I did a half marathon last year and have done a few sprint tris. I'm pleased with running a 10 min/mile pace. My goal is always to finish without injury.
Our community has a couple of running clubs, but the thought is rather intimidating.
What should I expect? Do they break it up into groups by beginners, people who want to a certain distance, people run a certain pace, etc.?
You can meet some nice people with many different levels of experience. I've belonged to the RI Road Runners for about 8 years. Made some friends and it was fun having races within races. There are usually newsletters in which members share their experiences, social gatherings, grand prix competitions within the club, and club-sponsored races (also club sportswear). Most of the time local running stores will give you10% off if you are in a local club. All depends on the size. A club with 10,000 members (they do exist) aren't really the same thing as one that is 200 members, obviously. There are always the basic human tensions that come into the organization side--sometimes politics--but that's on the rare side. If the club sponsors race make sure they carry insurance, if they aren't incorporated.
Worth a try. All you have to lose is the dues for a year if you hate it (and you can make it back on the discounts)--and you have everything to gain.
If you've completed a half and can run 10min./mi. you'll be a fine addition to a club. Most clubs exist to support its members and encourage a healthy participation in the sport, not compete with each other. You'll find most clubs are as much about the social aspect of meeting others with a common interest as they are about engaging the activity. I suggest just checking around and showing up to a few different meet ups and you'll see it's not an intimidating scene at all!
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That's been my experience too. Most clubs have all experience levels - Couch to 5k beginners through Boston qualifiers and ultramarathoners. If you aren't made to feel welcome right off the bat, try another club.
My running improved dramatically as soon as I joined a club just by trying to run with people a little bit faster than me. I thought I was pushing myself on my own, but I didn't realize what I was capable of until I started running with a group. I've learned a lot and met some great friends. My non-running friends and family are also very relieved that I found an outlet for my running talk. I was boring them to death.
2010 Space Coast Marathon 4:27:39
2011 Charleston Marathon 4:25:58
2011 Croom Fools Run 50k 6:16:51
2011 Marine Corps Marathon 4:24:48
2011 Jacksonville Bank Marathon 4:44:12 (4:45 Pace Leader)
2012 Florida Keys Ragnar Relay 28:20:47 (3rd place-Mixed Ultra)
Check it out - I'm bloggin'!
One other thing you may try if you do feel intimidated, tell your group you want to run with them, but feel a little pressured. You can start a minute or two earlier than they do, run with them as they cacth up to you, and then if you feel winded or can't keep up with them for some other eason, finish the run on your own. That way, you get some support, someone to run with for some part or a lot of your run, you get as much pressure as you want to improve, and you feel secure knowing someone is right behind or ahead of you.
I'm sure, though, with your history, you can find at least a couple people with your same abilities to run with you, especially if your local clubs are established and have a solid membership.
I felt the same way when I joined my club a year ago. My first day the group was divided into groups to do track workout/intervals, and I went to the slowest group. Luckily for me this was where I needed to be, having never done any kind of track workouts before. I met some wonderful people in the club, and they have all been very supportive of each other in the group, me included. I met a perfect running partner for me who runs just about the same pace as me, and has the same goals as me - to be able to run for decades to come and no real need to increase our pace. The club tries to pick a few races during the year to run in, from 5ks to half marathons. In these races the faster runners stick around to cheer on the slower runners to the finish line, and we all celebrate the finish together. So go ahead and join a club, I think you'll enjoy the experience.
To paraphrase Newton, "A body in motion tends to stay in motion", so keep those feet moving ....
Year 2 Year 5K - 12/31 - 1/1
Tinkerbell Half Marathon - 1/29
Rock n Roll Pasadena Half marathon - 2/19
Old Agoura 10K - 3/24
O2O Half Marathon - 6/3
City Impact Half Marathon - 6/16
Channel Islands 10K - 7/4
Disneyland Half - 9/2
Marine Corps Marathon - 10/28
I think the level of involvement is open per an individual basis. There are a lot of opportunities to connect with other runners for training, races and social events. Most are very generous with their time and advice, so it is a wonderful avenue to explore new possibilities, meet great people and work on your goals. Also, look into classes or coaching offerings....I did this and it was a tremendous help.
Running clubs can be a great addition to your training. Most are broken up by pace group and distance. Hopefully, they'll make you feel right at home and you learn a lot from some of the more experienced runners.
Training For: 50k Ultra Marathon (2nd)