As anyone who follows me on Instagram or on here will know, I have just gotten back from being away from London, my spiritual and sporting home, for the last year. On so many levels I have been absolutely thrilled to be back in this marvellous and timeless city, but a certain absolute joy that hit me hard last night was running in a group again. Over the last year, I’ve really struggled to find a running club abroad that suits me, one that has made me feel welcome, who haven’t made me feel alien because I’m English and wearing shorts when it’s 20 degrees. So I was excited to get back, not just to rejoin my old running club, where it all really began, but also to explore some new ones that have been popping up like mushrooms across the city!
So, last night I went along to Run Dem Crew, who pride themselves on not being just a ‘run club’. There are so many things I could say about the beautiful people who have created this hub of creativity and action, but this blog isn’t about this. This post is about the utter joy of being a part of a running club or tribe or wolf pack – a joy which was totally reignited in me last night. Most of all, it’s about why, if you haven’t already, you should pluck up some courage and head down to your local running ‘crew’ ASAP. So here we go – here’s why I’m so bloody excited about finally being reunited with the London running community.
- KEEP IT SOCIAL: Running or training for an event might have you having to sack off the social aspect of your life, a little bit. My very ethos in life is that you can do both (stay fit and party hard), but realistically, sometimes we have to make sacrifices. Running, especially, can be a very lonely art if you’re clocking up those miles solo, which is where joining a club, crew or tribe comes in. Go along, have a natter, have a laugh, maybe even go for a pint or a pizza afterwards. Make new friends, share stories, talk about everything and nothing. Talk to someone who isn’t your boss or your housemates. It makes a difference.
- KEEP IT SPEEDY: I hadn’t even fully realised what a difference running in a group makes to my pace/ability to push. If you’re running in a group, you can’t slow down because you can’t be arsed, and the challenges are you’ll be pushing yourself without even noticing. You can also choose a pace. Usually there’ll be a rough pace maker who you can stick to in order to make sure you’re consistent.
- KEEP IT GOING: Distance is another major thing that I sometimes flake out on. I sometimes just go out for a run and see what happens, meaning sometimes I come back only doing 5k when I probably should have done 10. When you’re running with a tribe you can’t flake out half way. Firstly, your stuff is most likely at the meeting point, but also that would just not look very cool in front of your new best mates!
- KEEP IT FRESH: Training alone usually means slogging on the same route or routes day in day out. Running with a posse will not only take you away from your heavily beaten track, but will probably mean an at least slightly different route every week, meaning you’ll get to explore new places, places you don’t usually visit. This is especially fantastic in a city, but even when I’ve run with my mum’s running club in the countryside I’ve been in awe of the sheer beauty that has existed on my doorstep without me knowing for the last 10 years.
- KEEP IT COMMITTED: Your new potential running club will probably have a fixed meeting day each week, meaning it will soon (immediately) become a part of your habitual routine. It will be the Tuesday night activity you can’t live without, your weekly catch up with that mate you would otherwise never see. If you’re the kind of runner who just decides to ‘run when you feel like it’ – joining a running club is DEFINITELY a good way to make sure you stay committed to running over the long term. Because ‘only running when you feel like it’ is not sustainable and will not last through long and rainy winters/the occasional heat wave!
One final note: if you’re a beginner, which you may well be as that is really who this blog/set of ramblings is tailored to, most/all amateur running clubs have options and support for you. Enquire, give it a go. Even if you have to root around for the right one, it will be worth it – you have my word.