Pushing My Comfort Zones (And It Doesn’t Involve Me Running!)

Since my last blog post, I have been approved as a Run Director for Gravesend junior parkrun 🙂  In their infinite wisdom, UK Athletics/parkrun have processed me as an honest and trustworthy person!  How little do they know!  And although I haven’t actually “performed” the Run Director role yet, I have been taking on different responsibilities over recent weeks.

According to the parkrun website, “The Run Director is in charge of a particular run on a specific day.  They have ultimate responsibility for deciding whether or not the conditions are suitable for the event and with advice from the other volunteers may decide to modify the course (because of new hazards, for example), delay the start, or even in exceptional circumstances cancel the event that day (very poor weather being the most common reason for this).  They are also responsible for organising the team of volunteers, along with the volunteer co-ordinator.”

Volunteer co-ordinator is a role I took on for the first time last Sunday and responsibilities included allotting marshal spots to our lovely volunteers and then giving them a health and safety briefing before sending them off around the course.

Although not an officially recognised volunteer role, there’s also the task of leading the runners’ warm up session, all carefully choreographed and prescripted by parkrun.  Now although I have watched this pre-run activity on numerous occasions, I was very literally dropped in it a few Sundays’ ago when our Event Director, Matt, suddenly announced I was doing the warm up!  Panic or what!  Fortunately there is a crib sheet and I think I managed to pull it off with the help of all the willing children I had up front assisting me.  I’m not sure anybody noticed any errors but they might have thought the warm up a bit shorter than usual!

My little helpers!

My little helpers!

Now there is a point to all this!  I’m not the most confident person around and the thought of standing up in front of a large number of people and being vocal is anathema to me.  There’s a reason I don’t run exercise classes (apart from my inability to count music and complete lack of natural rhythm).  I’m much happier working one to one (or maybe two, sometimes three!).  I am so glad Matt hadn’t told me beforehand what he had in mind because I would probably have been a blubbering wreck.

So this week with a large number of core volunteers on holiday, I found myself being volunteer co-ordinator and warm up girl again but this time I had a bit more confidence – hopefully it showed!  I’m still not looking forward to my first go at being the official Run Director and giving all those people the run briefing but I’m sure it’ll get easier the more I do it.

I do hope this hasn’t made me sound a bit “holier than thou” because there is actually a reason for this post!  Volunteering doesn’t have to be all about helping others.  It can help you too and not necessarily just in confidence building.  You don’t have to be an expert in a specific field to volunteer.  Yes, sometimes groups might be looking for coaches but sometimes they just need people on the ground to help out.  I had a quick look at the Join In website yesterday afternoon just to see what opportunities there were in my local area and you’d be surprised how many groups are looking for volunteers.  Not just running groups, there were gymnastics, swimming, rugby, cricket and cycling groups to name but a few.  So if you have some spare time on your hands, have a look to see what’s on offer.  No, you won’t get paid but sometimes the rewards come in other forms.  And you will enjoy it 🙂

BTW – I had another role yesterday too, results processor!  No pressure – although I did have help on hand.  Mind you, it’s an awful lot easier to get passed the password protection when you realise you still have the CAPS LOCK turned on!!  No wonder the system didn’t recognise my user ID or password.  Oh and sometimes the history button does have a purpose 😉