Coach to 5K plus – still a negative

The NHS Couch to 5k program is brilliant and I always recommend it to new runners. When I take a break from running I use it to slowly build up stamina again and right now I’m running 30 minutes three times a week. My pace has been getting noticeably quicker too. I’m roughly around the 4.5k mark at 30 minutes now. So this morning I got up and ready for my Wednesday morning run and saw myself flick through my ipod to the Couch to 5k plus podcasts.


Why do that? Why?

I remember this was a disappointment last time, but that was years ago and right now I was only running 30 minutes for a few weeks previous. Maybe this would help my speed.


The Couch to 5k plus programme may be great for some people, but I was already too fast for this. The podcast voice-over talks about getting faster, and keeping up with the pace. But I found the same problems I have in December 2013 (a blog post I just re-read to see my thoughts back then). The same issue of the pace being too slow, the timings being confusing and the beat being over complicated for the musically challenged like myself.

I hate writing this, it feels like I’m saying I’m too good for this podcast, but it doesn’t come with any warnings about who it is aimed at – just 5k graduates looking to get faster.

Just a reminder to myself when I have these little ideas to try this again, please don’t. You will have a weak workout and feel you wasted the effort. Just DON’T do it!


Personal Values – Phase 3

Phase 3 of an octant is a long-term commitment and should take at least 30 hours, can include gaining a qualification or teaching something to others. I used my phase 3 as an opportunity to gain a new skill and share it with hundreds of young members…

Phase 3: Peer Education

I decided to apply for a Peer Education training weekend as I wanted to progress my skills as a leader, and also take on a specialist subject that I could share with other groups. I attended training from 10th-12th October 2014 at Heron’s Lodge in Milton Keynes. The weekend focused on teaching us how to run a project called ‘Free Being Me’ with Brownies and Guides.

Over the weekend we covered at least 14 hours of training. We experienced the Guide session of ‘Free Being Me’, looked at communication, safeguarding, and marketing, and then ran the Brownie session in small groups. We learnt through observing, discussions and role plays.

The weekend covered ‘Free Being Me’ – a programme helping girls to feel more body confident. The issue has become something I really care about. I have since become more aware of articles discussing the topic and hope to integrate this into the sessions.


Following the weekend I spent time revising the programme so I could confidently run the sessions. I also applied for a grant to purchase my Peer Educator t-shirt, some flipchart paper, markers and post-its to help run my first sessions. Straight away I had a list of unit leaders to contact and book meetings with. I set up a spreadsheet to show who I had contacted, when I was visiting them, whether they were Brownies or Guides and that they had confirmed the session. Between January and May 2015 I was set to run a session every week.


I ran my first session on Thursday 15th January with my own Brownie unit. There were some issues that arose, the perfect princess task didn’t lead into discussion quite right as the Brownies all drew very different looking girls! But they enjoyed the session and one parent said that after this session her daughter put a mirror up in her bedroom and wrote ‘I am beautiful’ beneath it, so I felt this must have been a positive session.

Including my own unit I have completed the sessions with eight units, sixteen sessions, and a mixture of Brownies and Guides. I have become confident in leading discussions and talking to groups of Brownies and Guides I’ve not met before. I enjoy seeing the girls’ perceptions change as they discuss issues with the media and decide for themselves that having fun is more important, and feel proud to be part of the Free Being Me movement.

Personal Values – Phase 2

Phase 2 of an octant should take at least 12 hours to complete, it can be a continuation of Phase 1 or something new. For my Phase 2 I took on a very personal challenge, which had me reflecting on the past 5 years…

Phase 2: Scrapbook of Guiding activities

Since re-joining Guiding at 19 as a unit helper and then leader in training I consider Girlguiding as something I really value. I want to be able to give the girls an assortment of opportunities they would be unlikely to do otherwise, while developing myself as a person too.

Through the scrapbook I have explored the activities and adventures that I have had, and helped organise as an adult member of Girlguiding. I hope that it will also be used to inspire me in the future to continue my work within the organisation.


I enjoyed putting together my favourite memories by scrapbook. I tried to use photos of myself involved in the activities as a reminder of the things I have done. I also like to add comments and dates around some images as reminders, especially around mountain-top moments – either for me or the girl I was assisting. I tried to choose activities that were especially the sort that myself, or the Brownies, would only experience within an organisation like this, to show why I value it as a part of my life.

Over the last year I have worked hard to complete as many aspects of Look Wider as I can, and this has led me to try new things I wouldn’t have done otherwise. As more Guiding experiences I added these to the scrapbook throughout the year to remember the experiences I have had thanks to Girlguiding. The final page was reserved for me receiving my Chief Guide Challenge!


