For the amateur runner, the prospect of joining a running club can be daunting. Mental images of high-tech gadgets (Garmin what?), designer kit and smug, super fit people lunging for fun can be intimidating, especially when you lack a little confidence. If you’re worried whether you are ‘good enough’ or ‘ready’ to join a club, the answer is yes!
Joining a club is one of the best things you can do to progress your running, so with this in mind, we’ve compiled a list of the reasons why:
You are your environment. By joining a club and surrounding yourself with experienced, enthusiastic people, you’re more likely to run long-term, instead of depending solely on your own motivation. Seeing what others who started off just like you have achieved will inspire you to keep training.
Running clubs will encourage you to vary your training. Clubs usually work with coaches and long term members to organise different sessions; e.g. Monday night – trail running, Tuesday night – medium length run, Thursday night – speed work, Sunday morning – long run. Training by yourself means it’s easy to get in a rut of the same routes at the same old pace – inevitably your running progress will plateau unless you change it up a bit.
You will develop new friendships with people who share your passion for running and exercise. The demand of work or education and family commitments mean it can be tough to meet new people. Running clubs are a fantastic way to meet running partners that you can train with, outside of club sessions, which can be particularly useful on those dark winter nights!
You could discover your competitive streak. Even the least competitive runner is pushed by running with other people, and as you get to know a group and their individual abilities, you will know who to set your sights on beating! This edge can really drive you on and lead to improvements in your running performance.
Perhaps most importantly, membership of a running club will create a psychological shift that allows you to call yourself ‘a runner’, instead of somebody who simply ‘runs’. Make maximum use of the experienced runners you will meet, who can tell you where to find the best masseur or physio in the area, where to buy good value running kit and what the best off-road routes are.
For more information on finding a club or group near you check out the England or Scottish Athletics free online tools – http://clubfinder.englandathletics.org and http://www.scottishathletics.org.uk/athletes/get-involved/club-finder/
If you are looking for community-led, free runs at the weekend, why not look at Great Run Local? – http://www.greatrunlocal.org/