So, you probably know that I’m a huge proponent of a run club. If we ever had to move to a new city, the first thing I would do is find a run club. But if you are still unsure about joining a run club, here are 6 reasons to join a run club.
After a tough run, the sense of camaraderie that you feel with your run club is unbeatable. The other day, I went to the club for a hill workout and after the workout portion was over, a group of us jogged back to the Calhoun Beach Club. I just felt all this love towards my fellow runners, like “hey, we just DID that, and sure it was tough, but WE DID IT.” You may think running is not a team sport but at times like that it really feels like one. A run club gives you the sense of a team, a club, a family! We cheer each other on and we cheer each other up after bad runs.
2. Exposure to a breadth of knowledge about running. You can learn a lot about running in books or online forums (blogs like the Right Fits or Minneapolis Running), but you can learn a ton about running from actually talking to other runners. Get first-hand testimonies of things that worked or didn’t work. Get insider tips on different races. Learn about different fueling methods. Learn about different injuries and injury prevention techniques.
3. There’s safety in numbers. I never feel the need to carry my hand-held mace when I’m running with the run club. There is a safety in numbers- safety from the lunatics and also a safety from the elements. You will have someone looking out for you, and ensuring you make it back safely. You’re running with someone so if you slip on the ice, there is someone to call or run for help.
4. A little competition never hurt anyone. I always push myself harder on workouts with the club. I don’t consider myself that competitive of a person but the run club pushes you to become a faster/stronger runner.
5. Make new friends. Some of my best girlfriends at this stage in my life are the girls I have met in the CBRC. It is such a great way to meet people- people who love to run! People who love the outdoors, people who love health and fitness. People with whom you immediately have something in common- running!
Okay so you get it. Joining a run club is awesome. But is it really ALL awesome?
1. Lack of flexibility: One of the biggest downsides to running with a club is that the club probably meets on a schedule. Our club meets Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday at 6 pm, and Saturdays at 8 am (7 am in the summer). This doesn’t really work if you need to get your run in before work. It doesn’t make sense sometimes you get out of work early and you don’t want to wait around until 6 pm. Or maybe you want to run in a different location, or on trails. Most likely your club won’t always fit with your personal schedule.
2. Too much competition can hurt you. It’s true that running with the club makes you push yourself harder than you would on your own. But…what if you’re pushing too hard? Are you running hard on what are supposed to be easy days, only because you don’t want to be at the back of the pack, or because you want to keep up with your friends? Are you doing more workouts than you should? Are you comparing yourself and your workouts to your peers and feeling pressure to do more, to add more mileage than you should, to ramp up when you shouldn’t? There is a down side to constantly running with a club, and it often involves injury, burnout, or worse.
3. Running at the wrong pace. It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of the run club, and you might run at the wrong pace for you. It’s also easy to run TOO slow. Maybe you are running with a slower group because you always have, and you haven’t had the push to move to a faster pace group. Too slow or too fast- this is a risk of running with a run club.
4. Ex-lovers… The downside of #6 from the reasons to join a club…Not all of those run club relationships last forever. For every marriage or lasting relationship that has come out of the club, there are another two that didn’t turn out so sunny.And then what happens? Do you have to share custody of the club? Alternate nights and weekends?I guess it’s just like the end of any relationship, where friends of you and the significant other may no longer be friends of each of you individually. Hopefully you can both exist harmoniously in each other’s presence, but this can definitely be a challenge and a downside of running with a club.
5. No Solitude. One of the things that a lot of runners love about running is being alone with your thoughts. My husband is a bit of an introvert and he really values running alone (which is funny since he rarely does!) Personally, I need a bit of a mix, as I do really enjoy running on my own sometimes as well as with a group. Running with a club means you probably don’t have a lot of solo runs. I mean, that’s kind of the point, but if you’re looking for solitude in your runs, a running club might not be for you.
6. Running with a group is gross. Snot rockets, emergency bathroom stops, salt-encrusted faces, gas, blisters, SWEAT- lots of sweat.
Running can be gross. You might be queasy when it comes to these things when they are coming from your own body. It’s much worse to be exposed to them when they are coming from someone else. When running with a club you may be running pretty close to these things coming from other people….
If the thought of running side by side with a run buddy whose sweaty pony tail is sprinkling on you like a May shower totally grosses you out…well, maybe a run club is not for you. (and sorry to those that have run by me and my sweaty ponytail…)
But watch out for the girl with the sweaty ponytail…Ew.