Ascension Running Community started in September 2019, after a local beginner running course which grew a wonderful, friendly and supportive group who enjoyed running together and didn’t want to stop! Together we recognised the huge benefits that running can have on our mental health and wellbeing and set up a weekly #RunAndTalk activity (connected with England Athletics and mental health organisation MIND) to promote good mental health and wellbeing through running together. We recently joined the Southampton Mental Health Network. Ascension Running Community encompasses the growing running-related activities of Ascension Church in Bitterne Park.
We are delighted to have been awarded two generous grants to support our activities in the community through the difficult times of the Coronavirus Pandemic, helping us adapt our activities in response to ever-changing restrictions and guidelines:
Allchurches Trust, Hope Beyond Grant
£6,000 awarded, this will be predominantly used to fund a fixed term part-time Project Coordinator role to coordinate and grow our activities. Further details to follow in due course.
Southampton City Council, Community Chest
£2,432 awarded, this will be used to train 4 new Run Leaders and Mental Health First Aiders to support our activities.
We hope to adapt our #RunAndTalk to accommodate all those wanting to run to join us, and going forwards to develop new running activities for Youth and Students, and within Townhill. We are very grateful to Allchurches Trust and Southampton City Council for their generous support.
How are you? How are you really?
These are not easy times. We can’t #RunAndTalk with you at the moment as we would like to but PLEASE reach out if you feel you need some help. Some useful numbers are below, these are manned by professionals ready to listen and help. Solent Mind have a Coronavirus Wellbeing Helpline which you can call if you feel low, anxious or overwhelmed during the current Coronavirus lockdown.
Details of our activities are posted within the Ascension Running Community Facebook Group (anyone can join!). If you’re not a Facebook user, please email email@example.com to let us know if you would like us to be emailing you with information about our activities.
ABP Southampton Marathon/Half/10km
The ABP Southampton marathon is a fantastic event right on our doorstep, also offering half marathon and 10km distances. The 2021 event has recently been rescheduled, and is now due to take place on Sunday 5 September 2021. Unlike previous years when it has clashed with the Virgin London marathon, this year it will be possible for London marathoners to run in both events. The 10km route is based around the city centre with a loop round in Woolston over the Itchen bridge.
The half marathon route continues through St Mary’s Stadium, over Northam Bridge, through Bitterne Park, Riverside Park, Portswood and Southampton Common. Those running the marathon take on 2 laps of the half marathon route. This is a fantastic event and offers great goals to aim for, whether that’s a new distance, your first marathon, new P.B. or running with friends.
Runners from Ascension Church have previously teamed up to fundraise for the church’s link village in Uganda, with others taking on individual fundraising challenges through this event. Let us know via the Facebook group if you’re running one of the races this year!
Beginner running courses
We run free beginner running courses for those wanting some help to get into running. Courses normally last 9 weeks with the group meeting once a week to run together and 2 ‘homework’ runs during the week, guided by a free app. Sometimes people meet up with others in the group for their homework runs, while others choose to go solo. Meeting for one run a week and keeping in touch via a private Facebook group builds support, accountability and friendships which have helped several people to complete the whole course, having tried previously and given up. We keep a slow and steady pace, helping people learn to pace themselves and keep going. It works! (Outside of global pandemics, we love to celebrate completion of a course by running 5km together at a local Parkrun, with friends and family joining us to celebrate).
We adapted the beginner group which started in October so that participants continued to meet up in pairs for their weekly runs despite the November lockdown, and we are always keen to support people in starting to run, whatever format it has to take at the time! If you’re interested in joining the next beginner course let us know (email: firstname.lastname@example.org).
Being physically active is known to have a positive impact on our mental health. Mental health charity MIND states that regular physical exercise is associated with lower rates of depression and anxiety across all age groups. We invite anyone age 16+ to come and try our #RunAndTalk (supporting England Athletics’ #RunAndTalk campaign).
