Leeds Dock Running Club and Covid-19

John Fielding

After being a run leader for a couple of years and helping my wife with a women’s beginners running club I wanted to encourage more people to get active. After doing some research for a University project I discovered that one of the barriers to being active was not having the time or energy to get out after work.

With this in mind, last November I thought it would be a great idea to start a lunchtime running club in South Leeds, at the Leeds Dock.   With my aim being to encourage people who either work or live in this location to get out into the fresh air and be active for 30 to 40 minutes twice a week.  This led to the creation of Leeds Dock Running Club.  We began with 9-week Couch to 5K sessions running twice a week on Tuesday’s and Thursday’s.  These sessions proved to be very popular, we ran throughout the winter in very challenging weather conditions, because of our proximity to the river there were times when we had to change our route at short notice.

Very high rive levels in February 2020

The final C25K session finished on the 12th March 2020, plans were put in place for the switch from couch to 5k to progressing the group further along their running journey looking at steadily increasing the distance.

Leeds Dock Run group participants


Unfortunately, a week later lockdown was enforced due to the COVID-19 pandemic and group sessions were halted.   Members continued to share their runs on the Facebook group and whilst this was not as frequent some have managed to achieve some fantastic results.  One member is now running 10k’s regularly which is fantastic given that they were completely new to running back in February. England Athletics are in the process of a slow relaxation of restrictions on outdoor club sessions, starting with a 1 to 1 basis, which has now increased to six people, including the leader.

As a club it has been extremely challenging to encourage people back in to running in group sessions and there are going to be difficult times ahead.  Firstly, we need to appreciate the impact that lockdown has had on people, whether this is mentally or physically, but also consideration to be given that some people may be too scared to come outside and run in a group. There are other challenges too, the majority of our runners worked locally, since the lockdown the majority are now working from home.  Going forward there are positives, we have been lucky enough to partner up with a national charity, this amazing for us as a such a new club and will offer us some exciting opportunities. 

For now, I’m proud that our club has helped some people to overcome the difficulties of life in lockdown. 


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