Run Leading – A Strange Kind Of Confidence!

Steve Woods

Having been a Run leader now for about 8 months I thought it was time to reflect on what I’ve done, and if anything, what I’ve achieved.


Firstly becoming a Run Leader was always a no-brainer for me after joining the local running group – The South Leeds Lakers – it was just a matter of when the time was right for me to spread my wings or possibly throw myself in at the deep end, not sure which applied!


One thought of mine was: ‘can I make a difference to what we already have’ (at the Lakers). This was due to the simple fact we already had some cracking Run Leaders.


Looking at the group wholeheartedly, I had the belief that we were holding back our faster runners, this was where I thought I could develop and encourage them to do even more, thinking back it was a tall order, and trying to get faster runners respect can be difficult. Really with hindsight I shouldn’t have worried unduly as all our runners are a tightly knit group who respect and encourage each other at every opportunity!


Being a competitive runner and also having personal targets on the racing front usually conflicts with being a Run Leader, as I believe to do the leading you have to give up some of your personal ambitions. Having said that the rewards can be just as pleasing.


I remember my first thoughts on qualifying as a Run Leader were…


Ok, I’ll just work in the background quietly for a while


… this never really happened as you quickly find yourself trying to tame a pack of hungry wolves roaming through the streets of South Leeds.


When I’m leading my group, if I show any sign of weakness tiredness or the like I get swallowed alive by my merry band of followers, as they have the mentality of the ‘King is dead long live the King’ – this certainly keeps me on my toes! This approach to our faster runners seems to work quite well as they are all going from strength to strength and really enjoy the long tough hilly 10k slogs on Tuesday nights, a hard part of the job done but not completely over yet… as always is the case with self-improvement.


As a club we have been lucky in securing funding from a number of sources and also with the help and sterling work that Ben Fraser and others from the running world namely Bob Jackson and Nick Settle have given us, we have managed to guide a now steady ship which includes around twelve Run Leaders within our club, this affords me the luxury of now moving around the differing abilities of groups on our run nights, which is probably where I receive the most self-satisfaction.


Recently I received the humbling award of teamster of the year, there were many in the club who were worthy of this award so to actually get the award was a buzz and extremely satisfying. This has given me even more impetus to do well with all our runners whatever ability, strangely I find helping the beginners even more rewarding than being chased by the hungry wolves.


As a Run Leader one thing that I believe is all so important is reminding the beginners that even if they are at the back of the group they are not holding anyone else back. New runners can quickly get anxious and put off ever coming again with a thought process like that. Knowing that these runners need us gives us as Run Leaders a responsibility to keep them safe and well prepared on run nights, all of which is a learning curve for each and every Run Leader.


Having mentioned earlier there are massive rewards. Personally, I have become much more confident with people, having found many new friends. I even enjoy doing our group warm ups, something that I shied away from at one point – mind you that’s not to say that they are any good now! One thing that can be said is everyone laughs while doing them – arguably the hardest job done as a leader!


Shortly, I will be embarking on another adventure in becoming a Coach in Running Fitness. I definitely intend to throw myself into it and see where that takes me, this is a course I thought I would never do mind you but then again I always said I would never do a marathon! The lesson here is ‘never say never’ especially when it’s anything to with Running and Run Leading!


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