Run4Life Beginner Running Courses2020-11-05T13:03:15+00:00

Which course is right for you? Look at our poster below:

Update: January courses listing

All courses link through to their Eventbrite listing and registration. Courses will be published as and when available.

Free courses to help you start Running

Run4Life has been delivering Beginner Running Courses across Bristol since January 2015. We started out with pilot courses in South Bristol then North Bristol and then began our multi-site roll-out from June 2015 offering beginner courses in at least 4 different areas all running at the same time. The beauty of this is that everyone across Bristol is on the same journey at the same time so they can share the highs and lows of each session. We use our Facebook group to help support our course members. Our Facebook group has over a 1000 members, most have been on our Beginners course, everybody wants to see each other succeed so the environment is very supportive and encouraging. We have run hundreds of courses and have tweaked and honed our bespoke schedule over the years from feedback from our participants.

We now offer 2 courses:

Walk to Jog

This is our new 4 week pre-beginner running course. We encourage people to start walking for thirty minutes three times a week and add in very short jogging sections – 10 seconds, 20 seconds. This course prepares people to join our Zero to 35 course.

Zero to 35

Our very succesful 12 week course which takes non-runners from 30, 45 and 60 seconds of jogging with walking intervals up to 35 minutes of continuous jogging/ running.

Why do we not follow the Couch to 5k schedule/ app? The app is great and many people start running with it. However, we have found that some of our runners find the first session too much so our introductory week helps to prepare people. Our course is 12 weeks allowing a bit more time to build up the running sections, it also takes people to 35 minutes of running as very few people achieve a 5k in 30 minutes after just 9 weeks of running. Our schedule is also incremental across each session so that the jumps between weeks aren’t as big and feel a little bit more achievable.

Sign up for Part 1 – the first 6 weeks, Part 2 – the second 6 weeks or the whole course

Because everyone has different goals and starting points, from September we will be offering participants the opportunity to sign up for the first 6 weeks which takes people to half way through the course achieving 18 minutes of running as 5 and 8 minute blocks with short walk breaks imbetween, OR the whole course- 12 weeks and the 35 minute goal OR the second 6-week part which starts at: 10 minute run, 3 minute walk, 6 minute run and builds up to the final 35 minute goal. This will allow people to start from the beginning without the pressure of achieving the whole course OR those who need a bit of help to get going again but don’t need to start back at the very beginning can join us part-way through.

How to Register

So, if you would like to start running why not come and join us? We usually start courses in January, April and September. All courses are posted on our Facebook page at least three weeks before the start of the course, so ‘like’ and follow us. We offer courses in North: Blaise, Lawrence Weston or Southmead, Central: Lockleaze, Eastville, St George or Lawrence Hill and South: Hengrove or Knowle West. Courses are free but we do need people to register on the individual event set up for each course, these are found on here:

Social Runs

Members of our Facebook group can join in our social runs organised by our enthusiastic running volunteers (details are posted within the group). Find details of our Hengrove run here.

Read the inspirational stories of some of our Run4Life members here:

By chance I saw the run4life courses advertised on Facebook and to this day, I am not sure what possessed me to sign up…! I have never imagined myself to be a runner and have had several failed attempts and committing to various exercise fads. As a busy mum of two young boys, I have always been able to find a reason NOT to exercise, and not the other way around. When I saw the poster I thought it looked like a gentle way to begin running, and although I wanted to join the course, I didn’t see myself actually finishing it.

When I turned up to the first session I was amazed by how many women were there, of varying ages, sizes and fitness levels, but we all had one thing in common – we wanted to give it a go! I started doing the Walk to Jog course and found myself enjoying it each week and wondering if I could push myself further. I then started the Zero to 35 course and honestly, I haven’t looked back. Every week I looked forward to the group session and met a group of inspiring, positive and interesting women who I now consider to be my friends. We met up during the week for our homework sessions and even started a WhatsApp group to arrange evening and weekend runs. I was pleasantly surprised by the social element that it brought and loved having weekly catch ups with the group.

As the weeks went by, I couldn’t believe that I was still going and found myself feeling pretty thrilled at the end of every session. I discovered I was a slow runner, and often would find myself at the back of the pack. With encouragement from the run leaders, I realised that this was nothing to be worried about and soon started recognising how much progress I had made and feeling proud of myself. The rest of the group would cheer me on and I felt so supported and encouraged.

The day of our graduation run turned out to be quite emotional – I was so nervous and not sure what to expect and wondered if I could actually run 5k. We all met as a group at the parkrun and ran at our various paces. I will never forget the feeling when we met at the end, all so elated that we had done it. There were tears and a lot of hugging!

Since then, I have ran a 5k glow run with friends I made on the course and I am currently doing the Zero to 35 course again! I love the structure of it and the group spirit really helps me to stay committed. I have also been so moved by the programme that I am doing the Run Leaders course, so that I can encourage other women to give running a try.

Thankyou so much Sarah for sharing your story, we hope you continue running and enjoy helping others to discover their #RunHappy in the future.

