IT IS approaching that time of year where people consider what they can do to change their lives for the better, writes Andy Hughes.

Health, both mental and physical, is often a focus. But trying to change anything too quickly, or to do it without support, often leaves that resolution languishing after a very short time. Why not consider what Tavistock Athletic Club is offering in January?

The Couch to 5k (C25K) programme is an initiative for new runners. It offers motivation through managing expectations and is designed for those brave enough to take that first step from non-runner to being able to comfortably run a 5 kilometre course.

It’s not about speed, nor winning a race – the short-term goal is simply to run the distance, but the more important objective is to set up new runners for a lifetime of improved wellbeing.

Doing the C25K course is often achieved through an app – the most popular of which is that developed by the NHS. But using an app alone means users miss out on the many benefits of joining a group supported by coaches and run leaders certificated by England Athletics. These benefits include the comradeship of running in a group, and the individually-directed advice from the coaches which can reduce the risk of injury, and can eliminate bad habits, poor technique and the wrong choice of running kit. It also gives participants the incentive to return for more training.

The TAC ‘real life’ C25K course starts slowly and builds gradually. No one is ever left behind and it is suitable for adults of all ages (16+) – for those new to running as well as returning runners. The coaches and leaders give support throughout the course to help individuals achieve their goals whilst having fun. And, most importantly, the club offers several group runs a week to new graduates, streamed by ability, to help ensure that the running journey can continue.

Countless members of Tavistock Athletic Club can attest to the success of the success of its C25K programme, having started running by that route. Some have gone on to enjoy the competitive elements of the club, training for and competing in local and national races. Others simply enjoy the social elements of group running and the regularity of getting out and keeping fit with friends – many have commented on the mental health benefits.

I, for example, started the course aged 60, not expecting to enjoy it. But I got the bug and, seven years later, have competed in races from 5km up to marathon. Val Evans, who masterminds the C25K programme, is also a recent graduate who is now breaking club records in her age category.

If anyone is looking for a New Year’s resolution that keeps on giving, they can enrol at the TAC website – – and look for the ‘Get Into Running’ link.

Starting on Saturday, January 6, the course runs each Saturday morning until the target ‘graduation’ day in late March.

The full course costs just £15 but this is refunded if runners subsequently join the club.

Places are limited but another course will start in May.