When it comes to running, you can go about it one of two ways: you can join your local running club, or you can fly solo and take it on yourself. Either way, you are pretty much guaranteed to improve your running, but there are clear cut differences, and an abundance of pro’s and cons to both paths you can take.
First lets focus on running alone. Let’s say you’ve just started running, and it could be for multiple different reasons for this; your doctor told you you were too unhealthy, your best friend is hosting a charity event and wants you to run, everybody starts running because of different reasons. Personally, I started running because my P.E teacher at school couldn’t find anyone else to run in a schools cross country race, so I volunteered, unaware that I was going to dedicate the rest of my life to the sport from that day on. Even though I never experienced running on my own, I am aware of it’s many benefits. Primarily, it allows you to train when you want, and do what you want with your running, and a lot of people like to have that kind of control over their lives. Seeing as when you are running for a club, they have specific runs at specific times of the weeks, you have to get into their routine, not your own. Furthermore, when you are running solo, it is arguably better for your mental health; it allows you to think, reflect and alter your runs to how you feel, which could be unbelievably beneficial for some people.
Now, even though running on your own can be helpful for certain individuals, if you want to improve your running your local club is where you belong. Running in a group allows you to run at a controlled pace, meaning if their are more people doing a particular run, you are more likely to complete that run to the correct standard. Now we move on to a crucial factor in ones running experience: the competition. Take this for an example: say you are doing a track session which is 10x400m on the track, are you going to run each rep to a higher standard if you are running on your own? or are you going to run each rep to a higher standard with 10 other people, half in front of you, half behind you, all trying to push themselves to the max? The answer seems fairly simple, doesn’t it? You are going to a higher quality, and push yourself harder if you have people to chase, and people chasing you, which will only happen if you join a running club.
Now to the most important factor in determining the future of a runner: coaching. If you join your local running club you will have access to a coach, who will be able to spot your weaknesses, and give you advice on how to plug your leaks. Being around someone who has far more knowledge than you when it comes to running, is a priceless virtue. And it’s a virtue portrayed by joining any running club. If you’re just starting out running, or if you’ve been running solo for a long time, the best way for you to improve is to join a running club. Which running club do I suggest? Do your research, see what is close to you, try a club out and if you don’t like the environment, move on and find your place. Even try out your local sweatshop; they host multiple runs every week, a great way to socialize and learn more about your sport.
Once a runner, always a runner.