Why Joining a Running Club Is the Best Idea Ever

There’s really not a good reason to get excited for Tuesday night. It means the week is just beginning—you’re not even to hump daaaay—and you’ve probably only just recovered from the weekend festivities.

But on the second Tuesday of every month, I’m always looking forward to quittin’ time…so I can take off for my monthly running club meeting! Our club members usually meet at 6, and everyone takes off to run for anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour. After running, we have a potluck-style dinner, where the club supplies the main dish, and the members all bring some sort of app, side, salad or dessert.

Runners like food.

Runners like food.

Note: Runners really like desserts.

Runners like desserts. Yep.

I mean, really, really like desserts. Rounded out with pita chips, of course.

Lots of food is chowed down, and while we finish up second helpings, we talk through club “business,” i.e. important news, races coming up, planning the races we put on, etc. This week, we had some spunky guests from the American Club Resort in Kohler, WI, who talked to us about an amazing weekend called the “Runners Retreat.” You get to stay two nights at the resort, access to a wildlife reserve with hiking [running] trails, sports center/fitness classes, yoga, and a massage.

(Umm, I think someone needs to send this post to my other half, as a hint for a Christmas gift?! All of us ladies decided this is definitely something we need to do!)

After talking to a new member at the meeting yesterday, I was thinking about how it took me so long to finally join the running club. I had known the club existed for over a year before I came to anything, because I was nervous… I’m slow, what if everyone is way faster than me? All I run is the occasional 5K, what if these people all run marathons? I’m not a skinny rail, I don’t look like a runner—are they going to judge me?

Well, guess what—I was pretty much the slowest runner when I joined in November 2011. Most people had run marathons before. They were all pretty in shape, and looked like it. But, not one person made me feel uncomfortable—everyone welcomed me, asked me all about myself, why I ran, if I was training for anything, offered advice, and a group of ladies ran with me for the 5-mile run that night, which I kind of struggled through. (Months later, I realized just how fast these ladies really are, and appreciated even more that they took the time to slow down and run with me to make me feel welcomed.)

Joining my running club was one of the best decisions I’ve made since becoming an “adult,” out of college with no real place in the community. It’s given me a part of my identity back, helped me make friends I would have never met… Call me a nerd, but it’s fun to go to Target, recognize the woman in front of you waiting in line at the register, say hi, and wish her luck on her triathlon the next day. I feel like I’m a part of something again.

So, if you’re not in a running club, think about seeking one out. Besides all the warm fuzzies I’ve spouted off already, there are a lot of other perks to being part of a running club:

Constant Motivation
Our club has a Facebook group, where people are constantly posting articles, plans to run, healthy (or decadent) recipes, and meet-ups for races. That means there is always someone (or several someones) to go on a run with, and constant motivation to keep you trucking.

People Who Understand You
Let’s be honest—most of your friends don’t want to hear about fartleks, 18-mile long runs, or the nasty blisters on your feet that make it suck to wear your new high heels. Most of your friends may or may not actually think you are partially insane. But runner friends…well, they will always be right there to commiserate or celebrate with you. And fartlek it up.

Runner Chatter
Have an injury/question/opinion on new shoes/advice on what treadmill to buy for the long winter months? There’s always someone there to answer—or listen—when you want to geek out and talk running.

FOOD
See pictures above. Last year, my fiancé came with me to our annual Club picnic and was flabbergasted by the amount of food there, the cooler full of beer, and the entire table of desserts. I just said, “Why do you think we run? We love to eat!” Duh.

People to Celebrate With
A lot of people travel to races together, and we usually have great turnouts at local races. There’s always someone there to cheer you while you race by, and people at the finish line to pat you on the [sweaty] back with a “Good job.” The best moment, for me, was two weeks ago when I finished my longest run ever of 14 miles. As I finally got back to the coffee shop where we all meet post-run for some caffeine, I got a round of applause from my fellow members. I kinda felt like a rock star!

…and People to Commiserate With
There’s nothing worse than being injured. But it’s a little more bearable when you’re recovering and sharing PT advice with a fellow injured runner.

No Excuses
There’s always someone to run with, even in the rain… heat… snow… slush… wind… long run… intervals… You get the picture.

And if you’re still worried about joining a club because you don’t know anyone, or you’re self conscious (like I was), just remember: They’re all runners, too. That means they’re all inherently a little weird or mental, just like you. Embrace it!

Are you in a running club? Why or why not? If you are, what’s your favorite part about being in it? 

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2 thoughts on “Why Joining a Running Club Is the Best Idea Ever

  1. I might have to try a running club after reading this 🙂 Like you were, I am nervous that I would be the slowest one out there and in the worst shape! But all the support it looks like you have seems encouraging.

    • You definitely should give it a shot! I was the slowest to begin with, but it seemed like once other people saw there were some slower runners, they started coming out too. Now I have several people to run with at my pace, and we are bringing more new members in because they’re less intimidated. It’s great!

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