Vinay Joshi was part of our Running Family Q&A panel at the National Running Show last weekend. He discussed his running journey, the importance of group running and what success looks like as a social running coach.
Vinay is involved in a wide range of roles within grassroots running in Northamptonshire, including being a qualified Coach in Running Fitness, a Run Leader Mentor, an event director for junior parkrun and a guide runner. His main aim through these is to encourage people to be more active and start their running journey.
“My role is really working with the grassroot clubs, trying to promote a different lifestyle to get them more involved in sports and then hopefully working through the ranks.”
His running journey started with a Couch to 5k course in 2018, which he recalled as a highlight. Since then, Vinay has supported many runners to feel that same sense of achievement as they get started on their running journey.
“My highlight in the sport personally is where my running journey started, doing that first Couch to 5k course, getting over the line at the end, feeling like you've just achieved something that you thought wasn't possible. And it really resonates with me when I see our beginners groups now, as they come through the cycle, you see that look on their face of real achievement. It's a real kind of warming feeling.
"From a coaching perspective, I’ve set up a safe space running group for people fleeing conflict or from high stress situations and we take them outside of the environment they're in, somewhere where they can run free. It's good for their mental health and again, looking through the ten-week cycle with a park run at the end and it just feels really great, you know, it's a proud achievement.”
Vinay is part of a RunTogether group, Abbey Joggers, and believes that social running - in particular RunTogether groups - are an important part of the Running Family to keep people active.
“The social aspect is almost like this stickiness factor that keeps people coming back, encourages them to start something new, and come back session after session. It's a really good way to make friends and you feel like you’re part of the community.
“RunTogether groups are fun, supportive, enjoyable. They're less intimidating perhaps than an athletics club where people often have that barrier to start where they think they might be too slow to run. You celebrate your achievements together, you build that community together as one and you feel like you're coming back for something other than just the running aspects.
“It's really good for your mental health and it's good just to have a talk and chat, sometimes our runners will come out just to have that chat during the run. Often, it'll be for that coffee and cake afterwards, just to catch up on what’s happened the week before and what’s coming up.”
Coaching provides Vinay with different goals and success measures and provides a different focus for him as he is currently injured and unable to train.
“I don't think any coach can say there's one single metric to say this is what success is. But for me, it's having a positive impact on the people that I've worked with, be that through athlete development, form training, goal setting, reaching milestones or even being that support person when they've come for a run on day one to start their running journey. "
"But it's also realising that you need to be inclusive and there's a balance. Not everyone that comes out to run wants to get a PB every single run or flourish, they may just want to come out to natter, to have a chat. So, it's recognising that overall, there's a balance and you need to be group inclusive.”
“We get different people into running by getting them involved, in taster sessions. Schools are great for this; when we go out to the school, we say, ‘look, your kids are doing this, why don't you give it a go?’ It's really just opening the door.
“I have worked with the deaf community and they’re a group that often isn't very active. So, when they start to see that there's members of their community out there that are being more active, they're more enthused about getting out there. So, taster sessions are great for all that sort of stuff.”