Thank you for looping back

It makes a difference for everyone!

Probably the biggest reason I signed up to be a run leader was to chat with new runners, and encourage people at the back of the group. I love how Truro's a club where nobody gets left behind, and I wanted to be part of that.

But in the process, I've had an unexpected bonus. I've watched as faster runners loop back, and see the huge impact that simple action has on the morale of the rest of the group.

Usually, I manage to say thanks. But sometimes, between telling you how to cross the road and half-dying as I drag myself up Uplands Crescent, I probably forget.

So, if you loop back, this is for you: THANKS.

Thank you. You're a great human being, and I wish you years of speedy, injury-free PBs, shoes that never blister and gallons of tasty race podium wine.

And here's why...

Just waiting isn't fair
It's all very well to wait at a street corner or the top of a hill, but that's not much help to the slower runner who has to work extra hard to catch up, while the fast runners take a cheeky breather, then gallop off as soon as they arrive.

When you loop back, you stop the crazy situation where the quicker runners get more rest than the people who really need it.

You get a training benefit
A little jog back every so often acts as recovery for you - so you can push harder in the main bit of your run, and effectively get the pace benefit of a few intervals.

I'm no coach, but I reckon it also stops your muscles cooling down and you risking injury with lots of stops and starts. (Plus, hey: free mileage.)

It helps the club offer more variety
We only have so many run leaders. When you loop back, it keeps everyone within sight - and that means we don't need so many leaders to look after each group.

That, in turn, means that Adrian can schedule more runs for you to choose from each week. Just because you looped back. Thanks!

It helps people to improve
Whether it's your first week, or you're stepping up a group, we all remember how scary it is to venture out with runners who are that bit faster than we are. But that's how we all improve, and it's one of the main ways that being part of a club helps us to get quicker.

Knowing that Truro is a friendly club where people loop back and support the slower runner, rather than sneering at them and zooming away, makes it easier for people to take the plunge and try to step up to a new level, whether in terms of speed or distance.

It stops you getting cold
I refuse to believe that standing around in day-glo lycra at the top of Moresk Road in the howling wind and rain, getting funny looks from all the dog walkers, is anyone's idea of fun.

Running in the wind and rain is OK. Standing in it is not. That's why looping back rules.

It's good to run as a team
Nobody comes to running club to run alone.

Running in twos and threes is fine, but running in a GANG is brilliant. There's really something about talking Tregolls Road en masse, that's inspiring and lifts everyone. Likewise, there's something about getting back to club, and warming down, all together, that really sets a seal on the run.

The Monday night posse, in particular, are great at this bit and that's why it's hands-down my favourite run of the week.

...But, most importantly of all...

It shows respect for your fellow runner We all had to start somewhere. We've all come back from injury. And one day age will slow all of us down (except Tony Berry, obviously). So if you've never been towards the back of a group, don't worry, you'll get there soon enough.

When a speedy runner loops back to encourage a back marker, it shows you recognise that they're a fellow runner, and they're working hard too. Maybe even - dare I say it - they're working harder than you are.

The point is, from the fastest to the slowest, we're all part of the family of running. And the runner at the back of the pack has far more in common with the whippets at the front than they do with the people at home on the sofa. We all have basically the same love-hate relationship with running. We're all cut from the same cloth.

And seeing the moment when the quick runners loop back to run with the group - where we really see that teamwork in action - is without doubt my favourite thing about being a run leader.

So, (in case I'm too out of breath to say it on Uplands Crescent) thank you for looping back. It does make a real difference.

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Leave a comment...

