Words and images: Jack Jerram
By sharing my running diary, I wanted to show S40 readers the benefits of taking up a sport accessible to most people, one which requires very little equipment or initial skill and is totally free. I began my journey with a first run, stopping four times to catch my breath and taking an hour to recover but I’m glad I persevered – I’ve gone on to reap the benefits: better sleep, improved mental health and greater energy. Fitness hero of the pandemic, Joe Wicks, is quoted as saying,
“Exercise for your mental health and your body will follow.”
I agree. Even Boris Johnson joined in, losing 14kg by running after contracting COVID-19 and wanting to be healthier.
In concluding my diary, I wanted to provide a beginner’s route for any reader who has been thinking about starting or re-igniting their love of running - a run mapped out in our local area. When thinking about a circuit, I was inspired by my own Grandad! When he turned 40, he contracted Hepatitis B and was told that the long-term prognosis wasn’t good. Grandad decided that getting fit would give him a fighting chance of survival, so he took up running. I decided to retrace his steps 42 years later (see opposite page).
Grandad continued to run for five years until a doctor mentioned, in passing, that running wouldn’t help him beat Hepatitis B so he stopped, that very day! He’s still alive and well, still has the disease that almost killed him, but now, with medication, he’s able to lead a full and active life waving to me as I run past his house, using his first run as my new route.
Finally, I would just like to personally thank anyone who has read my running articles over these past three months. It has truly been an honour to write about one of my greatest passions and get so much positive feedback. I created this article series to inspire others to run, so if any of my work has fuelled your passion for running too, it means more to me than you can imagine.
Begin in Somersall Park carpark. Run past the old playground on your right, past the first small bridge, following the path to the second bridge.
Turn right over the bridge. Continue to follow the path enjoying the flat terrain, and head for the Walton Dam.
Cross a third bridge and turn immediately right. DO NOT CROSS the main bridge over River Hipper. Follow the meandering pathway until Walton Dam is on your right. Here’s a lovely opportunity to take in the variety of birdlife the water has to offer.
Run the length of Walton Dam, down the incline towards the end, until you reach the pedestrian lights at Walton Road.
Turn right up the hill, take a deep breath and brace yourself for a tough incline.
Turn right down Moorland View Road where there’s another family connection to my run - my Great Grandad helped to build lots of the houses that line the road here.
Run on the flat until you reach Brincliffe Close on your right and turn down it.
Follow this road to the fork-off right to Newhaven Close. Continue down Newhaven until you re-join Somersall Park path. Turn right.
Continue the path back to the second bridge and make your way back to the starting point.
Congratulations. You’ve survived your first run! A total of 2.6 km or 1.7 miles.
Don’t worry if you have to stop running a few times. Just keep moving – carry on walking until the route flattens out or you feel able to try again. Try the route every 2 or 3 days, and you’ll soon stop walking and build up speed as well as a great sense of achievement.