Leader in focus: Melissa Howell
Melissa starting jogging after attending Slimming World.
Melissa Howell, 33, lives with the neurological condition MS, but it has not stopped her taking up jogging with Couch to 5k and parkrun. She is now a Jog Leader with Rosliston Runners, inspiring others to follow in her footsteps.
Starting at Slimming World
"I also started doing the parkrun too, which meant getting up early on Saturday mornings as well as Sundays, but it proved to be well worth it.
"I was able to learn about the breathing techniques of jogging and it's gone from strength to strength, so that now I have got up to 10k and half marathon distances.
Melissa has enjoyed the social aspect of being part of a jogging group.
Helping to motivate people
"I like proving to myself that I can do it and hopefully that rubs off on other people too. The social aspect is great too as it gets you out and chatting to people.
"It quickly becomes a group of friends that you jog with, where it's enjoyable and not a competition. I think that's a big worry for people – that it will be competitive and they will be too slow – but as leaders we always do our best to reassure people.
"There is no such thing as going too slow in my mind because you are out there doing something. Anyway, the person at the back is normally me!
Melissa has gradually built up the distances she has been able to cover.
'I like to prove to myself I can do it'
"Jogging is a great way to set personal goals as well as keep yourself fit and healthy. You can enter virtual races online and get medals sent through the post. I've done quite a few myself this year.
"I have been jogging for around 18 months now and I almost can't remember what it was like before I started."
Coping with MS
In terms of my MS and how it affects me on a day to day basis is that I try and behave as any other person does.
"In the summer it can often be too warm to go for a run in the evening so I try sticking to running in the mornings before it gets too warm and in the winter as it can make my already stiff legs even stiffer.
"I just try and take it in my stride and accept that I may not be as fast as I am used to but I'm still out there trying."
Some of the medals Melissa has earned.
'A great way to set personal goals'
"I first started my journey to being a leader by helping out with Couch to 5k at Overseal where I used to stay at the back and help motivate people to keep going.
"I now lead a group that has started on Saturday morning called Rosliston Runners, which starts from the Rosliston Forestry Centre, and we will be taking part in the new Couch to 5k for Jog Into January.
"The reason I like to lead is that I like to inspire and motivate others while I can, because you never know what is around the corner.
Find out more
Get in contact with the Rosliston Runners and find out how you can join the next Couch to 5k programme early in the New Year as part of Jog Into January.
To search for a JOG Derbyshire group near you, visit the Find a Group page.
If you are interested in finding an activity in general, go to the club and activity search.