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Embankment Run Club Founders Explain How Group Exercise Can Improve Mental and Physical Wellbeing

28 February 22 interview: Yasmin Turner
photos: Wilson Lou

We chat to Luke Myers and his partner Millie Caffull, founders of the Embankment Run Club, about how their project came about, and how it’s helping to improve people’s wellbeing and create a sense of togetherness in Nottingham…

What inspired you to launch the running club?
M: The idea came to us because we recognised there wasn’t really a casual, sociable running club around. We moved to Nottingham just over a year ago and didn’t know anyone. We looked into a couple of traditional running clubs we could join, but it wasn’t really what we were looking for. We wanted something that was a bit more sociable, where we could meet people and make friends.
L: We also found that the more traditional running clubs don’t have a huge membership of people our age, early twenties through to mid-thirties. There’s a real gap in that membership. We wanted something where running is central to the club, but the social aspect is maybe the bigger draw. 

What are the benefits of running, and running in a group?
L: It can be a solo sport, in pursuit of an individual goal or a bit of a movement during the working day. But joining a group can help to provide more motivation and moral support.
M: There is no judgement either - all abilities and achievements are encouraged and celebrated. There are different experience levels, some who have been running for years, and others who are new to running, just working up to 5km and 10km distances now.

I don’t think we quite appreciated how many people coming out of lockdown were in a similar situation to us, looking to meet new, like-minded people

Do you find mental wellbeing as important as physical wellbeing for explaining why people join in?
Definitely, I think we know from personal experience that running in general is really good for mental health. This is one of the reasons we both enjoy it; it gives us headspace. But so many of our runners said to us, “This has come at such an important time for me”, “I was feeling really low” or, “I was going through a really difficult time”, particularly because we’d had a year of lockdown.
L: I don’t think we quite appreciated how many people coming out of lockdown were in a similar situation to us, looking to meet new, like-minded people and seeking that sense of community and belonging which is crucial to personal wellbeing. 

How would you like to see your community expand in the future? What’s in store for 2022?
With over sixty members already, we would like to keep growing and providing this sense of community. A couple of local businesses have mentioned the idea of sponsorships, and with exposure on our social media and to our growing members, this would be beneficial to both parties.
L: With the money, we are looking at putting some of our runners on run leaders’ courses as the group expands. Some members have asked about doing track nights, so we could hire running tracks too. Sponsorships will help keep membership free - we never want to charge. It would be great to give back to the community and help local charities through our club too.

If you’re interested in joining ERC, you can tag along on any Wednesday at 6pm in the Brewhouse & Kitchen car park, Victoria Embankment. Run 5km or 10km and finish with a drink at the pub

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