Personal Values – Phase 1

Phase 1 of an octant must be about trying new things and should last for a couple of hours. These are the challenges I faced for Phase 1 of the Personal Values Octant …

Phase 1: Donate Blood

Having researched blood donation online and followed their informative guide to your first session I booked an appointment in 2011. I felt quite nervous as I didn’t know how it would feel to give blood.

First I was asked to drink a large glass of water and had a consultation with a nurse who checked I was okay to give blood that day. A small amount of blood was taken from my finger and tested. I was then sent to a waiting area before being called to a bed. After the needle was inserted it took about 10 minutes for the correct amount of blood to be taken.

I found out my blood group is A positive, this is a common blood group so lots of people will require donations of this type. I have also returned for many more donations.

I feel blood donation is an important thing to do as one day myself or my family may need to receive this from other people so feel I should give back too.

Phase 1: Understanding the new Promise with the Brownies

When Girlguiding announced a consultation would take place to discuss the Promise I made sure I gave my opinions on their survey. I felt it was important to open the Promise up to allow people of all faiths to say it without issue so was interested to see wording options that presented this.

On the revelation of the new Promise I knew we would need to have a session at Brownies explaining the new words. Some girls were initially confused by the change, especially some who were unhappy with the removal of ‘to love my God’. However we discussed how the change to the line ‘to develop my beliefs’ still meant ‘to love my God’ to those girls who choose it to, but can be open to others to promise their own beliefs.

We spent the evening doing activities to help the Brownies understand the new Promise. We held a multiply choice quiz with a range of scenarios and answers to show what the girls would do in certain situations, and therefore by doing what they think is right they were being ‘true to themselves’.

We also discussed what their beliefs might be, from environmental, friendships and religion. And also each girl wrote on post-its some ways they had helped other people that week.

Phase 1: Online course in ‘Introduction to Bullying Prevention’

With access to free online courses on ‘Universal Class’ I decided to take on a subject that could become useful as a Brownie leader. I chose ‘Introduction to Bullying Prevention’ as I felt it could be used within the unit if bullying ever became an issue, but could also be used as a subject to teach the girls about friendship and standing up to bullies.

The course first introduced the roles of a bully, a victim and a bystander. It became clear that both bullies and victims can have low self-esteem but act out in different ways.

It then explained the different ways children are bullied, from verbal and physical to online cyber-bullying.

The course is aimed at parents, teachers and people involved in children’s lives so the main bulk of the course focused on ways to prevent bullying. First was to ensure children know what bullying is, how it feels and to know it is wrong to be a bully. Talking to children about bullying, discussing it when it comes up in books and on TV and running through role plays explaining was to say to bullies were all key ideas to battle it.

One unit of the course was about building self-esteem, as children with high self-esteem are statistically less likely to be affected by the issue. This is an area I feel is important to run through with children, especially girls.

International – Phase 3

Phase 3 of an octant is a long-term commitment and should take at least 30 hours, can include gaining a qualification or teaching something to others. I used my phase 3 as an opportunity to gain another Girlguiding award…

Phase 3: Commonwealth Award

As my final year in Senior Section I hoped to complete the Commonwealth Award before it was too late.

I began in September 2014 by creating a PowerPoint presentation on the History of Guiding. This was a fun unit to work on. I bought a couple of books on Guiding, including the Centenary ‘Something for the Girls’ book, ‘How The Girl Guides Won The War’ and a Brownie Handbook from 1931. These resources, along with accounts on the internet, went into my work. I really enjoyed discovering more about the history of our organisation.

Next I looked at the Commonwealth. I practised remembering all 53 countries with help of website, drew up on a map of each continent where each country lies and learned a little more on the timeline.

For my chosen country to learn more about I picked South Africa. While I have family in other Commonwealth countries and previous knowledge of other Commonwealth countries I decided on South Africa as this would be completely knew to me. I made a page of scenic photos, culture photos, local crafts, and recipes on Pinterest to collect my ideas together. I then studied the cultures and religions, a day in the life of its people and guiding in South Africa.

For the practical element I first decided to look at beadcraft from South Africa and found lots of images of the types of jewellery made. I then created my own beadwork bracelets. I also wanted to try a dish from South Africa so tried cooking Bobotie. It wasn’t something I had ever tried eating before so couldn’t be sure it turned out as it should, but it looked like the images and tasted really nice!


For my community action I continued my work with Post Pals. I chose this as I feel passionate about sharing happiness with those that might need it, and it is an action that I could fit into my busy weekly schedule.

For the two optional units I chose ‘Fit For Life’ and ‘Investigation’. I studied Yoga, starting with the theory behind it and completing Yoga 101 through Universal Class. I then tried out some online sessions to practice the asanas. I then investigated the education and conservation work of three local zoos, visited two of them to see the work in action and compared what they do the United Nations Environment Programme.