  • I read this article when DD first blogged it, the article is great and I made comments at the time, which I am not going to repeat here. Good going Dave
  • Great article on what sounds like a great running club. sadly the club I joined did not loop back, they did however stand around at the top of the estate and as soon as I caught up they sped off again, leaving me no time to catch my breath. Needless to say I am no longer in that club!
  • Nice article DD, my main reluctance to join a running club is the thought that I'd be left at the back on my own, hopefully I can find a similar club
  • Agree wholeheartedly :-) Fortunately I belong to a running club that loops back too
  • Excellent article - thank you
  • Fantastic. Great article Dave. Gonna share this on FB and (dare I say it) with my own running club! :-)G
  • Discovery Dave, brilliant!
    You've so eloquently put this across it should be embedded in the DNA of anyone working with groups of differing abilities.
    Everyone that's ever run has at some time been at the back of the pack, I can certainly remember the support I got when starting.
    Great work :)
  • What a brilliant article. I went out ONCE with a faster group and they stood on the occasional corner waiting for me and zoomed off as soon as I got to them. It made me feel unwanted and pretty rubbish in their group, so I stick with a friendly bunch of girls most of the time. I will share this with my running club!
  • Fabby, that's the way it should be and the way jogscotland aim to run their groups :)
  • Try Hash House Harriers. The whole setup allows the fast runners to go further (mostly the wrong way) and everyone else to follow on. Plus you end up in the pub.
  • Try Hash House Harriers. The whole setup allows the fast runners to go further (mostly the wrong way) and everyone else to follow on. Plus you end up in the pub.
  • Try Hash House Harriers. The whole setup allows the fast runners to go further (mostly the wrong way) and everyone else to follow on. Plus you end up in the pub.
  • Try Hash House Harriers. The whole setup allows the fast runners to go further (mostly the wrong way) and everyone else to follow on. Plus you end up in the pub.
  • Excellently put.
    (wondering if I should try Hash House Harriers)
  • I am that beginner at the back. I go to a 'beginners group' with my local running club. They started it last year, otherwise they expected people to be running about 6 miles before joining. This week I couldn't do the distance so one of the leaders ran/walked back with me then once back ran off to find the rest of the group. The group is also for people returning from injury or returning to running. I think I've had enough of going to this group and need to find myself another one.
  • Excellent article we use loop backs on the David Lloyd Redway Runners in Milton Keyes Sunday runs (and othr club runs) they work really well - this year we have regularly had over 100 runners using loop backs - just wish I had written it
  • Nice article sadly at our club they don't even stand and wait for the slower runners, but there again for most of them it's the only 'race' they appear to be interested in
  • Love the loop backs! Another fan here that allows all members of a club to run together, socialise, encourage and not feel left out. Like RunnerMartin says, it works at DLRR and with over 100 runners out in the paths of Milton Keynes we must look quite a sight. I couldn't belong to a club that frowned on you if you couldn't run fast enough.
  • An excellent article, i have been there at the back and it can be a lonely place if people don't loop back.
  • Truro sounds like a good place to do your running-good article!
  • So true, I recently joined Cobra running club in Halesowen and this is what they do, they don't leave anyone . It has made a massive difference to how I enjoy my club run. So would also like to say a big THANK YOU
  • Fantastic, I am the runner at the back at my new club, one or two run with me and the rest look after themselves although cheer me on when passing me! I am going to share this and see what happens with my next 5/6 mile run :-)
  • Great article.
  • 'Running in twos and threes is fine, but running in a GANG is brilliant'.

    Not 'arf. Some of my happiest club memories are of running through Chelmsford city centre early on a Sunday morning talking about everything and nothing and waving en-masse at the walk-of-shamers.

    Great article. Thanks.
  • Great article. Thats exactly the way Jogscotland groups are run and seeing the look on the face of a runner when they manage to loop back for the first time instead of being the one at the back is bloody awesome
  • We're definitely loopy at Sandhurst Joggers. It's great.
  • Couldn't have said it better Dave. There is only one club locally to me. Normally the group is very good but I have been out on runs where I'm at the back and you see everyone waiting for you. You catch them up and off they trot. It is so demoralizing as you get slower as you haven't had the benefit of that break. When I run in a group and am at the front I always loop back as I remember that feeling and wouldn't want someone else to feel like that. Also I get to run a bit further!!
  • At Monday hills, tonight, I will loop back. And I will encourage others. Thanks Dave.
  • As someone who is usually looped-back-for, great article - thanks. Oh and I'll be back to try and reclaim those Gwithian and Eden conquercise squares this summer :-)
  • Totally agree with everything everyone has said - thank you!
  • Great article Dave!
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Picture: Getty Images / CSA Images / Vetta
When he's not plodding round the wilds of Cornwall, Discovery Dave (formerly known as Fat Dave) runs Lungfish, a marketing copywriting agency. He also has a mildly entertaining blog about writing, marketing and PR.
And now for some linking back...
Dave's article was first published by Truro Running Club, in case you don't recognise any of the people or places mentioned. Pop in and say hi.

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