Recently my club membership renewal email popped into my inbox. The secretary was asking for £12 for my annual membership. For this I get access to twice weekly coached training sessions and be part of a sociable gathering of like-minded running nuts.
I am actually pretty hard pressed to think of a better bargain anywhere. The benefit of club training nights cannot be underestimated. I wouldn’t say I was one for joining clubs. I think I might have been a member of a football club for a short while when I was young.
But I never really went to scouts or anything like that. I didn’t join any clubs as an adult; no book or film clubs for me. I was quite happy hanging around with mates for my social scene, so I have never really been particularly drawn to clubs.
So when I started running in my late 20s, I didn’t feel the immediate need to join a club. Sometimes I ran with friends or workmates, but mostly I just ran on my own. It was only when I began to become addicted to my new hobby that the idea of joining a club grew in its appeal.
I knew lots of club members from the racing circles I began to move in and they all extolled the virtues of being in a club. “The quality of training is fantastic,” “The coaching will help you,” and "You’ll be motivated by club mates," they said.
Eventually I did join a club – Haddington and East Lothian Pacemakers, near to my Edinburgh base at the time. While I didn’t throw myself in both feet first, attending every training session and every social event, I got involved and yes, it made a big difference. Within months I had smashed PBs at 10k and 5 miles, running far more competitively than I ever thought I would, placing in top 10s.
Since that time I have been a member of Dulwich Runners, when living in London and now am a member of Teignbridge Trotters as I am settled in Devon. I will be renewing. With my two more recent clubs, I achieved PBs in half marathon and marathon within six months of joining either. More than that, I really enjoyed the training sessions, which are always tough but invigorating.
If you have ever thought about joining a club, but have any doubts, just remember the Nike motto. For £12 you won’t regret it.