29-year-old Rachel West is a jog leader with Darley Dale based Jog Derbyshire group Sole Mates.
Inspired by her mum – a successful marathon runner – she’d dipped in and out of running throughout her life. The pivotal moment however came when she moved from Nottinghamshire to Derbyshire and had children. After struggling with the demands of three young children and keen to form new friendships she launched the new jog group with friend Naomi last year and as word spread the group has gone from strength to strength.
Rachel tells her story:
“Having three children aged three and under was a bit like being a hamster in a wheel. I was struggling to cope and felt like I’d lost a sense of myself.
“Having only recently moved into Derbyshire I hadn’t had a job in the area so I really wanted an opportunity to make friends with others who have a common interest, outside of the usual mother and baby groups. I wanted to find myself again.
Overcoming the childcare barrier
“When my youngest was only eight weeks old I decided I wanted to give running another go. I joined Matlock Athletics but childcare was a massive barrier for me. My fiancé works all over the country so I am often alone during the week with no childcare so I just couldn’t get there. I knew there must be an opening for something closer to home which could include everyone.
“Along with my friend Naomi we had the idea to set up a jog group in Darley Dale. Even though I had a young baby and she was pregnant at the time we just decided to go for it and it happened really naturally. We put up posters and gradually picked up more and more people through word of mouth.
Everyone is welcome!
“We really try to accommodate for everyone – from genuine beginners who will struggle to run for a minute at first, through to those who can run comfortably (whilst chatting!) for a whole session, and also for parents by allowing people to bring their children if necessary. We recognised this as a barrier to both socialising and to fitness and one we wanted to remove.
“On Tuesdays we have a 30 min run, which people can do with a suitable buggy, or with their children alongside them. On a Thursday we have a mixed session so we will be doing something like speed work or hills, or using equipment such as ladders and skipping ropes. This session helps promote the sense of community because people are not split up on the basis of ability, we all work together, with adaptations to make things easier or more challenging. Because we are working in a relatively small space it is pretty easy to supervise children if they are not joining in. I think because there is no pressure to join in the kids like to come along.
Joining the Jog Derbyshire family
“We kept seeing Jog Derbyshire t-shirts at various races and when we started talking to people about it, it really fitted in with what our group was about. So we joined them at the start of this year.
“It’s fantastic to be a part of Jog Derbyshire. We’ve had loads of help with the admin side of things as well as training for 10 volunteer co-leaders.
“Without them we wouldn’t be able to keep the group going as it’s a lot for one person to manage. After a big influx of people joining in January, coinciding with the time Naomi had her baby, I was running around like a headless chicken so the help was really needed.
“We do have several runners who are members of Matlock Athletic and also run with us – they like the contrast and also being able to exercise as a family. I still am a member of Matlock Athletic Club, and we have practical support from their Chairman and other members.
Why I love being a jog leader
“Being a jog leader is so great because I love supporting people, whatever journey they’re on – be that a fitness journey or a personal journey.
“Being part of a group helps you feel better and lets you connect with people and the world around you. It’s got so many mental health benefits and it helps keep you safer in the winter months.
“Meeting people and forming friendships is the best thing about the group – I know it helped me feel much more positive about life so being able to pass that on to others is pretty special.”
Find out more
Rachel leads Darley Dale based group Sole Mates. Find out more about when and where they jog here.
You can find your nearest Jog Derbyshire group here