Running Groups in Sussex

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Run England Logo

The Run England project is about getting people to try jogging for the first time or to build on earlier experiences and run more regularly with friends or family. There's no competitive element, though some might want to try a parkrun or local 10k later.

There are many different models of Run England groups and no hard and fast rules around their structure - they come in all shapes and sizes with one common theme - to enjoy running! In Sussex a number of clubs have introduced beginner sections, recognising that some people are put off by a competitive environment (though this is rarely the case).

Run England groups can be based at the workplace. One local council in West Sussex has introduced two beginner groups for employees and the initiative is backed by the company's Wellbeing team who see the advantages of a healthy workforce.

Other groups meet at local leisure centres which tend to provide changing facilities and post-effort coffee - both important in their own way! For example, leader Matt works at a Freedom Leisure Centre in Hailsham. He organises a group from the centre with members who now enter local races. Matt has set up his own Facebook page to encourage runners to share tips, information, plus words of encouragement.

Another group in Cooksbridge meet at the local primary school where parents run after dropping their children off. The leader is a mum herself and wants to get other parents to enjoy running as much as she does.

Marion Hemsworth is the running activator for Sussex and also organises two groups for beginners with a friend in Haywards Heath. She is keen for more people to train as leaders and set up their own groups. She told us: "There are many parts of Sussex where groups could be set up. Local clubs are great for those who want to compete or have been running for years but Run England is about getting people started with no pressure on time or distance, just enjoyment and feeling strong and healthy."

Contact Marion for more information on how you can train to become a leader via the County discount scheme.

Go to the Run England website for more information.



Run Chichester Group

Focus On Run Chichester

The Run Chichester group could be described as part of the Olympic legacy as it was while watching last year's sports jamboree that local man Rob Wiggins was inspired to start a beginners group in his home town. Rob had been a member of Chichester Runners for 16 years and enjoyed both running and coaching, now he felt it was time to put something back.

The new Run England group was formed in association with the club - they provided website information, access to other potential coaches and a progress route for group graduates. In return they felt that they might recruit some new members. The action started on Tuesday 6 November at the Westgate Centre when a full complement of 16 beginners started the course that promised to take those with no running background from zero to 30 minutes continuous running in just 8 weeks.

Rob Wiggins quickly had to come to terms with the fact that his group, although all beginners, were at different stages of fitness and likely to process at varying rates. He takes up the story: "The group who turned up on the first night was diverse; mostly women but all ages and varied backgrounds. The plan was to base our sessions at the playing fields adjacent to the centre and that meant we could let members develop at their own individual pace.

"We started with the standard run-walk-run programme that gently progressed so that member ran for longer with less walking each week. All goals were measured in time not distance as younger, fitter members could cover greater distances in the same time-frame and it was vital that all beginners had a goal that was realistic.

"Confidence is the key factor. Lots of the new recruits were very uncertain about their own capability, and myself and the other coaches from Chichester Runners who had completed the Leadership in Running Fitness course found that much of early work was in creating self-belief.

"All of the group had committed to doing three runs per week, Tuesdays and Thursdays at the Westgate Centre and another session on their own. I kept in touch by email to encourage everyone and would chat at the meet evenings to make sure everyone had 'done their homework'!

"For our 'graduation' long run we headed to West Wittering beach; a landmark occasion as all members ran for 35 minutes non-stop. When they had started out on their journey some had struggled to run for just one minute.

"At the end of the 8 week programme, some of the group decided to join Chichester Runners, others kept things ticking over before returning to the second programme that started in February. The returners were a great influence on the new intake - keen to help them settle and enjoy the experience."

Rob Wiggins concluded: "One incident sticks in my mind. We had a woman who joined because she wanted to go out running with her children, juniors at Chichester Runners. Soon after she completed the 8 week programme, she turned up on a Tuesday night with a big grin reporting that she had been out with her 14 year old daughter and it was the teenager who had wanted to stop for a rest. That made me smile too."

Find out more about the Run Chichester group on their website.

Article featured in Southern Running Guide Spring 2013


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