Running clubs are becoming ever more popular, and it is not surprising why. As a member of a running club myself, I have so many reasons why I think this is one of the best decisions you can make as a runner. Here are a few of my benefits of joining a running club.
I sometimes struggle to get motivated to get out for a run on my own, especially if it is early in the morning, and I know I am not alone with this.
By attending a group run, I know I am more likely to participate as I don’t want to let people down and I look forward to the added social benefit of the run too. I like having a set training structure also, that goes with being part of a club.
Most running clubs have access to a coach, which can be very beneficial for training. You will get better-structured training sessions than going it alone, and the coach will be there to give you advice along the way.
I have always spent more time on warm-ups and cool-downs when led by a coach, as well as working on my form and technique, which I am sure has helped with injury prevention and definitely improved my performance.
Being part of a club can get you running in places you may not otherwise go to on your own. I have noticed this first hand living in South Africa, as I am not always sure where I can run alone.
Group runs have taken me to some great places and allowed me to explore new areas, which I have loved.
I find other peoples’ advice and experience can be very inspiring, and it has helped me grow as a runner. There have been goals I have set myself based on what I’ve seen other people I run with, achieve. I also hope that some of my experiences may inspire others too.
There have been several races I have entered that I would not have heard about or had been inspired to run had I not been a member of a club. Examples of this were when I ran the Marathon du Medoc in France with a big group from our club, which was so much fun, and the time I ran the Polar Night Half Marathon in the dark and snow in Tromsø, Norway. Both were absolutely incredible races, and I loved travelling to new places to run.
I have made many friends since joining a running club, one of whom ended up becoming my husband! I love the social side of joining a club, and it has been great for becoming friends with people who share the same interest as me. We’ve shared many post-run brunches and beers, pre-race carb-loading dinners and post-race celebrations.
I have also found marathon training much easier having friends to go running with. I find the time passes by so much quicker on long runs when you’ve got people to chat to, and they can help with that bit of motivation you may need.
I know for sure that I have pushed myself much more on some training runs than I would have, had I been running on my own. There have also been times on my own where I may have stopped a run early but was spurred on to continue when I’ve been with other people. And I do believe this has resulted in me becoming a better runner for it.
Meeting other local runners is a great way to help gain insights into things that might be helpful. For example, a good Physiotherapist or Massage Therapist, a good running shoe shop and of course the best place to go for a post Parkrun brunch.
So if you are thinking of joining a running club, my advice is to go for it! It is highly likely you’ll become a better runner, you’ll make new friends and have some great adventures along the way too!
By Gemma Oats, Africa Marathons team member, Physiotherapist and Putney Running Club (UK) and DHS Old Boys (Durban, South Africa).