When I began running in 2011 little did I know I was joining such an incredible community. As I ran my first half marathon, The Ruby Run in Devon, I remember being amazed by how many people were taking part and how good the support was from other runners and spectators. I ran the half marathon with my uncle and really enjoyed the day, so much so that we signed up to more races. The more races we did the more we recognised local runners, some of them from specific run clubs. Had I have stayed in Devon for longer I would’ve definitely joined a local running club: a) because they were so friendly b) to train more specifically and c) to find out about more races.
I moved to London in 2013 to work in a running specialist store. To find good running routes and meet new people I joined a couple of running groups. Initially, I ran with some of the Nike run clubs and I was also helping pace the work run club from the store. I feel incredibly lucky to live and run in London because there are so many great running groups, most of which are free. They cover all bases whether you want to run at track, on road or get muddy on some trails. They also cater for runners wanting to run their first 5k or people running 100 milers and beyond.
Finding a Running Group
I would definitely recommend finding a running group in your area. They’re great for a number of reasons:
- you get to meet like-minded people,
- you will push yourself more running with a group (there will normally be someone faster than you),
- you will find out about new running routes,
- you can find out about more races and you could learn how to train more specifically.
Depending on how competitively you want to take your running you may want to join an athletics club. If you are looking to race regularly and improve your times this is definitely a good route to go down. There are various leagues, cross country races, and training weekends that you could get involved with.
“Once you’ve begun running and joined the community there are so many people out there that can help you reach your goals”
If you can’t make it to a running group or athletics club, maybe parkrun will be up your street, literally. Parkrun organise free, weekly 5km timed runs. They start at 9am on Saturday morning and are open to everyone. They’re free, safe and easy to take part in. You can treat them as a race or recovery run. To find your local parkrun click here.
Starting your Journey
Your running journey may have just begun; in that case it would be best to increase mileage gradually. Couch to 5k is a great running schedule to follow, (you can find a Couch to 5k App here. The best running clubs/groups will cater for people new to running and those wanting to cross the finish line first. One group in London that does this well is Advent Running; in their weekly running schedule they have the social beigel run. I also like to think that at Run-Fast/The Running Works (where I work) we cater for everyone by having a beginners run club on a Monday, track on Tuesdays and a group run on Thursday lunchtimes.
Online Running Community
The running community is huge, due to technology and social media I can comment on someone’s run on the other side of the world. There are some great online running communities including UKrunchat and The Running Bug. UKrunchat have a website and Twitter page @UKrunchat, they host “the fastest hour of the week” which is a twice weekly chat on all things running on Twitter. This takes place on Wednesdays and Sundays between 8pm and 9pm so if you have any questions ask away, there’s a huge community willing to help you. The Running Bug is an online portal where runners can share their miles with friends and there’s also a forum for people to talk about training, nutrition and recovery etc.
As I mentioned before the running community is incredibly supportive whether that’s in the form of someone telling you “you’re nearly there, you can do this!” in a race, a kudos on Strava or a like/comment on Instagram. As the famous saying goes “the first steps the hardest”. Once you’ve begun running and joined the community there are so many people out there that can help you reach your goals.
I’m excited to see how much the running community grows and how it changes in the future. I’m going to make it a goal of mine to get more people to join us.
Written by: Steve Skinner - #TeamIffley
If you have a running club in your area that you are a part of and enjoy, we’d love to hear from you so we can let our readers know.