I think this is my favourite of these Improve Your Running tips. Running with others is a very powerful but also fun way to make progress.
When I think of my own running journey, running with others has been crucial to moving me up to my next level of performance. I began with a single friend, we walked and ran and eventually went from our local village 5k loop to running a marathon together (big shout out to Nicky). I had another friend who ran a lot (hello Tamsin) and though I was initially nervous to run with her it helped me so much. She never pushed me to keep up and was happy at any pace but she was a faster runner than me and I inadvertently found myself running more quickly than I usually would and for longer too.
I lead a social running club in Lancaster and hear so many times from women who have put off joining any kind of club because they’re afraid to run with others. They have so much doubt about their own ability, don’t want to keep others back and are often highly self-conscious. They’re the first to say that once they’ve joined us, running in a group makes a world of difference. They find themselves chatting, not thinking so much about the actual running and going faster and longer than they would on their own.
I really recommend joining a club if you’re struggling to make progress on your own. Here’s why:
- Club sessions are set days and times so it makes running part of your routine.
- Clubs usually do a variety of session including intervals and hills that you might not do on your own.
- You’ll find you run a bit faster and are less likely to stop if you’re in a pack.
- Club Coaches and other runners are full of tips and advice.
- Chatting to other runners means the miles pass and is great for increasing your distance.
- You’ll make friends and be missed if you’re not there so it helps with accountability.
- You’ll find out about local races and feel supported by other club members racing too
Finding a running club
Of course, it’s vital to find the right club and one that suits you. Some are very competitive and others are more about the running chat. Many have specific beginner sections if you’re quite new to running. Have a look at the club’s social media feeds. Get in touch with them and ask them any questions you have and see how you feel about their responses. Be brave and go for a trial session, take a friend with you if you’re feeling nervous. Sadly, I repeatedly hear stories of women in particular going to a club, being told it doesn’t matter if they’re slow and promptly being left for dust. They never go again. But, this really isn’t the usual experience, it rarely happens. The majority of clubs are excellent with new runners and mixed abilities. Look at the 261 Fearless network for women-specific, social running. I’m a 261 Coach and Master Coach and I can absolutely guarantee you will get a warm welcome and never be left behind at a 261 Club.
If a club really isn’t what you’re looking for then just grab a running friend or a group of friends, don’t be afraid if they’re faster than you. You’ll get lots of the same benefits. It can make the world of difference to your running.