It’s a cold, wet Saturday morning in a leafy corner of London. A girl in leggings and trainers enters a park. There’s something about the way she moves – uncertain, unsteady, a hint of terror in her eyes – that suggests she doesn’t normally frequent parks in leggings and trainers at this hour. There’s not even a whiff of the athlete about her.
She’s clueless. She’s terrified. She’s got a long way to go. She’s me.
Next week, along with of a group of fellow Value Engineers, I’ll be donning the white beard, dressing up as Santa, and hurtling around London as fast as my little legs will carry me, to raise money for our fantastic charity partners: Single Homeless Project.
It’s been a journey, supported by the guiding light of my chosen coach in the Couch to 5k app: Sarah Millican. If you’ve never downloaded the Couch to 5k app, you might not know that a selection of voices is presented to you for your consideration, to give you encouragement and guidance during your run. Sarah was my choice. I thought a bit of comedic delivery would strike the right tone to voice over my attempts.
“You can do it,” she tells me at the start of each run.
“Thank you, Sarah,” I say, out loud. Unsuspecting dog walkers look at me nervously. But I’m in the zone.
Sarah really puts me through my paces. During my last run, she started glitching and repeatedly shouted “Are you ready? Go!” on a loop for 5 minutes. “I’M GOING, SARAH!” I huffed into my headphones. “I’M DOING IT! I’M GOING!”
Running’s not my sport (my family would say that sport’s not really my sport, either), but it’s for a great cause. SHP is a London-wide charity working to prevent homelessness and help vulnerable and socially excluded people transform their lives. They do this by providing support and accommodation, promoting well-being, enhancing opportunity, and being a voice for change.
Each day across all 32 London boroughs, their staff work with individuals to tackle the underlying causes of homelessness. From supporting people in crisis to helping people take the final steps towards independence and employment, they make a difference to 10,000 lives every year.
We love being a partner to SHP and I know all the sweaty flailing will be worth it.
But for now… I’ve got an appointment with Sarah Millican. See you on the other side.