Calling All Beginners!

Ealing Eagles are offering help for new runners

Related links

Mark Yablesy - a beginner in January and now running 10k and more!

Ealing Eagles
Ealing Half Marathon

Diary of a Reluctant Runner wk1

Wk 2 : I start to Run

Wk 3: A classic beginners mistake

Wk4: Where not much happens

Wk 5: Where I get help

Wk 6: I'm a bat out of hell (sort of)

Wk 7: Where has the time gone?

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If you like the idea of running the inaugural Ealing Half Marathon but lack the confidence to try, then runners from a local club are on-hand to help.

Members of Ealing Eagles are helping to organise the race, which takes place on September 30.

And they are putting together training plans – complete with email support - aimed at runners who have never covered the 13.1-mile distance before.

Beginners’ group leader, Nanda Griffioen, says there is still time even for people who only started running this year to get trained up.

“We are offering three 12-week training schedules. There’s one for people who want to finish in under two hours and another for people targeting two hours 15 minutes,” she says.

“But our ‘get-you-round’ programme is ideal for people who started running recently or have not run that much before,” says Nanda, who has over 10 full marathons under her belt.

However, she says people will need a certain level of fitness and be comfortable to run three times a week before the start of the program.

Since Christmas, more than 60 newcomers have completed a short training programme with the Eagles, ending in a 5k timed run. Many have since become full members of the club and are targeting longer distances.

“People are often afraid that a club is only for experienced runners but we were all beginners once – many of us quite recently – and new members are surprised how friendly the club is,” Nanda says.

Among them was garden designer Mark Yabsley, 46, from Greenford.

He hadn’t laced up a pair of running shoes for 20 years when he signed up to the beginners programme in January.

“I was really struggling to run for two minutes at first and it was tough. But I followed Nanda’s advice and was able to build up until by the end of the fourth week I could run 5k without stopping,” he said.

“It’s surprising how quickly you can improve.

“Being part of a group helps. Sometimes you don’t feel like going out but then the others encourage you and by the time you finish training, you love it.”

Mark eventually felt confident enough to enter the half marathon, and has signed up for 10km races – like the Ealing Eagles 10k in Gunnersbury Park on September 9 – to ensure he keeps making progress.

And he says the half marathon is a realistic goal for others if they sign up to the Eagles’ programme.

“It’s not easy – you have to give it plenty of effort – but it’s possible if you’re determined because you can build up your fitness quite quickly.”

The club will be encouraging half marathon entrants to join its weekly Wednesday run, which would fit in with the training schedules.

And on Thursday it stages interval training sessions, which involve running shorter bursts at a faster pace with the aim of building strength and stamina.

Club members who have experience of running long-distance events will also act as email mentors to answer people’s queries and worries.

And – as race day approaches – entrants will be encouraged to join the club’s longer training runs on Sundays.

Ealing Half Marathon race director Kelvin Walker said: “Running a long distance race can be quite daunting, so it’s great that volunteers from the Eagles will be supporting our entrants.

“Anyone who has run a half marathon will tell you that training is much easier when you do it with other people. You can chat as you run, and the miles go past much more quickly.

“Before you know it you’ve run further than you have before and made a few friends along the way.”

More than 2,750 people have now signed up for the Ealing Half Marathon, which is supporting Epilepsy Action – a charity which campaigns for and offers assistance to the UK’s estimated 600,000 epilepsy sufferers, their family, friends and carers.

With no ballot, guaranteed places are available for the traffic-free event. Entry costs £34 – or £32 to members of UK Athletics-affiliated clubs - and participants will each be given a chip-measured time, commemorative medal and bottled water.

People can get more details about the event at To find out more about the Eagles training schedules, log on to

(Nb I can certainly vouch for the Eagles - an enthusiastic, supportive and friendly group + really helpful for beginners.)



3rd July 2012