Leeds Sports Awards 2018

LGC leeds sports awards

The Leeds Girls Can Ambassadors were very lucky and grateful to be invited to the Leeds Sports Awards 2018. It was a rare occasion in more than one way, we swapped our trainers for heels, the only problem was that we hardly recognised each other in all our finery away from a muddy park or sweaty spin studio. Held at the First Direct Arena, this was a highly prestigious event, just to give you a sense of the scale of the awards, it was sponsored by Leeds Bid, Banana Kick, The University of Leeds, ImageCo, Blacks Solicitors, First Direct Bank, Leeds Bradford Airport, Sport Leeds, Yorkshire Sport Foundation, Resource, SWPix, Leeds Sports Federation, Leeds City Council and the Yorkshire Evening Post. Quite a mouthful.

It was a wonderful evening celebrating the achievements of all sorts of people involved in sports in Leeds, with young, senior and special contributions awards, it was an extremely diverse line up. As Leeds Girls Can Ambassadors we were very interested in the female winners, celebrating their strength and determination in their respective sports. We were lucky enough to get to meet some of them, accidentally photo bombing Izzy Palmer’s family photo – sorry Izzy. Izzy won the Young Sportswoman – Disability Award for her amazing efforts and achievements as a para dressage rider. I’m actually quite terrified of horses so I’m in awe of her for even going near one but at age 17 with a list of achievements that would take up this entire blog post, she really is the perfect example of a Leeds Girl proving that she can.

We also met Charlotte Booth, winner of the Student Sport – Individual Award. Charlotte is also the first female rugby league player to receive the Talented Athlete Scholarship Scheme (TASS) from Sport England. Charlotte plays for the Leeds Rhinos and has played on the England Squad. Now I don’t know that much about rugby but you don’t need to be an expert to realise that she is an absolutely phenomenal player, fantastic role model and literally #quadgoals. Charlotte is also a student at Leeds Trinity and we bonded over the joy that is Temple Donuts and Coffee (if you haven’t been you need to go, it’s on Kirkstall Road – have a cheeky Google). It just shows, if a pro rugby player says it’s fine to eat donuts, it’s 100% fine to eat donuts.

Another amazing female athlete that we met was Boxing Coach Sam Smith, Sam and her fellow coach Graham Mattison won the Coach – Participation Award. It was wonderful to hear about the positive impact their club (Alliance Boxing) has on the Leeds community. A highlight of the evening was when some younger club members started doing a demonstration of their boxing techniques on stage (not on each other, don’t worry). As much as the children entertained us, it was obvious to see that this confidence was a direct product of their experiences at the club. Sport doesn’t just keep us fit, it gives us confidence in day to day life.

We also got to meet Hannah Cockcroft MBE winner of the Sportswoman – Disability Award, an absolute legend. Her numerous successes include her multiple Gold medal wins at London 2012 and Rio 2016 in wheelchair racing. She was lovely and so happy to have a picture with us as Leeds Girls Can. It really struck me how all of the athletes that we met were so happy to talk to us. It felt like they were instantly part of the Leeds Girls Can and wider This Girl Can community, because we were all there for the same reason. To show our support for the achievements and efforts for men and women in sports, regardless of gender or age, everybody equally deserved their awards.

Thank you to Banana Kick for inviting us! We had a great time representing Leeds Girls Can amongst such a vibrant, energetic and fun Leeds sporting community.

Em x

Insta: @active.em.blog

Facebook: Emily Ankers – Leeds Girls Can Ambassador

Twitter: @active_em_blog

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My First Post-Pregnancy Run (the second time around) – before, during and after

Before:

Right now it’s a week away from a very important day for me… the day when I do my first post-pregnancy run. Just like after my last pregnancy, I’ve waited until 12 weeks have passed and followed a mixed plan of physio and pelvic floor exercises to give myself the best possible chance of strengthening those core areas affected by pregnancy and birth. But now, the wait is almost over, and I approach it with a mixture of excitement and anxiety. Excitement to get back out there and anxiety about how it will feel, how I will get on. Will I collapse in a heap after 30 seconds…? Whatever happens I won’t have to wait long to find out…!

