Leeds Girls Can Couch to 5k a hit in Kirkstall!

Posted on May 16, 2017 at 7:00 am by Kirsty Midgley | 6 comments

For those yet to come across the brilliant Leeds Girls Can  campaign; part of the national This Girl Can campaign developed by Sport England together with a range of partners to encourage women to take part in sport.


It [This Girl Can] is  a celebration of women who are doing their thing and don’t care how they look or how red their face gets when playing sport.


No amount of planning could have prepared us for the overwhelming response to our first LGC Couch to 5k session at Kirkstall Abbey on the 20th of April. 116 enthusiastic, motivated ladies turned up to week one day one and we’ve consistently maintained 70 plus ladies per session since then.


Run leaders Natasha Hamlet and Leanne Lane lead the Thursday night session and I (Kirsty) lead the Tuesday night session along with a handful of Run Leeds run leaders from around the city.


Originally, we were worried that, while we were offering two led sessions per week, one session would need to be run over the weekend in their own time. We were unsure if they would stick to this, thus putting the programme in jeopardy, our fears however were unfounded as the ladies arrange meet ups on Saturday and Sundays in various parks through the closed Facebook group.


I began my own running journey with the Couch to 5k programme and I really wanted to help other ladies fall in love with running. I’ve gained so much confidence and benefits from running, I hope I can pass on just a fraction of this to each one of the ladies.


One of the biggest learning curves for me so far has been to watch each person and ensure we are giving them enough to encouragement and indeed enough of a challenge to keep them motivated and coming back, week on week. For the faster ladies who sprint their runs we’ve brought in a pacemaker to teach them to pace their runs and control their breathing. For the slower ladies, we’ve started a buddy system to keep them motivated on their run. 


By far the best part of running the group is the feedback from the ladies – their daily posts in the Facebook group and seeing them struggle on day one of the run to comfortably running day three of the same run is inspiring!


Leave a Comment


  1. Annette

    May 16, 2017 at 7:20 pm

    As one of the slower members of the group I want to say a huge thank you to all the run leaders and ambassadors. Your support has been amazing. I haven’t run for over 35 years and gone from hating it and struggling to run for 30 seconds to running for 16 minutes in just 4 weeks. I am really looking forward to completing the programme and doing my first 5k race and feeling fit and it’s all thanks to you.

  2. Dawn watson

    July 23, 2017 at 11:19 am

    Hi are you doing one in sept this year please? If so what are the details thanksx

  3. Michelle Sharkey

    April 24, 2018 at 8:50 pm

    Am I to late to join?

    • Kirsty

      April 25, 2018 at 8:14 pm

      Hi Michelle

      This was actually our group from last year but we are running another one currently. We are on week 2 run 2. We’re at Kirkstall Abbey from 7pm on a Tuesday and Thursday. Feel free to join us.

  4. Eleanor Lilley

    June 1, 2018 at 8:22 am

    Hi, are you starting a new 5K group soon? Really interested. Thanks so much.

  5. Rosie

    June 6, 2018 at 11:20 am


    Is this still going on? Looking to join, when would be the best time?

    Many thanks.

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