I must admit, the idea of joining a running group can be pretty daunting. You expect to turn up and be faced with perfectly formed athletic running bodies. Like any new situation, it can bring out personal anxieties and self-esteem issues, the idea that we are not good enough to fit in.
In my experience, the club will cater for all levels – from beginners to your hardcore runners. The fact is though, the reasons for being there are the same for most – to improve performance. Let’s face it, whether you are a beginner, intermediate or advanced, in principle, we are often looking to better ourselves and improve our training.
There are multiple reasons why a running group can benefit your running skills but not only that, it is social and you can expect to make new friends. Believe it or not, it can also be great fun. It is also psychologically uplifting to associate yourself with a running group – yes, you are a runner!
From a practical perspective, if you are used to running alone it is always handy to learn some new local routes but importantly, during the dark nights you may feel safer running with a group.
From a training perspective, becoming part of a group may aid with the commitment to running regularly – you may be less likely to cancel a session. One of the major benefits is the training advice you can get from a running group, there are usually trained ‘leaders’ or ‘coaches’ for you to brainstorm with. If there are groups of differing speeds within the club, you can aim to progress into a faster group enabling progress to be tracked and providing goals to reach. It is always good to have a goal in mind – maybe your first 5k race or half marathon. Keep it small so that it is achievable and you are more likely to succeed. It is about managing expectations realistically.
It may be that there are several running groups in your area usually, there will be a Facebook page for you to browse – be sure to look at the level of support the runners are receiving from the club. Engage with them, express any concerns and ask for some advice. They are after all there to provide encouragement.
Finally, good luck with achieving your goals. Happy running.