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The Pros and Cons of Running with a Club

September 9, 2011

Well, I’m really glad that the weekend has arrived. It’s been a stressful week at work, with a lot of my colleagues on holiday. I’m looking forward to kicking back, relaxing and forgetting about it all until Monday.

I got a request a while a go to write about how I find running with a running club compared to running alone, so I thought that I’d tackle that subject today. I’ve mentioned that I’m a member of a running club quite a bit, but I’ll give a bit of background in case you missed it! I started running earlier this year, in the spring, although I’ve been an avid exerciser for a few years, so I had a good fitness base. Up until I joined the club I always ran alone and nearly always in the morning.

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I joined the club at the beginning of August, so I haven’t been a member for very long. Also, some of the points I raise are specific to me and my club, so you might have a different experience.

Pros of running with a club

1. The company

Before I started running I was an exercise class addict, mainly because I enjoyed spending the evening in the company of others. I really missed that social contact when I stopped. During the week I spend quite a bit of time on my own, and being naturally shy I don’t always find it easy to make new friends. Running in a group makes it easy to strike up conversations and the plus point is that learning to talk and run at the same time is improving my fitness!

2. Motivation

If I feel my motivation for running waning I just concentrate on physically going to the club. I don’t think about what run we’ll do or how fast or hilly it is, I just turn up. Once I’m there I’m committed to running and I just go for it! Also, running with other people and with a coach is very motivating. Being with a group of people who love running really ignites my interest.

3. Challenge

If I’d known quite how hilly the routes around the running club are I’m not sure I would have joined. However, now I’m a few weeks in I’m glad that I’ve done those really challenging runs. A couple of weeks ago we did 8 miles that was basically all uphill – so tough, but I finished with a sense of achievement and it’s all good for my strength and fitness. I’ve also run on off-road routes that I never would have tried and been out in weather that I normally would have avoided. I think all those things are working to make me a better runner.

It’s not just the terrain – I’m also challenged to run faster. The club is big, so runners are divided into groups depending on their 10k time. My 10k PB is 54:25, so I’m in the 50-55 min group, which means I’m one of the slower ones in that group. If I was holding the group up I would join another one, but I’m pleasantly surprised that I can keep up and I’ve definitely got faster in the past month.

Cons of running with a club

1. Running in the evening

The runs start at 7pm, whereas I’ve been used to running in the morning. I tend to be more groggy in the evening and deciding what to eat before I run has been difficult. Having said that, inevitably once I get going I feel better and full of energy.

After long runs I might not get home until 9pm, which means that I eat my dinner late and don’t feel ready for bed until a lot later than usual. Normally I would do my long runs at the weekend when I have plenty of time to recover. Doing them on a Thursday evening makes me feel a bit zombie-like on Friday, especially as I tend to not sleep well after a long run.

2. They don’t ever stop!

I think this could be a particular quirk of my coach, but she never lets anyone stop running, even on long runs. Sometimes it would be nice to be able to have a sip of water or eat a little something. No-one eats anything on our long runs and I could definitely feel myself struggling towards the end of my 10 miler yesterday. I guess I’m going to have to practice eating and drinking while running.

Do you run with a club or would you consider it? Can you think of anymore pros and cons?

Do you have trouble sleeping after tough exercise? Do you have any tips to help me sleep better? I’m normally don’t have any trouble sleeping and have luckily never suffered from insomnia. I just find that after a tough run my sleep is more disturbed and I wake up earlier than usual, even though I go to bed later.

Have a fabulous weekend everyone!

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15 Comments leave one →
  1. September 9, 2011 5:04 pm

    This is a great post with lots of great info! 🙂 Thanks for sharing!

  2. September 9, 2011 6:48 pm

    Great post! I have to say I’m definitely a lone exerciser – I see it as my ‘me’ time but your club does sound like a lot of fun!

