We are delighted to continue our 2018 Community Hero series with another incredible Southampton hero, Carol. Carol is the coach of ParkLive’s Run 4 Fun sessions. Her invaluable positive attitude and commitment to helping others is inspirational. Carol’s Run 4 Fun sessions take place at 6:30-7:30 every Wednesday evening at the Outdoor Sports Centre as part of ParkLives Southampton.

Run 4 Fun is an excellent, inclusive running class for anyone over the age of 16, whether you’re a complete novice or an experienced runner. The sessions are broken down into a warm up, coaching, games, cool down and stretches… it really is all about fun!

I got to speak to Carol before her session last week about why she gives her time to ParkLives and how she came to be a running coach.

Following a doctor’s referral letter, Carol became a member at The Quays Swimming and Diving Complex. After trying out the gym and finding it was not for her, Carol joined a running group who ran from Mayflower Park. Shortly after joining, she entered the London Marathon with fellow members. She ran the race for the Autistic Society, an organisation who helped her during her teaching career in Winchester. Her new-found love of running led her to decide to qualify as a coach and she began coaching young children in Winchester and became heavily involved in sports clubs at the school where she taught.

As well as a Monday night mixed-ability session where she coached beginners, Carol started a Saturday group with another coach where they trained a dozen ladies to run the ABP half marathon. She continued to run this group in subsequent years.

In 2016, Carol came to the Outdoor Sports Centre with some leaflets to give out about her Race for Life group for beginner ladies. Whilst here, she was asked if she’d like to join ParkLives; she accepted and set up the ParkLives group in conjunction with the Race for Life group.

Her Wednesday group has a lovely feel; it is sociable but also small enough for everyone to get personal coaching. Carol really is so observant and aware of everyone in her group; I came away from the session having learned a new running posture and about how to adjust my running when on tarmac rather than off-road, things I wouldn’t have known I was doing wrong had it not been for Carol.

Once a month on a Saturday morning she also takes a small group from Run 4 Fun to the New Forest for longer training runs for half-marathons and 10kms this spring. They have built up mileage from 3-4 miles to nearly 7 now. It is very clear to see that Carol goes above and beyond for her classes. She even writes hand-outs for the runners; this week, we were given one about running in the rain: something that will definitely come in handy at the moment!

Adamant that running should above all be free and engaging, Carol says: “I coach because it’s fun.” She told me that she ultimately wants to help people feel successful and enjoy running, be it on their own or in a race.

As well as coaching, Carol of course likes to run herself! She often enters fun-runs in the Hospital Star costume and has taken part in the Southampton Airport charity run, which she also dressed up for. She doesn’t like competitive, time-measured races and feels strongly that running should be for fun.

Aside from running, Carol has recently taken up triathlons and spoke to me about wanting to have canoeing lessons. She also enjoys walking in the forest but says that running is easily her favourite: anything from relay runs to 24-hour runs!

I was inspired by Carol’s selflessness and positive attitude and hugely enjoyed getting to chat and run with her. I’d highly recommend Run 4 Fun to anyone, whatever their fitness level.

 

Run 4 Fun takes place every Wednesday evening at 6:30-7:30pm at the Outdoor Sports Centre and is open to anyone over the age of 16. During the winter months it is moved onto the athletics track.

 

 Report by Ella Garner