Interview with Sue Bennett, Run Leader Mentor
14 April 2021
Running has become a hugely popular hobby in the past year as more and more of us discover its physical and mental health benefits. After all, it has so much going for it. Dig out an old pair of trainers, lace them up and you’re ready. No special kit needed, no gym membership to pay – open your front door and you’re ready to go. Simple, super healthy – and most definitely rewarding!
But of course, it’s so much easier when there’s a bit of encouragement to help you on your way, to get you out of that door when it’s a little wet or windy - which is where RunTogether, England Athletics' recreational running programme is special. RunTogether is all about having fun, creating friendships, being supportive and inclusive.
It’s a been a hugely successful programme both locally and nationally with more than 152,000 now signed up and running in over 2,900 for RunTogether groups and more runners of all abilities are joining every day.
What made you become a Run Leader?
I got into it a few years ago when the council asked me to help work on a programme to get people back into running and I haven’t looked back since. Now (in Newbury where Sue lives) we have over 1,000 on FB page and our sessions are all week apart from Friday.
The concept is simple. Everyone is welcome and it doesn’t matter if you’ve never run before.
I had someone who is brand new to running join us on Monday and it’s just so amazing to see what they have to say afterwards. Then my very next email was even more moving. It says: ‘These running friends have been vital for me to keep positive and cheerful over the past year. I have especially enjoyed the one-to-one run buddies and looking at positive photos from the group. I would never have gone running alone and this group of lovely people has motivated me and encouraged me to keep going’.”
Words like that perfectly demonstrate the team spirit RunTogether is all about creating. “Plus, we’re all about helping people improve. We teach the right things to make sure we keep runners safe and on the right track to getting better,” says Sue as she explains how Run Leaders are on hand to help with all sorts of advice and even on occasion to hold you back as you become more and more enthusiastic, such is the passion a RunTogether meeting creates!
Sue has some great ways to keep her runners on the move and excited about getting out for that next run.
“We’ve created all sorts of ‘bingo’ type challenges for runners to enjoy, collecting things, sights and objects on their run to tick goals we’ve set them. That might even mean spelling a word but collecting letters on a run – run past a station for the letter S, past a post office for P and O. Or the yellow and purple challenges which make you look at all things in nature. Our most popular has been the virtual relay where we passed a baton to each other via a Zoom link.”
RunTogether is all about encouraging us to get back moving and having fun.
“A run with someone can just be so powerful,” Sue says. “Even when it’s been a dreadful day, getting out and running a few miles can do so many amazing things. Of course, there are some who are still anxious, but without doubt more and more are realising how great it is to join RunTogether.
Sue’s runners will tell you that as one of her amazing emails from Anita in her group confirms: “I really don’t know what I would have done this year without my running buddies, they have kept me going through some very dark days. I have looked forward to seeing someone different most days of the week which has been great and especially now that we can meet on more than one to one basis. For me so far this year has been bearable only with the support of my running family I thank you all with all my heart and specially you Sue for introducing me to such a fantastic crowd of runners and lovely people, I will always be grateful to you all.”
It’s a sentiment shared by Anita:
“We’re here to encourage you and help in every way we can,” says Sue, perfectly summing up what RunTogether is all about. “Join today, running is just so powerful and rewarding, you won’t regret it.”
Sue’s wise words
- Everybody is welcome
- We’ll find you a running buddy
- We’re here to help
- You’ll get better every day…but…
- We’re actually going to hold you back – runners always get too keen too soon!
- We’ll set you super achievable challenges you’ll love
- We’ll keep you safe and motivated
- Young or old, fit or not – everybody will be catered for