A year ago today – 19th April 2018 – I made what I believe is one of the best decisions of my life – I joined the best running group in my humble opinion – the Danson Runners!
So how did it all came about? Well, by April 2018 I’d been working as a fitness instructor/personal trainer for three months – and I loved and still love my job, but between that, the kids and general life stuff I found I was getting less and less time to focus on my own training and fitness, and doing what I did I do feel it’s important to keep myself fit and healthy – it was then I decided I wanted to get properly get back into my running which had fallen by the wayside.
So I did what every sensible person does and signed up for a 10km – oh you mean people don’t normally do this!?! What had I done!?
So on Tuesday 19th May I got to attend a very exciting media launch in London’s beautiful Hyde Park, courtesy of Helen of HelBels who managed to get me invited along for which I cannot thank her enough!!! I also got to meet the lovely Adele – find a link to her blog here
The media launch was for the Run It campaign by Join In. It was the first time I have ever attended an event of this kind and I was super excited, probably a bit over excited to be honest!
So what is Join In? I hear you cry, well I will tell you (even if you didn’t actually cry out or haven’t clicked on the very helpful hyperlinks above! ;-)) Join In are a charity whose mission is to encourage people to volunteer and help support their local sporting groups. It is a London 2012 legacy charity (thank you very much the Olympic games :-)) which is funded by government grant and their official partners BT and Intersport.
The Run It campaign, to put it simply, is to get more people volunteering specifically in the area of running! Be it for informal running groups (e.g. Parkrun), athletics teams or marathons. None of these events would be able to take place if it weren’t for people volunteering to help out – in whatever capacity that they are able to – marshalling, coaching, painting the club house, making sandwiches, taking subs… literally, the possibilities for volunteering are endless and make such a huge difference!!!
This was an amazing first event to attend, even though I personally have nothing to compare it to, I felt it was a very friendly, sociable and inclusive group. It was fun and informative. After initially arriving and milling around meeting people and saying “hello”, receiving our very lovely purple Join In t-shirts, there was an introductory few words from Join In’s Director of Sport and former 5km world record holder David Moorcroft. He brought across just how important volunteering is and one sentence which really sticks in my head is “If you love running, help others run”
Supporters of the campaign, who were in attendance, were 10,000m 2014 European Championships Gold medal winner Jo Pavey (a massive inspiration to me!) and second fastest British female runner over a marathon Mara Yamauchi – both again highlighted just how important it is to have volunteers in the sport, without volunteers neither of the them would have had the amazing sporting careers and achievements that they do!
After the initial chat, we couldn’t go to a running based media launch without actually doing any running could we? So we ventured outside, where fortunately for us the weather held out! Here I got to do the most exciting thing which was take a photo of Mara Yamauchi and Jo Pavey together, for Mara on her camera!!! I hope it was in focus!!! Slightly overawed!
So our warm up was led by Carlos from Intersport – this *ahem* gentle warm up was quite intense for the likes of me your amateur jogger, but was good fun! Then we headed off on a 5km run around Hyde Park – I kept at the back with Helen and a few others and the ’35 minute pace setter’. There was a couple of people marshalling (see – good examples of volunteering!) but somehow Helen and I managed to get a bit lost and we’re positive we did about 5.5km – but hey ho whatever I WON!!! No – not like that, I was never gong to beat the likes of Jo Pavey was I? – What I did win was a fun little competition. We had to guess how long it would take us to run the 5km, I said 00:34:30 and it took me 00:33:57 – so only 33 seconds out and the closest guess! Go me!!! So I won the bragging rights there – I know how slow… I mean how fast I am!!! 😛
Afterwards I got to chat with David Moorcroft, who is lovely and friendly, and I mentioned my interest in running – and volunteering – and it’s ability to help those of us with mental health issues. He introduced me to Will – who discussed with me Hidden Diamonds – Uncovering the True Value of Sport Volunteers. It is quite overwhelming the difference that volunteering can make – not only to a community but to individual people. In some cases it can be literally life changing!