Leanne Lane with Bump and Daughter

During:

Hooray! The day is finally here! Having stopped running early on in my pregnancy due to pelvic discomfort, it feels like a looooong time has passed. Feeling very excited as I put on my running gear and lace up my running shoes. Its winter, my favourite time of year to run, I much prefer the cold to the heat. I’m having to go early, and make sure my toddler is ok and that baby is full of milk and settled before I go, but then they’ll be snuggled up with Daddy until I get back. Once I’m out the door, there’s no stopping me and the feeling of freedom is unbelievable – I can’t remember the last time I went anywhere without taking at least one child with me! Off down the street following my usual route without even thinking twice, I haven’t planned in advance where I’d go, just wherever my legs take me. Legs that feel slightly stiff from not running for a long time and a body tired from lack of sleep – but it feels good, feels nice. It feels different but the same. No music. Just running to the sound of my own beat. 

Leanne Lane Post Pregnancy Run

Afterwards:

I hadn’t planned to run for long, and I didn’t. I was out for 20 minutes at most and yes my pace was quite slow (not that I ever run that fast). But oh what a run. A delicious, indulgent, time-for-me, RUN. I’m glad to say that I didn’t collapse in a heap as I feared that I might do. I can’t say I found it easy but I did find it enjoyable and that’s what I love about running. That it was there, waiting for me, once I’d had my baby and felt ok enough to put on my running shoes again, like a trusty friend who you don’t have to speak to every day but who you know is always there for you. And so, I’m pleased to say, my love of running continues…

 

Thanks for reading! I’d love to hear your pregnancy or post pregnancy running stories if you’d like to share any in the comments below.

 

Leanne Lane

Leanne Lane and Daughter

Eunice Walker: “I started running just before I turned sixty and will never stop!”

My husband came home from work one day and said, “come on we are going running, I want to lose weight”. I was fifty-nine at the time and has never ran before in my life! Anyway, off we went to the local park and after a few minutes I was struggling. I was gasping and couldn’t breathe properly. I carried on a bit more but I wasn’t enjoying it at all. I ran just a few more minutes but then I’d had enough.

We went again the next night but it wasn’t any better. Being the determined woman I am, I continued to try running just for a few minutes and after a week I had lost two pounds. I thought, “Okay- maybe I should carry on”.

I tried working on my breathing over the next few runs and found I was able to run just that bit further each time. I was only running for ten minutes and just let my husband get on with the rest.

Another week went by and I found myself starting to enjoy it. My breathing was getting better and I’d bought a sports bra which really made a difference! After the third week my husband said, “I’ve had enough so I’m not doing it anymore”. I told him I was actually enjoying it now so he encouraged me to continue running by myself. I won’t go to the park alone so I began running on the streets near my house. Just ten minutes a day and what a difference it made. I was really enjoying it and getting the benefits of feeling fit and healthy. It was coming up to my sixtieth birthday in four months so I wrote on a piece of paper that I would lose over a stone by then, and put it on the bedroom wall as a testimony.

My husband is younger than me and walks a lot at work so I let him off for not being my running buddy. When my birthday came I had lost one stone and three pounds and was absolutely delighted! I was still only running for ten to fifteen minutes a day.

The motivation pushed me to stretch to fifteen to twenty minute runs and sometimes more. I entered my first Race for Life and have continued to enter each year for the last eight years. This year I was interviewed by the TV man and made it onto ITV Calendar News.

I am now sixty nine and have only gained three and a half pounds in the years I’ve been running, I’m chuffed with that! I met up with a friend from school and told her about my running journey- she now runs with me twice a week. I still run on the streets on other days in the week, and I now run with Dani Penney from Leeds Girls Can- Active Leeds for thirty to forty minutes every Thursday.

What would I say to other females thinking of starting running? Come on girls, you really CAN do it if you just give it a try! All girls together!

blog image Eunice

Go Tri Something New In Leeds!

