Updated: Apr 18
After sustaining an injury in 2021 which resulted in painful back spasms, 66-year-old David Cockcroft from Oakwood was keen to return to fitness.
An earlier attempt to complete Couch to 5k on his own in a short period of time had resulted in the back spasms rearing their head, meaning he couldn’t run at all.
But after joining Jog Derbyshire group Derby Joggers and building up to 5k more gradually alongside others, he’s now reaping both physical and mental health benefits.
“I’ve always tried to keep fit but I haven’t really done any running. The last time I did any running was probably when I was at school.
“I tried to be clever and do couch to 5k on my own in one week and did myself in a bit. I got the back spasm and I couldn’t run 5m let alone 5k.”
Determined not let his injury keep holding him back, David began to work on his core strength at the gym which gave him the confidence to pick running up again.
He said: “What went through my mind on a psychological level was, I’m sick of this. I was sick and tired of the injuries. So I did the core training at the gym and the only way to put it to the test was to go back and do the couch to 5k properly.
“I knew Harriet, one of the leaders at Derby Joggers so I joined them and started to do the Couch to 5k course properly. Walking to start with, build it up and that’s the right way to do it.”
For David – who’s recently retired – the friendly and social nature of the group was a real highlight.
He said: “The atmosphere was friendly and welcoming and there’s the social side to it as well. We all went for a Christmas meal in December which was really nice.”
David’s Couch to 5k journey culminated in a graduation at Alvaston Park Run where he joined others from Derby Joggers and completed the course in 30 minutes.
He said: “There’s a sense of achievement. Somebody said to me it wasn’t a bad time for someone in their 60s. But although I was trying to do a good run on that day it isn’t so much about a good time, it’s about getting round.
“It’s about you as an individual going on that journey and doing that run, it doesn’t matter how long it takes.”
Couch to 5k has given David not just a physical boost, but it’s given him coping mechanisms for his mental health too.
He explains: “I got a lot of fitness out of it, self esteem, confidence, a lot of different things. It makes a considerable difference to your mental health.
“We all live with stresses and things like that and I think you can disengage yourself from those everyday stresses and you can be in the moment. You can lose yourself on that run. It gives you endorphins and makes you feel a bit brighter, a bit better in yourself.”