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Name: Helen Rice
Age: 45
Role: Runner, RunTogether Riverside Striders, County Durham

 Running was not something that came naturally to Helen, but she needed something that would help improve her fitness and health, reduce stress and help improve her sleep. Feeling determined, she completed a Couch to 5k (C25K) programme and couldn’t believe how much it improved her confidence and self-esteem when the end culminated in a 5K parkrun. Feeling encouraged to continue running, Helen (and a majority of the C25K-ers) joined their local RunTogether group on a Thursday evening.

 Since joining RunTogether Riverside Striders, Helen has noticed tremendous improvements in her overall wellbeing: “My mental health has improved immensely along with my sleeping pattern. I’m a much more confident person and my self-esteem really has grown. It is amazing how a stressful day can be put to the back of my mind when I meet up with my fellow Striders and focus on my run. I used to find it difficult talking to new people, but this is part and parcel of running in a group now. There’s always someone new to talk to.” Running has also allowed Helen to apply her new-found confidence to other aspects of her life: “Being part of the Striders has helped me put aside my insecurities and just relax. I feel so much more positive in all aspects of my life. I face challenges now and have a go, rather than avoid situations that are unfamiliar to me.  I’ve realised that I can succeed at difficult tasks if I tackle them with a more positive attitude.”

In July this year, Helen volunteered to help at one of the new C25K programmes organised by Durham County Council. Having received such strong support when she first started running, Helen wanted to do the same for the new people due to start the programme and help them to feel just as confident and motivated as she is now. With funding from Durham County Council, Helen is now a fully trained Run Leader after completing her Leadership in Running Fitness (LiRF) qualification, to deliver safe and fun running sessions for others. “Our RunTogether group has really changed my life. It feels so great to be part of something new and exciting. I really am a regular runner now, hardly ever missing a Thursday night session with the Striders. I run in rain, wind and snow showers and my confidence and ability continues to grow and grow.” As well as now being a fully trained Run Leader, Helen has taken on 5K trail runs, relay races, 5K charity mud runs and most recently the Sunderland 10K. Helen now has her heart set on completing a half marathon!


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