Go Tri Logo

For some time now, momentum has been growing behind triathlon. As a city, Leeds is fast becoming a hub for the sport. The construction of world class facilities, the development of the grassroots Go Tri programme to encourage new people into the sport and the success of the regions athletes all playing a significant part.

Take a look at what Go Tri has to offer in Leeds:

Go Tri Something New- Ladies beginner cycling sessions in New Wortley

Go Tri blog image 1  These sessions take place at New Wortley community centre and are targeted at beginners or those who would like to build up their confidence on a bike.

The group attending were all largely local to the Armley/ Bramley area. One lady hadn’t ridden a bike before and was a total beginner- she was keen to learn, so she was able to go out on rides with her partner. Other’s hadn’t been out on a bike for a few years and some were fairly confident riders. The ride leaders had to be really flexible in their approach to the sessions in order to accommodate all abilities.

With the support of British Triathlon we were able to access more bikes for week two and we saw the numbers increase. Over the first three weeks we’ve supported three none riders to successfully complete short rides, we’ve had women turn up with others having spoken positively about the session with their peers and you can already see the group forming friendships.

Go Tri blog image 2 Participants discussed signing up for the city ride in September and also a couple arranged to get together to the session on Monday nights at the Brownlee centre. The programme has already proved a hit with local women and with the excellent guidance from the ride leaders, introducing them to a range of different routes within easy reach of their community, the sessions are going from strength to strength.

To find out how you can get involved and for more information, visit: http://active.leeds.gov.uk/communitysport/Pages/Triathlon.aspx 

World Triathlon Series Leeds 2017

Go Tri blog image 3.png On the 10th and 11th of June, the World Triathlon Series was back in town for a second time. The event was bigger and better than before. The event village in Roundhay park went down a storm. Activity challenges, a big screen, event stalls and the odd freebie all helping to create a real family atmosphere.

Across the Leeds, in the city centre, people lined the streets to cheer on the elite and amateur athletes alike around the famous blue carpet finish in Millennium Square. Triathlon mania had definitely set in!

As the sun shone on the Sunday afternoon, some of the world’s best athletes descended on Roundhay park to tackle the unique challenge that Leeds offers. But before they’d even tipped their toes into the (Cold!) water, something extraordinary had already taken place.Go Tri blog image 5Over the course of the weekend people had come in their thousands to take on the triathlon challenge for themselves. Some were experienced triathletes, some were as young as 11 years old, some were para-triathletes, some had never been swimming in open water before and some were taking part in their first triathlon! It was quite a sight. Wave after wave of people of all ages and abilities swam, cycled and ran their hearts out. Some out to set a personal best, others just set out to finish.

Go Tri blog image 4  For some time now, momentum has been growing behind triathlon. As a city, Leeds is fast becoming a hub for the sport. The construction of world class facilities, the development of the grassroots Go Tri programme to encourage new people into the sport and the success of the region’s elite athletes all playing a significant part.

Come and be a part of it and Tri something New!

Leeds Girls Can – Couch to 5k – Kirkstall Abbey

Leeds girls can logo

Kirsty Midgley

No amount of planning could have prepared us for the overwhelming response to our first LGC Couch to 5k session at Kirkstall Abbey on the 20th of May. 116 enthusiastic, motivated ladies turned up to week one day one and we’ve consistently maintained 70 plus ladies per session since then.

Run leaders Natasha Hamlet and Leanne Lane lead the Thursday night session and Kirsty Midgley leads the Tuesday night session along with a handful of volunteer run leaders from clubs around Leeds.

Originally, we were worried that, while we were offering two lead sessions per week, one session would need to be run over the weekend in their own time. We were unsure if they would stick to this, thus putting the programme in jeopardy, our fears however were unfounded as the ladies arrange meet ups on Saturday and Sundays in various parks through the closed Facebook group.

I began my own running journey with the couch to 5k programme and I really wanted to help other ladies fall in love with running. I’ve gained so much confidence and benefits from running, I hope I can pass on just a fraction of this to each one of the ladies.

