Technically speaking, this should probably be entitled “Benefits of joining the right running club”. I joined a running club (the fantastic RVRR) after running for a year and a half. I had decided to sign up for a half marathon (after only running in 5k races. and running a maximum of about 4 miles in a single run).
I saw the benefits early on – the simple motivation of being around people who could run much further, much easier, but also within a group of people which included such a wide range of runners that I could find people who were running at a pace I could manage. At that time I remember running with people who were chatting away as we ran but I was incapable of maintaining a conversation.
Reflecting back on that I see how much I have changed as a runner – just the other week I realized that now I’m one of those running “fast” and having conversation with others, as newer members huff and puff to keep up (don’t worry, you’ll get there, just keep going and before you realize you’re looking back as I am now at how far you have come).
Last week I ran more miles than I have ever run in a single week (51.5 miles total), and I can credit that to the running club in many ways, and I didn’t even do that many of those miles with the club.
I certainly pushed myself to do more in the weekly club speed workout on Tuesday, and I turned up early for the Wednesday club run to join a few people for a few early miles, which helped, although the Tuesday workout had taken its toll and I didn’t complete the whole Wednesday course with those I started running with, but even on Saturday, when I decided not to join the club run so I could run long without stopping, and at my own pace, the club helped.
I ran out fairly early through Johnson Park and out to the towpath of the D&R canal with the intention of running 20 miles. At first there was nobody around at all, but as it got later I came across more and more runners on the path. Then at about 8.5 miles I recognized a runner from the club going the other way, and it was enough to make me smile (which always gives a boost). I carried on, and turned around at about the 10.1 mile mark of my run. I managed to pick up the pace – I wonder if part of this was the motivation of seeing if I could get back in time to see others on the towpath running as part of the club run.
At around my 16 mile mark I saw a fairly large group of fast runners from the club coming towards me in the opposite direction – as they passed I heard a shout of “looking strong” (I’m sure they were going faster than me though, but thanks anyway) and I’m sure that gave me a boost too. My final four miles were the fastest of my whole run at about 7:55/mile (mile 18 was affected by the fact you have to walk across rocks to get off the towpath back to Landing Lane) – http://www.strava.com/activities/82334472/laps
I feel positive about the marathon again – 20.2 miles in 2:48 would mean that I would have an hour and twelve minutes to do 6 miles and beat that 4 hour barrier in my first marathon and it feels like that could be fairly easily within reach (although I know I still don’t really know how I will react to those extra 6 miles).
The planning has already started to find out who from the club is running Philadelphia, and who will come along to support, and most importantly, how many will attend the after-party. I’m looking forward to it again!
Do you run with a club? Are you lucky enough to have found a group that has such a wide variety of runners that you can always find someone to run with on any particular day, no matter what you feel like doing?