Into the Lion's Den? A tale of a 40 something beginner

What do you think of when you think of Athletics & Athletic Clubs? Mo Farrah wannabies? Jess Ennis look-a-likes? Well this is what I was going through as I turned up for the first time at South Shields Harriers.

I felt I was no mug after all I had completed several Great North runs in my younger days and had played 5-a-side with the lads at the office but still I felt a little scared. Would I fit in? Would I be left trailing in the wake of some spelk belting out 5 minute miles?

Well what a waste of nervous energy, after a quick introduction to the coach and a bit chat with a few other people it turn out that everyone feels the same the first time.

I joined in the 'endurance' session or 'joggers' as I now know we are called and loved it. The group was made up of both men and women of all ages, shapes, sizes and ability. I felt instantly at home. Whilst running is a uniquely individual activity to do it in such a supportive and inclusive environment is fantastic.

I had previously pounded the roads on my own but now I had found a group of like minded people all willing you to succeed at your chosen target. It doesn't matter whether you are trying to do a 10 minute mile or a 5 minute mile everyone wills you on and there is plenty of verbal encouragement.

In for a penny in for a pound I joined the cross country team to keep running and competing during the winter months and had gained enough confidence to attempt the national cross country championships which took place in Parliament Hills London. What a day - looking down on the London skyline on a crisp clear February day. It didn't matter that I was some 25 minutes and 1500 places behind the winner I had done it I had taken on the course and beaten it. I was knackered, covered in mud but smiling from ear to ear I had done it.

I have come a long way from that first nerve wracking time I walked through the clubhouse door. My sons now join in the junior sessions and my wife helps out behind the scenes we have all gained something from the club.

If you are in two minds about whether to come along all I can say is, Like NIKE, - JUST DO IT

Simon Russell

I was really apprehensive...

I was really apprehensive about coming down to the club, as I had been running for a few years and had entered a couple of 10k races but was worried that I wasn't fast enough to join in.

The first night I went everyone was really friendly and I found the session tiring but really fun with loads of words of encouragement from the coaches, and can honestly say that has been the same throughout my time at the club.

In the year and a bit I have been going my 10k time has dropped by 4 minutes, which is great, but the best thing has been making some great friendships with similar minded people.

Dave Morrow

If you start, you have beaten all those who did not...

In our late 30s, a friend and I decided we would like to have a go at the Morpeth-Newcastle Road Race and the Chevy Chase fell run - then retire to watch football.

As training, we entered the Morpeth 6 mile race...and found proper training was needed. So we joined the Harriers and 36 years later I am still running slowly.

Any lessons? Running gets you away from everything, except dogs...you learn to love the changing seasons and find all the bye-ways of your locality... focused training and races make you faster; age makes you slower... the Harriers are not super athletes, though some are, and all abilities are embraced, especially those slower than yourself...and it is virtually impossible to finish last in a race (if you start, you have beaten all those who did not) and the last finisher gets the biggest cheer... from all the other relieved runners. And you will learn to dislike intensely all those jogging when you are injured!

Mac Stephenson

"Join The Harriers! No way they are all top athletes"

This was my thoughts for a number of years.

Yes, I enjoyed 'jogging' with my daughter but that was only the start. We decided to train for The Great North Run. I then thought to myself "Wow its over 20 years since I completed my last one, am I still capable?".

We trained, We completed, and became hooked!

Like many other members at the club we plucked up the courage and decided to pop down to the club as a family. The coaching staff were really helpful and we were allocated groups to train with. I trained with the senior group and the sessions were varied and pitched at levels to suit all abilities regardless of fitness.

As the weeks went by the numbers within the club rocketed! The great thing about the club is the way everyone looks to improve and encourage one another, regardless if you train for fitness, 5K, 10K, Half Marathons or Marathons.

Cross Country! Never done that since school. But yep, thats another one to get hooked on!

I now say to people who run. "Come down, take a look and see what you think. The way you run and think will improve".

Dave C

Where and When we meet

Gypsies Green Stadium
Sea Road
South Shields
Tyne And Wear
NE33 2LD

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