One of the biggest learning curves for me so far has been to watch each person and ensure we are giving them enough to encouragement and indeed enough of a challenge to keep them motivated and coming back week on week. For the faster ladies who sprint their runs we’ve brought in a pacemaker to teach them to pace their runs and control their breathing. For the slower ladies, we’ve started a buddy system to keep them motivated on their run.

By far the best part of running the group is the feedback from the ladies – their daily posts in the facebook group and seeing them struggle on day one of the run to comfortably running day three of the same run is inspiring.

 

Leeds Girls Can: Couch To 5K!

Leeds Girls Can blog image

It started with a meeting alongside Leeds Girls Can Ambassador’s and Run Leader’s- Natasha Hamlet and Kirsty Midgley. We wanted to discuss setting up a Couch to 5k beginners running group. We were all excited in sharing our passion to help get more women and girls active. After finalising logistics of the programme, we created a Facebook group and began promoting through social media and word of mouth. We received a lot of interest but assumed only a percentage of that would translate into actual ladies turning up. How wrong we were…

On the 21st of April 2017, I turned up ready to lead week 1 session 1, and was absolutely overwhelmed to be greeted by 116 women and girls. It was slightly chaotic to say the least. I certainly wasn’t expecting to have to shout the warm up to that many people, but somehow the other leaders and I got through it successfully. Over the next few weeks the numbers gradually stabilised to around 70 ladies. At the time I just thought we were getting into the swing of things and it kind of became the norm. Reflecting back now, I realise what an incredible achievement that was!

As the weeks continued to go by I were amazed at the level of commitment and determination I saw from the ladies. Although the leaders put on a regular Tuesday and Thursday session, the participants were expected to complete the third session of the week on their own. The Facebook group proved to be such a useful outlet and a place for the ladies to post about their achievements, to seek advice and support each other. Seeing ladies turn up at the sessions, week after week, and complete runs that they never imagined they could was inspiring to us all.

My running journey started back in 2005, following a similar Couch to 5k plan, and I have never looked back. I knew the Couch to 5k programme was a great tool in encouraging people to exercise and achieve their goals, but little did I think I would have a vital part to play in getting so many women active. As the ‘Pregnant Run Leader’, I was happy to lead the warm ups and cool downs. During the sessions you’d usually find me near the back walking, offering encouragement and chatting with the ladies. I thoroughly enjoyed every single session I was a part of, talking to some of the ladies and finding out their reasons for doing it was very inspiring and motivating for me.

So the 9 weeks flew by and the running distance continued to increase. It dawned on me the impact the group was having when Made in Leeds came down to film us, and show off the achievements of the group. At the final session I was able to attend, there were still around 35 ladies participating in 30 minute continuous running. I felt emotional thinking about the journey these women had achieved from struggling to run for a minute to doing it for a full half an hour!

I had an absolute blast with the Leeds Girls Can Couch to 5k ladies at Kirkstall Abbey. I am thankful to all the volunteer Run Leaders and Active Leeds Development Team for allowing me to be a part of such an inspiring and empowering thing. I’ve loved every minute of being part of this group and can truly say that I feel everyone who completed the programme is the epitome of #ThisGirlCan.

Ps. Watch this space for more Leeds Girls Can Couch to 5k programmes! Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram @LeedGirlsCan to hear about more amazing opportunities you can get involved in.

From Crutches to Coast to Coast – My Cycling Journey, by Julia Davis

 

cycling blog images

Life before cycling- had you ever wanted to cycle before?

I have always liked keeping fit but in my 30’s I had a lot of health problems due to endometriosis, which meant years of no exercise. I had a number of operations, including a hysterectomy, and was advised to walk every day to help me recover.  I was unfit and felt worn down by everything. I started walking and gradually built in some jogging. This developed into running and before I knew it, I increased my distance until I could do a 5km Park Run.  I got stronger and fitter and joined the local running club. I had even signed up for a marathon because my training was going so well! My buzz came quickly crashing down shortly after when I had an accident and badly broke my ankle, and tore all my ligaments.

