Helen ‘Hates Running’ Gatward’s Diary

As you will be aware Trust Committee Member Helen Gatward is running in the Love Luton 10k Charity Event on 29 October 2017 to raise money for The Trust’s chosen charity for this season – Keech Hospice. Even though she dislikes running, Helen has put together an oft amusing and personal diary of her training regime to become a 10k runner. Help to support Helen by donating to her `Keech Hospice appeal, details are here in Helen’s words:

‘In the meantime, please don’t forget that every pound counts to Keech – so if you are able to help support Keech Hospice Care and support my challenge, it would be great if you could visit my JustGiving page and make a donation. Alternatively, you can text the words ‘LTST62’ plus your chosen amount (ie. £1, £5, £10, £20 etc.) to 70070. For example: LTST62 £10 to 70070.’


Week 2 – Week Commencing 11th September


So, my second week started off with the purchase of some new road running trainers! Being female, I do love buying new shoes a lot. Especially trainers – so although I hate running, I loved shopping for the trainers! It takes a little while to break new shoes in, so I thought it was best to purchase them early, knowing that I needed some, as I didn’t want to buy them just before the run and then be crippled by blisters or something! I also collected a running vest from Keech – so I can train in that and help raise awareness too!

Again, I need to say a massive thank you to those who have very kindly donated and sponsored me since last week. As I write this, I am now up to £340 which is absolutely amazing!

Anyway, back to my training! My Monday lunchtime run was a non-starter as I was suffering from a headache, so the last thing I felt like doing was going out for a run. This was when I purchased my new trainers – I think the retail therapy helped as I felt much better by home time! So off to the gym I went for the Circuit Box class. It doesn’t matter how often I do that class, it never gets easier and is good for my overall fitness, so although I didn’t get my run in, I did do exercise! Tuesday was rest day but I was back to it on Wednesday with the Box4ward class at lunchtime. Another tough class that is good for general fitness – and great for letting out any hidden anger when punching the pads! We do get sent out to run at the end of the class, and today it was two laps of the tennis courts, which isn’t too far but at the end of a class that has involved lots of jump squats with dumbbells, my legs felt like jelly! But I made it round!

Thursday was my lunchtime 30 minute core strength class followed by a treadmill run. My aim: to run another 2km but in a faster time than last week – and I did it! It certainly didn’t feel any easier than last week and I was still huffing and puffing and sweaty at the end of it, but the new trainers felt good and I shortened my time which I was pleased about! In the evening I went and did a Legs, Bums and Tums class, which after the run at lunchtime was tough! I then went upstairs to the gym with a friend and we did a little boxing circuit session which was good – we decided I should really be a fitness instructor as Iris thoroughly enjoyed my own-devised boxing session!

That was the only training I managed last week due to other things. But next week is a new week! And the training will be back under way!


 Week 3 – Week Commencing 18th September


So my third week of training started out positively. The weather was looking dry, I had a lunchtime run planned, I’d mapped out my route and had my running gear with me at work. Last minute, Paul from work said he’d come out with me. Great I thought, some motivation, but oh no, he has just done the Great North Run – how on earth am I going to keep up with him!

We set off, with me saying “I can run from here, but I can’t run up Farley Hill”. Before I knew it, it has started to rain and I was almost at the top of Farley Hill with legs that felt like collapsing and with me struggling to breathe. It was only a 1km run but I was impressed with myself for how far I managed to go up hill! The run turned into a brisk walk for a little while before our second run. We ran under the bridge for the M1 and then turned and ran to Slip End totalling 1.48 miles before I needed to walk. We hit the golf course at Stockwood Park and had every intention to run but the path, but it was a mud bath and either side was lined with stinging nettles. So it was a careful, slippy walk through the mud till we reached safer ground and then the third and final run back to work – this time it was 1.19 miles – so I can now say that I can easily run a mile! Only need to practice running so I can add on an extra 5 miles.

We did a total of 4.48 miles (7.2km) in a time of 49 minutes. Not bad for a lunch break, even if I did have to walk twice!

I planned to go for another run on the Tuesday, but a pain in my right foot put pay to that. As the day went on, the pain got worse, and by Wednesday I couldn’t even walk properly. After some investigation and speaking to other people who run, it appeared to be plantar tendonitis. This did not bode well for my training.

I couldn’t do much more training this week due to not being able to walk properly – I did manage the lunchtime core class on Thursday, but the treadmill was a no-go. I did a gym workout in the evening but couldn’t do any running, so did some biking, the cross trainer instead along with strength work and some boxing.

Rest is key to helping an injury so that was it for week 3. Slightly disappointing, but I was over the moon to have raised some more money for Keech Hospice Care. My total was up to £440, so once again, thank you so much to those that have kindly donated.


Week 4 – Week Commencing 25th September


Week 4 of training already – and after a week of not being able to train last week, I’m hoping this week is more successful!

Monday is my Circuit Box class so didn’t try to do a lunchtime run today, the last time I did both in one day, by the evening, my legs felt like dead weights – so stuck to just the class and lined a run up for lunchtime the next day with Paul from work again.

