Adventures at the local running club

What an interesting week it's been!

On Monday night I tried out a running club for the first time. I was apprehensive about whether it might be a bit hardcore and macho, but everyone was very friendly and welcoming. We met at Sheen Gate in Richmond Park, where the run organiser announced there would be three groups: 'fast, medium, and not-so-medium'! I settled in with the medium group, all women, and while I found the pace challenging, I could keep up. The first km was the hardest, but about half way through the 45-minute run I'd warmed up into a good rhythm. It wasn't easy, but I really enjoyed it. They said I should come back on Wednesday evening to try out their speed training session. My legs were a bit tender that night, especially shins and hamstrings, perhaps because I'd done a long run the day before (yes I know, naughty, running two days in a row). So I foam-rollered my pins into submission, and amazingly the next morning there was no stiffness, aches - nothing! These foam rollers really do the biz.

So, last night (Wednesday) – I joined in the fartlek session (no sniggering at the back, please): a mix of all-out sprinting for various distances, jogging and recovery walks. Oh! My! Days! It was tough. I've tried speed intervals on my own, but this session took me waaaay beyond. Thinking about it, I don't believe I've done any actual, proper sprinting since school (I don't count running for the bus), so no wonder. I was easily the weakest in the group of six – my poor little lungs were bellowing away desperately trying to suck enough oxygen back in. We ran the last intervals on Queen's Ride; a scenic, tree-lined bridlepath in the middle of Richmond Park that switchbacks up to White Lodge (home of the Royal Ballet's junior school). The final sprint was a long, uphill one to the lodge, and it hurt SO much that I just couldn't carry on and had to walk and jog the last section. But we all have to start somewhere, and everyone was very encouraging.

I've been pushed outside my comfort zone in these two sessions, but I've not found it impossible and can see how I'll benefit if I stick with it. My verdict? If you're thinking of joining a running club, and can find one with an encouraging, supportive attitude that welcomes all abilities (don't be afraid to – ahem – test run a few), then don't hesitate.

Cool runnings, everyone! 8-)

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17 Replies

  • This is great to hear!

    I've been thinking about trying out my local club, but really nervous! I've been trying to time my runs to go past their start point at the right time, just so I can take a squiz and assess them for how friendly they look, but so far I've not seen them (so they'll probably leave me for dust!)

    But come Monday I might try again :)

  • Do they have a website and do they advertise a 'friendly and for all abilities' run night? Or can you give them a call/email and talk to the organisers? You should give them a go if they do and you could be very pleasantly surprised - all the decent clubs tend to have a few different paces and they will make sure no-one gets left behind.

  • They have facebook and twitter - I've been stalking them for a little while :) The fb does acutally say "all abilities welcome" Hmmm Hopefully thats in my favour

    They do two sessions on a Monday evening only, beginners and sprints, or something - its quite a small club I think! The earlier session is promoted as suitable for beginners and usaully seems to invoce sprints/circuits/short runs (I don't know what circuits is! shame!)

    Ocasionally people ask them online if its really suitable for beginners and they say "yes, come on down!" but everyone in the photos looks much fitter, slimmer, healthier and more runner-y than me - hence the hesitation!

    I have to remind myself that I havent really got anything to lose by turning up to the earlier/easier session - just the once at least!

    After all that I'm not sure if I've talked myself into it or out of it!

  • Go! Sounds great! Don't think about it too hard and just do it! (to quote the famous brand) Circuits is circuit training, various exercises focusing on different bits, core, abs, etc, all really helps with strength and stamina. Don't compare yourself to pictures on the website! Just put on your brightest coloured running top and go!

  • Give it a go

  • I joined the beginners group and whilst I still feel very slow, they have pushed me on, and without their support I would not have done the 10K race last month. Try it you will be fine.

  • I am so glad you enjoyed it TT I have been twice to running club and love it We did a wee bit sprinting stuff 2 nd week and I was way way slowest and found it really hard so goodness know how you managed a whole session on it Well done you . I find in my runs by myself I am now trying to incorporate the tips leader has given even just for part of run . Hopefully you have inspired someone else to take plunge and join running group . Like you I felt out of my comfort zone at times but everyone was really supportive and friendly. Bit like when I first started c25k and found this forum .

  • Thanks Fitfor60 - it was a lot of fun and really inclusive, glad your club is the same. The sprinting is so tough, but we can only get better!

  • Well done TT you brave fit runner. Glad you enjoyed it. It sounds terrifying fun, if there is such a thing. I must try this fartlek idea. It's supposed to be really good and Miles_Yonder has been eulogising about it, but doubt I'd ever have the nerve to try it in a group - much too reminiscent of school PE lessons!

  • Thank you GazelleMum. Yes, I have to say school PE did cross my mind a couple of times as I struggled for breath, but that was just the gremlin on my shoulder whispering weasel words... I was also inspired to read M_Y's post today where he says he can feel the difference after just a couple of weeks of fartlek sessions. This is the result I'm hoping for!

  • Well, I knocked over a minute off my 5K PB so it must be working! It's still hard work, mind, but I carried more speed more naturally yesterday so I think it's working. I'd recommend it to anyone! :-)

    The running club sounds brill, TT the well done on joining! I've been considering one for ages but out of what's near to me, I don't really feel 'grabbed' by them, from their websites, if that makes any sense. No harm going along for a trial session though.

    Cool runnings, TT! :-)

  • Definitely give it a go! :-) Start easy, a small burst of speed between lamp posts, with longer recovery runs at your usual speed, then again when you feel recovered. Keep on with it as it's really hard at first. I love them now and always do a bit each run. :-)

  • whats the club called TT? its not too far from me and i've considered it before, just havent made up my mind if i'm completely antisocial or would like company

  • It's the gloriously named Sheen Shufflers. It's only £10 a year to join, and you get 10% off in Sweatshop etc. It would almost be rude not to!

  • Lol! Doubt I'm fast enough though. Will look them up. Thanks

  • If you're wondering about speed you could email Bob, one of the founders, and ask what he thinks, but I'm sure you'd fit in. Their website looks quite old fashioned, which made me hum and hah for a long time before I got in touch with them, but the people and the club are lovely and completely up to date.

  • Good to read you a had a positive experience, I hummed and hah'd for ages too before plucking up my courage to go but glad I did. The one I go along to is mixed, the fast ones hare ahead and then us others chug along behind nattering, it forces me to mix it up and try different techniques/warm ups etc. I have yet to be asked to sprint and not sure I can but it's good to give new stuff a go - well done TT. :-)

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