Having you been thinking about picking up running as a hobby recently? Thought to yourself “I can do that!” as you watch a brightly coloured, tightly clad Running Room member fly by? Or are you simply tired for the elliptical machine? Or maybe you’re looking to start exercising and need some extra motivation.
Either way, I want to congratulate you. You are awesome. Honestly! Deciding to do this makes you already amazing. And really, there is no right or wrong way to go about this, as long as it is healthy and avoids injury. That said, one of the most common ways people (myself included!) get into running is through a Run Club.
Here is what you need to know about run clubs in general.
- They are everywhere. Many fitness apparel stores have them, such as Nike, Lululemon, Lole, Mountain Equipment Co-op, and, of course, the Running Room. In addition, many communities have their own run clubs, not affiliated with any particular store or brand. You can find a list of some here, but a simple Google will do the trick too.
- They are free. Usually. Almost all run clubs are free (clinics are not, see #7 below), meaning they are a great way to motivate yourself while not spending any cash.
- The people are awesome. Think about it this way: this is a group of people who all voluntarily got up on a Sunday morning, left their warm beds, families and mugs of coffee behind to come stand in a huddle with you and then trot off down the road for a pre-determined length of time. The only people who would do that are people who also actively enjoy the camaraderie of running. You can have some of the best conversations on the road or trail with these people.
- What happens on the run, stays on the run. As with anything, there are good days and bad days. If you are having a bad day and things go down on the run this unspoken rule applies. Basically, this is a judgement free zone. We all have days where we breakdown or hit a wall, and no one – I repeat no one – will understand better than your fellow run club members.
- You will learn a ton. On any given day there will be first timers and veterans present, but make no mistake, there is something to be learned from every person there. Veterans can motivate you push past your perceived limits and newbies can be your partner-in-crime as you pound out the kms. Take the time to pick the minds of the veterans. If you haven’t already noticed, runners love to talk about running. You won’t be bothering anyone there!
- You will be motivated. I feel I should give a word of caution here. Run clubs can be so effective that you will find yourself signing up for and completing goals you never thought attainable. That’s the magic of running with a wide variety of abilities and doing it regularly. So if you start out saying to yourself “I am only doing this to run 5k. That’s it! Nothing more,” like I did, then be prepared to be proven wrong. But hey, enjoy your marathon! It will happen.
- You can join a clinic. Clinics, typically offered by the Running Room and their peers, are paid-for sessions that have a strong teaching component in addition to the run club. Clinics vary by the provider but are usually structured with a goal race in mind and offer the participants a professional training schedule to follow. The group is usually lead by a trainer that leads lessons before runs and is available via email for Q&A. I highly recommend these if you are serious about a specific race and want to train for it properly.
Have a favourite run club that deserves to be shared? Something I missed that everyone needs to know about run clubs? Leave it in the comments! And Happy Running!