The Value of Joining a Running Club

by Karl Gruber
Whether you are planning on running your first half marathon or 20th marathon, joining a running club can be a positive experience. First timers will be helped by being able to train with other runners who share similar goals and ability. Experienced marathon runners may learn things they never thought about before and be elevated to a higher level of running.

Here are the advantages of joining a running group for the inexperienced half or full marathoner…
  • Finding other runners to train with is a huge advantage for your training! You learn key elements about training for a long distance race, such as proper pacing, nutrition and hydration, and smart training.
  • Motivation and inspiration are almost always something you will pick up either directly or inadvertently from your running teammates. 
  • New friendships! This is almost always a given when running week after week with the same people in your running club. I still have many running buddies from several years ago who are now some of my best friends.
  • A good training plan. Any running club worth its weight should supply you with a good training plan, no matter what distance you plan on racing. Without a club or a coach, any runner (including myself) usually just kind of flounder around with their daily running. Having a good training plan supplies you with focused intent, motivation and strategy.
  • Being a part of a running club helps you commit – commit to running the best you possibly can on race day, commit to becoming a fit and healthy athlete, and commit to achieving a goal you previously thought was ridiculously impossible!
As for the experienced marathon/distance runner, joining a running group will…
  • Rekindle your passion for running long distances.  After running lots of marathons, your passion for distance running may dampen. Running with some fresh faces and new blood can bring that spark back into your heart and legs that will help you reach the finish line of your next marathon.
  • Teach you new things about running. I can tell you numerous incidences where I have run with vastly experienced long distance runners who taught me new things about race strategy, running safely and quickly on different terrains, and race day nutrition and hydration tips.
  • Provide you with much needed motivation and inspiration to improve as a runner and strive for a new marathon personal record.
  • Help you make the transition from being a seasoned marathoner to a running coach. Many veteran runners who run with a training group invariably end up doling out advice to the newer runners who anxiously soak it up like a sponge. Your running experience can be a huge help to your training partners. Plus, it grooms you for a future as a coach (if you should choose to become one).
In addition, joining a running group can actually help people to overcome addictions, mental health issues and more. In an article from Men’s Health magazine, it is noted that, “Researchers at McMaster University in Canada have found that people struggling with mental health challenges who joined a running group experienced a significant decrease in their levels of anxiety, depression and stress. The program, which met twice a week for three months, culminated in the group’s participating in a local 5K. Experts believe it’s partly the endorphins and other hormones that help reduce stress, but it’s also the camaraderie that was formed.” 

I have read several stories over the years about people who have used running and joining a running group to overcome drug and alcohol addiction. In fact, I have two close friends who used running and Alcoholics Anonymous to successfully overcome their addiction.

The beauty of running is that you can go run by yourself, any time, anywhere, whenever you want to. But it’s pretty clear that there are many positive and productive advantages when you join and train with a running group. There are thousands of running groups throughout the world! Find one near you, and watch yourself soar as a runner.

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