16.May.12 Culture change in Midlands Road Running
West End Runners are a city centre club for adults of wide ranging abilities and experience. Their membership ranges from those who actively compete in road, cross country, fell and ultra distance events to those who enjoy a social run to keep fit.
Upon joining the Leicestershire Vision 2020 Network the club had no leaders or coaches and although very well organised as a social running club they lacked no programme of planned training and no structure for speed work or runner development. After discussions with the Network the club embarked upon a programme of investment in acquiring Run leaders from within the ranks of the club, interestingly these were in the main newer members who were keen to develop both themselves and the club. The club now boasts 10 leaders all of which were paid for by the club with a small contribution from the Network. Although the club had in the past held beginner groups with some success they were able in 2011 to establish a structured beginners group with the assistance of their run leaders which brought 10 new members into the club.
Upon the formation of the Network coaching coordinators forum, the club were invited to send a delegate and it was immediately apparent that from attending these meetings that the club had become aware of what else there was available in terms of development and were keen to explore it.
Under the guidance of a very enthusiastic leader coordinator (they still currently have no qualified coach) they began to explore ways of progressing themselves as a club, initially by getting just a couple of members to attend other sessions held by the Network centrally. The club leader coordinator approached the Network following a meeting and advised that they sought to hold a series of training sessions at the Saffron Lane Track ( alien to most of their members). The club had decided that they wanted their Run leaders to continue their development using the Network as a supporting partner. It was agreed that the Network would support the leaders as part of a 10 week programme with a series of sessions led by the Network where the Run leaders could pursue CPD as “coaches”. Feedback from the first session included, "It was good but hard to run and think (at the same time)" and "Thanks to John Skevington [pictured, front centre of group] for all the tips for us to put into practice and to hear there’s more to it than just running as fast as you can."
Prior to setting up these sessions, and again stemming from sharing information at the coordinators meeting, the club took a group of their members and leaders to a sprints session at Charnwood AC – another alien trip into the unknown! Those that attended were thrilled to have been exposed to such a different experience in such fantastic facilities and are ready now for action at the club sessions being supported by the Network. Some feedback (on facebook) included: "Joe was brilliant and we have a good understanding of the warm up and core strengthening exercises. We are thinking about how we could implement this into our Wed club nights - perhaps in the middle of the track (if the grass is dry) on the Monday night track sessions, but it's also important to reach everyone and so we need to do this on Weds as well."
The club are a perfect example of the cultural change taking place at many Network Road Running clubs in the county. They are looking to introduce structured coaching into their club with leaders embracing a range of skills, expand their boundaries, learn from others, share experiences with all of their members and progress their club.
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