National Trust staff practise what they preach


The National Trust’s Central Office in Heelis, near Swindon, recently joined forces with Run England, through a Sport England partnership, to start up two new running groups for staff.

Around 40 staff from various departments conquered a 10-week programme with the aim of progressing from ‘couch to 5K’.

Gareth Davies, one dedicated beginner from the Heelis office, said: “The programme you go through is very steady and patient, the first few weeks are as much about walking as running so it’s a fairly comfortable start and none of the increases in distance or effort are too much – even if you miss a whole week it’s easy to get back into. The trainers are excellent and are very accommodating with any differences in ability. Everyone helps each other and it’s a fun way to meet people from other teams you might not normally.

“At the start I genuinely couldn’t run for more than 30 seconds without getting very out of breath but by the end I could comfortably run for 5km. I have tried running by myself each New Year but I always end up giving up because of over-stretching myself too early on. This group ensures you start and develop at the right rate. You wouldn’t think it’s that hard, but it’s a lot easier with help from others.

“It’s really all about the feeling of achieving and enjoyment that you feel after a run. Despite the initial trepidation it’s actually easier when the weather is rubbish too. So if you’re even just slightly considering starting running again (or haven’t for years!) then I can strongly recommend it!”

This group was aimed at helping new runners improve their health and fitness as well as enable them to get outdoors in the fresh air during their lunch break. One of the National Trust’s strategies is to encourage everyone to ‘Get Outdoors and Closer to Nature’, so the organisation really is practising what it preaches!

National Trust’s Business Support Senior Coordinator Catherine Gladwyn said: “We didn’t see as much wildlife as at some of our properties, but even in Swindon it’s amazing what you do see in the parks and green spaces.”

In addition to the beginner’s course, there was also an intermediate group for those who had previously run but wanted to get faster or build their confidence. This group incorporated some interval training and focussed on team work during sessions, whilst ensuring each session was inclusive in order to cater for a wide range of abilities. Studies show that running benefits the brain, reduces sickness and improves sleep patterns – all of which contributes to a happier, healthier and stronger workforce. 

But it wasn’t all hard work! Many new friendships were born from both groups and networking opportunities for forging new working relationships were formed too. 

Caroline added: “The success of both groups has been really rewarding and we look forward to continuing with the intermediate sessions from February 2014 as well as kick starting a new beginner’s course!”

If you are interested in setting up a workplace running group from your office, head over to to find out how you or your colleagues can qualify as group leaders and register with Run England.

There are also many opportunities to run at the National Trust's special places through the 3-2-1 routes and registered running groups on offer at various properties. For more on the National Trust's running offering, visit

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