2020-21 Beginners Week 1

Hello Everyone!
If you are receiving this email, you are on the list for the WRW beginner running group for this year.  It may have been a while since you were added but we hope you are still interested and excited to begin!  In order for us to get a sense of the number of people to expect, please respond (not reply all) to this email to let us know if you plan to be there.  If you have changed your mind and are no longer interested in doing this group, or believe you may belong in the regular non-beginner group (see below), please let us know.

This email is quite long but it is important that you read all the way to the end.

The beginner running group starts next Thursday, 3 September at 8:20 am at the St. John’s Wood Church Gardens near the entrance on Wellington Place.  We are so excited to get going!    You can expect to receive an email from us each week explaining what we’ll be doing the following week.  We expect that there will be more beginners joining us over the next several weeks as the new school year starts.  

Modifications due to Covid-19

  • Using guidance based on guidance put out by England Athletics, as well as the UK gov’t guidance on ‘phased return of sport and recreation, we will be creating groups of 6 or fewer each time we come together.  We will mix up the groups so we all have a chance to get to know each other.
  • Masks will be required when we meet at the church gardens and during our warm-up walk.  We will remove them when we start to run.  We are proceeding with an abundance of caution in order to keep all of you safe and running.
  • As much as possible, we will keep 1 meter apart while walking and running.  This should still allow us to talk and get to know one another while keeping safe.
  • We will pay close attention to keeping distance from members of the public we might pass during our sessions.
  • Although the ultimate goal of this program is to train to run a half-marathon, we cannot promise that there will be a half marathon to run given the current environment.
  • As the government guidance changes, we will make changes as well so we all need to be willing to be flexible.

A bit about your coaches:

  • Amy Grace will be leading the beginner group for her 7th year.  She was a beginner 9 years ago when she was new to London.
  • Melissa Kay is starting her 5th year as a beginner coach and has been running with WRW for over 7 years. 
  • Jess Browne is in her 3rd year of coaching the beginners and has been with WRW for 3 years.
  • Paola Gelfusa Di Meo will be coaching her second beginner group this year.  She was a beginner herself 5 years ago. 
  • Renata Figueiredo will also be coaching her second beginner group.  Renata has been running with WRW for 3 years.
  • Micki Heskett is the overall leader of Women Running the World and will also run with us some weeks because she would like to get to know everyone!  She was a beginner 8 years ago and has been in London 9 years.

A bit of information about the program:

  • Very important – this group is for women who have never run before.  If you can run even a mile or two, you likely belong in the regular running group that meets Mon/Wed/Fri.  We also have a group that is doing a ramp-up program if you haven’t run in a while or are coming back from an injury.  We need to all be working through this process together – if someone is running circles around us, it’s demoralizing.  Plus, it will be boring and frustrating for you.  Feel free to talk to any of the coaches about where you belong.
  • The program is gentle, but it’s still difficult.  For the first few weeks, we will be out there less than 45 minutes.  On the first day, we will do a 5-10 minute walk to warm up, then we will jog very, very slowly for 1 minute, then walk for 2 minutes.  We will repeat the 1 min jog, 2 min walk pattern 10 times, then finish with a 5-10 minute cool-down as we walk back to Starbucks or Pret on the high street.  So when we have finished our session we will have jogged for a total of 10 minutes.  Over the weeks, the jogging intervals increase gradually but we continue to go at an extremely slow pace.  
  • We understand it’s difficult to believe, but by late December you will be running a steady 60 minutes without any walking breaks.  By late March/early April, you will be fully prepared for a half-marathon (13.1 miles).  We have not yet chosen the half marathon location but we expect it will be in late March/early April, assuming that the world has changed and races will be held.  More on this to come!  
  • Our training schedule will prepare us for the half-marathon, but please know that you do not have to go on the trip or have any intention of running those distances.  You do not have to commit to anything!  That is the beauty of this group….  you don’t pay to be part of the group and you don’t have to commit to a long-term program.  If you try it for a few weeks and don’t like it, you stop.  No hard feelings – at least you will have tried.  All of that being said, the women who end up most successful with the program are those who make a mental commitment to being there week after week.
  • Each Thursday, the coaches will run with the group, set the pace, tell you when to run/walk and set the route.  We will also ask you to meet up one more day a week either as a group or as several small groups.  Historically, the group has met on Tuesday mornings but if you can’t, you can do the day of your choice.  For the first 8-10 weeks, this second run each week will be a repeat of whatever we did with you on Thursday.  Believe me, that second run each week (without us) will teach you just as much as the Thursday run. 
  • If you know of other people who want to join us, please encourage them to come and start with us.  It is very difficult for people to join the group after a month or two as by then we are running quite a bit, so tell them to come and come now!  Particularly keep an eye out for women new to London who might be interested in joining the group.  For many new-comers, by the time they hear about the group, it’s too late (we’ve made too much progress) for them to catch up.  
  • We will address injuries/aches/pains as we go.  Most problems can be dealt with without having to stop running.  We have a list of specialists that we can guide you to.  It is much better to see someone quickly than to let something minor turn into something bigger.   

A few guidelines:

  • Please bring a mask to wear at the start and end of the session
  • Come dressed however you choose.  There is no need to buy a lot of running clothes at this point and definitely do NOT buy a new pair of running shoes yet (unless you really have nothing suitable of course).  We can tell you where to go in London once you’ve settled into the program.  One year a beginner ran in jeans for the first 3 months as she was convinced she wouldn’t become a runner and didn’t need to invest in running clothes.  So no worries about how you look or what you wear, just show up (although a sports bra is highly recommended…)
  • Be on time.  We do not operate on an RSVP system so whoever is there at 8:20 runs.  If you’re late, you will be left behind.  For any of you dropping off young children or if you have other complications, just let us know.  We’ll try to figure something out.
  • No dogs or strollers allowed (sorry!).
  • Always carry with you a bit of money and an Oyster card or contactless payment (and possibly a Starbucks card).  For awhile we won’t be getting very far from SJW, but it’s nice to know you always have the option mid-run to grab a cab/tube/bus if you have a problem.  Also most of the women stay for a coffee after the run.  This is a great time to ask questions or discuss concerns or just generally connect as sometimes we don’t all get a chance to talk to each other during the run.  

The program works – we promise.  Countless women have come through it successfully.  It’s hard, but it’s good fun and the sense of accomplishment you will feel is simply more than we can put down in words.  So give it a try, show up on 3 September and see what happens.  We know it’s scary – most women are terrified, some don’t sleep the night before the first session, some show up feeling queasy, but don’t worry.  We are all in the same situation.  We are doing this to learn how to run – it’s impossible to “slow down the group” or “hold people back”.  You can do this – we promise.  We’ll hold your hand or pick you up and carry you if need be – just show up.  That’s all you have to do is show up – we’ll guide you through each step along the way.  
See you next Thursday!
Your coaches