struggled to get around, even though I've always been fit and healthy from sports. Or on the opposite end of the spectrum I've seen quite a few running groups for those making an effort to lose weight or develop their 'new self'. Since I fitted into neither of those categories, solo running seemed the obvious choice for me, and it worked! I loved running through the forests near my house and discovering new routes, anywhere from Kent to Southeast Spain where I spent a couple weeks training. After delving deeper into the world of running and seeing an article on how beneficial clubs can be to your training I realised that I although I had achieved something I was extremely proud of after training on my own for a couple months, a club might help me progress from there and I was starting university soon so it made sense to join the Glasgow University Hares and Hounds. I did this upon arrival and am happy to announce my times are faster than ever and I have met some really interesting/inspirational people and have competed in my first ever cross country races.
|Scottish Universities XC 2017|
I've decided to create a wee pro list for both club running and solo running so that you are informed to make your own choice on which suits you best :) This isn't a pro-con list because there are never cons to running!!
PROS OF CLUB RUNNING
Advice from those more experienced and possible ex elites or even current elites who definitely know what they are talking about and can help you with anything from training tips to where they bought their trainers
Ease of signing up to events through the club and more information about which races are going on in your area. Clubs will also usually get reduced entry fees to events, making it cheaper for everyone, not that most races are usually very expensive. Your also more likely to have fun or sign up in the first place for events if you've got a group of friends going.
New friends. Enough said? Runners really are a social bunch and most clubs organise at least a monthly meet up of post run coffee date, meaning you can get to know each other while not panting so much from exertion. It's a great way to meet like minded people and race buddies, or even if your not looking to race it's motivating to know that Suzie down the road will be awaiting your company at this evening's training and you'll letting her down if you don't show
Mentality of not wanting to be seen as lazy or slow within a group ensures you're always trying your best and are constantly improving. Just make sure this isn't reversed and they are too slow for you!
Organised sessions with structure, such as spadework on Mondays or hill reps on Thursdays are vitally important if you want to progress, and there is never too much pressure if you feel you can't make a commitment to that time very week, these sessions are easily dipped in and out of when you want them in your training.
Discounts from local running stores on gear for being part of a club
Competitive or chilled. People use clubs in different ways. For some it is the thrill of knowing you'll be competing at the weekends and discovering who's been working the hardest outside of training while for others it is an opportunity for idle chatter combined with getting fitter. The great thing is that it's not important which, there is a group for everyone and most require only a small amount of commitment although it's best to get as involved as you can.
PROS OF SOLO RUNNING
Performance can be boosted by being able to pay more attention to form, breathing and pace instead of everyone else. It can also be boosted by creating your own training plan which incorporates the right amount of strength training and easy miles for you personally instead of trying to stick to one which was not designed specifically for you.
Disheartenment can occur if most members of the club you join are significantly faster than you, or have a highly competitive atmosphere. It can also give you something to reach for if you are strong minded, but is dependent on the club. If you join the club you think is most suitable to you or try out a couple of different ones then this should not be a problem if you stick with it. You'll be surprised at how much progress you can make quickly, I know I was! But solo running provides no competitor other than yourself and can enhance the feeling of achievement after a run as you are not comparing yourself to anyone around you.
Head space. Sometimes I just need to lace up my trainers and head out the door to sort through problems/emotions I'm dealing with or just stop thinking all together. Solo running allows you to do this and is very therapeutic. When you find your natural rhythm your mind seems to just open up and you feel as if you're on an adventure, however cheesy this may sound. You can chill out and listen to music if you want, or hit the trails and observe the wildlife reminding you that life is going all around you if you just take a moment to see it instead of looking at your smartphone.
Freedom to explore new routes. Some clubs tend to run the same variation of routes week on week so it is refreshing to be able to open the front door without knowing where you are going to end up and just enjoy exploring. It can be so exciting to notice a small slip road off to the side and decide your going to investigate, or finding a new footpath you never new existed. Just make sure you have some form of navigation with you so you don't end up lost for hours on end, which is actually how I increased my fitness so fast (getting lost over and over).
I hope this list was helpful and you are feeling inspired to get out there and get involved!
Love Helen xx