January 13


Running Alone as an Online Summer Squad Member

By Conor Graham

January 13, 2020

What Is It Like to Run Alone?


We interviewed Joanna Cormack, to find out what she thought of following our online programmes and how doing it alone impacted her running journey.

She received all the same support as a programme built for those who attend club runs but had the joy of running wherever she liked. She first joined Cheltenham Running Club in April 2019 as a member of both our Summer and Winter Squads.


Conor: "How did you come across the club?"

Jo: "I did some research on the internet and found this lovely club.  Although a member of the club, I opted for an online running programme due to the struggles of balancing work and distance to get to club runs. Conor talked me through the options available and the online programme suited me perfectly."

Conor: "Why did you feel the need to join as someone who runs alone?"

Jo:  "I was never sporty at school; I was the shy one that would hide and do my best to avoid sports day.  Fitness came late to me. Over the years I have had several knee surgeries, due to maltracking/dislocations. The last surgery was a knee reconstruction in 2010.  

In 2016 aged 47 I began to struggle with back problems. After having Facet joint injections to alleviate the pain, my consultant informed me, that they would provide a short-term relief, and that the best thing I could do is start swimming.  Feeling rather ashamed, I admitted that I couldn’t swim, and that I was terrified of water! After 1wk absent from work due to my back, I decided to bite the bullet. I sourced some private swimming lessons and learnt to swim. That was the start of my ‘getting fit’ journey.  I enrolled in Yoga and Pilates classes and they transformed my well being, mentally and physically."


"Soon after, in Nov 2017, I had read an article about the Couch to 5K (C25K).  Now given my history with knee problems, I did have reservations about attempting to run.  I began the C25K and quickly progressed through the 9wks. Yoga & Pilates had given me great strength to enable me to do this successfully without injury.  

As a solo runner, I still had little confidence in my running ability, and I rarely ran further than a 5k. I had run a couple of 10k distances but had never entered any events.  I was in what I termed as a ‘5k rut’. I attended a couple of parkruns, hoping they would increase my confidence, unfortunately they did the opposite! Fraught with anxiety, I would be sick at the end of run.  

Parkrun was soon abandoned, and I was clearly in need of some confidence building. That is when I made the decision to find a suitable club/programme to help. "


Conor: "How did the ability to run alone as part of a structured personal programme suit you?"

Jo: "When I joined the Cheltenham Running Club 'Summer Squad’ in April 2019, the programme transformed my running. Not only did it have me run further, but it also gave me the confidence to enter some events.  I achieved some awesome personal bests times, something I had not even contemplated before. 

I also had a 50th birthday looming in September of that year.  I wanted to run a Half Marathon in the month of my birthday.  The programme worked magic; I was shocked at how far I had come on in such a short space of time.  I was so dedicated to Conor’s programme, that I even managed to stick to the prescribed running on holidays abroad.

I ran my first Half Marathon distance around Central Park in New York. On my return from that holiday, I ran in The Cheltenham Half Marathon.  It was one of the biggest accomplishments of my life. Learning to swim had been challenging enough but running in that event was exhilarating (and I wasn’t sick!)" 

Having a tailored programme to suit you without the restrictions of being at regular club runs has allowed Jo to personalised her expereince even further. The impressive achievement to find a running event and smash it wherever she goes is truely inspiring. 

"Throughout those months in the Summer Squad, Conor has been very helpful.  Answering any questions via email promptly, helping me with setting up my Garmin watch, as I’d never used it to its potential previously.  

The online support through the Facebook Group has also been a huge help. Wonderful, friendly people, who offer encouragement and it is a great place to share your run.  As Summer came to an end, and the programme too, I was elated to see that Conor was offering a Winter Squad. I needed to keep motivated throughout the cold months, I didn’t want to be put off by bad weather.  Ultimately, I didn’t want to lose the fitness I had gained throughout summer.

I am now on week 12 of 15 and have managed to keep to the programme. I am not so sure I would have done as much running without it.  It has been a great discipline!!"

"I can not recommend this club highly enough.  Although I haven’t yet attended the club runs, I don’t feel like I am not part of the club.  Indeed, I have met many members at events and its always lovely to chat with them.  

Maybe I should challenge myself with a marathon next…"

We really look forward to hearing what Jo gets up to next through following her programme as someone who runs alone. If you're inspired by Jo's lone running story then why not find out how you can do the same by booking a call with our Head Coach, Conor Graham. 

Conor Graham

About the author

Conor is the Head Coach and Founder of Cheltenham Running and Walking Club.

His experience as a Strength & Conditioning Coach, Triathlete and Personal Trainer ensure members are educated on best practice in regards to training progression while also nurtured through the early stages of fitness development.

Leave a Reply
{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}

Talk to our Head Coach about whether Cheltenham Running and Walking Club is  right for you.