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UEL running enthusiast wants to create ‘aspiration buzz’ to get local residents fit

Academic Registry officer Nadia Shah has teamed up with England Athletics to run a ‘Couch to 5km’ running group

The Olympic legacy is alive and well in 2016 thanks to the launch of a brand new ‘Couch to 5km’ fitness programme spearheaded by a member of UEL staff. 

Newham residents will get the chance to get fit and have fun under the guidance of UEL Academic Registry admissions officer Nadia Shah, who has teamed up with England Athletics to show the way to a happier, healthier lifestyle. 

“There’s a great sense of achievement when you’ve done a good run, you feel good, and others around you share the sense of achievement,” says Nadia. “They get motivated to set health goals, get to the gym, and get fit.

“It creates an aspiration buzz.”

Nadia coordinates a staff running group affiliated to the university athletics club. Last year she completed the professional Leadership in Running Fitness Award.

She trains regularly at the SportsDock gym and fitness centre at UEL Docklands campus, which she says has definitely improved her running. The centre is open to staff, students, and members of the public. 

Nadia, who has been running for nearly 15 years and is also a member of East End Road Runners club, was invited by England Athletics to take charge of a new ‘Couch to 5km’ group after organising two successful community runs around the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park on behalf of the American casual dining restaurant, Shake Shack, in Stratford. 

“Shake Shack is one of my favourite places to eat, so I happily got involved, and even got some free food,” says Nadia. 

“England Athletics got back in touch, asking if I’d be interested to lead this new ‘Couch to 5km’ group, and I jumped at the chance.

“I’m all for the community and giving back. I’ve lived in Newham for nearly 30 years.”

England Athletics running coordinator for Newham, Coral Nourrice, said, “Nadia has been exceptionally generous with her time, and really turned her passion for running into something positive for other residents in Newham. She’s certainly helped us build strong community links.”

The group will begin in the gym on treadmills to build up their stamina and fitness. Towards the end of the course, Nadia will be taking the group onto the roads, working towards hitting the 5km target. 

“It’s really a treadmill-to-track way of getting fit, having fun,and meeting new people,” Nadia enthuses. 

Asked what her top three tips are for would-be runners, she suggests investing in a good pair of trainers, being consistent about running goals and thinking about the long-term benefits.

“I ask people what they want in life, and they always include being healthy for themselves and their kids, having more energy, and greater motivation,” says Nadia. 

True to her word, Nadia has set herself some lofty goals for the coming year. “I’ve done half-marathons, and I’ve made the decision to do the Amsterdam marathon in October this year. I’d like to do all the major marathons – Venice, Berlin, Athens, and New York, eventually.”

The course offers a choice of three classes per week for a total cost of just £15. To take part, visit