Story added: 9th August 2016

Nick Gurney of Norwich Road Runners explains why joining a running club should be your next step...

Did you know that In Norfolk alone, there are over twenty athletics clubs – all eager to attract new recruits of all ages and abilities? One of those clubs, the Norwich Road Runners, had a (club and race) record 140 runners take part in Sunday’s run. Norwich Road Runner’s member, Nick Gurney, explains why joining a running club should be your next step:

Congratulations on completing the Run Norwich 10k – a beautiful and scenic, if somewhat hilly, course around the centre of Norwich. You’ve now kicked back, relaxed, polished your well-earned race medal, and may be wondering… what’s next? If you’re looking to continue running, and improve on the time you achieved at Run Norwich, joining a running club is an excellent, and highly sociable, way of doing this.

When we have new runners come to our club, after a few weeks of them joining I usually hear “I wish I joined a lot sooner, but I thought a running club wouldn’t be suitable for me”. There are a lot of myths surrounding running clubs that make them seem unappealing to runners. Hopefully I can shed a light on a few of these…

Myth #1: Running clubs are only interested in fast runners.

Probably the single biggest thing I hear from people enquiring about joining the club is ‘I only run at 9 minute miles – is that too slow for you?” Well, absolutely not. It doesn’t matter if you can run 5-minute miles, 12-minute miles, or have never ran before, clubs have members of all abilities, and tailor their activities so runners at any ability level can take part. There are always people at your level of ability to meet and train with, so no one is ‘too fast or too slow’ – you just need to be enthusiastic about running.

Myth #2: The sessions they do are not suitable for my running ability.

Clubs have a diverse range of runners who run at all levels of ability – and plan sessions that allow anyone to take part. These allow you to build your speed and endurance, developing you running style and technique, allowing you to smash those personal bests. Qualified coaches will be able to offer advice on how to improve your running, and suggest specific running activities that will help achieve this – should you want their help.

Myth #3: Running clubs require me to attend every session, every week.

In an ideal world we would just spend all of our time running – however, we all have busy lives, and we fit running in where we can. Running clubs are there for when you can go – they don’t have any attendance requirements and are a very welcoming place – whether you go every week, or once every six months. Most clubs have very active groups on Twitter and Facebook, so you can keep up to speed on what is going on.

Myth #4: As a member I am expected to participate in races, and perform at them.

We love to encourage runners to take part in races, especially as its great to run with friends and people you know are of a similar ability – so you can try and beat them.  However this is entirely optional, and if you’re not comfortable taking part in a race, there is no pressure for you to do so, nor is there any pressure from clubs to perform to a certain standard. It’s your race – run it your way, and enjoy it! The great thing about running is that it’s as competitive as you want it to be.

Myth #5: They’re only interested in running.

It sounds odd, but a running club does so much more than just run. As well as other sports (many have cycling, swimming and triathlon sections within), a club is a social hub, and there are always loads of different social events going on – from meals out to go karting, quiz nights and zorbing (to name just a few activities our club have arranged), there’s always something going on at a running club besides running.

There is a fantastic community of running clubs in Norfolk – with clubs located all around the county, and are welcoming to all kinds of runners, regardless of speed or athletic ability – after all, the joy of running is that anyone can participate in it, and achieve what they want to. They’re a fantastic (not to mention inexpensive) way of meeting likeminded people who want to enjoy running, improve their ability, and be part of a community.

A full list of running clubs in Norfolk can be found on the Athletics Norfolk website here.

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