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How jogging eased the lockdown for so many

Updated: Dec 14, 2022

On March 17thEngland Athletics released a statement advising that all face to face activity including jogging groups should be suspended. While the news was not entirely unexpected it sent ripples of uncertainty throughout the network. Leaders from all over the county informed participants that group meet ups would be cancelled until further notice.

Having worked in the Jog Derbyshire team for nearly four years I have seen endless examples of the passion and drive that is put into each and every group from leaders and participants alike. Never has a week gone by when I have not read or heard about stories of courage, achievements that have been made, flourishing friendships and examples of support.

We often see groups of people supporting individuals who have had to step away from jogging for a while due to health constraints, injury, or time restrictions. But what was going to happen when everyone had to step away? What happens when a social group is prevented from being social? How would people stay engaged? Like so many others we were in unknown territory.

It would have been easy enough for Leaders and participants alike to retire the lycra and hang up their trainers until further notice, and who could blame them in such difficult times? But that was not to be! The strength and gusto of the network came forth and in the blink of an eye Jog Derbyshire had opened many doors to possibilities.

Replacing old normalities with new

Where to start?! From online blogs and classes, to hilarious videos made by groups, relays and virtual hide and seek, to sharing knowledge and joggers bingo, 0-5km graduation runs and virtually participating in cancelled races to wearing all the colours of the rainbow, passing batons from district to district and running the alphabet to WhatsApp groups and friendly messages just to check in and say ‘hi’.

Each time we think we have seen everything new creativity emerges. A bus stop challenge, wildlife photography, Derbyshire rocks, knock a door run (a non-nuisance version I assure you!) Local landmark hunts and the ‘Where am I?’ game which proved to be great way of sharing of local knowledge and helped communities to discover new places from their doorsteps

‘So far I have not recognised any of the pictures posted and it’s made me realise I need to venture a bit further than Lea. It has also been a reminder of how lucky I am to live in such a beautiful part of the country that has so much to offer right on our doorsteps. Looking forward to visiting some of the stunning locations you guys have posted.’ Donna Christie, Solemates.

Every activity is met with boundless enthusiasm and is keeping the jogging community connected, talking, active and smiling.

The desire to help and support others has gone beyond Jog Derbyshire’s close-knit groups. Across the county there has been a fantastic effort made to fundraise for those in need, including Jog Duffield who, in support of the 2.6 challenge hosted a day long relay consisting of 4 teams and 40 joggers to raise money for the Erewash Home Start project. Borrowash Jolly Joggers also took to the streets and donated pounds for miles to the to the Derby and Burton Hospital Charity and two little lads who have been lapping their gardens to raise money for the NHS and Royal British Legion.

Julie Corne, Jog Duffield Leader fondly recalls the 2.6 challenge event day

‘I spent the day watching my phone. Messages from joggers were pouring in, everyone was supporting each other there was such a buzz! It was wonderful, we all got so much out of it.’

This tremendous effort to keep moving forwards is still going strong and is being driven by the kind-heartedness of those willing and able to help others.

Supporting each other with both physical and mental wellbeing

The Jog Derbyshire ethos has remained strong throughout – nobody is left behind. Not when jogging in groups and not now! Joggers across the network are finding they are not going it alone. How can they be when they are reporting back to a whole host of eager supporters?! For every person that posts about their jog there is an endless stream of comments from fellow group members offering motivation, encouragement, and conversation.

And while many are out pounding the pavements and weaving the trails, for some leaving the house isn’t an option, but they are still being thought of and are involved.

‘I would like to pass the baton this week to a lovely lady who is stuck at home and has no opportunity herself to do the challenges. I’ve loved seeing everyone’s photos and it’s certainly lifted my spirits and I’m sure it does to others who can’t get involved. You are all so brilliant’ Elaine Kenning, Swad Joggers.

The Derby Joggers have been creative in finding different ways to engage and stay connected with those who are shielding or in isolation.

‘We knew many from our jogging community were unable to go outside. Reaching out and keeping everyone involved is our main priority. We have a WhatsApp group and there is lots of conversation and different challenges happening including baking – my phone is full of photos of people’s food! Reaching out is important. Sometimes people just appreciate a call or a text to check in’ Norman Todd Derby Joggers Leader

Leaders across the network have been linking in with one another sharing ideas and offering a supportive ear or words of encouragement to try something new. Collectively they have navigated a way forward through these very different and challenging times.

‘At first, we were a little hesitant to go ahead with a virtual 0-5k programme, we weren’t sure how it would work. I talked it through with Nicola from Borrowash Jolly Joggers. It was good to share ideas and have support from another Leader who had already done it’ Joy Walton-Power, Mickleover Joggers

The sense of togetherness, despite not being able to see one and other is as apparent as ever.

One thing that has struck me perhaps more than anything else is the amount of gratitude that has been shown. Messages of thanks have flooded in, from so many to so many. Some are grateful for inspiration, others for encouragement and many for the opportunity to bring the outside in, share experiences and to stay close together.

‘What a lovely supportive message, thank you. I personally like the challenges; it provides a bit of focus and inspiration as well as a reason to get out when perhaps it can feel like too much effort. I’m really grateful to everyone posting their pictures and updates too because it is helping us to feel more connected. This is a really difficult time for everyone for all sorts of reasons and this is something that is genuinely helping me so thank you and take care everyone.’ Karen Towle, Solemates

Leaders have been grateful to lead, participants grateful to partake and there has been a clear collective gratitude for one and other. People seem thankful for the familiarity and slice of normal that their jogging community offers in an all but normal time.

‘Wow what a day, I honestly have been so inspired and motivated by all your posts and efforts and it has filled my news feed with positivity.’ Harriet Chadwick, Dronfield Diamonds.

People, kindness, and resilience

At Jog Derbyshire, we invest time and put great onus on finding the perfect locations, ideal routes, effective drills, good running kits etc all of which are undeniably important. However, when you take all those things away, we are left with people. People with a common goal, people who want to be a part of something, people who care and want to support others and share experiences. People who are connected.

Having the desire and opportunity to engage with others are perhaps the most powerful and consistent tools we possess. The supportive warmth of community spirit still wraps its arms around the Jog Derbyshire network offering a sense of belonging and norm that somehow eases the ebb and flow of life. Having connections gives us a steady and comforting brace that assures us that things will be ok until we find our new norm. And while we look forward to the day we can meet with friends and jog side by side along our favourite routes exchanging high fives without fear of contact we know that where there is a strong connection our communities will remain together even while we must stay apart.

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