Support for members

sarahWe are an inclusive LGBT organisation and want to be as accessible as possible to attract a diverse membership. You can find out more about how we support women and trans people, or read on to find out about other areas we focus our energies on.

If you have any questions then please contact our Welfare Officer Sarah Rickard (pictured).

 

Disability

We actively encourage disabled people to join our club, and can accommodate different needs.

rob and daniel VI (2)We have quite a few members who have undertaken UK Athletics visual impairment training to act as guide runners and can make sure someone is available at our runs if needed, just ask our Welfare Officer.

All our routes have been risk assessed and information on their accessibility is on our website. We wheelchaircan adapt our road routes, and our track session on Tuesday is suitable for wheelchair users. The sports clubs and social venues we use are also accessible for wheelchair users.

You can find out more about England Athletic’s work on disability here.

 

Emotional well-being

The club aims to:

  • Develop a non-judgmental culture, where emotional well-being can be openly discussed
  • Promote emotional alongside physical well-being in the club’s activities and information provided to members
  • Signpost members to relevant information and organisations that support emotional well-being
  • Promote referrals from external organisations to encourage new members to join and experience the benefits of exercise

michael-thorley1We support the England Athletics initiative #runandtalk and have two Mental Health Ambassadors; Sarah Rickard (Welfare Officer) and Michael Thorley (pictured left).

Our Ambassadors raise awareness about emotional well-being within the club, help signpost members to help and resources they may need, and support people experiencing mental health problems to start, return to and continue running.

 

Carl’s story

carl-lane“My journey started in January 2015. After years of excess and no exercise, I ended up with a BMI of 30. I then made a resolution to lose some weight and get fitter.  It was in January 2015 that I decided to take up running armed with an iPhone strapped to my arm and the NHS Couch to 5K app.

Since then I have joined the Manchester Frontrunners, lost 3 stone in weight, run several 10k races, Parkruns, a few cross country races and some half marathons. In April 2016, I ran the London Marathon, after getting a place in the club ballot, and raised £1,200 for the mental health charity Mind.

I have struggled with my mental health in the past. I required inpatient admission for almost a year aged 16 due to depression, and had another bad spell whilst at university. Raising money for mental health felt like the natural thing to do – to try and give a little something in return for the help I have received.

I have found running frequently helps to clear my mind, especially with such a stressful job. It gives me ongoing confidence and helps me become more motivated and energised. The camaraderie and support of being in a group such as the Manchester Frontrunners is simply amazing”.

 

What effect does physical exercise have on how we think and feel?

Running (at whatever speed) is a form of physical exercise, which is increasingly known to have positive effects on sustainable and improved emotional well-being, including mental health including:

  • Reduced anxiety and increased ability to cope with changes in anxiety
  • Reducing the symptoms of depression or “feeling down” whilst increasing mood and improved self-esteem – generally feeling better about yourself
  • Improved self-body image via changes in your body as you exercise and perhaps eat differently
  • Reducing stress and also recognising symptoms of stress, and working to manage them better
  • Relieving boredom and changing habits and behaviours which can make people feel as if everything is the same
  • Increased sense of connection with other people by being part of a group and also with the natural world – increasing a sense of why your life has value and meaning
  • If you are part of a group that is learning to run or aiming for another step in your running, then planning ahead and sticking to it helps you learn about how you achieve some goals but don’t meet others

 

So how does it all work?

There are many reasons why physical activity has these effects on mental well-being – too many to go into here, but you might like to follow some of these links or search the web for more if interested.

Managing stress

Exercise and stress

Looking after your mental health through exercise

Understanding anxiety and panic attacks

What generally happens in stress

Why physical exercise helps depression

 

What else? There is a work benefit too!

Knowing how you breathe and then controlling your breathing directly impacts the amount of oxygen you get into your body – all parts of your body.  In a work situation, your brain usually does most of the work and so getting sufficient oxygen into your brain is really important. When you breathe you change the level of hormones in your body (and brain) and directly affect the way that you think and make decisions.  Good to know!

This is an interesting introductory article and if you fancy reading a book then a good introduction is The Chimp Paradox by Steve Peters.

 

Mind how you run!

You’ve probably been unable to avoid the word or the practice of “Mindfulness” in the last few months. The basic definition is about being appropriately focused in the present moment.  A lot of mindful practice focuses on the breath – you can probably see the immediate link between focusing on breathing and running.  Running can be used as part of mindful practice to improve and connect both body and mind resulting in some of the benefits as outlined above.

 

What can I do if I feel I need help?

Manchester Frontrunners don’t offer counselling or therapy, but our Mental Health Ambassadors can direct you to advice or support so please get in touch – any conversation will be confidential.  In most cases, your first point of call should be a trusted friend or your GP, but you may want to seek help from:

LGBT Foundation – local organisation that offers a range of help and support

MIND – national mental health charity with local branches

British Association for Counselling & Psychotherapy – directory of local practitioners

NHS Choices – directory of local mental health services or take their mood test and check out other resources