Sanjeev's running joke makes him the winning couch coach

Janet Christie's Mum's the Word

Your Coachto5k - Sanjeev Kohli is with you every step of the way

Knew it! For weeks, weeks! my fellow Couch to 5K sufferer and I have had a running joke that our app coach and mentor Sanjeev Kohli’s words of encouragement were issued from a hot tub. While he luxuriated with a glass of bubbles in hand we sweated and slogged our way through the parks, graveyards and empty streets of our hood.

And now the truth is out. He’s admitted it. Brazen. He’s in a studio wolfing almond croissants and swimming in flat whites, him with his ‘come on you’re doing really well’ and ‘when I started running’ chat. It’s not quite the hot tub and bubbles of our imagination (says more about us than it does about him) but it’s a betrayal all the same.

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He’d come recommended by runner pals in Dundee and Glasgow, who had signed me up to their Couch to 5K appchat but called the group C25K, so I spent months thinking they were doing a daily 25K and dodged it. When they explained it was just the 5K with Sanjeev (then back to the coffee and croissants) I finally heaved myself off the couch.

I text my exercise pal, Distant Runner – we run at the same time and she’s always so far ahead, even with a dodgy Achilles she’s rehabilitating doing slow runs with me trailing along in her wake, that there’s no danger of contact.

“That’s so funny!” she texts back. “We were right!” It only makes us like him more. In fact that could be the secret to his delivery, the happy and content burbling of a flawed human who understands our pain – I’d never have got off the couch if it weren’t for his kind, croissant and coffee-fuelled encouragement. A shouty mentor bullying me to breaking point wouldn’t work for me. I’d still be lolling on the cushions, vaping and watching Celebrity SAS.

So tomorrow when I complete my final 5K (with Distant Runner texting ‘think we should go for 10K next’), when Sanjeev tells me ‘it’s been emotional’ and ‘you’ve done it!’ – there’s an almond croissant and a flat white with his name on it from me.

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