PYB Health Hero Series: Stephne Puddy, from Couch to Pencoed Panthers and Maesteg Parkrun Director!

PYB Health Hero Series: Stephne Puddy, from Couch to Pencoed Panthers and Maesteg Parkrun Director!

We spoke to one of our PYB Health patients, Stephne Puddy about her experience of changing her relatively inactive lifestyle dramatically, and how she hasn’t looked back. And never will. Well done Stephne!

1. When did you start running?

I started running in 2017, I posted on a facebook page that I was thinking of getting the couch to 5k running app and had anyone tried it. I had a message from Emma Marshall of Pencoed Panthers. She suggested I go and join their 0-5k group. Since then I have run 5ks, 10ks, half marathons and I am now a run director at maesteg parkrun and a run leader for Pencoed Panthers. I am not fast and I know I never will be, but that’s not what it’s about for me. This is my “me time”, I switch off, I clear my head, it makes me feel good, I achieve something, I’m doing something for me, something that I never in a million years thought I would do and I have never looked back.

2. How did you start? Is it something you hadn’t done for a while or were completely new to?

It was something I had never done – I mean ever! If anyone had ever suggested for me to run I would have laughed – a lot! 

3. What made you decide to give running a go?

I knew I had to do something. In May 2016 I had a scare. One day I was fine, the next day I had what I thought was a cough/bad chest. I struggled all day sending my husband to the shop for soothers and cough medicine. I had a bath with olbas oil but was getting worse, thinking nothing of it decided I would sleep in the spare room not to disturb my husband. At 6.30am and after no sleep I woke him to call out of hours. I was admitted to hospital for 8 days and diagnosed with Asthma. Whilst in hospital I couldn’t walk from one bed to the next without being out of breath. In my head I convinced myself that if I was fit I wouldn’t have ended up like this.

I had tried gym memberships, classes and other things and they had never been successful, I thought this would be worth a try.

4. What were the challenges? Did you have to overcome any issues/concerns before getting started?

The main challenge was probably getting there, but it was January and dark and with a hoody and dark clothing I figured no-one would recognised me. 

5. Do you always run outside? (rather than a treadmill)

Yes, I have since bought a treadmill but I much prefer getting up and outside.

6. Have you always been an active person?

I’ve tried in fits and starts, if I want to make myself feel good I say that, but really it’s probably a no.

7. When did you do your first parkrun? How did you find out about it? How did you feel afterwards?

My first parkrun was in February 2017. There was probably about 30 of us from the 0-5k group and they were building us up do the St Davids day run in March, this was seen as a good practice run. We all had t-shirts made with Pencoed Panthers on. I always remember as we went around (run/walking) all the marshalls were cheering us and shouting, ah more panthers, you go for it there is lots of you today.

8. Did you start running on your own or with others?

Started with a group, some nights there would be up to 50 of us. It was really encouraging and knowing I was meeting others is what would get me there sometimes. Emma and the other run leaders were so encouraging. On nights where if I was on my own I would have probably given up, they kept me going. When I felt I was rubbish, Emma was there to say nonsense, you are out and doing it.

9. What benefits have you found from running? Physical health? Mental wellbeing? Social contact?

It has massively given me some work/life balance. I would always be late leaving work or logging on during an evening to do a few emails. With running I can’t – I need to leave work on time and I am out then in the evening. It helps me switch off, when I had a busy day and there is lots buzzing around in my head it helps me to switch off, and I sleep so much better.

I have made some really fantastic friends, I couldn’t have got through it without them. 

10. What advice would you give to someone who would like to try running but doesn’t believe they could do it?

Do it, do it, do it. Find a local group, get out there and give it a go. If not a running club a walking club. We have been to some places I have never heard of and it’s just amazing to get out doors.

11. Any tips for equipment you need (clothes, trainers, apps, a barcode)?

Trainers and comfortable clothes for parkrun. Register online in advance and you will get emailed a barcode. It’s free! You really do have nothing to lose!

12. What events are available locally? What’s the atmosphere like?

They are great, all really friendly. Some are larger than others. If you are worried you could always message the parkrun team in advance and ask for someone will look out for you. There is always a new comers group before the parkrun and so you can meet others.

There are also junior parkrun groups, they are on a Sunday and are a 2k run.

13. What support groups are available locally? Any apps or resources online that are useful?

The main resource for me was Pencoed Panthers, my local running club. With so many people and some had been running for some time, we have a facebook group that we can post questions on. There are plenty of other facebook groups (Run Mummy Run and Running the Distance) and groups (Run Wales and Sports Wales).

Parkrun really is for everyone. I cannot stress that enough. Not everyone can run 5k. Some people will run/walk and some will walk it all. Everyone who is at parkrun has a different story, I have seen people who are recovering from a heart attack and they walk it every week, to others who use it as part of their marathon training. At every parkrun there is always a tail walker and so you will be never be last. If you are unsure you could register and then volunteer to see what it’s like. At maesteg we have some regulars who volunteer each week. You don’t have to run – and if you volunteer 25 times you get a free tshirt!

14. Any tips for making time for running and juggling running with other commitments (work etc)?

Set yourself a target and stick to it. For me the main driver is that it is a change of lifestyle. I can make all the excuses I want and there is only myself to answer to. I don’t want to be unfit and so this is the way forward.

Find out more about local parkruns here, or Pencoed Panthers here.