Leader’s Blog Nov 2023 – Lucy Rider

Leader’s Blog Nov 23 – Lucy Rider

Each month, we’ll be sharing the stories and insights of our group leaders. If you are interested in giving leading a go, talk to your group leader at club, or email hello@hydeparkharriers.co.uk we have tonnes of resources to help you, training sessions and support.

This week we’re chatting to Lucy who often leads groups 2 and 3 as well as our wonderful #RunAndTalk sessions, normally held on the third Tuesday of the month – more details on those sessions here.

How did you get in to leading?

I offered to back-mark after running with HPH for a couple of Months and Kay (HPH club president) saw me and said that I should be a leader! I think it’s important we keep encouraging people to lead as even though I’m a confident leader now, I don’t think I’d have necessarily put myself forward without the invitation from Kay.

What do you love about leading?

On a selfish level leading means that I make a commitment to myself to run on a Tuesday and over the past few challenging years that has helped me run with some regularity, even if I’ve been struggling with my fitness. It’s very hard for me to prioritise myself at times, but if I know I’m helping others I’ll absolutely turn up and run. I also love welcoming in new people to the club, supporting people to be active, and of course #RunAndTalk is hugely important for me to reach people that might not otherwise get out some supportive and social activity.

Do you have any interesting or creative ways of leading?

I no longer live in Leeds, so my route planning is often “creative” as I have less opportunity to recce potential routes. I’d love to say I religiously planned each session on Garmin (I do sometimes!), but often I’m too busy at work to think of a solid plan so I come up with new routes on the fly or repeat previous routes sometimes mixing it up by reversing the route. I like to try and take groups to locations they wouldn’t have visited themselves and show them different corners of Leeds. In the summer I always try and spend as much time on trails or by the canal or river as when the nights draw in we have to stick more to roads with lighting.

What would your advice be to anyone thinking about starting to lead?

Just try it! If you are feeling nervous about any aspects speak to one of us – we’re all friendly. If anyone is worried about trying and wants to co-lead with me, let me know and I’m happy to help support. You can plan a route and co-lead at the front with me to support, or even just try and run us back to The Edge at the halfway point of the session. Without leaders we wouldn’t have Tuesday sessions and for diversity of routes it’s great to have different people coming up with different ways of leading and different routes. You don’t have to plan the route, or lead the stretches if you don’t fancy it, we can all support each other so everyone gets an opportunity to help in leading.

Do you have any specific stories about leading you’d like to share?

There are lots of fun things that have happened over the years, most recently I managed to lead a group on an accidental wildlife safari where we had to walk slowly past a protective swan with cygnets, then ran down an alleyway that had about 20 large rats living in it, and then saw loads of rabbits on the way back to the Edge!

Lucy’s final thoughts on leading are that “Leading is genuinely one of the highlights of my week. I love meeting new people and helping people improve their running and get important activity, fresh air and social interaction. I’ve lead nearly all the groups we have up to even a few group 6 sessions when I was at my peak fitness and the one thing you recognise is that it doesn’t matter which group you are running with or leading, it’s such a friendly and safe way to run.”

Lucy also wanted to share with us the reason she joined Hyde Park Harriers:

One thing I perhaps haven’t mentioned is the main reason I started running with HPH. I started running back in 2004, but I didn’t join a club until I started running with HPH in 2015. I started with a 5K and got all the way up to several marathons, but then in 2013, whilst training for the first Yorkshire Marathon I was mugged in my work carpark, I wasn’t running and was with friends at the time, but it really knocked my confidence so that I ended up training for most of my subsequent marathons on the treadmill (20 mile on a treadmill watching Antiques Roadshow is not fun!). Then in 2014 I discovered parkrun and the Leeds Race Series and so entered many races so I could run outside but not on my own, however this started to get quite expensive! Shortly after this I bumped into James Booth at a work conference, and we chatted about running and he told me about HPH. I finally got the courage to join a session in March 2015 and was made to feel so welcome. Since then, I’ve never *had* to run by myself as I’ve made lots of running friends and even met my now husband at parkrun. I’m so immensely grateful for just how much HPH has changed my life for the better than I’ll always lead as long as I’m able to do so. Thank you to HPH and all the leaders, committee members and fellow runners.

Massive thanks to Lucy for sharing her story with us and for regularly to lead group sessions – including the fabulous #RunAndTalk. As always, we are so grateful to all our volunteers who make our sessions possible by leading and backmarking, as well as those who volunteer to organise socials and events. There’s lots of ways you can give a little back to the club – get in touch at hello@hydeparkharriers.co.uk to find out more!

If you’d like to find out more about HPH’s #RunAndTalk, visit our website here . If you want to find out more about the national #RunAndTalk initiative, please visit England Athletics’ website here.