This is not a ‘new year, new you’ article, you’ve already made that change and you’re out running, maybe once or twice a week, perhaps a regular parkrun and the occasional charity run with friends. Running for you might have started off being about the numbers on the bathroom scales but now it’s about the chats with friends, the coffee afterwards, the time to clear the head. Its about getting away from work, time out of the house and an opportunity to forget what’s gone on during the day.
But now you’ve been at it for a while and you are looking at that group in the park or out on the track doing running sessions, you’re beginning to hear about ‘fartlek’ ‘intervals’ and ‘hill repeats’. Perhaps joining that group will fix that niggling idea that your 5km PB is a little soft and you can shave a minute or two off if you change the way you run.
The most common phrase I hear is ‘running clubs aren’t for people like me’. They absolutely are, so bearing that in mind here are our top five reasons you should join a running club…
Socialise and have fun
Running is fun, for most of us we get to run – we don’t have to run. It doesn’t provide us with an income and nothing depends on us getting out for our five-mile tempo session each Tuesday. When you join a club, you will meet new people who are all in the sport for the same reasons you are. Running clubs aren’t all about running; your local club will be a part of your community, they will run social events, Christmas parties and local races to introduce newcomers to the sport you love.
Motivation and accountability
Don’t feel like heading out on Wednesday evening for a 30-minute session? The rest of the club will be there and research has shown that having friends to hold you to your goals is a sure-fire way to maintain your focus. Your friends will be there and so will you. Soon you’ll find that the track becomes more fun than the television. Motivation is tough, sharing accountability makes it easier.
You get your own running coach
Your running club will have its own Athletics Ireland-accredited coach. These coaches are trained to get the best out everyone, be they five-minute milers or 12-minute milers. You can always look for a training plan off the internet but your running club will ensure you train hard when its required and take it easy on the easy days. They keep everyone together and ensure no one gets left behind. Most importantly, they set plans to get you to the finish line fit and uninjured.
Running isn't just about running
If you’re looking to join a club, you are looking to take your running to the next level above the lap around the park. Your running club will have information nights on nutrition, strength and conditioning and injury prevention. Running clubs will allow you the opportunity to give back to your community with volunteering at local events and races. Fancy becoming a running coach? Your running club will help you with that too! Sometimes, the things you do outside running are the best things of all.
Your running club is your personal, ready-made cheering squad! Being part of a club not only means that you get support when you’re flagging at races or pushing for that personal best, but you will benefit from the experience of everyone in your group with training tips, advice and help, when it’s needed. Clubs are all about experience and it’s not all one-way traffic, you have experience that will help others, seeing someone you have encouraged reach their goals is just as rewarding as reaching your own.
You don’t have to join a club but there is no doubt that if you’re looking to get that little bit more from the time you spend pounding the pavement, then a running club will make things a little easier. If you’re out there wearing your club colours next season and you see me on the path shouting encouragement, point at your crest and shout ‘I joined a club!’ and I’ll give you an extra-large cheer.
For a full list of running clubs around Ireland check out the Athletics Ireland website on www.athleticsireland.ie