Tuesday and a new running route had been devised that didn’t involve running up any steep hills again! We set off and started running from the moment we stepped out the door. My mission, to run to the electric ‘thing’ on the path out along the lower Luton road. Paul told me when we hit 1 mile, and I thought “blimey, is that it? It feels a lot further than just 1 mile!” Anyway, I kept going, trying to keep up with Paul. Along past the back of the Brache and Luton Town’s new training ground. The players were all up in Morecambe so I couldn’t see if I could spot anyone. We kept going, and all of a sudden, I spotted the electric ‘thing’ and decided that I could actually keep going – I could do this!! We turned a corner and I spotted the hill that Chris had warned us about. Determined, I carried on, with Paul running on ahead as my legs had slowed right down by this point! Very soon I spotted the bench that Chris mentioned, and I shout ahead to Paul “I’m stopping at the bench” and I pushed on till I reached it – then collapsed, out of breath and very hot and sweaty on the bench! I made it further than I thought – it was 3.07km (1.91 miles). I think that is an achievement for me! After a little sit down, we headed back, and I set myself the target of running the whole way back, without stopping. We followed the same route but changed it slightly as we got nearer to work to make it a little further – and I even managed a sprint finish! I was absolutely shattered and my legs were really weak, but I made it – 32 minutes of running, a total of 3.85 miles covered and only one rest. Well chuffed!

The next day, my legs were not as achey as I expected, which was good, as the lunchtime Box4ward class was tough. Thankfully there was no leg work, mainly boxing and a lot of core strength work, and of course, finished off with a run – which I found the hardest thing as my legs decided they didn’t want to run!

On to Thursday and a gym workout was on the cards. A warm-up on the bike got me ready for treadmill running – I wanted to run 2km as I had done previously, but I thought that wasn’t not going to help me up my distance, so I had 2.5km in my head. I struggled with the first 1.5km; my legs felt heavy and I felt like I was thudding along like a baby elephant! But I persevered! Once past the 2km mark, I decided not to concentrate on the distance going up on the treadmill. Instead I sang to the music I was listening to – only in my head, not out loud thankfully! And watched the Arsenal game on the TV. Before I knew it, I looked down and was over 2.5km so I ran till I hit 3km. Again, another personal achievement as I don’t think I’ve ever run that far on a treadmill before! I probably could have kept going too, but I had to get to a LTST Committee Meeting for 7.30pm so didn’t have time to carry on!

Overall, A good week, with me feeling like I am getting a little better and looking towards next week so if I can achieve slightly further distances once again!

And my fundraising total was up to £490 on JustGiving, so once again, thank you so much to those that have kindly donated.


Week 5 – Week Commencing 2nd October


Week 5 of training has started, meaning only 4 weeks till race day. Do I feel like I’m ready yet? No! Do I feel like I am improving? Yes!

My week started as always with a very tough Circuit Box class on Monday night where we did an awful lot of leg work; burpees, followed by jump squats, followed by walking lunges, followed by high knees then shuttle runs that made my legs feel like they were about to collapse and didn’t really set me up very well for my lunchtime run on Tuesday.

Four of us went out on Tuesday lunchtime, my usual running buddy Paul, another Paul (who competes in triathlons) and my original buddy Claire joined me – and we once again hit the dreaded Farley Hill. The guys sprinted off ahead and up the hill, and left me and Claire slowly jogging up the hill, but we made it all the way up without stopping, so this felt like an achievement because last time I couldn’t manage it! One very quick stop for 30 seconds before we continued on our way, around the golf course and back up through Stockwood Park. We stopped once more because Claire was struggling – I was feeling surprisingly fine! We then hit Cutenhoe Road and down along Park Street, which is actually how the start of my 10k race starts! So all good practice for me! We made it back to work and having covered a total of 6.38km (3.96 miles) in 43 minutes. I felt stronger and slightly more comfortable running now. So much so, we agreed that our next run would be on Thursday! I made sure I had a good stretch afterwards and put myself through the pain of foam rolling that evening, just to try and eliminate the aches for the next day!

Wednesday was my usual lunch time Box4ward class, luckily it involved more boxing than leg work which was good as the legs felt heavy, but didn’t ache too much, which was down to the foam rolling!

Thursday was another run day. We agreed to run the route we took last week, so out along the Lower Luton road. Three of us went this time, and we ran at a slightly slower pace than previously because my aim was to run it there and back without stopping – which I almost succeeded at. The only reason I stopped at the halfway point was for a windswept and sweaty photo opportunity with the Eric Morecambe statue! So I was super proud of myself as the stop was only for 30 seconds, and we ran 6.19km (3.85 miles). So I am definitely improving! I hit the fitness hard on Thursday as I also went to the gym in the evening and did a workout, mainly cycling, the stepper and then some toning exercises before going to the Interbox class!

Friday I also managed to squeeze in a quick half hour gym workout, which involved 10 minutes on a treadmill before welcoming the weekend and going out for dinner!

So this week has been a good week, not only do I feel slightly better about the prospect of managing to run 10k in one go, my fundraising total was also up to £565 on JustGiving so I have smashed my original fundraising target! So once again, thank you so much to those that have kindly donated.

I have upped my target now because the money is for such a great charity, as chosen by you, the Supporters, so please don’t forget that every pound counts to Keech. If you are able to help support Keech Hospice Care and support my challenge, it would be great if you could visit my JustGiving page and make a donation. Alternatively, you can text the words ‘LTST62’ plus your chosen amount (ie. £1, £5, £10, £20 etc.) to 70070. For example: LTST62 £10 to 70070.


Thanks for reading!
Helen ‘Hates Running’ Gatward


  1. John Gatward says:

    Did not realise you were making such progress, very proud of you as I know how much you hate it. XxX

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