Regular readers will know I like my running clubs. So much so that I’m a member of two and started a running club at work.
However, I know there are people who just aren’t sure about joining one. So here are my reasons why you should and what you should look for in a club.
One of the big reasons people join a running club is for the motivation. Encouragement to run during the winter, to try new races and to get faster (if that’s what you want).
Knowing you have a club night once a week, even during the winter, can make it easier for you to keep up the running habit. Having people around you who are keen to give new races a go can make you want to try them too.
For beginners and experienced runners alike it can help you keep going, even at times when you think you want to give up.
With a running club you can be as social or unsocial as you like.
If you just want to do your weekly run then that’s great, you’ll be welcomed. But if you like socialising with people then you’ll find that most clubs will have a social side.
With my local club we have the regular club night where you run in a group and can be as chatty or not as you like. We meet at clubhouse with a bar and you can have a social drink afterwards. Members often organise breakfast runs on the weekend, the club holds invitation nights for other clubs to attend and holds regular quiz nights.
Most clubs will have this social side as well as the training side and you will be welcome no matter how involved or not you want to be.
People who understand
Now this is a big one if you have a non-running partner or family.
Worried that you are boring your friends and family? Want to talk to people who understand negative splits, know how much effort it takes to get a PB and understand why you need to run even when it’s raining outside?
Then join a club!
You will find a host of other people who are happy to talk running non-stop if that’s what you want. Get it all out of your system on a club night and let your family time be family time.
What to look for in a club
The first thing to remember is that every running club is different and most clubs will allow you to go along once or twice before they ask you to join. So if you go to one club and don’t like it then try another one!
What do you want from your club?
The main thing to think about is what you want from your club. Do you want to have a regular track night and training programme or do you want to do some road or off road running in a large group?
If you are looking for track sessions and training then look for a club with ‘Athletic’ or ‘Harriers’ in their name. This usually means they are focussed more on training and often have regular track sessions. Quite often they will have a junior section, a good team of coaches to help members improve and take part in local athletic competitions.
If you are looking for a club that mainly run away from the track then look for a club with ‘running’ or ‘joggers’ in their name. This usually means the club focuses on group runs in your local area, either on road or off road depending on location. Members are still competitive but the focus is more on the road or off road events.
One thing people have said to me is that they are worried about not being welcomed into a club and it being full of cliques.
Most running clubs are very welcoming but if you are worried then a big clue is the club’s website. Does it say new members welcome? Do they have a start to run programme? Do they have different groups for all abilities? Do they have say they do ‘social runs’?
This isn’t to say that if they don’t say this on their website they won’t be welcoming. Smaller clubs might not have the members to organise more than their weekly club night so don’t be put off from attending.
Just remember if you don’t like the first club you attend you don’t have to go back! Try another club and I’m sure you will find one that suits.
Finding a running club
If this has persuaded to try a running club then how do you find one that is local to you? In the UK the regional athletics bodies have a list of affiliated running clubs. Try Run England, Welsh Athletics, Scottish Athletics or Athletics Northern Ireland.
If you are not in the UK then try googling your home town plus ‘running club’ or try your local athletics governing body who should be able to help you.
Are you a member of a running club? Or have you been put off by an unfriendly group? I’d love to hear your experience.