Five runners from Suffolk who are taking on their first half marathon at the Great East Run are coming on leaps and bounds since joining the Ipswich Jaffa running club.

Paula Shepherd, Sara Spreadbridge, Jeff Allum and Tony Holland from Ipswich and Faith Archer from Hadleigh have been attending beginner sessions at the club’s base at Northgate Sports Centre.

With just three months to go until the starting pistol fires on Sunday September 24, the runners have slowly been increasing the number of miles they run each week.

Their training has included taking on Needham Lake’s Great Run Local - weekly free 2k and 5k runs around the town.

Paula Shepherd said: “At the moment 5k is the maximum I have run and I am a little worried about increasing this distance to get to a half marathon, as physically at the moment I have had enough once I’ve ran 5k.

“I am determined to keep plodding along.”

Sara Spreadbridge said she felt her training was going well.

“I’ve completed a recent 10k programme and my next scheduled run is eight miles which makes me feel very nervous. It’s not a continuous run it’s a run walk programme although not much walking now but I find it works for me.”

Jeff Allum said he had lost a stone in weight through training for the Great East Run.

“I have been continuing to train three to four times a week, a mixture of club runs on Mondays with JAFFA, local 5k runs and longer early morning runs from my home, all of which has been enjoyable.

“I have also lost one stone in weight which has been a nice side effect. With three months to go until event day I am happy with how things are going.”

Tony Holland said: “My main concerns are injuries.

“I have continued to have issues with my knees that do get better while running but then suffer on non-running days.

“I am warming up with jogs, skips and other techniques I have learnt from Jaffas but the knees are still a problem.

“I appreciate this is mainly “runners knee” but it still is a worry that an injury is just around the corner.

“One final thing from me is weight is slowly coming off.”

Faith Archer added: “Back in January, I was part way through a 5k programme, and hadn’t even got as far as 5K the first time I tried Great Run Local at Needham Lake.

“I progressed to managing 30 to 35 minutes, and did several 5K runs.

“Recently, Hannah from Jaffa encouraged me to enter a couple of 10K races en route to the Great East Run, and put together a training plan to get me as far as running 10k in July.

“It’s really helped get me back into running three times a week, and means I’ve managed to stretch myself to my longest run ever of 52 minutes and over 7km.

“Entering the Simplyhealth Great East Run competition has already meant that I have kept up running for longer, and run further, than I ever have before and I’m very grateful for the support.”

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