Beginners Group – Pete O’Grady

Beginners Group – Pete O’Grady

Beginners Group – Pete O’Grady

Beginners Group – Another one completed

When I joined RRRR I asked if I could run beginners groups for the club. ‘It’s not easy’ they said but go ahead. So in September 2014 I did my first group – 7 unsuspecting souls turned up at Avenham park each week and 10 weeks later managed to run around a parkrun.

Last Saturday saw my 5th Beginners Group complete their course at Preston parkrun at Avenham with the usual superb RRRR support so lets tell you how we got there.

Firstly let me say this was a ‘different’ group. As usual I advertised on the RRRR website and Facebook page and also put details on Run England. Lancashire Sport offered to advertise it as well if we needed numbers. I limit the numbers to 20 now and within a week or so all places had been booked. From past experience I know some won’t turn up and others will drop out after the first couple of weeks. I usually end up with about 15. Reasons for not attending include – ‘it sounded like something I wanted to do but I’ve chickened out’, ‘I’ve decided its not what I wanted to do’ and ‘it was too hard for me I’ll try some other time’. Why was it different? – well this time we had some Juniors and their parents/minders along (Red Rose referrals account for 90% of those on the course) and some returning runners who wanted to start again.

We now meet at the Poachers on a Thursday rather than Avenham so those that complete the course find it easier to keep the routine of running on a Thursday.

Whilst I try to instil good habits of warm ups and cool downs, we watch the main Thursday group set off without warming up! Week one is always on the business park by the Walton Fox running from lamppost to lamppost then walking from lamppost to lamppost and playing a couple of games. This is always an amazing week. Hearing people wheeze after running 10 metres and knowing that just a few weeks later they’ll be running 50 times further. At the end of each course I always ask them to think back to week one!

As the weeks progress we slowly extend the runs always playing a game in the middle so we can have a slight rest but all games involve some physical activity. We get to know the roads and paths around Bamber Bridge and use the tried and tested regrouping system to keep everyone together. My wife . Marion, usually helps from week 5 but injury this time meant she could not help this time – I missed her but thanks to all those other Red Rosers that came along to sessions. By week 6 we were competing 3k, with stops of course, but we were ahead of the game.

This course also had more drop outs than usual – on top of the normal 10% we had those with family deaths, changes to work patterns and injuries. I’ve already had 5 of them say they want to come along to the next course!

On week 8 we met at Avenham to look at the parkrun course and give some tips on running it, the biggest being don’t fear the hill, look forward to it as your rest break if you need one!

After 10 weeks we ‘Graduate’ at Avenham and what an occasion that has turned out to be thanks to the amazing support of the Red Rosers. We allocate each ‘graduate’ at least 2 members to run with and it is amazing the help this provides. Talking to the ‘newbies’ as theyrun around really helps and the favourable comments after show we are doing the right thing. Filling the park with Red Rose vests creates a major event. Other running clubs TRY to emulate our Graduation days but never do, they just don’t seem to know how to make such a big deal of it!

Graduates enjoy the day and I get to feel proud of all of them knowing the journey they have been on.

At the end of the course each ‘Graduate’ gets a certificate and there’s always cake! Thanks this time as well to Lee for the red roses, a lovely touch – I’ll pinch that idea!

We have already had graduates join the club and they’ll be there on Thursdays going forward and I’ll help them get accustomed to the group for a few weeks. They may be near the back to start with but they are RR runners so please do what you always do – be patient, chat and welcome them along.

With summer holidays and the inability of people (and me) to attend all sessions, the next course will start in September. Keep and eye open and if you hear of, or know anyone that wants to start running, get them to contact me then.

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