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We recently caught up with club founder, Verity, to find out more about those who make up her group and how inclusive it is to anyone with any ability.
How many members does your club have?
133 members plus 13 currently on the beginner's course. 3 Run Leaders and 2 Coaches.
What range of running ability does your club cover?
We cover all ranges of abilities from complete beginner's who couldn't run to the bottom of the garden to runners training for Ultras and everything in between. The majority of our members have come from the beginner's courses, their first goal literally to run without dying or showing themselves up. Once they've completed the course and their first 5k they build up their confidence and start looking around asking themselves what could I do next and hence a runner is born. We also have a few members who join us as runners already and want to progress in their performance and get faster and stronger. We also have members who never run a parkrun or race and are happy to just come to a session once or twice a week.
How important is the community element of your club?
Community is key to our club, we support each other and there are many friendships that have been made along the way. Our ethos is that we always wait for our last runner to cross the finish line, no one goes home until everyone is through. We always loop in our group sessions which means that no one is ever left behind and all runners of all abilities can run in the session at their own pace without fear of being last, our community support provides a safe environment. When the latest beginner's graduate from their 8 week course and they run their first "parkrun", our members will marshal the route or run and support the runner, offering encouraging words helping them achieve their goal, it can be an emotional morning!
"Without the support of the group I would not have achieved any of the goals that I have. The group is there for the good, bad and the very ugly!"
"In club community is important to me, it provides a feeling of belonging and has facilitated a number of important friendships"
Why do your members get involved in events such as Miles For Mind?
I think being able to support Miles for Mind is an easy thing to do, it's not too expensive, you know the money is going to such a worthwhile cause and you don't have to shout about why you are doing it. People can donate, run their miles and know that they are supporting a charity that may have helped them in the past. Even if an individual has not been touched personally by mental health they would have known somebody who may have. By joining in an event like this, there is no pressure on time, performance,or the stress of having to turn up to a race. The accumulation of miles could be done on an individual basis or with a group of friends. It has certainly motivated RunVerity members, especially during lock down as it gave us a focus, it gave me a focus to check how they were doing and keep them motivated as they could share their journeys via social media, see what they could achieve and the nicest part was if someone went over their pledge their "virtually" donated their miles to another member. That was very heartwarming during lockdown.
"To support local charities, for a focus and for our own mental health".
"To put something back, it's also another excuse for goal setting and creates conversation in our team. For those newbies I also think it helps them feel a sense of early achievement"
How important is having goals each month for runners to aim at?
Goals are very important to help motivate runners and aim for a tangible reward.
"For motivation! And everyone loves a medal!"
"Very important, my goals are contained in my running plan. Achieving the distances on the plan is very fulfilling'
How important is mental health for you and your members?
I understood the importance of how running can benefit someone's mental health a long time before I set up RunVerity; I was a Psychology lecturer and used to provide a running session at the college I worked at for staff members, it was a huge stress relief for the staff and running helped to relieve the stress of an incredibly stressful job. I knew the theories behind the benefits of exercise and depression/anxiety and over the years as a runner myself I saw first hand the impact running had on an individual in a positive way. On a personal level running helped me enormously through very difficult times in my life, I really don't know what I would have done if I hadn't been able to run.
When I set up RunVerity 7 years ago there was a session labelled "depression" group (don't laugh, it's a bit embarrassing now) but at the time I felt passionately about providing a safe space for people to run, get together, have a chat and then go for coffee. There wasn't much around at the time for people who may have been experiencing depression or anxiety so I thought a group would help. I used to sit and wait in the car park for people to turn up and of course no one did, so I knocked it on the head, took the label down from the website and provided a "normal" running session. The irony is, that the "re-labelled" Friday morning session has now become such a safe space for people to run in (all of our sessions are) but all you can hear on a Friday is laughing, talking, people putting the world to right and supporting each other and of course we all go for coffee afterwards; it's a very sociable morning. There was a stigma associated with mental health just a few years ago but thank goodness this stigma has been broken down to some extent, being able to talk about how you are feeling without fear is now seen as much more acceptable, thanks to campaigns such as Miles for Mind. I feel passionately about providing a safe space for people to run in, the hardest bit sometimes is actually putting your trainers on and if people know that they will be supported physically as well as emotionally then this can only be a good thing.
"Very important, not sure I could have maintained the positive outlook throughout lockdown without running regularly. I find running empties my mind and the friendships formed during the running really help with supportive discussion and peace of mind"
"As someone going through treatment for mental health issues it is so important for myself to have my running/exercise as my time and my headspace so that I can decompress. We all have our own challenges in life but running as a club brings us all together".
Thanks to Verity for giving us an insight into her group. We're looking forward to the getting involved in more of our virtual events in future
If you're part of a running club or group and want to get your members involved in our virtual events, simply, then all you need to do is head to our Events page, sign up to an event, then create a team which you can them share with your running buddies!
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