2021-22 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 on Thursday, 2 September at 8:15 am at the Barclays in St. John’s Wood – corner of Wellington and Circus Roads.  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.  
A bit about your coaches:

  • Amy Grace will be leading the beginner group for her 8th year.  She was a beginner 10 years ago when she was new to London.
  • Melissa Kay is starting her 6th year as a beginner coach and has been running with WRW for over 7 years. 
  • Jess Browne is starting her 4th year of coaching the beginners and has been with WRW for 4 years.
  • Paola Gelfusa Di Meo will be coaching her 3rd beginner group this year.  She was a beginner herself 6 years ago and has been in London 8 years.
  • Shannon Ashton will be coaching her second beginner group this year.  She was a beginner 3 years ago and has been in London for 13 years.
  • Sue Wheeler will also be coaching her second beginner group this year.  She was a beginner 5 years ago and has been in London 7 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 9 years ago and has been in London 10 years.

The first week, several of the coaches, including me (Amy), will not be back in London yet as they have commitments in the US that will keep them beyond the start of ASL and the running season.  So we will look forward to meeting you on Week Two or whenever we return.  Our guest coach, Renata Figueirdo, will be on hand to make sure you are all well taken care of!
A bit about Covid:  We all know that rules can change about how we can gather in public.  We are going to assume, and hope, that the restrictions will remain lifted and we will start out as we have in pre-Covid times.  However, if things change, this program WILL continue, we will just modify it to fit whatever rules are in place.  This may mean moving the meeting place and breaking into smaller groups.  It will work – we managed it last year and it was fine – but we are hoping we can return to “normal” or at least as close to normal as possible this year.  Please let any of your coaches know if you have questions or concerns.
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 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:

  • 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 8:15 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/credit card and an Oyster card or contactless payment (and possibly a Starbucks card).  For a while 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 2 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 on September 2!

Your coaches