Working at Arbuthnot Latham –
Colleague profile: Coaching female runners
Tracey Stronghill is a Senior Commercial Banker based in our Exeter office. As a running coach, she spent much of 2021 empowering women through sport and supporting those at the frontline of the COVID-19 battle.
What started it was a LinkedIn post about running…
I wasn’t expecting so much feedback as I hadn’t really posted anything personal on LinkedIn before. This post had a massive impact on my year in 2021…
Let’s rewind a few years... I took up running about a year after I moved to Devon from the South East. I never thought I would give up commuting to London but when I moved here, with all this amazing scenery and lifestyle, I saw it as an ideal time to make a change.
I joined a ladies-only national network running club called the Women’s Running Network.
After about four years, I qualified as an assistant coach. Shortly after that we established FIT2Run (Females in Training) based here in Devon. I qualified as a Coach in Running & Fitness in 2015 and have been running sessions with women of all abilities ever since.
How does a running club work?
The coaches work with an individual or a group and look at everything, from footwear and their kit, all the way through to fitness levels, how they run, their gait, style, distance, and ambitions. Crucially, you also train people to minimise risk of injury. Running might seem like a simple thing, but actually, there is a lot to think about.
In general, there is the sense of achievement in being part of a club. You get the good endorphins and that natural high, but also a community feel. Yes, running is a solo sport, but the support you get it just as important as your own drive and ambition.
Empowering women through running
Back to my LinkedIn post... It got about 1,200 impressions or ‘views’. It was great to get so much feedback by sharing a little bit more about myself outside of work.
What also became clear was just how much lockdown had affected people over the winter. It made me realise how much people had struggled and how they were looking forward to getting out again!
We put a notice out locally about the club re-starting after lockdown and we had mass of enquiries; so many people wanted to join.
I think over the winter, people took time to really to reflect on their lifestyle. The first lockdown in 2020 was during a period of unseasonably good weather, it made the whole thing easier to cope with, but the second two were over winter and I think that really focuses the mind, you realise what you are missing out on.
For some, it was an impetus to finally take-up that hobby they had been delaying; the ambition was there, but there’s always an excuse to put it off. For others, they put on trainers during their daily government-mandated exercise, they went out and ran, and then felt more confident about joining a running club…
For our women, there is a sense of empowerment, time away from families and children; some ‘me’ time. For some with high-pressured jobs, you can see the weight of the world being lifted off their shoulders as the session comes to an end.
We have lots of doctors, nurses, and teachers, up to their neck in it during the pandemic. You can sense the relief of getting away from the grind.
Of course, there are some who want to win and be top dog, but for the most it’s about esteem and empowerment. There’s something for everyone.
Personally, coaching this group has given me a great a sense of achievement. The biggest thrill is when you get somebody who is completely new to running, you help them start off steadily, you help them gain in confidence.
Then you see them do their first 5k, five miles, and then they enter a race, similar to helping Dan Stevens training for his marathon! You’ll hear more about that in the coming weeks.
Thinking about trying something new?
Don’t be afraid to try something. We’ve all been “newbies”. Whether it’s open water swimming, horse riding or running.
The people that are there and look confident, they started somewhere too, people can’t start off running 10k or swimming 20 lengths of a pool. You’re not going to be the new person forever and you will become more comfortable over time.
Never be afraid to give it a go, you can walk away at any time.
Adapting to changing circumstances
Something that running teaches you, and it’s a good mantra for life… no matter how bad things seem, they will always get better. If you’re running, see how you are on the day, don’t take a bad day as what it’s going to be going forward.
It’s like life in general, the first mile might be rubbish, the second might be rubbish, but you’ll get there. We all have bad days, but it is important to learn from any mistakes, remember the tricks and tips you pick up, the “do’s” and “don’ts”.
The important thing is to persist, be positive, and remember that easier times are ahead.
Helping society’s most vulnerable
Emily Bird (previously Jenkins), Private Banker, shares her journey volunteering for mental health service Shout 85258.
My lockdown marathon
Dan Stevens is a Liquidity Manager based in our Exeter office. He decided to push himself to the limit and take on a lockdown marathon.