It can be hard to stay motivated when running solo. Cold winters, shin splints, boring playlists... sometimes getting up and out can be the hardest part. So what about joining a running club? Have you ever thought about it? What are the benefits, and are there any drawbacks?
Running alone can be dreadfully lonely, especially on the long winter nights when you find yourself plodding along for 10 miserable miles. But who said running has to be boring? If you join a running club, you'll be among like-minded people who may be training for a specific event or just out for a fun jog with their friends. You'll meet people from your town who you may never have met otherwise, so it's a great opportunity to make friends.
There's been countless times that I've set out for a run but ended up turning back after only a mile or two because it's too cold or I'm too tired or my legs hurt too much. But if you're running with a club, there is much more motivation to keep going. You can chat to your running buddies to keep your mind occupied and you can explore new routes, which will be covered in the next point.
When I run, I'm very guilty of always going the same way, which can get very boring after a while. I'm not very adventurous with my runs because I'm never too sure of where will be safe to run, or if the route will even have pavement the whole way along. I certainly never bother to drive out to a run location; I always start and finish at home. But by joining a running club you will be encouraged to try new routes that you would never have even dreamt of before. The best part is that the distance will already be tried and tested so all you will have to do is turn up and run! You may experience runs through woodlands or off-road for the first time which is a great added bonus.
Safety In Numbers
Running alone, especially in the evening, can feel a little unsafe. Running with a club means you will be a lot safer in all aspects as there will be so many people running alongside you. Traffic is also more likely to stop to let you cross the road if there is a large number of you, so your run will be less interrupted if you are running on busy streets or in a city.
Doors to other events
Before I joined a running club, I never even thought about running a race or joining the local Parkrun. By being a member of a club, you will end up being motivated to train for events such as 10ks and half marathons, which are always more enjoyable when you have comrades to cheer you on. Feeling part of a team is a fantastic feeling.
Choosing the right club
There may well be more than one running club in your town or city, so choosing the right one is fairly important as they are not all the same. In my town for example, we have one club which is free of charge to be a member of and it is very much a relaxed group of people who love to run for fun and eat cake afterwards! There is another club which is on the other end of the spectrum, who take running very seriously, so they motivate each other in a very different way. This club has an annual fee, however being an affiliated club means you get cheaper entry to races so after a while your fee should pay for itself. Run Together has a list of nationwide running clubs, or doing a simple Google search will provide you with local clubs around you.
If you don't feel ready to join a run club just yet, why not try Parkrun? This weekly event is a 5k run held in your local park (you can find your closest Parkrun here) It is a growing community, with hundreds of participants showing up each week at each location! It is completely free of charge and you can be of any ability, many people just walk the course. It's great for those trying to improve their running as it is chip timed so you get an official finish time every time you turn up and run. The atmosphere is incredibly supportive and it will allow you to meet like-minded people from your local area who are all there for the same reason - to get fit and enjoy the process!
So what are you waiting for! Let's get running!
The inch worm is a sneaky exercise because it is very low impact so is suitable for those with injuries or limitations, but it is still fairly high intensity and will get you out of breath before you know it! This is a full body exercise and will target every muscle group, but especially your core.
To perform this exercise, start in a standing position. Keeping your legs straight, walk your hands forward until you are in a press up position. Then, still keeping your legs straight, walk your hands back to your feet and stand up straight. If you want to make this exercise harder, you could add a press up or a weight.
Make sure that your press up position is perfect each time, with your back straight and your bum in line with your back.
The curtsy lunge is a variation on a normal lunge and makes use of the sideways plane of movement which means you will get a more rounded tone and workout. It is important to work in different directions when you are training, so the sideways movement of the curtsy lunge is a good one to include in a leg or lower body workout.
To perform this exercise, step one leg laterally behind the other and bend into a lunge. Try to keep your knees facing outwards and sink as low as you can. Keep your head and chest up and use your arms to straighten your back by keeping them out in front of you. Alternate from one leg to the other and take it slow. You should feel this in your glutes and hamstrings but it will also work your back and core.
Plank shoulder taps are an advanced variation on the classic plank position and will work your core as well as your shoulders and chest.
To perform this exercise, start in a press-up position and make sure your hands up directly under your shoulders and your feet are in line with your hips. Keeping your hips as still as possible, lift one hand and tap it on the opposite shoulder. Then repeat on the other side. Keep repeating this while still keeping your body as still as possible and squeezing your core tight. This will work the transverse muscle across the core and will help to improve your balance and co-ordination.
Take this exercise slow and steady, and make sure you complete each repetition as perfectly as possible.
Kettlebell swings are a very popular Bootcamp-style exercise but also feature heavily in CrossFit and other types of training so it is a good one to know. This exercise targets the back and glutes, as well as the core and shoulders.
To perform this exercise, start by holding the kettlebell between your legs. Sink into a deep squat and then as you squeeze up to standing, swing the kettlebell out in front of you. To get this exercise right, you need to thrust with your hips and keep your body tight throughout. The kettlebell should swing from your body, not your arms. Keep your head and chest up throughout and do not allow the kettlebell to pull you forward as it comes down. Keep your weight back on your heels and keep your core tight.