Monday, 1 October 2018

The Hampshire Hares



I can't remember whether I've said much about my role supporting new runners this year. It started in the spring when M suggested I take over organising our club's C25K (couch to 5k) course. We had 47 people sign up, 14 on the waiting list, and 40 finished the course nine weeks later. I learnt a lot about my ability to manage large numbers of people, how to motivate and support them to do more than they thought they could, and it was totally inspiring watching them progress and overcome obstacles and hurdles (a lot in their own minds) and seeing them go from people who didn't believe they'd be able to sustain ninety seconds of running at the first session let alone do 5k by the end of the course. We had all ages from 11 to 70, all shapes and sizes, all abilities. Some had run years before, some had never done any exercise at all, but all of them completed the 5k (3 mile) parkrun at Eastleigh nine weeks later with the biggest smiles on their faces you've ever seen.



We were all slightly bereft when the course ended. It had become a highlight of all our weeks. We had become friends, peoples' fitness and health had improved and the general sense of teamwork that developed was lovely to be part of. We had a laugh every time we met, there was lots of good natured teasing and banter and it was a really nice, happy, positive thing to be involved with. When it finished I had people telling me it had been a transformative experience, that they'd made friends for life and in some cases, that it had been life changing. I found it a very humbling experience and absolutely worth the time invested. Almost everyone continued running, with some joining RRR and others meeting up a few times a week to run together informally.

Several of the group were keen to take their running to the next level and do a 5-10k course. For various reasons the club wasn't able to facilitate that, so I decided I would set something up myself. With help from M and some friends from RRR and OS Runners who kindly gave up their time to support our new runners, I put together a ten week programme of progressively increased distances (in small increments to minimise injuries) and worked out routes that took us through some beautiful countryside, starting and finishing at pubs (complete coincidence). Poppy came with us and soon found herself the group's mascot. 







The culmination of the ten week course was this Sunday just gone, when three of the group ran the inaugural Ageas Bowl 10k in Southampton. More of them had entered, but a combination of colds and unexpected circumstances meant not everyone could do it. Anyway, Rob, Ali and Jo all finished the race in fantastic shape. I have to say I thought they looked a good deal more composed and confident than many of the more experienced runners coming in. We'd trained hard and thoroughly and with discipline and it showed. We'd talked race strategy beforehand and they'd all managed NOT to get swept up at the start and had had the discipline to keep their pace steady until the final sprint. I was MASSIVELY proud of them. We had to pinch ourselves slightly to remember that five months ago they couldn't run at all, and yet here they were running a little over six miles in a race with a thousand other people.

Faced with the imminent ending of another course which we'd all enjoyed and realising that meeting up once a week to run across fields and through woods and then sit in a pub at the end with a pint having a natter afterwards had become an integral part of all our weeks, and something we all looked forward to, I tentatively suggested that we could just keep going. Everyone jumped at the idea, so M and I spent an evening or two brainstorming names for the group, eventually coming up with the Hampshire Hares. One of the group members is a graphic designer and she put together some fantastic logos of running hares, the group voted on their favourite one, and we are now in the process of having them printed and put onto running kit for the group. I have every expectation that next year some of them will be training for their first half marathon. I shall certainly be encouraging them!

I'll leave you with a photo of RRR celebrating numerous PBs at the Ageas yesterday, including M who got his fastest 10k time in three years...... hip, hip, hooray!



If you've thought about starting running but are worried you might not fit in with a group- go for it. Honestly, you won't be on your own or stick out like a sore thumb- all kinds of people run, all kinds of abilities, all kinds of speeds, and there are all kinds of groups out there for all kinds of people. If you're in the UK, a good place to start is the Run Together website, which has a search facility to enable you to look for organised groups in your area. They are all registered with Run Britain, the governing body for athletics in the UK, so you can rest assured the people organising them are qualified and know what they're doing. If a group isn't your cup of tea, you can download an app or print a programme from the NHS called couch to 5k which is the one we used this year, so I can testify that it works. You won't regret it.

