For a little too long, running clubs were seen to have something of an exclusive, even elite membership. The rise of running in the last decade, helped in the UK by the phenomenon that is parkrun, has seen a surge in running club memberships, from traditional competitive athletics clubs to beginners or social running clubs and everything between.
Here are our thoughts on why joining a running club could be a good move for anyone.
Runners are friendly people. Spend five minutes with a group of runners and you’re guaranteed to make a friend. Whether you’re bonding over your choice of footwear or oversharing about an injury you have, have had, or know someone who’s had, you’re making a bond with someone who has a lot in common with you. While, if you’re competitive, you can easily put friendships aside when it comes to racing, your running club friends will immediately seal a bond with you and be championing your success. There’s always someone in your club ready to cheer you on, whether you know them well or not.
One of the major draws of a running club is a bank of highly experienced runners and coaches who have been in the game for years. Coaches in particular will have banks of workouts you’ve never thought of, which can be ideal for getting you out of a rut. There’s nothing you can tell a running club coach that they haven’t heard before, and they will have great stories to back their advice up. Coaching is usually included in your club affiliation fees so you won’t need to spend anything extra when you’re coming up with a plan.
Whether you’re at the sharp end of racing or you’re a complete beginner, everyone at your running club wears the same vest. This type of uniform gives you a great sense of belonging that you can’t experience when you’re not part of a pack. Belonging to a club is a feeling that’s second to none, especially on race day.
There’s nothing like the lift you’ll get from a pre-race photo call where everyone is adorning their club colours, or the shout out you get on behalf of your club from a random spectator. Belonging to a club gives you confidence that you’re part of something bigger that will not only make you want to work harder, but also remind you there are people there to help if it doesn’t go to plan.
Unless you are a super self-motivated and well-planned runner, it’s likely your drive will dip from time to time. It’s important to note that training sessions are entirely optional in all but the most competitive clubs, and none will expect you to attend every session every week. But regular planned running sessions will give you great motivation to get into a routine. Creating accountability around your running can be a positive motivator as you gain a healthy routine of running regularly at the same time and with the same people each week. We all know that consistency is key, and joining a club definitely gives you that.
Traditional running clubs are usually part of a wider network that can open up racing to you that you’d never considered. Types of racing you’d forgotten about from school days or thought were reserved for elite runners only can be on your racing calendar as soon as you take the plunge.
Running clubs will allow you to be part of leagues in cross country, relay, and track racing which bring with them a huge buzz and camaraderie. There’s no expectation on you to get involved with everything, so as with everything in running, pace yourself right, make the right decisions and you’ll get the most from your racing.