  3. September 9, 2011 9:28 pm

    Fantastic post, it really sounds like running club is helping you progress and keeping your limits juuust there for you. I’d like to be able to crack out 10km regularly before joining a club, or indeed find a club that runs beginner running clubs.
    Unfortunately I can’t offer advice on evening exercise to help to get you restful sleep. Over the years I have avoided exercise in the evening for the very reason I could never get to sleep or sleep restlessly. Cup of camomile tea maybe?

  4. September 10, 2011 12:06 am

    I really want to join a running club for the company and motivation, but I think I’ve sort of gotten used to doing things my way. I would hate if I couldn’t stop to eat or drink!!

  5. Rob permalink
    September 10, 2011 6:49 am

    Most clubs do have a beginners section – many an absolute beginners section.

    Which club have you joined (if its a Leeds one). Im a member of Abbey Runners and I know its not there as we start at 8pm.

    • September 10, 2011 6:14 pm

      I’ve joined the Pudsey Pacers. Abbey runners sounded like a good club, but a bit too far away for me. Pudsey is crazy hilly though!

      • Rob permalink
        September 12, 2011 6:16 am

        We may have mutual acquaintances then – Phil & Tracey Lonsdale?

  6. September 10, 2011 8:20 am

    You ran 10 miles without any drink??? Crazy! I have a water bottle (well loads!) that I take with me- I can wear it in a belt but I often hold it and I just sip when I run, unless I am running very hard or uphill I can sip while I run fine. I did have a hand held one with a wrist strap which was really good but it is past its best now. And I would be eating on runs of that length (or maybe a little longer now- when I first trained for a half I ate and run over 9 miles because I lost energy after that, but now I can go further I think). Anyway I used to take a cocoa orange nakd bar, and as I was going slower on those runs I just took small bites and could eat and run at the same time. Or nakd raisins are good. Or clif shot blocks but they are harder to eat as they are like massive jelly sweets! I used to sleep badly after my really long runs and I found compression socks helped as it was my legs that were sore so every time I turned over I would wake up sore. But I sleep badly anyway. Ice baths too. 🙂 It sounds great, I would love a running club but as I already do 2 evening classes and would not want to give them up I do not want to commit to more evenings as I like to run when I get home so that when Andy gets back from work we have some evenings together.

    • September 10, 2011 6:13 pm

      I know! It was cool out, so I survived, but I’m definitely going to take something with me for the 11 miles we’re doing next week – Nakd raisins sound like a good choice.

  7. September 10, 2011 11:39 am

    I considered running with a club a few times, but I’m really intimidated. Maybe I will one day, but not until my confidence in running increases.. a lot!

    • September 10, 2011 6:12 pm

      I was worried about being slow or not being able to keep up, so I waited until I had done a couple of 10ks. However, as Rob said, most clubs (including mine) have a complete beginner’s group who go just as fast and as far as they can manage. There were plenty of people doing the 5k time trail who finished in 30-35 minutes, as well as people finishing in 16 minutes! If you want to join a club, do a bit of research into what kind of runs they go on reassure yourself that you won’t be left behind, because I know some clubs are more up themselves than others.

  8. September 10, 2011 6:25 pm

    Thanks for this post, it’s really helpful. I’ve never been tempted in the past but this post has got me thinking, thanks! 🙂

    Hope you’re having a great weekend. Just read your comment- it’s all about Gena’s recipes innit 🙂

  9. September 10, 2011 10:05 pm

    This is such a great and helpful post! I like all of the pros you listed… the group motivation is a huge one for me. But I would have trouble with the evening runs! I like to run in the morning (or sometimes early afternoon) an evening time would really throw me off

  10. September 11, 2011 1:18 pm

    The sleeping thing comes and goes with me. Sometimes I get totally wired and other times I’m okay. I found switching to morning workouts helped a lot with that problem…

  11. fifi permalink
    September 12, 2011 5:53 pm

    Thanks for your comments on my blog.

    Great post, I hope it persuades more people to join clubs – they’re great. One thing I find is sometimes the running club schedule messes around with what training plan I’m working in accordance with so I need to be super flexible.

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