In line with my 1-year & 3 weeks anniversary of ‘officially’ joining South London Harriers, I thought this would be an apt post!
I attempted to join a running club in Scotland a couple of years ago but was informed that said running club was for MEN ONLY NO LADIES ALLOWED. Being the stubborn character that I am, I turned up and ran with them anyway, and can report that it did not go down well.
Upon relocating to London, I attempted to join a running club for the second time. On this occasion, I was not rejected due to my gender (#blessed). However, I was asked to provide a list of my PB’s for various distances, which made me feel a little uncomfortable.
Both experiences led me to conjure up mental images of smug, conceited runners, and I concluded that perhaps joining a running club was not the right move for me.
Nonetheless I persevered, and this is where this sad tale ends. South London Harriers were supportive and welcoming, and encouraged me to come along for a few Sunday long runs – a couple of months later, I joined the club.
From my personal experience, here are a few (of many) reasons to join a running club:
Positive peer pressure works very well for me! Although I’m intrinsically motivated, this sometimes wavers during the winter months (I really, really LOATHE cold weather. And by cold weather, I mean anything under 20 degrees.)
Making a commitment to join others for a training session is a great way to hold yourself accountable, and it makes those frosty winter early morning runs a lot more enjoyable.
Primarily, I wanted to join a running club purely to improve my running. This has evolved into something a lot more meaningful, although the self-improvement aspect has been fantastic, and it’s been beneficial to pick up tips from runners with decades of experience.
I’ve met some wonderful people through running (although there have been a couple of morons, such is life), who I might not have crossed paths with otherwise.
- Mental Health
I have previously written a post dedicated to Running & Mental Health, and I would like to highlight this again. Being surrounded by enthusiastic people has had just as much (if not more) of a positive impact on my mental health than running itself.
Although my initial contact with running clubs did not go to plan, I really hope this doesn’t put anyone off. From my experience, runners with an elitist attitude are in the minority*, and I was simply very unlucky.
Joining a club has enriched my experience of being a runner, and I would encourage anyone considering it to give it a go!
*Of course, there are some clubs that tend to be a bit elitist, and perhaps this is the sort of running club you are looking for! However, it’s just not for me.