Captains’ Corner: Leadership in Running Fitness

Our latest Captains’ Corner is from Neil, and recaps on his recent Sunday spent completing his Leadership in Running Fitness course. Well done Neil, we can’t wait to see you putting it all into action on a Tuesday night!

A room full of runners talking about running. Sounds like the perfect way to pass 8 hours on a Sunday to me. Okay, so setting off for Eastleigh at 8:15 on a windy weekend morning wasn’t an ideal start but once we got going the day flew by and sadly it was all over before I knew it.

The day started in a classroom at the leisure centre. Hardly inspiring but it was great to see some friendly faces from local clubs with all ages and abilities represented. Unsurprisingly, we were all there for very similar reasons. The common themes included – to inspire others, to give something back, to help others develop. The list went on…

The initial cringeworthy ‘icebreakers’ were fun and the tutors were brilliant right from the off, though I’m sure Suzy Fitt can’t have been her real name. The course was jam packed full of interesting stuff including lots of practical experiential activities which I loved.

We kicked off the fun by looking at the role of a leader, learning about the Athlete Development Model and thinking about the varying abilities of runners we may need to lead. We also considered how sessions need to be tailored to every individual within the group. We then looked at how to plan sessions in relation to safety, using clear communication and providing demonstrations.

Before long, We were outside for some practical work on the tennis courts. Thankfully, the predicted storms were nowhere to be seen and it was a lovely clear day, if a little fresh. The importance of dynamic warm ups was discussed and we were straight into leading warm up sessions putting into practice what we’d learnt already. So, cones, heel flicks and high knees it was. I was only missing a clipboard

The little practical things like ‘where to place yourself as a leader in relation to the group’ and ‘asking the group open questions to check they’ve understood your instructions’ were invaluable lessons. I must admit, it was hard to remember everything when put on the spot to lead a session, especially when you’re being (very informally) observed and assessed. It was all very light hearted and fun really.

We then had the luxury of a 20 minute lunch break before we cracked onto looking at planning more specific practical sessions along with some technical points to work on with runners. We then headed back outside again to lead more sessions to bigger groups. This was a bit daunting to start with but I really did enjoy it and the feedback I got was positive with a few pointers I need to remember to take forward.

We also covered cool downs and stretching and practiced demonstrating these before we planned 6 week hypothetical programmes where we put it all together for a specific target group e.g absolute beginners / sub 20 minute 5k group.

It was a very informative and inspiring day overall and I’d definitely recommend the course to others. As I looked out of the window the across the field at Fleming Park towards where the finish area of the Eastleigh 10k is, I couldn’t help thinking that the technical tips I’d been learning about would be added to my own running in time for a new PB on the 20th March…

At FCRC, we are fortunate to have so many amazing run leaders and coaches who give up their time and energies freely on a weekly basis. It’s a credit to them that the things I was learning about, we have come to expect as the norm on club nights because they model fantastic coaching behaviour and the standard they set is so high.

I’d like to thank Jim & the club for funding my place on the course. I’m very much looking forward to putting it all into practice and hopefully inspiring some of you onto greater things.

Happy running!


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