Hope you've all had a good weekend? I'm still on hip rest but it is starting to feel better so I hope I'll be allowed to try a little run later this week.....

CT :o)


26 comments:

  1. Brilliant post, brilliant idea, brilliant success.

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  2. Huge congratulations to all of the runners, and to you too, for all the support and encouragement you give out (in person and online). Sadly, I have been unable to continue with the running group I was attending, as it has since changed it's day and setting. X

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    1. That's a shame, are there perhaps others around that might work? x

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  3. Well done to you for all of your hard work CT and to all of your group of runners too!! I just completed my first "organised" walk on Sunday, an 8KM which I would never have thought I could do, but so pleased I did, and, I have recently tried doing a little running too!! Hoping to get working on the couch to 5K next, so it so good to hear that it works so well. Good luck with all of your future running endeavours for yourself and with others too!! xx

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    1. Amy that is brilliant! Well done you. And I'm so thrilled you're hoping to do C25K. Wishing you the best of luck with it. You CAN do it! xx

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  4. An inspiring post CT, well done you and the hares for doing so well. My travels haven’t helped getting going with my small group starting their Cto5K. Now I’m back I’ll really have to get them organised. Nothing on your scale tho. It’s lovely that you are continuing to meet. I look forward to hearing more. B x

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  5. You are just amazing CT, an inspiration for us all. I wonder if you might like to move up to Glasgow and organise a course for local couch potatoes? I think my foot is ready to go but I do not have the energy to leave the house.....

    Your comment on my blog arrived safely. I would have replied by email but you are a no-reply blogger. Thanks for stopping by xx

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    1. Christina, have you tried your local Jogscotland group? They cater for speeds from couch potatoes to more serious runners. The Edinburgh Uni group I went to before I took early retirement had several levels, including one that ran up Arthur's Seat at lunchtimes for a little light entertainment. And here on Speyside my local group has people who are competing in 10ks and above, but who are very happy to jog along with the rest of the group giving encouragement.

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    2. Hi Christina, a trip to Glasgow sounds lovely 😊. Take the plunge starting to train again- you’ll feel better for it xx

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  6. That's just such a cool thing you've done!

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  7. Well done you on inspiring so many people, and it's a testament your training that they all did so well. And a testament to how motivating you are that they all want to keep going. Hurray for the Hampshire Hares, a brilliant name. CJ xx

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    1. It’s been lovely watching everyone progress x

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  8. Well done to all concerned - you must have been like a proud mother hen watching your chicks cross that finishing line. I hope Ted isn't too jealous of Poppy's role as team mascot! xx

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    1. Teddy has the more important job of guarding the house and his boy 😆 x

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  9. What a great way to get everyone going into keeping themselves fit and healthy and having fun at the same time. x

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  10. Congratulations to the Hampshire Hares! You have encouraged so many to run in the blog world too. It is amazing what you have achieved through running. Sarah x

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  11. You are a very special, what a great class, run and so positive !
    Plus you had Poppy !

    cheers, parsnip and badger

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    1. Poppy loves it, especially sitting in the pub afterwards people watching!

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    2. I saw (in photo) a Poppy gud dug up for adoption. Sh seemed to have a longer face and very fluffy long hair sticking out like a ball. She is still young maybe 3 not sure even with Winston to play with if that would be enough for her. Remember I don't walk let alone run !

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  12. That is so fantastic to hear- well done for running it, and well done to everyone in the group who completed the course, parkrun and/or 10k race.

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  13. Your club sounds fantastic, I'm sure your infectious enthusiasm is one of the main motivators! You all should be so proud, especially those 10k runners. Ever thought of doing an online version? Not sure if or how that would work but it strikes me that your blog is akin to similar? xx

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Thank you for leaving a comment. I always enjoy reading them and will try my best to reply to every one. CT x