More than 150,000 people take part every Saturday in the UK, so the one thing you can almost guarantee at parkrun is that you won’t be the only person there!
It’s that support and encouragement from fellow parkrunners, whether friends, volunteers or even total strangers, that creates thousands of communities around the world, and keeps people coming back for more.
Knowing you’ll have someone to walk, jog and run your 5k with helps with everything from motivation, pacing, PBs and community. But what about the other six days of the week?
We’ve enlisted the help of Andy Hobdell, coach of parkrun World Record holder Andy Baddeley, and numerous other Olympians, to explain the benefits of running in a group and training with your local club.
What is group running?
As the name suggests, group running is essentially meeting up with others to go for a run!
Whether that’s catching-up with friends, running with a colleague after work, or meeting other runners at a local sports centre. It’s an opportunity of joining others to go out for a run that you wouldn’t otherwise have done on your own.
A big part of group running is through your local running club. Clubs typically have designated “club nights” on certain days of the week when organised training sessions take place, and can be everything from group runs on local paths or trails, formal sessions on a running track, or hills in a local park.
What are the benefits of running in a group?
The benefits are obvious. For most of us putting our trainers on and getting out the front door is more often than not a solo affair, which during the cold, dark, winter months can test our motivation.
What could be better than turning that running experience into a social event? Making some of your training runs an opportunity to catch-up with others and share a common interest.
We all know there are days when our normal daily enthusiasm may be lacking, so knowing that you’ve committed to run with others can be just what is needed to give you that extra pick me up.
And when it comes to the training itself, as you’ve no doubt experienced at parkrun, you will find you can push yourself harder when running with other people. When the going gets tough, having the support of others means you can share the work, as well as shielding each other from the elements!
How would running with a club help?
Attending your local running club can to some initially seem like a daunting affair. However, it doesn’t take long to realise why you have made the right choice in turning up.
Club coaches organising training sessions for all ages and abilities. Having the help, advice and support of a qualified coach to help improve your running, which will really help you progress at parkrun, and it also takes away the stress and time of having to plan your own training.
All sessions on designated club nights normally begin with a warm-up, which is a great opportunity to chat and socialise with others whilst you prepare for the session or group run. Then, the instruction from the coach, plus the continued input and feedback as the training session unfolds will help you improve.
How can you find your local groups?
It’s as easy as tapping ”my local running club” into a search engine online. Straight away you will see midweek running opportunities before your eyes.
From initiatives such as RunTogether which are organised group runs with qualified group leaders, through to UK Running Club Finder. You can also combine running and volunteering with GoodGym who carry out good-deeds in local communities as part of their regular meet-ups.
There are just so many opportunities to run with others. Do not feel as though every night should be a solo run night – you are not alone!
What would be the main reason to start running with others or a club?
I have been fortunate to be able to run all of my life, and I have also been a coach for 25 years.
In that time I’ve been involved with a number of running clubs. The things they had in common were helpful and knowledgable coaches and like-minded runners of all ages and abilities all keen to improve their running and socialise.
Knowing a coach is going to be there to oversee the session, having a training group of people a similar speed to you and all working together, sharing the work, socialising as the training session unfolds, and the friendships and camaraderie after the session.
There is no better thing than knowing that you’re not going to be on your own for that training session, long run or after-work jog you may be dreading.
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