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Che with her husband James in Blondin Park

Ealing mum: Couch to half marathon coach in two years

When Northfields resident Che Odlum de Vivenot took part in a beginners running course in 2015, never could she have imagined she and her husband James would go on to put together and coach a team to take part in Ealing Half Marathon.

Mother-of-two Che (pictured, with James) took part in the free Ealing Eagles beginners’ programme as a complete novice just two years ago. After graduating from the programme she was keen to keep running and, with the support of the club and its coaches, she gradually built up her fitness, going from attending weekly 5km parkruns at Gunnersbury to tackling 10km races.

After that there was just no stopping her as she went on to compete in the Ealing Half Marathon, Great North Run and even the Marakesh half marathon.

“I think people imagine that running is an activity reserved for very sporty people, who are already fit and that running clubs are for athletes, but that really isn’t the case,” said Che.

“I’m not the fastest runner, but if I can take up running then nearly anyone can. It’s a fantastic way of getting exercise and it opens up a whole world of opportunities. You can run virtually anywhere and all you really need is a pair of trainers and some basic sports kit.”

Che’s new challenge is helping a team of 32 parents and teachers at Mount Carmel Primary School, where her daughter is a year 5 pupil, to train for the Ealing Half Marathon on Sunday, 24 September.

Her husband James de Vivenot, who is also a coach and Ealing Eagle, put together a training plan to get them ready for the event as part of the Ealing Half Marathon schools’ challenge.

The group have been meeting several times a week to train and have set up a WhatsApp group to stay in touch and encourage each other through the training programme. They have also had the support of fellow parent and personal trainer Elly Mathews and parent-governor Jonathan Martin, who has helped to co-ordinate with the school and raise awareness.

Between them, the runners are expected to raise thousands of pounds for the school and Ealing Half Marathon’s official charities.

“Many of the team are completely new to running and it’s so inspiring to hear how much they are getting out of the training,” said Che. “Many of those taking part couldn’t run for more than a few minutes continuously when they started, but they have all now completed runs of at least 10kms. They are gaining in confidence all the time and I’m sure they will keep running in future.

“I know that not everyone can join a running club, but there is so much help and support available now.  The NHS Couch to 5K app is a great programme to help people get started on their own. There are also loads of online groups and forums where people can get tips and support or find other local running groups to go out with.”

As part of its Get Moving campaign, the council is encouraging people to be more active because of the enormous health benefits. Running is a great way of getting aerobic exercise and getting started is easy.

Che’s top 10 tips for taking up running:

  1. Make sure you have appropriate shoes and for women, a good sports bra
  2. Find a local running club like the Ealing Eagles for a free beginners’ couch to 5k course or download a free beginners running app. I recommend the NHS couch to 5k app
  3. Make use of Ealing’s abundant parks which are ideal for runners. Lammas Park – as well as many others around the borough – has mile markers so you know how far you have run
  4. In the beginning, try to go out twice every week and make sure you have rest days in between your runs.
  5. Find a running buddy. Running with others motivates you to get out and to keep going
  6. Follow a training plan. These plans are designed to build up your fitness and distance gradually. There are lots of free training plans available online
  7. Join an online community. I joined Run Mummy Run which is an empowering online community of women of all running abilities who give advice and support
  8. Register for parkrun a free weekly timed 5k run for all abilities where you can run, walk or jog. You will never be last because there is always a tail walker at the end. We’re lucky to have several locally, with parkruns taking place every Saturday at 9am at Gunnersbury Park, Northala Fields and Osterley Park
  9. Involve your family. Your kids, partner, parents can take the opportunity to run, walk, ride bicycles while you run.  It is a good way to get more support from those closest to you
  10. Set a goal, such as running the Ealing Half Marathon in 2018. Having a goal to work towards really pushes you to keep going.

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