Neil Featherby: Jude loves barking out her advice across the world!

Jude Durrant most certainly holding on to that special enjoyment and satisfaction you get from running Picture: Neil Featherby

Last week’s column briefly mentioned a local running and fitness coach who was keeping her run group motivated via the use of headphones as they all trained at the same time, albeit from a distance at different locations.

Jude Durrant, as always, running and racing with a smile on her face Picture: Lenny Blakemore

When I say distance, this also included one person in Australia.

It has to be at least 16 years ago when I first met super keen runner Jude Durrant who, back then, worked for Aviva and not only did she organise a run group within her then work place, but she also became very instrumental with helping out at what was our own Saturday morning run group from Sportlink.

At the time she was also training to be a sports therapist and then, once fully qualified, she not only combined running her clinic from the store, but also helped out in the business by way of using her organisational skills to instil some systems into what really was a very busy place, particularly as back then we were involved in so many sports and different ventures.

Needless to say she absolutely thrived within her new roles, particularly as it meant talking and discussing sport and running all day long, which led to her gaining further qualifications in sports nutrition, massage, strength and conditioning, rehab and as a UKA Level 2 endurance coach.

Jude Durrant out on the road sending instructions out to her group during one of her headphone sessions Picture: Natasha Davis

Jude most certainly has always been a ‘doer’ and is always on the go. And whilst she put a lot of time and effort into her own training and racing, which includes a marathon personal best time of three hours and 58 minutes (despite saying she would never run one), coaching and organising others has always been her real forte.

While for several years she worked with a number of clients it was always going to be a matter of time before she set up her own running group. Then, lo and behold, in 2013 The Longdale Striders came to be and from what was very small beginnings the group has grown greatly over the years with regular weekly sessions of up to 40 people in attendance.

Once lockdown came into place earlier this year then group meetings were forbidden, but Jude was not going to be deterred and now has her weekly sessions via the use of headphones, which I asked her to explain a bit more about.

“Being adaptive is key as we as runners are not good at coping with injury and not being able to progress which, of course, has become very apparent with the present Covid-19 situation,” she said.

“It has affected everyone differently, so I thought what could we do to keep some form of routine going and beat some of the emptiness which has been felt by many?

“I decided to go online via Zoom for my various fitness classes and, of course, the use of mobile phones and headphones with the running group.

“We all have a chat beforehand and then I mute them all, allowing me to do my favourite thing, which is barking out my orders during the session.

“You don’t get to see everyone during the run, of course, but if we do pass then we wave and shout out to each other.

“It is brilliant whilst complying with all the government rules which have been set. Incidentally, if I do just happen to see anyone and they are walking, then it’s 20 press-ups for them,” she laughed.

I think it is all absolutely awesome, but I was still keen to find out more about the runner in Australia who also takes part in these sessions.

“Oh, that’s Sarah” she said. “And even though she is in a different time zone and even day, she loves it, especially as she also knows that her mum and dad Peter and Sue are doing it at the same time around Drayton and Thorpe Marriott.”

As I said last week, the human being will always look to adapt to any new surroundings or way of life very quickly, but there will always be those who lead the way. Jude is definitely one of those.

“I am all for those who run to be the best they can be, but there is so much more to running than just looking to break PBs all the time,” she said.

“For me, it is all about balance and fitting it into your lifestyle whilst holding on to that special enjoyment and satisfaction you get from just going out for a run with a group of like-minded good friends.”

After the last few weeks of lockdown, I think we can all appreciate just how special those words from Jude really are.

Neil Featherby's Friday EDP Feature