Leading a Group
Leading a group is very rewarding, but can also be challenging. Here you’ll find some useful tips and resources to help you lead a successful group. If you have any tips you’d like to share, let us know.
- 3.5 Miles (City Centre): Head left out of Perdiswell, to the city centre down Rainbow Hill, through Lowesmoor, bear right to Sansome Walk, then come back to the club via the Tything, Barbourne Road and Droitwich Road.
- 3.5 Miles (Brickfields): Head left out of Perdiswell, toward the Blackpole Retail Park down Bilford Road, go straight over the roundabout to Windermere Drive on to Tolladine Road. Turn right on to Ambleside Drive, left on to Brickfields Road. Then under the tunnel and back to Perdiswell.
- 4 Miles (Fernhill Heath Loop): Take the road from Perdiswell Leisure Centre, at Bilford Road. turn right, stay on the Right hand pavement. At junction with Droitwich Road, turn right, stay on this pavement until you get to Blackpole Road. (White Hart Pub). Turn right into Blackpole Road. run on the left hand side, at the bottom of Blackpole Road. cross onto the right hand side ,turn right into Bilford Road, under the railway bridge and return to Perdiswell.
- 5 Miles: Suggestions welcome.
- 6.2 Miles – 10K: Suggestions welcome.
- Intervals: There’s some popular places to take structured sessions such as hills or intervals/efforts. Park Avenue is a good loop for efforts, as is St. George’s Square. St. Mark’s Close is a good quiet cul-de-sac for hill repeats. In the lighter months, Pitchcroft is also good.
Avoid busy roads for safety and to keep to your desired pace.
Avoid poorly lit or uneven surfaces.
Practice the route on your own beforehand to ensure the route is safe and help you to remember the route.
Count the number of runners, not just at the start and end, but at various points in case of any incidents.
Consider appointing a more confident runner in your group as the back marker to monitor from the back, especially in bigger groups.
Bring hi viz and a headtorch with you for runs on dark evenings.
Before you set off on your run, it’s important to check a few things:
- Do you have any runners that are new to the club? Check they are in the right group for their ability and have given their emergency contact details at the start.
- Do you have anyone in the group with any medical conditions that you need t know about and do they have any medication required during the run with them.
- Make sure everyone has joined the right group pace, rather than finding out a mile into the run!
- If you’re doing a tougher session, such as intervals, check that all the runners are injury free.
- Consider explaining the route before-hand, so that runners know roughly where they are going, especially as some can get nervous if they don’t know where they are.
- Clearly explain the structure of the session to the runners when doing more structured sessions. Remember the tips you picked up on the LiRF course such as asking runners to repeat back the instructions to ensure they’ve understood what they’re doing.
If you’ve completed the LiRF course, you will have learned the importance of warming up, especially when planning tougher sessions or hilly routes. Runners may be reluctant to take part in dynamic stretches or a gentle jog first, but if you explain the reasons and that it will help keep them injury free, they should be more open to the idea.
Pacing a group can be quite a controversial topic. Runners can get quite vocal in a group if the pace they are running at is different to what was advertised. Runners should be advised that the pace is a guideline pace. It is completely normal for the pace to be slower when running up hills and faster when running down hills.
The preferred method is to treat the pace as the average running pace, so pausing watches when the group is forced to stop, e.g. at road crossings. Some watches can be set to ‘auto pause’ at stops to save doing it manually. If you don’t pause your watch, the group can end up running significantly faster than the advertised pace, to ‘catch up’.
The most important factor is making sure the group is kept together (there’s tips on this below), no-one is left behind and enjoys the run.
When injury strikes
It is recommended that you take a phone out with you on the run, or there is at least one other in the group with a working phone. If the injury is serious, e.g. serious bleeding, head trauma, etc, the emergency services should be called as a priority.
For less serious incidents such as sprains, muscle pulls or sudden pains in joints/tendons, . A minimum of. Runners may be adamant that they’re fine and that they’ll make their own way home or back to club. As responsible adults, this decision is up to them.
First aid kits should be carried by leaders of coached programmes. There are also first aid kits at Perdiswell Leisure Centre and the Riverside building.
All this may put you off taking a group! The number of incidents that occur is very low, but it’s important that you feel prepared should anything happen.
Keeping the group together
Set a muster point
Pick a notable point further along the route (next junction, roundabout, corner, a pub, shop, etc) and instruct the runner to muster back when they get to that point. The runners should turn around at the muster point and run back until they get to the last runner in the group, then turn back around and continue the route. This ensures that those struggling at the back aren’t left behind, while also allowing the rest of the group to run at the advertised pace and faster runners to cover more distance.
Encouraging faster runners to move up
If you regularly get a runner joining your group that is clearly able to run much faster than the group they’ve joined, there’s no harm in persuading them to move up a group. Runners may join the group as a ‘recovery run’, but if they’re causing problems by running at the front and pushing the pace of the rest of the group, it’s ok to request that they stay further back in the group.
After the run
Remember to check back in at the end of the run, ensure that all the runners that went out are accounted for. If there were any incidents on the run, these can be easily reported to the committee using the online Incident Report Form.
Runners are advised to carry out stretches after the run to help maintain flexibility and reduce muscle soreness. If doing a structured session, consider a cool down run when heading back to the club. The UKA Coach website has printable examples of stretches.
Further help and resources
If you have any further questions, have a chat with either Jo, Claire or Rebecca who are the clubs coaches, ask another leader for advice or a committee member. Group leaders can join the group leaders Facebook group to share tips and discuss group leading matters with other leaders.
There’s also printable resources on the UKA Coach website.