Those two words in combination have the capability to strike fear into the hearts of almost anyone. Even if you know better, you’re probably still conjuring up images of whippet-thin runners in Lycra, churning out mile-repeats at a pace you couldn’t even hope to sustain for 30 seconds!
While some of these clubs do exist, they’re not the norm! In today’s world, you can find a club for any interest or ability. Want to run with those speed demons? Go for it! Would you rather run to a different brunch spot every Sunday? There’s clubs for that!
We are spoilt for running club choice in today’s world. All you need to consider is how serious or social you want the atmosphere, and whether you are happy to pay a membership fee (there are plenty of free clubs to be found!). Then just go to a session! There is definitely a running club out there for you – just keep in mind that like with anything else, you may need to try a few different ones on for size.
Here are my top 5 reasons why you should persevere in finding your right fit:
1. You’ll make friends and meet loads of like-minded people
Your non-running friends and family are probably tired of hearing you complain about your blistered feet or having to set aside your entire Saturday to run 20 miles (‘but you knew this would happen when you signed up for a marathon,’ they’ll say, completely missing the point). Join a running club to commiserate with people who understand you!
Also, if you’re new to a city or just want to expand your circle, joining a running club is such an easy way to meet dozens of people. You already have something in common to talk about, after all! I joined London City Runners almost as soon as I moved from sunny California to London and found that it was the perfect way to be introduced to my new city and make friends.
2. You’ll improve your running…a lot!
Clubs have members of all speeds and abilities, so you’ll always be able to find someone just a little faster than you to chase after. Even if you don’t want to enter races, just finding that you can actually run faster than you thought possible is massively empowering. You can also take part in club-organized interval sessions, which may be intimidating or confusing to tackle on your own. Coaches or club volunteers will design the workout for you, so all you need to do is turn up and run fast!
3. You’ll be way more motivated
Ever peered out of your curtains on a miserable winter evening and decided to crawl under a blanket on the couch instead of going for a run? It becomes much easier to face the terrible weather when you know there are dozens of other people lacing up their trainers to brave the conditions. Even though you are not obligated to turn up, just knowing that other people will be there can be the difference in getting out the door!
4. You’ll socialize and have fun
Most people will stick around after the run, maybe even heading for a coffee or beer, which gives you a chance to get to know others without trying to have a conversation while gasping for air! Apart from regular after-run chats, some clubs will also organize separate social events so you meet fellow members in a non-sweaty and smelly environment (although you may be hard-pressed to recognize people when they are not in exercise kit!). My club, London City Runners has really varied socials, from curry nights to theater trips to talks lead by running coaches and elite athletes, and is one of the things our members really value about the club.
5. You’ll get incredible support
By joining a running club, you’ll get your own personal squad of cheerleaders. Not only will you have a group of people who will encourage you to take steps towards reaching your goals, you’ll also get a plethora of training tips and advice, and you’ll always have people to cheer you on at races – when the going gets tough, that can make a difference! Your fellow members want to see you achieve your goals – whether that’s to run a 5K without walking or get a new marathon PB – and will be a fantastic source of encouragement and support.
Joining a running club is one of the best things you can do, both for yourself and for your running. So what are you waiting for?
About London City Runners
City Runners is the largest running club in London that is completely free and not affiliated with a sports retailer. Over its 7+ year history, the club has helped more than 7,000 runners achieve their goals in a welcoming, friendly and social environment. We run three sessions a week and encourage runners of all abilities to join us – there will always be someone you can run with! We also have our own Couch to 5K program for those who want to get into running but aren’t quite sure where to start!