How many times have you sat in a meeting, a workshop or interview and been asked the question “how would you describe yourself”?
I don’t know about you but that fills me with dread! Do I try to blag it and make out I am the life and soul of the party, plant trees in my spare time and go on marches calling for world leaders to do more on climate change or, do I admit to being a quiet reflective person who finds it hard to be in big groups?
Now if the first description is you then fair play but, and whilst some may be surprised by this, I actually suffer with imposter syndrome which means I worry that one day I might be tapped on the shoulder and told to sit down because I don’t know what I’m talking about. This means confident is probably not the first word that springs to mind when asked to describe myself. As for the others, yes I like getting out and about in nature but I’m more likely to be found planting a shrub in my own garden and as for climate change, I absolutely 100% think we need to care about the environment and the damage we are doing to the planet, but equally I love snow and the sun so if I’m honest I’m not adverse to having a bit more of both.*
I would however say I am a do-er so if you need help with something, Im ya gal!
So with that snippet of information about me, you can imagine the inner turmoil I felt when asked by my So Let’s Go Running Group Leaders, Brian and Dawn, to get involved with their plans as part of England Athletic’s Game Changer project. The aim of the project is to increase the number of volunteers and members of our club who recognise themselves as being a member of one of the five main under represented groups. These include
2. Those that recognise themselves as having a disability including a mental health issue
4. Individuals within the 14-25 age bracket
5. Individuals from disadvantage social economic backgrounds.
On this occasion I surprised myself by saying yes straight away! I saw it as a chance to give something back to Brian and Dawn, who have given me a great deal of support when I’ve needed it.
I would be lying if I didn’t admit that at times after a long hard week at work I’ve barely had the motivation to put on that blue vest, leggings and trainers and would instead rather stay in bed under the warm duvet. But I always seem to find that oomph to get up and out and I’ve always felt better for it.
Plus I am passionate about building people up and breaking through any stigmas or perceived ceiling of potential that comes with an individuals background or current circumstances. In response to “No” we should be saying “Why Not!” So that my friends I guess was the motivation for becoming a volunteer on the So Let’s Go Running Game Changer Project.
It feels quite surreal if I’m honest but I’m glad I took that bold step. Where the confidence came from that day, I’m not sure. The do-er in me had the stronger voice I guess, so when I was asked to help two people who I like, respect and who seemed to believe I had the skills to help them I didn’t over think it which I have a tendency to do. In return I hope that being part of this project will go some way to build up my armour that stops that person (aka my inner voice) from being able to tap me on the shoulder.
I love that about my So Let’s Go Running group at East Wickham open space. There is no such thing as can’t! Everyone just does what they can on a Saturday and we support each other through it all. We have had tears some days (believe me I’ve been there when a leg injury meant I was unable to run longer than 5 minutes had me crying out of frustration) but equally we celebrate each other’s achievements and each month have an award to recognise a member of the group who has inspired us.
All I can say is that blue vest is more to me than just a piece of clothing I put on each weekend. Maybe it is because like a uniform it has made me feel part of something, but more importantly I think it has helped take away any fear I might have of being amongst a group of people who might judge me or try to expose what I perceive to be my short comings. My So Let’s Go Running family have given me confidence to get out and believe that what ever I manage to do will be good enough.
So from now on, if asked what words I would use to describe myself, whilst I might not be able to say I campaign against climate change, I will be proud to say that I am a volunteer with my local running group and help to encourage people to have fun and achieve whatever they want to through running.
If you are reading this and thinking you would like to volunteer to help at your children’s school, church group or offer support to a neighbour who is struggling but, you are unsure if you have the skills required to do so, I say go for it!
If like me you ignore any feelings of self doubt I assure you there are some serious benefits for both your physical and mental wellbeing.
We seem to be living in times when good news stories are few and far between in the media but through your volunteering you might go some way to restore someone’s belief in the importance of building a strong community which supports each other at times of hardship and celebrates alongside each other in times of happiness and that has to be good right!?
All the best
I am now a Game Changer!
Up until about 12 months ago, my perfect Saturday morning would involve getting up around 9.30, having a relaxed breakfast of coffee and a croissant and perhaps getting dressed by midday.
That all changed when my husband Robert asked me one morning if I wanted to go for a run after a casual conversation with our neighbours about where they went every weekend in their blue running vests.
From that day we both became members of the So Let’s Go Running group in Bexley and since then my Saturday mornings have consisted of waking up at 8 (still a very small lie in comparison to my normal 6am alarm call Monday- Friday), a bowl of porridge for breakfast a uniform of trainers, running leggings and my blue vest before heading to East Wickham Open Space for a series of running drills in a bid to improve my fitness levels and generally get more active.
This is a blog about my running experience as part of the So Let’s Go Running group and the Game Changers project I have become involved in which aims to increase participation from under-represented groups.
All the best