Meet Our Run Leaders

All our Run Leaders have completed the England Athletics Leadership in Running Fitness which qualifies and insures them to deliver safe and fun running sessions.

Katie

Hello! I’m Katie and I’m the founder of Athena.  I started Athena back in 2016 to provide a safe and supporting environment for the ladies of St Albans to get out and start running.  Athena has come along way since then, but the focus has never changed.  I love Athena because we help ladies not only learn to run but also build their confidence so they truly believe they can achieve anything they put their mind to. We are a community; we talk, we laugh and we share our enjoyment for running. It's not about how fast you are, or how far you go - it's about how much you are smiling at the end with the new friends you have made! 

Lydia

I had always been one of those 'join a gym and stop going 2 months later' types - for me I had always struggled with the confidence to keep going. I saw Athena 0-5k course pop up on my facebook news feed and thought why not give it a go? Getting fit with a supportive group of women that train you on techniques of how to run!  I joined the 0-5k group in August 2017 and met some amazing women! From there I progressed to the 5-10k group and in May 2018 I ran my first half marathon! It is something I never thought I would ever be able to complete (if my PE teacher could see me now!) and another plus is that it has helped me lose over 2 stone and 2 dress sizes!

 

I have loved this experience, there is so much you can do - training, social runs, running holidays and even social activities! I became a run leader to support women like myself who may not have the confidence to do this, and honestly its the best decision I ever made! 

Frances

I first joined Athena as a member, taking part in their first 5-10k group back in January 2016.  Fast forward to 2017 and, motivated by wanting to encourage other ladies to get into running in a friendly un-pressured environment, I qualified to lead my own groups. As my first beginners group were following their 0-5k journey I was training for my first Half Marathon, and it was thinking of them and their challenges and achievements that spurred me to the finish.  Since then I’ve qualified as a Coach in Running Fitness and won both the 2018 St Albans City & District and the Herts County ‘Female Community Coach of the Year’ award for my involvement with Athena.  Many of my beginners ladies are now running Half Marathons and I couldn’t be more proud to have been a part of that journey. I’m really looking forward to meeting you all and helping you achieve your running goals, whatever they are!

Jo

Running is a fantastic stress buster for me; I’m a full time working mum with school age twins and running is a way of keeping sane (and fit).  However, it’s a fairly recent discovery for me, as I never liked running when I was at school (I was the asthmatic one, often using a sick note to get out of  cross country!).  I tried a couple of 0-5k programmes on my own in my twenties and thirties, but to be honest I never really understood the lure of running.   Cut forward to January 2016, when I saw an Athena ad pop up on my Facebook feed.  I signed up for a 0-5k group and to my surprise found out that running in a fun and supportive group really worked for me.  I made some great new friends, started building a regular running routine and before I knew it, I had entered a 10k race and I was well and truly hooked.  In 2019 I ran 6 different half marathons and captained a Ragnar Relay team (running 176 miles between a team of 10, running through the night).  I qualified as a Leader in Running Fitness in November 2019 and I’m loving sharing my love of running with people at all stages of their running journey.    

I have loved this experience, there is so much you can do - training, social runs, running holidays and even social activities! I became a run leader to support women like myself who may not have the confidence to do this, and honestly its the best decision I ever made! 

Julianne

I returned to regular running just before I fell pregnant with my third child, running the Herts 10K. 6 months after she was born I resumed running with her sleeping in the buggy.  I joined St Albans Striders in 2011 and still compete with them regularly, as well as coaching at St Albans Athletics Club where my children train.  I have since run 2 London marathons, despite swearing that I’d never do it again after the first!   I have qualified in Leadership in Running Fitness and also qualified as a guide for blind and visually impaired runners. I have been guiding regularly now for one year and I enjoy the new dimension it has given to my running.

 

I love the freedom running gives me and although I get a buzz out of entering events, improving and gaining personal bests, it’s the social side and the running community that keeps me motivated. When the opportunity came to become a run leader with Athena, I seized the opportunity. Athena’s core values are exactly why I returned to running 8 years ago. I hope to share my joy of running and help people reach their goals and potential be it a 5k, 10k, half marathon or indeed to be able to run and hold a conversation and gain some headspace!

Ruth

I joined Athena as a run leader in December 2016 after moving to St Albans in the summer. I wanted to meet people in the local area so my sister suggested joining Athena. She had completed the beginners course and really enjoyed it and thought I would too.

