A Shaftesbury mum has created an online community for runners to share their routes and advice. Laura Langley says she’s ‘excited’ at how quickly her Faceboook forum has developed, since its launch earlier this month.
Laura hopes that the supportive messages being shared on the page will encourage other time-pressured parents to achieve their fitness goals. Laura met with Keri Jones from ThisIsAlfred.
Two years ago, Shaftesbury mum Laura Langley decided to start running. Laura’s children encouraged her to take up the activity. “They are two little Duracell bunnies that do not stop and I was finding that I just couldn’t keep up with them,” explained Laura. “I was actually really unfit because of it. I thought I’d get fit, get motivated and now I can outrun them which is better than them outrunning me at three and four!”
When Laura started, she ran at a very slow pace. “I started running about a mile in about 14 minutes, which is pretty sad considering you can walk a mile in 15 minutes. But now I am much better. I’m running up to 9 km now, which is all right. I don’t know that I am very fast, but at least I’m running it,” she said.
Laura says that she persevered because running offered her some quiet time, on her own. “I think a big part of the running for me is just leaving the kids at home with the other half. I then go out and I’ve got quiet all to myself on a Sunday morning. It’s my time,” said Laura.
Laura is a swim instructor at the leisure centre in Gillingham. Even though she can use the gym equipment in an air-conditioned environment at work, she says she’d rather pound the Shaftesbury pavements – even in February.
“During the week, I can hit the treadmill at work, which is pretty handy, but it’s still a bit boring and mundane. Being out in Shaftesbury is quite nice, even when it’s raining,” said Laura. “At least you have got the views. You meet runners. You smile at each other and the dog walkers are quite friendly. They move out your way, which is quite nice.”
Since Laura has started her Shaftesbury And Surrounding Areas Running Facebook group, nearly 100 other locals have joined, so they can contribute to the discussion. “It’s had a crazy response. It’s nice to have a lot of people there and there are people posting their runs and commenting on runs.”
Laura had no idea that so many fellow residents shared her interest. “You don’t realise how many people actually run in Shaftesbury, if you’re not out at the same time. It’s nice to have a community going. There’s some positive feedback on runs, there are some ideas on runs, there are tips on what to wear for the newbie runners and there’s encouragement for new runners,” said Laura.
And she’s found that some local runners thrive on tackling more challenging terrain. “I’ve learned that some people are crazy enough to run in a lot of mud. I don’t like doing the mud trail thing, around the back of the BV Dairy behind St Mary’s School. That’s a massive, great big 8 to 10k route. I’m sure I’ll try in the summer when it’s all dried out but not right now!” she said.
One of the group’s strengths, especially for people who have moved into Shaftesbury, is the advice on where to go for a run. It’s helped Laura add variety to her running route. “Shaftesbury, for as big as it may seem, is not actually that big if you’re looking to run 10k or more. There’s a lot of running the same routes, say twice. I use Google Maps a lot. Now, because of this little running group, it’s really nice to see what routes other runners are planning. I’ve incorporated some into one or two of mine. On Sunday I ran one around Wincombe Business Park. While I was up there running it, I saw three other people running out there,” said Laura.
Laura is still not confident enough to attempt Gold Hill yet. “I may run down it but I don’t think I’ll be running up anytime soon.” But she’d encourage anyone who wants to improve their fitness to follow in her footsteps and start out with the free Health Service app.
“The NHS ‘Couch To 5k’ is quite a good app for anyone that wants to start running,” said Laura. “It starts you off by doing say 10 minutes of walking a day, then 15 minutes. Then it’ll encourage you to do a minute of running and then a few minutes of walking. It’ll slowly build you up to 5k. It is a good app. I’ve known a lot of people that have used it to get to 5k.”
As her Facebook follower count keeps increasing, Laura says she considering a group event or social. “It would be nice to get some running events going. Maybe get people more involved in running,” she said.
And she’s keen to encourage more likeminded mums or dads to join her forum. “There’s got to be more of us out there, surely?” said Laura.