I enjoyed working on the Commonwealth Award and found some new hobbies and interests to pursue. I think my favourite aspect was learning more about Guiding, but I also found that Yoga is something I want to continue on a regular basis and hope to find a class on a weekend morning.

International – Phase 2

Phase 2 of an octant should take at least 12 hours to complete, it can be a continuation of Phase 1 or something new. For my Phase 2 I took on a challenge with my Brownies which took up a lot of time and hopefully made a difference to some people’s lives.

Phase 2: Complete Together We Can Volunteer with Brownies + Backpack Project (Millennium Development Goal)

In the Autumn term of 2011 we ran the Together We Can project with the Brownies. The girls tried out a range of activities based on the 8 Millennium Development Goals, such as trying to play a game without being able to read the instructions, collecting a meal with food from the different food groups on, a game around mosquitos and a game around being given food from aid helicopters.

After the Brownies decided on ‘Ending Poverty and Hunger’ as the goal they wished to help we ran more activities relating to this. One of these involved the girls making a football out of newspaper, plastic bags and string to show how children living in poverty need to be creative with what they play with.

Once the Brownies had learned more about poverty and how it affects parts of the world they wanted to take action. We gave them two options to choose between, fundraising to send farming animals to communities or volunteering to collect school bags and educational equipment for children too poor to attend school.

The Brownies chose to support ‘Mary’s Meals Backpack Project’ and volunteered to collect items to send in backpacks. In total we collected 11 completed backpacks filled with stationary, second hand clothes, flip flops, hygiene products and a tennis ball. The project took many weeks to complete, plus one evening for the girls to pack the bags and lots of time after the meeting to ensure the bags had all the right items inside. We also had extra bags and boxes filled with stationary and clothes that were also donated to the project. I then needed to arrange for the items to be collected and sent to Africa. A few weeks later the unit received a certificate confirming the backpacks had arrived and distributed in Malawi.

marys meal cert2

International – Phase 1

Phase 1 of an octant must be about trying new things and should last for a couple of hours. These are the challenges I faced for Phase 1 of the International Octant …

Phase 1: Thinking Day postcard exchange

For Thinking Day 2013 I organised for the Brownies to take part in an international postcard exchange via

The initial set up involved contacting Girl Guide and Girl Scout leaders around the world to confirm exchanges, keeping track of names, units, countries and addresses on a spreadsheet, and trying to link with as many countries as possible.

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We exchanged with many UK units, units from different US states, units in South Korea, Australia, Singapore, China and Sweden. I created a postcard for the Brownies using images of UK based activities (the unit at the Olympic stadium, Westminster Abbey and at our diamond jubilee party). The Brownies has a say in what we wrote on the cards and all signed their names on the bottom.

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It was very exciting receiving all the cards from around the world. I used an atlas and a map of the UK to plot where the cards had come from and connected them to their postcards using colour dots. We then held an evening for the Brownies to read all the cards, find where they came from and a quiz on the activities our international sisters did in their units, including walking the Great Wall of China!

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Phase 1: Brownie meeting on Japanese culture

In early 2014, as part of the World Cultures Badge, the Brownies travelled to different countries each evening and one of the most successful was the Japan night. This was held around Hinamatsuri, the Japanese Doll Festival, and the girls all brought in their favourite doll to display.

The activities the girls tried were using chopsticks to eat marshmallows, making origami animals, learning the numbers 1-10 in Japanese using actions to help, and trying sushi.

Each girl tried something new or learned something new during the evening. I manned the sushi table; I explained what the food was in each piece and then gave the girls the chance to try it. Some found a new food they enjoyed; others didn’t like the taste or the texture. Some had tried it before.

We also ran evenings on fairy tales from Denmark, a Brazil carnival and Girl Guide uniforms around the world as part of this badge. The Brownies documented their travels in their own paper passport stamped with different countries to show which evenings they attended.

Phase 1: India Project with Brownies including friendship bracelets to Sangam World Centre

In late 2012 I discovered that World Centre Sangam in India was running a global friendship bracelet project, I thought it was a great idea and wanted to get the Brownies involved. The project involved Girl Guides and Girl Scouts around the world making friendship bracelets and sending them to Sangam to be sold to raise money for local Guiding.


Before making the bracelets I ran a few evenings on Indian culture and Brownies in India.

On the first evening the Brownies all discussed what they knew about India, and worked together to make a Peacock (India’s national bird) using colourful handprints. On the second evening we discussed guiding in India, that Brownies are known as Bulbuls, what their uniform is like, then played a few games Indian Bulbuls play.

Finally we held an evening where the Brownies made friendship bracelets. The Brownies tied a tag to their bracelet with their name, unit and location on so those purchasing the bracelet would know how created it. A few weeks after sending them we received a postcard in response thanking the Brownies for their work.

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