Having previously treated my running as a pretty solitary existence, I have now finally joined my local running group – and I can’t believe I haven’t done it before!
A mere four years since I first went along to a club outing, for the past four weeks I have joined the more advanced of the groups with the aim of pushing myself further and progressing with my running. After my first attempt to join the club a few years ago, I decided it was too difficult to try to get home from work in time to make the run each week, and then the arrival of Ethan curtailed most early evening activity. Now however, with Ethan in a great routine and happy to see the back of me for a couple of hours, and after a year or so of working from home, this was a perfect time to start properly with Greenfield Greyhounds.
I have always been happy to promote the idea of a running club, but not always convinced it was right for me. Having spent a good few years as a disciple of British Military Fitness, I am happy to bang the drum for the benefits of collective exercise and training. Team spirit, friendly competition and the support of your mates are all great motivators, and are sure to push you on further than you might achieve on your own. It’s just that I have always preferred running on my own – possibly because I view it equally as a chance to have some time to myself. I guess there is also an element that I love planning my own routes for running, sometimes just heading out with only a vague idea of where I’ll be running.
So why change it? I have recently found it difficult to keep my motivation sometimes – I’ll have a couple of weeks of great running and then will easily find an excuse to miss a couple of runs, or leave it a week or more between outings. The thought of committing to at least one good length run a week is a great motivator. In addition to that, having this one decent run in place each week means that I’m more likely to keep up my other runs during the week in order to keep improving and perform better during club runs.
The group itself is great – not too serious that there is any serious competition or any frowning if anyone walks up the steeper hills or misses a week. But serious enough that I’m pushed along on every run, and always come home properly knackered. There’s a great variety of running too, even in the four weeks I have been going along – two off-road and two road routes, all of which have had paths on which I have never run before.
More important has been the effect club running has had on my motivation – Tuesdays are now planned in my head around the club run in the evening. From deciding what to eat and making sure our evening meal is a little earlier than usual to allow me time to digest it, to pre-hydrating during the day in preparation for a tough run – all of this builds the anticipation and enthusiasm for the run ahead.
Of course, the hope is that the benefits of joining the club will become manifest in the coming weeks and months – but even if they don’t, I’ve found a great way to stay motivated and hungry!