Is Run For Me right for you? | Norwich City Community Sports Foundation

Story added: 16th March 2021

Dudley Garner, the programme's lead coach, answers some of those frequently asked questions...

Our Run For Me programme has been running since 2018.  It meets once a week at The Nest, and the hour long session is completely free.

With the programme set to return from April 12th following a lockdown hiatus, Dudley Garner – the programme’s lead coach – addresses some of those questions we frequently get asked by potential new recruits.

I’ve never run properly before, and am nervous. Will this be a problem?

Categorically, the answer is no. All our sessions are designed for everyone. They’re designed to make everyone feel welcome, and to make everyone challenge themselves, regardless of how long they’ve been running.

Everything is based on time, not distance. That doesn’t mean “how quickly can you run 1,500 metres”, that means “jog for a minute and see how you get on”.

We tend to use a circuit that is circular, or an oval, so everyone stays within the same area for moral support and enjoyment. No one gets left behind at Run For Me.

What do the sessions normally involve?

We start with registration, and make sure everyone – in the current environment – is Covid-19 secure. After that we’ll stroll across to the playing fields, where myself and my assistants will take you through a gentle warm-up, with a series of dynamic stretches. This generally tends to make everyone laugh because I make a fool of myself. But it’s a good icebreaker!

We then will move into the session proper, which is always time based. It could be running for 30 seconds, walking for a minute, or different variations of that.

Every session is manageable and done at an effort level that is suitable for everybody, so nobody gets left behind – but also nobody feels like they haven’t got enough from it.

We do encourage chat, so we ask people to move at a pace where they are able to maintain conversation. This helps regulate breathing, which means they can actually go for longer than they might expect to.

We then finish with a warm down and do some gentle stretches. In better non Covid-19 times, participants will then have the option to join the indoor social element of the session.

How does the social session work normally?

The Nest is a really relaxed environment. You’ll be provided with refreshments, a bit to eat and are basically just free to chat to whoever from the group you wish to, about whatever you wish to!

If you don’t wish to stay that’s fine, or if you want to sit in and just listen, that’s fine.

It’s also an opportunity to speak to myself and some of the other staff from the Foundation, if you’ve got any questions or concerns that you want to go through.

But it’s also a real chance for participants to open up, in a non-judgmental environment, with people who maybe you’re not too close to who, so you might not have that concern about opening up to.  It’s normally a lot of hysterical laughter, a lot of emotion at times, and, generally, very rewarding.

Do I need to have a mental health issue to attend?

I’ve been asked this question several times. Again, the answer is no.

The purpose of Run For Me is to remove the stigma and labels over mental health, and to open a door to running, but also to other potential opportunities.

So, it could just be that you’re having a bit of a rough time or you’re feeling low. You might be suffering from bereavement or return from an illness of some sort. In my instance, I suffered a permanent brain injury. I suffer with PTSD anxiety and depression amongst other things and running is my escape from that.

That’s not to say that you need to be able to play a strong hand in the mental health Top Trump’s game. You don’t have to have a diagnosed condition. Personally, I’m not a big fan of the phrase mental health issue or problem either. We all have mental health, and what we’re trying to do with Run For Me is improve people’s mental health and well-being, whatever level that may be.

The willingness to explore other opportunities because of participation in Run For Me is a common theme. We have people here who, after a number of years of being out of work, got the confidence to return to work again. Run for Me is there not to make you Mo Farah. It’s there to give you a stepping stone to be a better version of yourself.

What is the group like?

That’s a tough one to answer, to be honest.

It’s a real mixed bag. We have people who identify as male, people who identify as female. We have people from all age groups: people in their 60s and 70s, down to people in their late teens and early 20s. And everyone attends for their own reasons.

The group are very friendly and very open. At first, sometimes quiet, but people’s inhibitions loosen as we go further into the session, as the endorphins start to work their magic!

How will the sessions be Covid-19 secure when I return?

With us looking to relaunch Run For Me from the 12th of April, we will be doing our utmost to ensure the sessions are as Covid-19 secure as they can be.

What does this mean? This means you’ll be sent an email over the weekend leading up to the session to complete a short questionnaire confirming that you’re not at risk of having Covid-19 prior to attending the session.

On the day of the session we will just double check that that you’re fit and healthy and good to go. There are plenty of facilities on site to sanitise and wash your hands.

But for the majority of the session, will be out on a playing field, out in the open air. We’ll only ask that everyone keeps their distance where appropriate, such as when we are stretching.

Until rules and regulations allow, unfortunately we will not be running the indoor social part of the session.

Do I need to attend every week?

Definitely not. The way that we’ve designed Run For Me, is that it’s not a typical 8-week running programme, for example – it’s ongoing.

We have a catalogue of sessions that we pick from. I suppose you could class it as a drop-in well-being group. You could come once a week, you can come once a month. But when you do come along, every session will be manageable no matter what your experience or ability is.

If you’ve got any interest, please do come along and give it a go. There’s no commitment, and the sessions are completely free. But I’m sure I’ll see you more than once!

To find out more, and sign-up to Run For Me, click here.

"No one gets left behind at Run For Me"

Dudley Garner

Run For Me coach

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“I really look forward to meeting up with them every week.”

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