Clubs may be an ongoing service with leaders sourced from the local area, or micro groups funded by grant monies for specific community then left to be free-standing.
We’re now 8 weeks in to the running club and the enthusiasm continues to grow each week – what a surprise it was to hear the group disappointment when we announced the following week is Good Friday and there would be no club run that day!
So what have we done so far?
There are a number of simple but key items focused upon:
- Identity; simple branding/consistency with t-shirts, Facebook group, Run Together group and hashtags help produce something tangible to belong to.
- Reliable and predictable; it’s natural to feel to feel cautious of continuous change unless following a clear plan, therefore runs have been consistent in length and leadership, varying only by geography (and elevation!).
- Simplicity; a key benefit of the lunchtime run is to release the mind from the office concentration. Simply having someone guide a route allows participants to rest their minds and just run or chat freely to others.
- Networking; communication within a company is supportive and communication across companies is the backbone of success. The opportunity to meet others without the ceremony of business allows participants to really listen to each other.
In reality, the group is so supportive that everything falls in to place without friction. All aspects are based on knowledge and experience so only the selection of relevant actions and customisation of the approach have been necessary.
One of the primary thought processes is how do we ensure runners at all experience levels receive benefit from the session. One key aspect is ensuring the session remains social (vs performance). However, that said, routes are designed with long visible stretches capable of supporting 40 runners easily and therefore front runners can have the opportunity to loop ahead at several points. This supports both increased distance and/or natural interval training – the front runner may cover 2 miles further than the planned route.
Beginners too are well supported as the run leaders (especially the tail-lead) are experienced with couch to 5k approaches and can therefore guide the run-walk ratios. We use simple looping, rest points or split diversion to keep the group together and never leave anyone behind.
Having a foundation of great leaders each with differing strengths has provided a backbone from which to reach out to other leaders.
Reflection is important so listening to feedback is a key aspect – it’s true that some runs feel better than others so we have to be mindful of whether routes, leadership pitch, pace, rests, weather or anything else factors in to the variance.
Where are we going?
As highlighted below, we now have a suite of unique routes that we can draw upon to either replay, reverse or otherwise mix up. Whilst new routes will be devised, a higher priority can be applied to enhance the existing with historical information, training features (e.g. step repeats, park games) or scheduled to coincide with events.
Our focus is also to support the natural growth of the club by adding benefits (e.g. discounts) for members but also key is that the existing participant base feel confident to encourage colleagues to join. We’re not aiming to be the only reason people run, as that will only limit people’s natural progression, but we’ll be there to support or simply be the reason to make a start.
Summer is just around the corner so the group is heading in to the season very strong, not only as a club but every individual.