Joining a Running Club
Whether you prefer a partner or running solo, there are benefits for everyone from joining an organised club, not least because however independent minded you are, it is always nice to feel that you are among friends. And that is just one of the bonuses of joining.
There are three ways to find yourself a local running club. By the way, locality is important because from a practical point of view, you don’t want to be having to leap on a bus or grab the car keys. That will only be a disincentive, especially after a long day at work. So, the three ways: phone book, internet and word of mouth, but not necessarily in that order. For example, personal recommendation is not only a proven reliable way to find a good club but it can also be reassuring that when you arrive for your first session, you may already know someone who can show you around and make the introductions.
Affiliated ClubsThe phone book is self-explanatory, and may throw up names that may have home pages on the internet. Another online source of information is your national association, which should incorporate on its site a comprehensive list of the clubs affiliated to it. In the UK, for example, head for ukathletics.net, which as the address suggests is the home page of UK Athletics. Within the national structure, there are likely to be a number of regional bodies, again in the UK, for example, the North of England Athletic Association and the South of England Athletic Association. All of these will be useful in terms of further contacts and also providing information on specific types of organised events such as cross-country and track.
Most clubs will charge a joining fee that will cover costs ranging from simple administration to the maintenance of facilities. Not surprisingly, the more comprehensive the facilities, such as a running track and changing rooms, for example, the more money you will have to pay annually.
Social AspectMany clubs organise themselves into sections, sometimes based on age, sometimes on particular levels i.e. beginners, intermediate and advanced. This makes sense because training effectively and making progress relies on you running with those of equal ability. Similarly teenagers will require a different approach to the over-50s. There is also the social aspect that will not survive the generation gap. And it is the social aspect that can be very important, even for those who want to spend at least half their time running solo. Surrounded by like minded people will mean ideas on how to approach training and overcoming particular problems will receive a regular airing, so you’ll never be too far from valuable advice.
The club will likely organise events throughout the course of the year for those who wish to add a competitive edge to their training. And news of other races both at a regional and national level will filter through much more quickly either through word of mouth or via the club noticeboard.
Clubs by their very nature are about belonging. They do not suit everyone, but for many they offer the chance to share the highs and lows of running. The chances are that with the help of your fellow members, there will be many more highs than lows.