; I wasn’t a runner and eight weeks seemed a very short amount of time in order to build up to a 5k run. I was completely wrong, by week 3, I was fed up with the slowness of the Samsung Health Couch to 5k programme; which focused a lot on being able to walk the distance before you could run it. So thanks to 5 months of constant walking, I was easily able to run 5k and the biggest challenge I was finding a route which was 5k (not 4.5k or 5.5k as seemed to be my luck). I continued to listen to audiobooks and decided I was going to attempt a 10k run. Something I would never have dreamed of in March 2020.

I continued to struggle (and still do) with running up hills, something which Temple Newsam does not allow me to shy away from. I love running around Temple Newsam, there’s so many joggers who always smile or say hello and I always try to wheeze out a reply. I have also found new routes and pathways which take me to parts of the park which I never knew existed!


I am pleased to confirm on 29 September 2020, I managed the 11.29k with the assistance of a very exciting audiobook and a somewhat flat route I found. It is still my longest run to date on Strava, and I don’t think I’ll be beating that distance anytime soon.

Thanks to the benefit of working from home I am averaging two 5k and one 10k run a week. My friend and I both signed up to a virtual challenge for November 2020 to complete 13 runs as part of the Great Run Solo’s November Accumulator Challenge and I am on target to do just that.

It’s been a fun journey, starting out from effectively a standing start to being able to run 10k. My legs no longer ache terribly after a run and I’m finding the more often I go, the better I feel physically and mentally and I’m excited to see where my running journey takes me.

Turns out, I can run!



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