I wanted to start doing some aerobic exercise as I felt that it would be good for me. I am 65, and when I saw the Walk to Jog course as a lead-in to a beginners running course advertised I thought that I would give it a go. I enjoyed the sessions and found the leader to be a really fantastic, inspiring teacher.

The Run4life session near me was on a Wednesday evening and I volunteer at an Oxfam shop on Wednesday afternoons, by the time I’ve carried books up and down stairs for 4 hours I really can hardly walk let alone run! Joining the course has inspired me to find some activities which maybe better suit me. I’m joining a yoga class for over 55s and am looking at tai chi/qi gong classes too. I will continue to do ‘walk 30 seconds/run 30 seconds’ 2 or 3 times a week to keep up some aerobic exercise, I may decide to progress further in the future, but for now this is the right amount for me and I am enjoying finding a combination to suit me.

Well done Sue, we’re really happy that the Walk to Jog course opened up different opportunities to you and that you are trying out different activities to find the right combination to suit you. 🙂

January 2016 I decided I wanted to get fit and lose some weight. I signed up for a Zero to 30 course, turned up but was too nervous to get out of my car so I drove home again! A few months later I signed up again and actually went along to my first Zero to 30 session. Everyone was really friendly and I wished I’d started earlier! I was so unfit I was huffing and puffing even during the warm up (but I wasn’t the only one). At the end of every session Charlotte, explained what we’d be doing the next week and I always thought I wouldn’t be fit enough to do it. Every week I amazed myself that I could do it and 9 weeks later I ran my first parkrun at Pomphrey Hill – it was fabulous and I was hooked. I carried on running regularly and had never felt better, I was 4 stone lighter and loving life.

In May 2017 I received devastating news, I had stage 3 breast cancer. I was facing an operation, 6 rounds of chemotherapy, 20 radiotherapy sessions and 18 chemical therapy injections. My running family were amazing throughout my treatment and kept me moving which helped me enormously. I regularly went to parkrun and sometimes took over an hour to walk round but the support at the end was always amazing. I am nearly at the end of my treatment with just a few more injections to go. This year to celebrate beating cancer I am running ten 10ks.

Update: Lesley has been helping out with our beginner running courses and will soon be a qualified Leader in Running Fitness. We are so happy to have Lesley sharing her love for running and her passion for helping others start their running journey.

I started as a reluctant couch potato who only joined as I couldn’t think of any good excuse not to start a free beginners course in my local park. I remember being so nervous turning up to the first cold January session, but with the support of a work friend my journey began. The group seemed friendly but I was exhausted after the first 30 seconds run, the next 45 seconds defeated me and I didn’t even try the 60 seconds run. I was disappointed and felt like even a beginners course was too much for me, but the leaders were really supportive – encouraging me to keep pushing but find my speed (much slower). By the end of the first session was pleased I’d tried and even planned to do the 2 homeworks.

Over the next few weeks I found my speed and very slowly but surely I was keeping up with the times, running further and further each week. I’m always the person at the back of the group but if anything even the fastest of runners are really supportive.

When I started I honestly never believed I could run for 30 minutes but just a few months later, with the encouragment of my enthusiastic trainers, I was entering parkruns and running, very slowly, for an hour.

With the help of Run4Life I’ve found new friends who still meet up weekly to run and discovered a new hobby of parkruns – one recent holiday I even planned in a ‘tourist’ parkrun and cracked my personal best!

I feel fitter than I have done in decades, my breathing is better, I’ve lost weight & I’m proud that with the support of Run4Life I have even continued to train after graduating – the Facebook group has a great community of all levels.

If you are thinking about starting but not sure if you would really be able to run 30 mins then stop worrying about that – the first week is a slightly less daunting 30+ secs, once you’ve done that then you are taking the first steps to 30 minutes.

Do get yourself some good trainers, then find the right running clothes and whatever music or audiobook you need to keep you going during homework.

Share with others how you found Run4Life

Kelly who started with us on our Zero to 35 course has been helping voluntarily to run courses for over a year – wanting to help others to find their ‘inner runner’ and their love for running, she is now delivering courses and has become a qualified Leader in Running Fitness. “If it wasn’t for all of this, I wouldn’t have half the confidence I have now and the courage to do any of the courses so a personal thank you to Run4Life from the bottom of my heart!!”

“I started a couch potato who couldn’t manage a 30 second jog and ended an inspired, but admittedly slow, runner whose completed the full Zero to 35 minute 12 week course and having run 3 lots of 5km parkruns. The trainers have been supportive, inspiring and patient and our group of runners are sociable and planning to continue our training and park runs.”
“This programme has resulted in making me a stronger, savvy runner. Not fast, not an ultra distance runner – but a runner who loves keeping fit, meeting friends, making new friends.”

“The main thing for me that I didn’t expect was how many friends I’ve made but also it’s great to find people that run the same speed as you, I’m the least likely person to join a running club but one of the best things I’ve ever done.”

“Don’t stop after the first course. Find a group that suits you and get stuck in. No one gets left behind, everyone is welcoming and you’ll be amazed how much more you can achieve #runhappy”

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