I first met the Dollies at the Annual Downham Market Community Fair. I was handing out downhamweb cards and looking for local groups to add to the site. I got chatting with one of the club organisers Kerry; “You should come along” she said. I visibly recoiled. “I can’t run” I proclaimed. After a rather nasty experience with ‘Shin Splints’ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shin_splints I had come to the conclusion that my flat footed and slightly clumsy gait was to blame and that I never would be able to jog joyfully. It’s not an excuse, the pain of shin splints is very real. But Kerry was having none of it and insisted that I try again, going on to explain that it was most likely a running technique that I needed training in, and that she, too had once been a Shin Splints sufferer.
Admittedly it took me a fair while and a follow up meeting with another of the ladies only running club organisers; Kim, (who shares the responsibility of running the club with other experienced runners) to be convinced enough, to then get some new trainers, find suitable running attire and drag myself up to the Leisure Centre ready to join in. But it was on a cold November night that Kerry and I set out for my first run in nearly 10 years.
Explaining the importance of a gentle warm up, or smooth running style and the crucial understanding of ‘pace’; Kerry took me patiently through beginner techniques and it wasn’t long before I was jogging at a decent pace (you should still have enough breath to natter a little) and in no pain at all!
Every Wednesday evening, week by week (apart from a few missed) I’ve been made to feel incredibly welcome and very well morally supported. Over the past 5 months, I’ve become a regular runner, even managing to do a few runs on Sundays as I enjoy it so much now, gradually increasing my stamina and now proud to say I’m regularly running over 4 miles non stop comfortably, painlessly and most importantly, enjoyably.
Each week you can choose from a range of different length running routes, normally 2 point something mile run, a 3 mile, maybe a 3 point something and a 4 or more. You choose what you feel up to and join the others who feel the same. High visibility gear is provided until you get your own, and you never run alone.
At the start of each year the Dollies offer a 6 week beginners course, aimed at getting new members on their way. Numbers are fairly high but you’re welcome to join anytime…and I honestly, strongly recommend it for everyone!
By Liz Pendleton