A series of individuals turned up one breezy Dublin Monday evening to Mary’s first beginners running class in 2007. They all had different backgrounds but they all had the same thing in common. They wanted to be able to run but they didn’t feel they could do it alone. Fast forward 8 weeks and they were no longer individuals but a group. They shared autumn evenings and new running milestones every week. They signed up for the same 5k race and enjoyed the camaraderie and the buzz of their joint achievements. But they didn’t want it to end there. They wanted to keep on running and more importantly running together. The ForgetTheGym running community was born.
Although they thrived on the routine of the beginners classes many struggled to keep the up the momentum when left to their own devices. They enjoyed the social element of running as much as the run itself and benefited from the routine of classes and the homework to help them stay on track. This led to our FunRun class being created. Funrun class remains our most popular class today. It’s for runners who can run 5k but still need a kick out the door.
12 years on and some of these original students are still part of the gang. Indeed they all have had their ups and downs in life and running but they have a kinship with their running buddies that has lasted many years. As time has passed, new runners have joined the group and we have adapted our classes and supports to guide runners in new directions once they reach the big 5k goal. Each season brings new faces, new success stories, new trails, paths and surprises.
As the years have passed, further bonds have been created on days out, weekends away and running holidays. Our runners mentor the new joiners, encourage them in parkruns and offer support and a smile. No one gets left behind.
There is a powerful sense of community and belonging in the group. With such pride in being part of the gang, it wasn’t long before the request was made for running t-shirts that would allow them to recognise eachother on the road. Originally training ladies only, the ‘running chick’ tshirt was born in 2012 and has since expanded to the select bunch of gentleman who have the exclusive privilege of becoming ‘chick magnets’. There is an understanding amongst all who run in our blue. They are ambassadors for our supportive yet relaxed approach to running. Each ‘Running Chick’ and ‘Chick Magnet’ has played their role in helping build our community and shares the love of running for fun. Their T-shirt fee also is also donated to the Irish Hospice Foundation charity so their impact goes wider than just within the group.
From these early days in 2007 right up to today we feel blessed with buckets of wonderful memories, inspiring stories, friendships and most important endless gratitude for our students and fellow coaches for helping make our community what it has become. Our running community brings together fun, enjoyment, camaraderie, fresh air, lovely scenery, charity, encouragement, goals, rewards, tourism and a healthy dose of humour. We don’t take ourselves too seriously yet many incredible goals have been achieved by our runners. We accept that life can sometimes get in the way of running but also that running has the power to pull us up from the low points in our lives. Working together we bring everyone along in the right direction, whatever their pace.
Even when we are not able to run together, there is a bond between the runners. Using Facebook as a way to let the group interact online has opened many doors for us. Runners can feel part of a community even if they are not always running side by side. They share their experiences, arrange meetups, inspire others and give advice and encouragement to their virtual running buddies.
Runners can feel part of a community even if they are not running always running on the same path.
The community is constantly evolving as our runners gain new interests and directions. Today we have weekly meetups, regular workshops, days out, trips away, online support groups and most importantly an open inbox to anyone who needs advice, support and a nudge in the right direction.
“Forget the gym is like one big family, to me it’s a social group that enjoy running. There will always be either tea and a cake or a beer at the end of every race. My old mantra of I can’t run has changed to I can’t imagine not running. I love to see the new joiners and am quite envious of the fact they are at the start of their journey, the doubt, the disbelief that they can run 5km, 10km, half marathon, full marathon, whatever their goal is. The journey to achieving this goal is so rewarding and the feeling when you complete it is the best feeling in the world. Not only that, I have made some absolutely amazing friends, people I know will be part of my life for a long long time.” Louise