An estimated 1,500 reformed couch potatoes have put on their running shoes and pounded the pavements for the first time over the past 24 months as part of a Beginner Running programme supported by Lancashire Sport Partnership (LSP).
The programme has seen LSP, England Athletics and Sport England provide £50,000 to train more than 165 run leaders, who have completed a LiRF (Leadership in Running Fitness) course. The initiative has enabled 150 new running groups to be established across Lancashire, creating opportunities for central Lancashire residents to try running in a fun and safe social environment, helping them to get active, feel fitter and make new friends.
Explains Adrian Leather, chief executive of LSP: “Running is a great way to get fit, stay active and enjoy the outdoors because the only equipment you need is a pair of trainers and a healthy dose of motivation.
“However, taking up running for the first time can be daunting: people often don’t know how to build up their fitness and stamina and, after trying to push themselves too hard too soon, they give up.
“What the Beginner Running programme does is provide opportunities for people to take up running with guidance from trained run leaders who can help them build up their speed and distance at the right pace for them. As a result, they’re more likely to stick with it, reaping the health benefits and widening their social circle.”
The initiative is part of a new campaign headed up by Run England called #whywerun and LSP estimates that at least 10 running rookies have joined each of the 150 new running groups created as a result, helping to boost fitness and wellbeing across Lancashire.
The programme is now building on its success with an investment in continuous professional development (CPD) training for 100 of the run leaders involved to up skill them and ensure they can continue to nurture the county’s new runners as their enthusiasm gathers speed.
Adrian adds: “We know how hard it is for people to take up a new physical activity, particularly if they have work and family commitments and have not exercised in a while.
“The Beginner Running programme is designed to make it easier for people to take up a new activity and enjoy getting fit with support from run leaders and peer encouragement from their fellow runners. We’re delighted that it has been so successful in getting central Lancashire running.”
To find your nearest club visit http://www.runengland.org and to discuss setting up your own running group call Lancashire Sport on 01772 299830.