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Brighton and Hove Women’s Running Club is an England Athletics affiliated club that has done a range of work to bring more women into running and provide them with on-going support. The origins of the club go back some 15 years and it now has in excess of 130 members.
Among the activities of the club are a RunTogether group, 'Return to Running', and the club hosts an annual beginners’ 10 week course which starts each May. Return to Running is held before the main session which means people from the different groups are able to interact. The club like to invite previous ‘returners’ and members to come along and support this group and share their experiences. One of the runners in the returners group was Jane Wilkes, who is now a qualified Coach in Running Fitness.
The club often hold #runandtalk events and have several Mental Health Ambassadors who are part of the England Athletics’ work around mental health. Go to www.englandathletics.org/runandtalk to find out more.
Naomi Sharp, the club chair, is currently also involved in leading the beginners’ sessions and had just completed week four when we caught up with her. She explained this had been a hills session attended by over 20 women as well as ‘a fantastic team of club volunteers’. Naomi said, “The Beginners surprised themselves with their achievement last night, and realised that four weeks ago, they would never have believed they could manage to run up a hill for 20 seconds times six!
“We started the evening with an inspirational speaker - each week either a beginner from last year, or someone fairly new to the club, shares their running journey with the Beginners, to inspire and motivate. Last night’s speaker was powerful, moving, emotional, and she spoke about running as the way out of her broken mind following traumatic life events, living with PTSD, and running helping her to breathe again and heal.
“It is a really exciting time in our club with achievements every week, from a first ever off road race, parkrun PB, or simply finishing a gruelling long race. We really are inclusive, all ages, shapes and sizes, and I believe our club provides a unique environment for many women who otherwise just wouldn't manage to get into running and keep running.”
England Athletics Club Support Manager Sarah Gardiner recently visited the club and joined in with a session. She said she was impressed by the friendliness of those involved and the range of members in the club such as Silvia Saunders, who was approaching her 71st Birthday at the time Sarah visited, and first timer Claire. Claire told Sarah, “I always run on my own, have never belonged to a club, it’s taken me a few weeks to get here but I’m glad I have, it’s so much easier running with others, I’ll be back!”
Sarah who works with the club as part of her role with England Athletics explained that four of the leaders from the club have recently attended an England Athletics Run Leader workshop in Portsmouth. This saw them learning more about runners’ injuries, endurance training methods, mindfulness in running and an overview of England Athletics and the opportunities for clubs. The club will also soon have a series of England Athletics Club Run visits where a highly qualified coach will attend to support the club leaders and coaches in delivering activities for some of the club’s faster and more competitive runners which will include some work around technique and session types.
Matt Birkett, Head of Athletics & Running at England Athletics, commented, “Clubs such as Brighton and Hove Women’s Running Club highlight how there are now a wide range of affiliated clubs and RunTogether groups available for people interested in athletics and running. In fact, what is notable is how well clubs such as this have made the most of the work done by England Athletics, with Sport England investment, in creating campaigns to inspire and motivate people to give running a go, to re-engage with the sport or continue to be involved. This means that through the type of RunTogether and beginners’ activity provided by clubs such as Brighton and Hove Women’s Running Club we now see people becoming regularly involved in the sport who otherwise might not have recognised the enjoyment and benefits they can get from running.
“Brighton and Hove Women’s Running Club are also a good example of how clubs have engaged with the Coach and Leader Development opportunities that England Athletics has created. We have a range of activities such as Run Leader Development Days, Workshops for coaches and leaders, Club Run and Regional Coach & Athlete Development Days.
“Hearing about the activities of a club such as this shows how the leaders and coaches then take those learnings back into their club environment to benefit a wide range of runners. Our team of Club Support Managers play an important role locally, from supporting clubs with specific projects to ensuring all our member clubs are aware of, and have access to, the range of services and programmes offered by England Athletics.”
Inspired by this story?
- Click here to find out how you can get started on your coaching journey
- Go to www.englandathletics.org/runandtalk to find out more
- Go to www.englandathletics.org/CSM to find your local Club Support Manager
- Go to www.englandathletics.org/clubfinder to find your local Club
- Click here to find out more about RunTogether