Right at the end we did get a few minutes to say “Hi” to Jo and we quickly discussed kids and running, but her taxi had arrived and she needed to go, but she was kind enough to have a photo taken with me.
All in all – it was a brilliant event and I am so pleased that Helen was able to take me along. It’s definitely made me consider volunteering again soon – at the moment my aim is to volunteer at Parkrun each time I complete 10 runs – I’ve currently run 16 so only 4 more and time to volunteer again. The whole thing is brilliant, as volunteering inspires people to run and vice versa, this leads on to making friends and becoming part of a network of people and the running community.
Now before I sign off, you may be wondering about the posts title, well as we were getting ready to leave Jo was asking the event organisers if they’d seen her black trousers – as like most of us she’d layered up and worn other trousers over her running ones as it was quite chilly, so one of the last things I heard before I left was “has anyone found Jo’s trousers?” and indeed I still don’t know… 😛
There are currently 4,000 opportunities to volunteer on the Join In website – go look now – watch the video – be inspired!!!
Summary of contact details for Join In and their Run it campaign
That saying couldn’t be more appropriate today! All very exciting for me today – I did Parkrun at Dulwich Park – not only is this the first time I’ve attended a Parkrun somewhere other than Greenwich (Avery Hill Park), which I am feeling a little disillusioned with the moment, but it also took me back to where I grew up and brought back so many wonderful happy childhood memories! I already knew I’d love the Parkrun here before I even arrived!
It helped that it was beautiful crisp sunny morning, with blue skies which puts you in a positive mood to start with! I collected Deputy Helen and off we headed, meeting with the lovely Jo and her friend Jane once we got to the park. Parking was reasonable as we got there quite early.
It’s obviously a very popular Parkrun as there were lots of runners in attendance (many visiting from Bromley Parkrun too) – all seemed
very friendly. The only issue this morning was the cold and the waiting in it whilst the announcements were made! Also the slight fear of icy patched under foot one we started running!
The standing in the cold affected me in the fact that when I started to run my toes were numb and it felt like I was running with concrete blocks on my feet – this sensation eventually wore off half way into the second lap of the park!
The course was lovely and flat with tarmac pathways or the option of running in the sand track (meant for horses), this was actually my saving grace as during the second lap my left ankle started to hurt, but I didn’t want to stop running as it’s the best I’d felt running a 5km in ages, so instead I ran on the sand and this lessened the impact and reduced the pain.
I have been on UK Fitness Bloggers facebook page asking on what exercise I can do to strengthen my ankles and it has been most useful with some great responses! Well worth joining – as it’s a group of like minded individuals and you can get advice etc.
I did seem to have my invisibility cloak on today as it felt like people were deciding to come off the pathway and on to the sand and vice versa directly by me, a couple of dogs also decided to go directly in front of me to get back to their owners! I am sure this wasn’t just happening to me though! This feeling did lessen on the third lap as all the speedy runners had already finished so didn’t need to get passed!
I actually really enjoyed the final lap, which was unusual as I am normally thinking “just need to finish”, as I came to the home straight I tried to step it up a gear and really wish I’d tried even harder as I did feel I had it in me but came in at a very respectable 00:32:09 – only 3 seconds slower than my PB at Greenwich and a 2015 PB which I am very happy with as my previous timed 5km this year was around the 37 minute mark – so this was a vast improvement!
Then this afternoon I had to meet with someone in Bounds Green – so there was four rather brisk walks to and from various stations. Made enjoyable as I travelled with my hubby, we were childfree and the sun was shining, an additional plus point was that I got to read my book whilst on the train and tube – which I haven’t done in ages!
Once we were home, I collected the kids from our amazing neighbours who looked after them whilst we were travelling across London, and they very kindly lent me a Garmin Forerunner 10 which I am very excited about. Can’t wait to test it out!