 

I have never considered myself to be a runner but I have always enjoyed being active and trying to keep fit. I sometimes find it hard to motivate myself to leave the house to go for a run but Athena gives me the motivation to get out. Meeting the Athena ladies every week is a great opportunity to run and chat. It’s a great forum to build confidence and achieve goals you've only ever dreamt about.  My background is working as physiotherapist and helping people become more active no matter what their ability. I am looking forward to helping you all reach your running goals with Athena.

Claire

Helen

I have been running with Athena since February 2016, before which I didn’t run at all (despite having an uber keen great-wall-of-China-marathon-running-armed forces husband). I spent a while getting comfortable at 5k and getting my asthma in check before starting to increase the distance last year. 

 

I have a busy day job and an active 4 year old and find that running helps me switch off and have some ‘me’ time.  I’m also feeling fitter than ever (and therefore also think I can eat whatever I like!).  Running with others has really helped me and I’ve now run two half marathons.  I love being an Athena member, I have always found it so supportive and welcoming and now I am enjoying helping others on their Running journey. 

Libby

I dabbled on and off in running for many years, but never really got to grips with it; I found it very hard and not enjoyable at all. I spotted Athena’s 0-5K group and immediately felt that it was for me – total beginners, all women, and it looked like fun. I plucked up the courage, did my 0-5K and have loved it so much, I’ve carried on with regular running and can’t ever imagine not doing it now.

 

I’ve now completed 10Ks and Half marathons and I still find them tough, but the support of the Athena gang and my feeling as I cross the finish line keeps me spurred on. I wanted to give a little back and help others to experience the support and camaraderie that I have felt, and so I trained as a run leader. I’m now (officially!) middle-aged and in the best shape of my life; it’s never too late to start running. I’d encourage anyone even vaguely thinking about it, to just give it a go. Come down to a session - and that’ll be the hardest part over!

I first discovered my love for running at the age of 10 whilst training to compete in biathlons (run, swim, run). I soon realised how much I enjoyed the feeling of putting one foot in front of another and started running competitively throughout my teenage years. Over this period I was county champion on a number of occasions and my peak came when I got to wear a GB vest for the under 15 Biathle championships in Monaco and Germany. I went to St Mary’s university through a running scholarship and enjoyed the chance to train regularly there with top athletes.

 

A few years ago I joined St Albans Striders as I was finding it difficult to stay motivated and I have made a lot of friends through the social side of running. I have re-discovered my love of running for the sheer enjoyment that it provides, whether it’s that exhausted satisfied feeling after a hard session or the chance to explore the beautiful countryside.  I have been lucky enough to experience the highs and lows of running and being a run leader at Athena I now get pleasure in helping others to reach their goals and experience the same love for running as I do.

Tracey

Ali

I was definitely a “late starter” to running at the age of 37! My background is in ski racing & as part of my preparations for my international races, my coach “strongly advised” me to start running (something that I used to hate!). So in January 2018, I signed up to the “Rat Race” for charity (a 20 mile version of Tough Mudder) as motivation.   As I hadn’t run since I was at school I joined Athena to help me learn how to run, given the huge race in front of me!  I discovered after joining Athena that I loved running so much and I’ve now completed countless parkrun’s, 10k’s, 10 half marathons, 2 full marathons, 2 Rat Races and the “Ragnar Relay”. I completed my Leadership in Running Fitness Qualification in March 2020, so I think it’s safe to say that something which started out as a “one off” event has now ended up in somewhat of an obsession! 

Joining Athena was definitely the best decision I have ever made; I have met some amazing friends, dropped 3 dress sizes and completed events that I never would have thought possible! I can’t wait to meet you all and help you to achieve your goals no matter what they may be; whether it’s your first parkrun, a 10k PB or first marathon! Or simply just to get out in the fresh air, clear the mind, meet new friends and have a good old chat! 

Laura

A former boyfriend (a triathlete) introduced me to running about 6 years ago. Well, he has long gone, but I had caught the running bug by 2014. I bought my first Garmin watch, ran my first parkrun and entered my first event in 2015. I joined my first Run Redbourn run in 2017 and discovered the benefits and advantages of group running. Being in a group allows for the sharing of tips and advice of all things running, from the latest gear to running events and hints on technique and nutrition. I've not met a runner who doesn't like talking about running yet! I balance my running with regular cycling. This combination has led to my recent venture into Duathlons. Run, cycle, run - great fun! But my first love is running and I was delighted to complete my first half Marathon last year as well as take part in a 10k in Valencia. All runners have to start somewhere, so now with Athena I can help all those looking to take those first steps and watch them fly!

