A BIRMINGHAM yoga and fitness teacher has signed up to the Great Birmingham 10k in a bid to inspire members of her running club to take part.
Mandy Rees, who runs the Birmingham branch of Yogabellies, launched Popcorn Fitness after a mum approached her and friend Helen Couzens to teach her the basics in running.
The group is now thriving, with around eight members who had previously never ran all taking part in their first parkruns recently.
Now, Mandy hopes that her decision to take part in the Great Birmingham 10k will entice the others to follow suit.
Mandy, who was a commercial lawyer before quitting to spend more time with daughters Grace and Neave, has been running for six years having been inspired by her husband running the London Marathon.
She will run her fifth marathon this year and hopes that the mums she works with at Popcorn Fitness can see the progress she has made in a short amount of time.
“I’ve got two daughters who are nine and 13 now, so I’ve been there with the whole baby thing,” said Mandy. “I understand how that works. I only took up running myself five years ago. I watched my husband do the London Marathon one year and I found it inspiring, and gave running a go – I ended up doing the London marathon two years later.
“I run with a mum I met at school and lots of mums kept saying to us “oh we can’t run, it’s just impossible”, “my knees hurt”, “I can’t do it”. We just said that we started off in the same position, five or six years ago.
“Anyone can run, if they put their minds to it and do it sensibly and safely.”
Mandy feels that many people are put off running because they are self-conscious, but has praised the mums in her Popcorn group for overcoming those issues together.
“I think we can all run, we just need a bit of confidence to pound the streets in your Lycra when perhaps that wouldn’t be your chosen outfit in front of other people,” said Mandy.
“They’re probably able to do a 10k but people get scared of it, and it puts them off. They think they’re not runners, and they can’t run, but actually, anyone who goes out there is a runner, whether you’re at the front or at the back."
“The great thing about running is that you’re running against yourself.
“The mums I work with think they can run now, they believe they can do it, which is lovely.
“A lot of people feel that they don’t want to be seen running, but once you’ve been out a few times, or have been out as a group, and you’ve got a bit of reassurance from people around you, it’s fine. That’s been really nice. To encourage people to run as well, is lovely.”
Entries are open for the Great Birmingham 10k, which takes place on May 1, and Mandy is working hard on persuading her fellow runners to take part.
“None of the group has signed up yet but we’re working on them,” said Mandy. “Helen and I are doing it, our husbands are doing it. I’m working on the Popcorn girls to do it. They’ve just done a 5k and they’ll probably think a 10k is impossible. We’re trying to work on them and suggest they should enter as an incentive.
“We’ll run it with them and help them through it.
“Some of them joined us in September and they had never ran before, and they didn’t go to a gym so they had effectively never done any exercise. It is a big jump for some of them but not impossible if they do it sensibly.
“These ladies wouldn’t be running at all, I don’t think, if it wasn’t for this group. They wouldn’t have the confidence to go out and do it.
"They might do it on a treadmill perhaps, but they wouldn’t go out on the streets of Birmingham running, so that’s what has been nice about them running. Not only do they come out with us, they go running on with other people as well which is lovely.”
Mandy and Helen’s running group is on Facebook