If you’ve ever fancied taking up running but are too scared of venturing out on your own, joining a Jog Derbyshire group could be the ideal solution.
Not only is it free, the light summer evenings mean there is little excuse not to pull on your trainers and get out there.
On a pleasant Tuesday evening I joined the West Hallam jogging group at the West Hallam Community Centre car park, where they meet every week.
Leading the group is Phil Bentley, who has been passionate about running for many years and became the leader of the West Hallam group in 2011.
He has run a number of marathons over the years and leads the group - which is currently all women - out on runs no matter what the weather, not even snow stops them.
Phil said: “I’ve been running for 40 years. I saw an ad in the paper about Jog Derbyshire wanting qualified runners, I applied for a job but they said they had all the people they needed but would I like to sign up as a jog leader. It’s all free, we just go out and then normally enter a run, like a 10k or a half marathon. Once a quarter we meet in the pub, have a drink and talk about what we want to do.”
The group, which also meets on a Sunday morning, do different routes and distances each week.
On the evening that I joined them we took a route through Stanley village then up to Stanley Common, a total distance of just over four miles.
Though I do a bit of running myself I found myself struggling up the hills. However, the beauty of running is that your fitness soon improves the more you do it and there will always be people at a similar level to you - whether you have just started out or have a few 10ks under your belt.
Louise Witham has been part of the group for more than two years, while others have been going for just a few weeks or months.
Louise, who did the Derby 10k for the first time in April, said: “Everyone gets on well - if it wasn’t so friendly I wouldn’t have come back. Phil gives up a lot of time.”
Jo Severn, 34, joined the group for motivation and recently completed the Paris Marathon. Nicola Wilson,a friend of Jo’s, joined two weeks earlier: “It’s much better running in company,” said Nicola, who has taken part in events such as X Runner and the Nottingham Robin Hood half marathon.
The group attracts anything between two to 15 people on a Tuesday night. Amanda Dyer, 46, has been jogging with them since January and has seen a big improvement in her ability. She had never been running before joining the group but is now ready to sign up for some running events, such as the park runs, a series of free 5k runs.
Penny Whyman-Preston, 42, has returned to the group for the first time since January. She said: “It’s a great way to improve your fitness and is on the doorstep.”
n The Jog Derbyshire groups are a network of walk, jog and run groups providing a friendly, informal way to get fit. The emphasis is on improving your health, getting fitter, losing weight, meeting new people, having fun and feeling happier. For details on the West Hallam joggers group email email@example.com or turn up on the night at 6.30pm. More information on other groups in the county can be found at jogderbyshire.co.uk or by calling 01773 571231.