Monday, 26 May 2014

On giving a little back

Running is a bit of a self-absorbed sport, really. It's ultimately a solo venture and most thoughts revolve around me, myself and I: What will I wear? How will I get there? What time will I do? I'm no exception - I tend to focus on my race and have rarely stopped to appreciate all the people other than runners who are needed to make a race happen. 

Now, having completed some fairly big events, I've come to realise that so many people contribute to the race being a success and to my enjoyment of the run: the marshals on the course who give you that much needed support; the bag drop and pick-up people who, in my experience, have always been super efficient; and you have to give it to the people who sit there cutting people's timing chips off what can only be pretty sweaty and smelly shoes!

Brainstorming at LiRF

That's why I decided that if I'm to take part in an event a month, which seems to be my average at the moment, then maybe I too should give something back to the running community. 

So I took the first step and signed up to take a Leadership in Running Fitness (LiRF) course, which would enable me to become a run leader for the brilliant charity A Mile in her Shoes

The charity encourages women who are at risk of homelessness or affected by related issues to try running as a way of exercising, socialising, lifting confidence and boosting self-esteem. To be able to organise new sessions, however, the charity needs qualified group run leaders, which is where the LiRF course and volunteers - like me - come in.

LiRF is taught by Run England, and takes place over one day where you learn everything, from how to lead the session from warm up to cool down, to how to overcome barriers that people may have with running. It was quite an intense day with lots to take on board and practical sessions to learn the most appropriate way to lead an engaging and useful run session with appropriate care and safety. 

Leah (top) and Charlie (bottom) leading the mini sessions

But it was a really good laugh as well, helped by the fact that two of my run buddies, Charlie and Leah, were also there, as was Charlotte from fab fitness site lunges&lycra

We had a fun afternoon in the park with our respective groups, leading mini sessions to demonstrate the skills we had learned throughout the morning. I definitely learned a lot and am looking forward to taking my first group out later this year.

To enable the ladies who attend the sessions to go out and run at these sessions, A Mile in Her Shoes also provide appropriate clothing and footwear, most of which come from donations of kit from the public. If you have unused or worn but in good working order running clothing or shoes then the team would love to hear from you so please get in touch and share what you can.

Give a little back - it'll make you bloody ecstatic!

To keep my 'give a little love' halo shining a little longer, I also decided to volunteer for the first time at my local parkrun in Brockwell Park - a free, weekly, timed 5k run. Unfortunately for me, it was the wettest Saturday morning that London had seen in quite some time and I cycled along to the park in my waterproofs in the driving rain fully expecting nobody to be out to run. How wrong I was! 

Dedicated parkrun runners
in the rain

I was assigned the prestigious role of 'barcode scanner', and loved playing a small part to ensure that the run could go ahead smoothly. 

The runners were so friendly and appreciative of the volunteers, with some specifically coming back over once changed and dry to say thanks again. I enjoyed volunteering so much that I've signed up to do it all again next week! Hopefully the weather gods will be kinder to me this time..

As big races are often on a Sunday I don't tend to run on a Saturday, so volunteering at parkrun it's a good way to rest your legs but still be part of the running community. Why not have a look on the parkrun website and see if your local group needs some help? It's a great opportunity to give a little back and share the running love :)

Katy | City Girl Fit

1 comment:

  1. Looks like a really great day. I don't really feel like I'm at a stage with my own running where I could become a leader or a coach, but I love the idea of giving something back.