If I could write an ode to my running club without anyone thinking I was a complete weirdo, I totally would. But I think I’ll save that one for my diary entry later on and tell you why I think you should join a running club, if you like running. And people.
1. Anyone can join
When my physio told me to check out a local club near me, I wasn’t quite sure whether I would fit in, as it sounded a bit too serious for the three months of running I had under my belt. But the requirement for joining was simple: being able to comfortably run a 5K, which means pretty much all runners of all abilities can join, not just the serious ones with all the fancy kit.
2. It can be the most fun you’ll ever have
You know those people who say running isn’t fun? They’ve clearly never been part of a running club. Running alone can at times feel boring, but running together with a hundred others is bound to provide you with all the endorphins.
3. You can pretend you’re in a stampede
There’s something quite animalistic about running down the seafront and forgetting that other people are there to simply walk. Charging towards the pier whilst looking at the faces of those poor, confused people who simply came out to walk their dog or baby just makes me want to giggle every time. And no, dear walker, it’s not ‘some sort of race’, it’s just a club. A really cool club.
4. It makes you run faster
There are those who turn up for a natter, those who are super bloody serious and then there are those who want the best of both worlds. I like to think of myself as being part of the latter. But regardless of which group you’re in, there’s no denying that being part of a group is an excellent way of pushing yourself, as you never want to be the one that gets left behind. You’ve pretty much got one choice; keep up with everyone, even if it nearly kills you (alternatively, drop off and hide behind a beach hut until they’ve all gone home).
5. It’s a great way to make new friends
I remember turning up to the shop on a Wednesday after work and immediately regretting my decision as I felt like a five-year-old on my first day of school, standing on my own whilst everyone was chatting away around me. “Fuck it,” I thought. “I don’t know anyone here, I might as well just jump in.” And as soon as I did, I made friends (and pretty amazing ones too).
6. It moonlights as a drinking squad
OK, this might not be every running club, I don’t want you to get your hopes up. But my club likes to drink as much as they like to run, and it’s not unusual to find ten people hiding in the bushes with a cigarette at the end of the night either (which is of course super naughty, tut-tut, but somehow always makes me smile).
7. You get to wear rad t-shirts
Only join a club with a t-shirt that you really like. I mean, what’s the point in joining a club where you’ve got to put on a rubbish neon vest you hate every week? The main reason I joined my club is because they had black t-shirts (goths run too, you know) and because the description on the website said you get brownie points for having fun, not for being the fastest one, and well, that sounded quite fun.
8. It brings out the competitiveness in you
If you’re like me, you don’t need anything to make you more competitive – I’m banned from family card games forever. But running with others really brings out the competitive spirit in you. You want to challenge yourself and push further, because there’s always another pace group to progress to.
9. …but it also makes you realise you will never be the fastest one
Someone will always be faster than you (unless, of course, you are the fastest one, but in our club, that’s only one out of 199 and I don’t even know who that is). You will probably never be the fastest one. But equally, chances are you won’t be the slowest either. And accepting the fact that at the end of the day, you’re only racing yourself is a pretty nice realisation to have.
10. Lonely marathon runs won’t be so lonely
I once ran 26K with tears running down my face because I was just really, really tired and wanted to lie down (luckily it was raining so no one could tell). But did that ever happen when I ran 26K, 28K or 32K with the Sunday club? No. Not that I can remember, anyway.
11. It’s great for gossip
Step aside sewing clubs, runners provide the best gossip. Someone is bound to snog someone else at a post-run drinking session, and others are bound to just have general fun stuff to tell. Just save the stories for the recovery time in the interval sessions.
12. You’ll never meet a more diverse group of people
There are few places you meet such a varied group as you do when you join a running club. For ages, I didn’t really know what anyone did, because somehow it never came up. It didn’t seem important. But over the past 18 months I’ve learnt that there graphic designers, tree surgeons, cabin crew, journalists, osteopaths, teachers, police officers, shop owners, personal trainers, builders, assistants and company directors running around like maniacs on the seafront every Wednesday. And somehow none of that seems important when we’re all just there to run.
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