I am what I would class a “late starter” to running - let’s just say I’m closer to 50 than 40 and only starting running in 2017.  Initially I started with Parkrun - a community based free weekly timed event - but found I walked more than I ran at the beginning.  Being an Asthmatic I thought I couldn’t and wouldn’t be able to run. I joined Athena in Oct 2017 and met the most fantastic group of ladies who inspired and encouraged me. Skip forwards a year and I qualified as a leader in Running Fitness in 2018.  I have completed both the Brighton and London Marathons this year (2019) proving to myself that being Asthmatic does not prevent me from running long distances!

 

Whilst I love entering into races, my passion is sharing the love of running, discovering new people, new routes and seeing people discover they too can go further and sometimes faster than they thought they could!  Most importantly I love to share the fun of running so whether that is round the track or on a trail, rain or shine, practicing for a race or socialising - it’s all good!

Tanya

Kate

Coming soon

Nicky

At school I hated running and thought it was something I’d never be able to do. It wasn’t until my late 20s that I decided I had to give it a go! It must have been some sort of bet, but I went straight for the big one and got a charity place in the London Marathon. It was tough, but I thoroughly enjoyed the challenge and absolutely loved the whole London Marathon experience. 

 

When my children came along, I pretty much stopped running until my youngest was 3 - when I really needed to get back into shape and was desperate for some headspace! I joined a group of mums doing coached weekend sessions in Verulamium Park. After that, running became addictive – both physically and mentally. I started with a Race for Life, moving on to 10ks, then half marathons and finally made it back to London marathon in 2015. Since then, I’ve run London every year including the Virtual 2020! In 2019 at the age of 50, I ran a pb of 3:33 and qualified for Boston Marathon – another virtual run which my amazing running friends helped me run around St Albans.  This year, as well as my 2 marathons I’ve managed a 10 mile pb and a 5k pb, which just goes to show that with running we can still improve with age! 

 

I am a member of St Albans Striders and qualified as a run leader with Athena in 2019. I really enjoy sharing my love of running and helping others to achieve their running goals – whatever they may be. 

I was always the last to be picked for sports teams at school so the stigma of feeling I was ‘bad’ at sports carried with me for many years.  This was until one day after university, when I found myself unexpectedly living with my parents again, I decided to give running a go. I started off run/walking  and joined a gym for motivation which helped to meet like minded people. 

 

Not long afterwards I completed my first 10km race as part of a relay triathlon with my family which I loved. My passion for running continued when I watched the Great North Run shortly after and said to my Dad ‘I am going to run this next year’ ... which I did, 3 times, followed by the London Marathon and several more triathlons. Running is still a big part of my life; no matter where I have lived I have always sought out running clubs as it is a great opportunity to meet other runners, feel part of a community and it helps to blow the cobwebs away after a busy day at work! 

 

I have been a member of St Albans Striders since 2012, competing with them regularly and undertook my Leadership in Running Fitness course in 2019.

 

I am really excited to share my love of running with others; to give something back to the running community and empower women to have more confidence in their own ability.

Coming soon

Karen

My running journey began in the cross-country team at secondary school, but once I left school and started working running became a distant memory.  I took it up again after my first son was born when I signed up for Race for Life and I’ve never really looked back.  My second son was born in 2008 and initially running provided me with some much needed time to myself and some head space away from busy family life. The more I ran the more I enjoyed pushing myself to go that bit further or that bit quicker so I signed up for a 10km race, followed by a few half marathons and in 2010 I completed the London Marathon. I didn’t really have any idea how to train for a marathon so was relieved to be introduced to some local ladies in the same boat.  We supported each other and ran together throughout our training and several of them have become close friends who I still regularly enjoy running with. 

When the opportunity came to become a Run Leader at Athena Running I jumped at the chance because they are such a supportive and welcoming club. I love the idea of encouraging others to run, to push themselves or just enjoy a social run with like-minded ladies. Running is fantastic whichever way you choose to do it!

"Coaching is realising a persons potential to maximise their own performance - it is helping them to learn rather than teaching them"