Just as we were entering lockdown I wrote a blog post about the power of social running clubs and raised a hope that while group exercise and sports were being temporarily banned, running clubs would continue virtually.
That was back in March. Since then, my club, the Green Heart Runners, has been going strong as a virtual running club with active engagement on social media, running challenges, virtual group warm-ups and circuit classes, and our very own virtual race through which we raised over £3,500 for a local Foodbank. Run Brum Crew, of which I am also a member, has also maintained a strong virtual community, set up run challenges, and also raised around £1,000 for a local hospice through a 10k running event.
As we look forward, going to the gym will be a different experience when they finally open and group contact sports will be challenging to undertake safely for the foreseeable future. But social running clubs will thrive. Or they should. It is the one form of social and group exercise that should be able to resume uninterrupted. And I see an untapped demand for this. Morning, noon and night I see individual runners on the pavements, in the parks and on the country lanes.
Running is generally an individual endeavour. I do the majority of my weekly running (around 25 miles a week) on my own. But twice a week I exercise and socialise virtually with two running clubs, and very soon I hope to do this physically together with them. It’s an important part of my week. They spur me on to run individually and it’s something to look forward to. When we’re together we all share stories of running success or strife, we also share the highs and lows of life outside of running. I have learnt more about different business sectors, and made more friends in my local area through the running clubs I am part of, than I think I could have done in any other way.
If you enjoy exercise, socialising and have a pair of trainers, for me, contact your local running clubs to find out more. If you’ve never run before and are nervous about taking those first steps towards regular exercise, clubs are there for you too. There will be more than you might think and you’ll find them so welcoming and friendly. You’ll soon find one that matches your needs. Some are very professional and aimed at dedicated runners, others are more laid back but still well organised, and welcome runners of any ability, including first-timers. Some charge, some don’t. Both in the club I lead, and the other club I am member of, very few people attend every single week, and you don’t need to. But you’re still part of something and the connections you make are long-lasting.
Most will be accepting new members even while they remain largely virtual clubs for now. With the light mornings and long evenings, now is the perfect time to go looking for your local running club. It could be the best thing you did for your health and social life in 2020.
To get you started, check out these websites