Member bio – Callum

Continuing our theme of introducing club members and showing the diverse backgrounds and motivations they all have, this month we feature Callum.

Having finally reached that age when I couldn’t eat what I wanted and stay as thin as I wanted I was on the look out for a form of exercise I could do. I started with most peoples first port of call – the gym. At first, I was motivated enough to go a couple of times a week but with lots of bits of equipment that I didn’t know how to use, no help or guidance available without paying for an expensive personal trainer and the same monotonous routine it wasn’t long before I got bored. I decided to give running a go outside rather than in the gym on a treadmill. I quite enjoyed the endorphin boost I got from a small run outside but again without any guidance I soon became unmotivated as I didn’t see myself being able to run any further (and more to the point had no idea what I was doing?!). I decided to look for a running club which could help me in my endeavours to find a form of exercise I enjoyed.

As a member of the LGBT+ community I had heard of Newcastle Frontrunners and decided to give them a message and see what was involved. I received a prompt response offering a very detailed synopsis of what the club offered and putting me at ease that my lack of experience would not be an issue. I arranged to take advantage of the clubs two commitment free runs starting by taking part in their Monday night run development session followed by the Wednesday night rainbow run. The whole process was easy – being organised through Facebook and very welcoming to a novice runner.

I turned up for my first Monday night session not sure what to expect and quite frankly a little nervous! This didn’t last long as I was met by an amiable group of runners of various abilities who put me at ease and promised not to leave me behind. My first session started with a very gentle jog from sports central to exhibition park followed by a hill rep session. I was worried that I would hold people up or be a burden to the more experienced runners, but the sessions are all designed to cater for all abilities. There has been no point whilst running with the club where I have ever felt out of my depth and there is always plenty of support and advice. Throughout my first session, Allen who was leading the session was asking me questions to find out what I was able to do, and he recommended that I run in the orange group (3 miles) at the Wednesday rainbow run. The prospect of having to run 3miles was pretty daunting but I took Allen’s word for it and decided to have a go.

When I turned up on the Wednesday I was greeted by a much larger crowd than the Monday night but again everyone was very welcoming and after talking with other people I discovered that many people had been in my situation before. The evening started with a group warm up followed by being introduced to the leaders of the orange group. The leaders assured me that I would not be left behind and that there was no pressure to run at a pace that was to fast for me. The run itself was hard work having not done this distance before but the sense of achievement that I got made this one of my favourite exercise experiences. With the support of the club I had discovered that I could run further than I thought. Plus, there was cake waiting at the end!

As with all runners I haven’t been without my new runner ailments. Having had some bother with shin splints at the start, there was plenty of advice available from my fellow runners and the leaders. They were able to recommend shoes etc and other advice to help me. The support offered from the club has be invaluable in helping make running something I enjoy rather than another failed attempt at finding a form of exercise that suits me. Having enjoyed running with the club I was looking for other runs that I could take part in. Andrew, a fellow runner, asked if I would like to do a park run with him. These are great 5k runs on a Saturday which offer good experience in running with large groups of people in a race type setting (although you can walk them if you want!). The club has provided a really good place to find people to do other runs with and there is always someone willing to run! With all the help and support I have been given (for a lot less than the cost of a personal trainer) I have recently made the jump to the yellow (4 mile) group. There was no pressure but plenty of friendly encouragement to make the jump!

In summary, joining Newcastle Frontrunners has supported me through taking up running ensuring my longevity in the hobby rather than having another failed attempt at finding a fun form of exercise. The advice and wealth of experience available have been welcomed and have made running something I want to do rather than something I force myself to do. I have made friends, attended socials and found an inexpensive form of exercise that I enjoy in an environment that is supportive of those from the LGBT+ community. I would recommend the club to any new or experienced runner alike. Why do it alone when you can benefit from the support, knowledge and social aspect of running with an inclusive club that caters for all abilities.