Is a running club right for you?
Many runners relish the solitude and the ultimate "me time" of a lovely long training session. Nothing could be simpler, just strap on the jogging armband, tie up the trainers, and it's just you and the great outdoors for as many miles as you can muster. For those who regularly run alone, the thought of a running club might be daunting. Would it be too competitive? How would you cope with having to chat to other people as you go? Aren't members of clubs just too serious?
Well, the answers might surprise you. One of the main benefits of joining a club is that you are almost bound to improve on your performance. Whatever your level, or your reasons for running, a club won't push you into racing, but it will provide a lot of opportunities to branch out and try new things. There are all sorts of events from cross-country to road races of varying lengths that might spur your competitive instincts. Having others to urge you on, and provide companionship, can also be a boost.
Motivation is a major boon from being in a club. It is all too easy to look out at the weather and sink back under the duvet, when it is only yourself to answer to. The knowledge that others are getting out there, and waiting to meet you, can be the spur to run on dismal days. Those fellow runners are also going to take an interest in your progress, where before it was a one-way exchange between you and your running app. They will appreciate finding out about new routes you've discovered and will cheer and encourage you when you achieve a personal best.
Club memberships are very varied so you needn't worry about your standard. Everyone from the patient jogger to the super-athlete is welcomed. Having a hobby that is shared and enjoyed is a bonding passion, and may lead to some new and enduring friendships.
Still unconvinced about giving up the freedom to run alone? Being in a club does not have to be a binding commitment. You can always mix it up and attend the club as little or as often as you like. Running solo will always be a great pleasure, but being in a club can enhance your overall experience of the running world.
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