This happens on Monday evenings (apart from lockdowns!) and is a free, community social 5km run with a focus on promoting good mental health and wellbeing by running together. Our #RunAndTalk is supported by at least one trained Mental Health First Aider who can signpost to further help if needed. We’re not afraid to talk about mental ill health, and you will find a warm welcome and plenty of support in this friendly group.
People come for different reasons – it’s sociable, it’s fun, it’s friendly, it’s a safe way to run on dark evenings, you don’t have to think of the route or motivate yourself – we’ll do that! Some people come because they find it really helpful for their mental health and wellbeing – if you want to talk about it that’s fine but you don’t have to. People often worry about being too slow – but don’t! Anyone who can comfortably run 5km is welcome, nobody gets left behind. Faster runners are welcome too (it’s a perfect recovery run if you’re training hard!) – leave the rocket packs at home for once and have a more relaxed social run with us!
We understand that running isn’t for everyone. If a walking version of the #RunAndTalk interests you instead please let us know (email: email@example.com)
Running chat with Holly
All sorts of runners make up Ascension Running Community. We are beginners, recent 5km graduates,
social plodders, fast road runners, muddy (also lost?!) trail runners, marathon and ultra runners. Some have links with Ascension Church, some are part of the local community, some come further to run with us. Holly is a regular at our #RunAndTalk and Mental Health Mile groups. She has kindly shared a bit about her experience of running.
How did you get into running?
I had been feeling a bit rubbish in myself back in 2019 and had been advised that getting into some form of regular exercise could boost my mood. I was browsing online looking for something I could take up and came across all sorts of beginner’s classes from badminton to kayaking. I then found the Run Together page which led me to Ascension Running Community. I had previously joined the Ascension Church a few months prior, so made contact and joined the beginners group that was starting in October 2019.
What sort of runner would you describe yourself as?
I don’t actually see myself as a runner not a serious one anyway. I’m more of a put a pair of trainers on and hope for the best kind of person. I don’t run for times or pace I just like to get outside and enjoy the benefits that come with running. I find it hard work but I keep doing it because I love the overwhelming feel-good factor that follows. I’ve never returned home from a run and wished I hadn’t been, it instantly boosts my mood and gives me a burst of energy. I run so that I can feel good both physically and mentally and for me that completely outweighs how tough some runs can be. I’m always striving to be the happiest and healthiest version of myself and running plays a part in me achieving that.
How have you found running during lockdowns?
To start with I was quite enjoying the slower pace of life that lockdown brought. I had time to run and was getting out 3-4 times a week. I even ran my first 10K back in June 2020. As the restrictions were lifted my running tailed off a bit and seeing friends and going out socialising took priority. I tried not to be hard on myself on the days or weeks where I didn’t go out running, keeping in mind that I could return to it at any given time because it’s free and all I’d have to do is put my trainers back on.
Was it hard to return to running after Covid-19?
After being struck down with Covid-19 and therefore isolating, I was unable to run for a whole month. When I did finally get out for my first post-Covid run I decided I was going to attempt to run for 30 minutes. I deliberately didn’t track the distance or time as i did not want to put any pressure on myself. The aim for me was to just get back out, keep it slow and allow myself walking breaks if needed. I was surprised that I was still able to run and made it round intact. It still surprises me now the levels of fitness my body retains even after doing zero physical activity for 4 weeks.
We are delighted that Holly will soon be starting her training as one of our upcoming new leaders, with her Leader in Running Fitness and Mental Health First Aid training funded by our Community Chest grant award from Southampton City Council.
We will be placing an order with Caroline’s T-Shirts after lockdown for anyone wanting to purchase an Ascension Running Community technical t-shirt as pictured here. (Expected price £14.40, TBC).
Children’s versions are available too as a white t-shirt with the teal print on the front (plain backs) £10 TBC.
For more info or to order email: firstname.lastname@example.org