Scrambled Legs - A Group Leader's Story


Kate Ashley, Psychological Wellbeing Practitioner and Super Run leader for Sheffield tells us a bit about why she runs and how she became a Run Leader.

I have been running for about 4 years now and have done a handful of races from 5k to marathon distance. I found it really difficult to joining a running group as a beginner runner in Sheffield. Most groups were fairly competitive or I felt too slow to run with them so I certainly felt a need for a real “start out group”.

Having used running to handle my emotions, I know the benefits of getting out in the fresh air getting fit and being active. As a Psychological Wellbeing Practitioner for in the NHS I recognized some of the benefits running could offer my patients but also some of the boundaries for these patients to start running.  There are some great running groups in Sheffield and many cater for beginners but none could offer the support required by someone suffering with stress anxiety or depression to overcome the boundaries to exercise.

I started by applying for a role within Run England as a Super Run Leader, this role gives me funding to set up a new group and to support it to become a permanent fixture in the local running scene.  That's where Scrambled Legs Beginners' Running comes in. The group has been going for a few months now averaging around 10 members; small numbers, yes, but based on the newness of the group and the boundaries people coming to the group face I think this is an excellent start. We have been following a 5k plan and aim to do our first 5k this month. The whole group have been surprised at how much they enjoy running and how quickly they have picked it up. The support they give each other is fantastic to see and the feedback they have given me both verbally and in the measures I have taken of their mood have allowed me to see the difference this group is making.

Currently the group is advertised in local GP surgeries and throughout IAPT however I have plans to extend this further to other local community groups; I think it is so important that the stigma is removed from mental health and this group is a great start.

Our ethos is that once we put on our shoes we are all the same, there is no therapist patient role but we are all their to enjoy the benefits of running.  No one would know any of the participants suffered with stress anxiety or depression or that I am a therapist. Having such a social supportive group with the benefits of physical exercise is key to tackle mental health and is well supported by the NHS Clinical Guidelines. This may be a very small step but it is a huge one each of my runners take every week.

All the members of the group are inspiring. Since the group started it has become wetter, darker and colder, yet they all turn up despite their fears and anxieties and give it a go.  This group is aimed to improve everyone’s mental health whilst being fun a sociable.

Below are some quotes from what the runners have told me about their experience:

  • “I would never go out running on my own this group makes me commit to it and it is so much more fun than I imagined”
  • “I love how sociable it is, meeting people I wouldn’t before”
  • “I always feel so relaxed and tired after the group.”
  • “I look forward to exercising again”
  • “It’s not as hard as I thought.”
  • “The difference I have seen in my patient after just a few sessions of the running group has been fantastic, clinically a huge improvement has been made within my patient's mood which I am sure will continue.”
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