I often saw the Reigate Ladies Joggers pummeling the streets of Reigate and Redhill and wondered  what it would be like to run with them.  I had always been happy to run on my own and I never needed anyone else to help me cover the miles, or so I thought.

 I would enjoy sitting on my sofa at night mapping my run for the next day, adding in hills and then taking them away, ultimately ending up with a route that I had done a thousand times before.  I would put on my running shoes all optimistic about the run I was about to conquer and then I would be on my way. I never know what happens from happily planning my run to getting a few km in but those happy hormones seemed to ebb away and I would quickly be planning how if I just took a right here or cut through there I could knock off a couple of km from my run.  Usually I would resist the urge to cheat and get home feeling so overjoyed that I had done my run that I forgot how much I didn’t like it and I would repeat the process a few days later.

As the nights drawed in, I felt more vulnerable running on my own in the dark and that morning on the way back from the school run I saw the pink ladies out in force, all looking relatively happy, if not a bit red in the face.  I emailed asking if I could join the run that evening but really still quite hesitant about how running in a group could help me apart from the safety aspect. 

First run I did and it felt ok, I talked to the run leader and mumbled a few words to the girl running next to me but what surprised me the most was the route that we took.  I have been running round Reigate for years and I did not know half of the paths that we were running, before long we were back at St. Bede’s and I had ran 7km without really realising.  I was still unsure whether it was for me, but the joy of running 7km without it being too much of a bother brought me back to the next session.  Off I went again, feeling more confident to talk to the other ladies (when I wasn’t too puffed) and our run leader took us off round Gatton park and again I was on a route that I hadn’t been and once again I came back feeling a sense of accomplishment and a feeling that running wasn’t so bad after all and I didn’t have to constantly look for an escape route half way through. 

I wracked my brain to what made the difference from running on my own, which I thought I loved and still do love in a way, to running with RLJ and here is what I decided.  I didn’t feel pressure to achieve a certain distance and was more swept along with the group.  I didn’t over analyze every step that I still had to do as I had no idea where I was going and the new routes meant that I couldn’t guestimate what hill was to come and most importantly I had amazing people around me, all struggling together and all encouraging each other so that putting one foot in front of the next wasn’t so hard.

I now run with Reigate Ladies Joggers at least once or twice a week and I thoroughly enjoy the comradery with the other joggers and I even steal a few route ideas to do on my own… although it is definitely more fun with other joggers. 

Catherine Hutchison