NHS Marathon Man takes runners from Couch to 5k

An NHS Manager, who raised thousands of pounds for charity by running 5 marathons in 5 days, has taken more than 20 people through the Couch to 5k programme after setting up dedicated running clubs.

Ian Puttock, from Angmering, completed his amazing marathon challenge last summer raising more than £3,000 for Heads On, the official charity of Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust where Ian works as Head of Project Management.

He has since launched two free running clubs on Friday afternoons at Worthing Leisure Centre with Sussex Recovery College, for staff and people under the care of the Trust’s specialist mental health services.

Twenty-five people have attended the groups with many of them graduating by completing Worthing parkrun.

Although free to attend, the running clubs have been made possible thanks to the money raised from Ian’s marathon challenge with his sponsorship pledges being used to fund hiring the running track at Worthing Leisure Centre for the sessions, the purchase of specialist equipment, special run leader course training, bespoke running vests and medals for people graduating to the 5km distance.

The courses will continue in Worthing every Friday lunchtime at Worthing Leisure Centre from 1pm to 1.45pm.

Ian said: “These running groups were initially set up with the primary goal of demonstrating to people the positive mental health benefits from running. 

“It has been brilliant to see people progress with their running each week. All abilities are welcome and there is a mixture of walking, jogging and running within each session. Everyone who has attended has commented on how much fun they are and how they are enjoying the running.”

Ian is also now working to extend the success of the Worthing clubs by working with Sussex Recovery College to set up similar sessions in Haywards Heath.

A father of four, Ian started running 10 years ago when his wife suddenly died and is a great advocate of the positive impact running can have when it comes to mental health.

Ian said: “Running has become a large part of my life and along with my family has helped me get through some very difficult times. Losing my wife 11 years ago turned my world upside down by suddenly finding myself with four children to bring up on my own.

“Fortunately, I was lucky enough to meet someone else and it is with large thanks to my partner that she introduced me to the idea of going out a couple of times a week to run. This has definitely helped my own personal mental health.”

Ian’s courses are hosted in conjunction with Sussex Recovery College and two peer trainers who have lived experience of mental health illness. 

One member of the first group said: “There is no doubt at all that my mental health is improved by running, and I have been really pleased to be part of the first Heads On Run Club.”

Another added: “What a great course. Thank you for all the motivation and encouragement. It made me see that I can achieve something no matter how difficult if I keep going and don’t give up.”

For more information about the Friday running club, including how to join, please visit sussexrecoverycollege.org.uk to book your place.