Bristol workers feel the benefits of lunchtime running group


A Bristol workplace recently completed a Couch to 5k running course which has now led to a regular weekly running group.

The Couch to 5k group was set up at Defence Business Services (part of the Ministry of Defence) in conjunction with the Run! City Bristol project to enable workers to be active during their working day.

Over 20 people signed up to the 8 week course in a bid to take a break from their desks and take some exercise. The participants quickly caught the running bug and enjoyed returning to work feeling energised. This helped motivate them to reach the goal of completing a 5km parkrun at the end of the course.

The friendships and mutual support that had been created through the group was a welcome extra and made the homework runs less arduous and more social!  The vast majority of the runners went on to complete Little Stoke parkun which was a great way to celebrate the end of the course and mark the achievement of all the participants. The runners enjoyed it so much, many of them returned to their local parkruns the following week to try and improve their time!

Although doing 5km was a big achievement for the participants, running regularly also had a positive impact on their overall health and wellbeing both in and outside of work. The benefits of exercise on physical health and mental wellbeing are widely documented; workplaces having a healthy workforce can increase productivity, improve moral, reduce absence and relieve stress. 

Peter, 23 joined the group after signing up at a workplace health event. He said: "Taking part in the Couch to 5k running sessions has given me a fantastic opportunity to improve my fitness levels within my usual working week. It can be difficult to get the work / life balance right when working full time so an opportunity like this to add structured running sessions into my working week has allowed me to keep as healthy as possible while working in a mainly sedentary working environment."

He continued, "Since taking part in these running sessions I have felt much more healthy in the office and it has also improved my confidence levels with my own work. I have enjoyed meeting people of different ages and backgrounds at these sessions and it has made me feel more included in my wider workplace community. I would like to thank the course co-coordinator Helen Newberry for organising these running sessions - she has been incredibly welcoming, encouraging and supportive from day one, keep up the good work and I hope you inspire many more people to come running with you."

Another participant, Claire, joined to increase the amount of running she was already doing and also to encourage her friend who was a complete beginner. Claire and Lindsay have gone on to join a local Run England group to help sustain their running and are now regulars at their local parkrun – Pomphrey Hill.  Claire commented, "Although I’ve been running for a while, I came along to the workplace C25k to support my friend. I found the posture and technique information most useful and although it felt very strange to begin with I’m definitely running faster now as a result. For our next challenge, both my friend and I have signed up for the Blenheim Tri in the summer."

Two employees who were already qualified run leaders volunteered to take over leading the group after the Couch to 5k course so that the group could be sustained. Beginners' courses are planned later in the year so that more staff can have the opportunity to try running. 

Run! City Bristol Activator, Helen Newberry said: "I’m really pleased to hear such positive feedback from the runners and it was fantastic to see them achieve more than they thought possible. It was great witnessing their enjoyment of running and feeling so positive about the impact it was having for them. The new leaders are doing a brilliant job of ensuring the group continues and providing an opportunity for the workforce to be active during their working day."

The Run! City Bristol Project is able to help kick start run groups in workplaces through Couch to 5k courses or other courses in a bid to get more people running in Bristol and to help workplaces be healthier. Run City Bristol has worked with 12 workplaces across the city and in South Gloucestershire and is always looking for more to get involved. If you’d like to start a running group at your workplace or perhaps you already have one but need support, contact Helen Newberry at to find out more.

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