It’s Good to Give Back…

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At the end of September I completed the Leadership in Running Fitness Course hosted by British Athletics. I recorded my thoughts on my iPhone about this course and am currently using the voice note I made to write this blog. I’m pleased I did so, as it would have captured the true feelings and emotions of what I experienced on this day.

From my recording (slightly edited, of course)…

I arrived in Cambridge in good time to register, sign in and I was greeted by walking into a room of fellow runners. I can only describe it as feeling like it was my first day of school.

I walked in, smiled at a few people that made eye contact and found myself a seat at the end of the front row #TeachersPet.

One of the first things we were asked to do was to write down the reason as to why we had joined this course and what we were wanting to get from the day.

A common theme that from the attendees was that we wanted to give back to the running community and that was one also a personal reason as to why I wanted to do the course.

  • Think about the number of volunteers at parkrun each week, giving up their Saturday morning to allow other people to run
  • The vast number of run leads at multiple running clubs up and down the country, giving runner the opportunity to be a part of a club, including my own, the Redway Runners.

All of the volunteers do this for free and give up their time to benefit others, which is my eyes is a very honourable deed. So thank you, if you are one of these awesome people!!

My own personal running journey began back in 2012 when I completed the Run to the Beat half marathon in a time of 2 hours 3 minutes. I then went on to run the London Marathon for Children with Cancer UK in 2014 in a time of 3 hours and 54 minutes. For both races I did the training on my own without being a part of a running club. Looking back I made a lot of common running errors and mistakes, but also admit this has contributed to making me a better runner today.

After my first London Marathon I shamefully lost my mojo with running as I did not have anything else to focus on. I had a holiday booked that summer so spent more time in the gym using weights and resistance training. It was on this holiday that I read Mo Farah’s autobiography and it instilled my passion for running once again.

I spent the rest of the holiday searching for local running clubs in Milton Keynes. Fortunately, Redway Runners came top of my Google search and I decided pretty quickly, that RR was the club I wanted to join when I got home.

There were a huge variety of runs on offer (which is far more extensive now) and looked easily accessible. The next step was to fill out a form and on my first run take £5 to join. A FIVER! My monthly gym membership costs quadruple that (and I use a budget gym)!

It was quite daunting turning up for my first run on my own, however, the director of the club, Martin Lawrence made me feel at ease quite quickly.  Thinking back to the day, it was a Monday evening and Martin advised me to join the ‘Club Run’ which was a lap of the local area where you ran at a certain pace. I advised him of what I had run London in and he put me straight in a group which looked full of super quick runners – I hoped I was going to be able to keep up and not embarrass myself.

I must admit I do remember it being tough, after having not run for a while, I was trying to keep up with the group, chat away to them, answer questions as they were trying to get to know me, whilst trying to compose my cool as well. I was always scared that before I joined a club I would be the slowest one there!!

Two inspirational members of the club were in this paced group on that day and they probably won’t remember it being my first run. However, Jen Sangster and Kevin Orchard were very friendly and always checking that I was OK. Jen, has represented England in the Chester Marathon, has run multiple marathons close to 3 hours, an ultramarathon and is a general running machine. I could list off all of her recent achievements, but I feel like I’d be here all day! A very heroic runner within our club. The second, Kevin, who has also represented Great Britain around the world in various triathlons. Scary to think now that I had no idea of what great athletes they both were as we ran together that Monday evening.

That was how my running club journey started, but back to why I completed the LIRF course, as being a runner and part of a club:

  • It gave me the confidence to get back into running and has continually built my confidence as a runner
  • It’s given me self-belief that I can run and also become better
  • It’s helped me find new friends and also my now boyfriend, James
  • Being a part of an incredible community, words can’t really describe that feeling. The sense of belonging and being a part of a special family.

Back to the course:

As most of wanted to give back to the running community to replicate what it had given us, we also wanted to be able to support other runners on their own personal development journey.

Being a run lead is a lot more than just being able to run, it’s about building someone’s character, self-esteem and confidence. I also like to believe that I can help people with these things through my job as a Personal Trainer and Coach.

A lot of the course content and style of leadership, I have covered before in my Personal Training Course, but it was good to be able to reinforce that what I already know and practice is correct.

But, one of the main takeaway things that I got from the day that as Run Leads we are role models. We are there to inspire, motivate, give advice, support and the most important thing is hopefully become a new friend to someone else. Running is such a social sport and to have the opportunity to be able to do this is sometimes overwhelming but very touching.

All in all, I am now very excited to be able to use this qualification to allow others to get into running or help current members within my club improve.

We learnt that there are a lot of barriers to running and negative perceptions about running such as ‘I can’t run’, ‘I’m too slow to be a part of a club’, but that’s never the case. One of the motto’s my club has is that no-one gets left behind. The Redway Runners caters for all abilities and ages and running is free – that’s the beauty of it (apart from the small £5), but that’s pretty cheap in my opinion to be able to a part of something special. #GreenArmy

So, if you’re reading this and unsure on whether to join your local running club, then I would urge you to do so today.

Like me, all of the other members on this course today are going to go into their local communities and set up lots of opportunities for others to run.

 

I’m now very excited to be able to give back to my running club and am excited to announce that starting on January 8th, I will be leading a ‘Need for Speed’ course aimed at helping others to improve their 5K PB.

It will be a 10 week course with a parkrun graduation on 17th March.

You can sign up for your spot (providing you are a Redway Runner) via the link that will be sent out in the Club Mail on Thursday.

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