I started out running with the intention of just being able to run a 5k completely without walking. At that time, I thought that I would run one race and then I would be done. The thought of joining a running club or writing a blog about running never even crossed my mind. But somewhere along the route, I caught the running bug.
So, I ran a few more races.
And a few more.
And then a few more…
(Once you’ve been bit by the running bug, you usually have it for life!)
I kept running after that first 5k. I was constantly striving to improve my time. My next goal was to finish a 5k in 31 minutes (which is a 10-minute mile pace). And then to finish under 30 minutes. Then a little faster.
A little over 2 years ago, I took home my first medal ever for a race. It was surreal. I never thought that I would EVER place in a race unless I was 80 years old and the only one in my age group.
It turned out that I actually didn’t have to wait that long! And although there were only 6 people in my age bracket, I was still excited to place! I took home 2nd that day and that little running bug buried itself deeper.
Not only did I want to keep running but now I wanted to run faster. A kept participating in races but it hasn’t been until recently that I have started to get faster and set more personal records for myself.
I have also taken home a few more medals. In the last few races I have run, I set two PRs (one for a 5-mile race and one for a 10k) and have placed in those races as well. (I still am chasing a first place finish though…)
I have to admit, because I have been placing in the last few races that I participated in, my head had gotten slightly bigger… the whole “I’m the best runner in the world” feeling. *I am definitely NOT the best runner in the world* But that increased confidence inspired me to check out a local running group.
This group has no fees, commitments, or sign-ups. I actually found it by googling “Running Clubs in Wausau”. Which led me to a Facebook group where the members meet every Tuesday at a local high school track to run together. Each week is a different workout including intervals, hills, and tempo runs. The Facebook page stated all ages and abilities welcome.
When I first found this group I was excited. Until the nerves set in. The “What-Ifs” started to creep into my head:
What if they are a bunch of friends and I’m going to be intruding on their run?
What if they are WAY too fast for me?
Or what if they laugh at me and wonder what I’m doing there?
The list of “what-ifs” could potentially go on forever.
For me, the list of “what-ifs” went on for about a week or so before I finally got the courage to just go out and try it.
I arrived early at the track (I’m not from the area, so I actually had to google where the school track was located) and waited. One person showed up and then a few more. They introduced themselves and we made some small talk. When the main runner of the group arrived, he said hello to everyone then said “Alright, one and a half mile warm-up and then we will begin our workout”.
Oh, it’s this type of running group, I thought in my head… What did I get myself into?
(My warm-ups are typically like 5 minutes on the bike or a slight walk before heading out. And sometimes my whole workout is a mile and a half…) But I didn’t want the group to think any less of me or my running ability, so I took off after them as they started the warm-up.
I stuck with the middle of the pack until about the middle of the warm-up and then started slowing down. Their warm-up pace was slightly faster than my normal running pace and I couldn’t maintain it for the whole warm-up. Another runner and I finished a few minutes after the rest of the group, but they waited for us to finish before they started the next portion of the workout.
The workout was a 400 meter interval runs with a 200 meter floating jog, repeated 12 times. (A total of 4.5 miles). It was a continuous run that everyone participated in at their own pace. As people lapped me (which happened a lot!) they offered kind words and encouragement.
I am always truly amazed at how supportive runners are of other runners. These elite athletes that were lapping me and finishing the workout in roughly half the time it took me were telling me “Good Job”. I would puff out a winded “You too!” as they passed and continued on.
Between 40 and 45 minutes later, the workout was complete. Then the group organizer looked at everyone and said “Alright, nice work, a mile cool-down?”
Yikes, I thought to myself — I certainly wasn’t planning on running 7 miles that day. But followed in suit. And even though I couldn’t keep up with the cool-down either, I was proud of myself. Proud that I was able to do the warm-up, workout, and cool-down. Proud that I had found the courage to try something new. And probably just too exhausted to feel anything else!
I have returned regularly to the workouts and although I’m still usually the slowest one there, I continue to feel proud about what I CAN accomplish. And I continue to learn more every time I go.
If you are on the fence about joining a running club or group I would highly recommend it. But if you need a little more convincing, here are a few things I experienced that first day at running club:
- Motivational – everyone was there for the same purpose, which was to work on their own running ability, together.
- Inspirational – if you run more, you will eventually run better and running with incredible runners makes people WANT to run better.
- Supportive – no matter what size, shape, skill level, or speed the other runners there made me feel welcomed and comfortable
- Competitive – friendly competition pushes you to push yourself — although I was not able to keep up with anyone at these workouts, I hope that one day I will be able to compete at their level.
- Network – meeting like-minded people with expertise and knowledge; some of the people at running club have been running for decades which can provide excellent knowledge and resources for those questions that pop up throughout your running journey.
- Improvement – challenges change us and make us better and preforming workouts that are not always included in your own workout plan WILL make you a stronger runner.
- Habitual – a built in run-day with challenging workouts will get you to your goals faster than going it alone.
I am sure that I have excluded a few other qualities, but the point is — there are SO many benefits to trying out a running club or group.
Stop letting the fear of judgement get in the way of what you want!
Go out there and try it out. You might find that it is an experience completely different than you had imagined. I know it was for me!
To be honest, I still get a little nervous about running club but I know that every time I’m out there, I am giving it everything I have. That’s all any of us can do.
- Have you tried a running club or group — and if so, your thoughts?
- Do you like running with people or solo?
- What are your fears in regards to running?
P.S. Still interested to find out what the first rule of running club is?
Comment with your guess and I’ll let you know!