How did you first get into cycling?

Blog images 2 Five months after breaking my ankle, I was nowhere near being able to run and I was feeling very frustrated at being inactive again. I started to use my hybrid bike to exercise our lively dog as it was easier for me than walking. I enjoyed being out on a bike and found it didn’t aggravate my ankle too much.  My husband has always been a keen cyclist, and I always thought of it as his sport. But I woke up one day and decided I’d get a road bike and try cycling, so at least I could do something to help me get back to running.

Are there any barriers/challenges you have faced along your cycling journey?

I bought a road bike in the January sales and I can vividly remember my first attempt at going round the block. I felt very unstable and there was a lot to think about with brakes, gears and traffic. I could only manage with left hand turns as I was too scared to turn right and move across into the traffic! I also found it very cold and wasn’t sure it would be for me. I persevered and did a 10 mile bike ride, then 15, then 20 miles. I set myself the target of doing the 30 mile cafe ride at the cycling club, and felt a huge sense of achievement at getting to this milestone. I had a steep learning curve but I found other cyclists were supportive and happy to share advice. I started to cycle further and with faster groups, and after 6 months I completed my first 100 mile ride. It was then started to feel like a proper cyclist.

Tell us about Coast to Coast

My ankle was still causing me problems and last September I had an operation to remove bits of cartilage and bone spurs so it was back to cast, fracture boot and crutches. My husband signed up to do the Coast to Coast challenge,  150 miles in a day (from the West to the East coast). Even whilst I was on crutches I decided to sign up for it too! This gave me a real focus to get back on my bike. Just three months after surgery I was training and working to get my fitness back. It was hard to start at the beginning again, but my philosophy of just trying and doing a bit more each time gradually paid off. By Spring I was able to comfortably cycle distances of 70-80 miles. ‘Winter miles = summer smiles” was true for me.

How did you feel on completion of Coast to Coast?   

Blog images 3The journey of training for the event and doing this with my husband was as enjoyable as the event itself. But I had a huge sense of achievement when we successfully completed 150 miles from Seascale to Whitby. We climbed up many hills, including the well-known “Hardknott Pass”, starting and finishing together in 12 hours. It’s an achievement I feel extra proud of and especially because of the obstacles I’ve overcome.

Are there other proud cycling achievements?

In addition to completing the Coast to Coast, I am also competing in some of the Cycling Club challenges which include strava segments and a hill climbing league. I have also had a go at a Time Trial, a Circuit race and a road race. I never imagined I would do any of this and it has taken all of my courage to give these things a go. I’ve found there is a lot of learning and growth with each new challenge. It’s true that we tend to regret the things we don’t do more than the things we do.

Why did you decide to do the British Cyling Breeze Ride Leader course?

I only found out about Breeze when I was cycling regularly, and I wished I’d known about it when I first got started. I felt motivated to share my recent experiences of ‘being new’ to cycling with other women – to help them get on their bikes and improve their cycling. It’s a big leap from going round the block to joining a cycling club where the easiest rides are still 30 miles. Breeze offers a perfect solution – a safe, friendly, supportive environment for women to enjoy cycling together.

What are the next steps for you in cycling?

My next steps are to continue cycling with the club and competing in the various club challenges. I also plan to do some Sportives and trying more races – both Circuit and Road. I may even get my next level race licence.

For Breeze, I am looking forward to continuing to lead rides from Roundhay. I often lead slightly longer rides, 20-30 miles for ladies who cycle regularly or are looking for their next challenge.

I am also facilitating sessions at the Brownlee Centre closed road circuit. These provide a safe place for women to try road biking, improve their fitness and get advice from other Breeze champions.  It’s all free and bikes/helmets can be borrowed.

Blog images 4

When I first got on my road bike I had no idea I would achieve so much. I hope others will be inspired by my story to get out on their bikes, and that they will get as much enjoyment from it as I have!