Running Clubs for Beginners

One of the great things about running is that you can do it alone. Many of us enjoy running precisely because it gives us a little time to ourselves.

But there are also great benefits from being a member of a running club. You don't have to be a fast runner, or spend all your spare time running, to get a lot out of being a member.

Why should I join a running club?

There are a number of benefits from joining a running club:

  • you'll get advice from experienced runners on how to start running, how to avoid injury, how to improve, good routes to run, how to enter events, how to run at different speeds and over different distances, and so on;
  • you will get motivation and enjoyment from running with other people; you will almost certainly find other people in a club who are about the same standard as you (even if you think you are slow);
  • you get discounts at running and triathlon shops (on production of your current membership card) and on race entries.

If you join the Serpentine Running Club, you'll also get other benefits.

Are you all very fast? And very serious? I am a bit daunted

Are you kidding? Sure, we have a few megastars who run fast, but we have plenty of runners who do it to control stress, keep fit, lose weight, or just as a way to socialise.

Don't be daunted about joining a club. We have all been beginners at some time. We love running (that is why we do it!) and we are excited to welcome new people into the sport. So don't be shy of coming along – we want you to get as much fun out of running as we do.

What does a running club actually do?

Running clubs typically organise regular club runs, often with a social element, organise track training sessions and coaching, liaise with the sport's governing body, inform members about events and races, enter teams in team events such as relays, provide information to members, organise social events, and organise races. Most of all, they link runners with other runners.

Which club?

Look around to find a club that suits you. All clubs will welcome visitors – just show up for one of their runs and see if you like them. Here are some questions you might ask yourself:

  • Where are they? How hard is it to get to from home or work? Are the runs somewhere pleasant?
  • How serious is this club? Some clubs tend to be quite serious, some less competitive. Is it too competitive for you? Not serious enough?
  • What sort of running do they do? Do they do road running, marathons, cross country and track and field? Which are you interested in?
  • When are their club runs? Are they at a convenient time? Are they on a convenient day of the week?
  • What sort of people are they? Will you enjoy spending time with them?

Do I need to join a club to enter a race?

How do I join the club "team"? You do not need to join a club to enter a race. All races allow entrants who are not a member of a club, though there is a surcharge on the entry fee. But if you enjoy racing, remember that it is only because of the unpaid efforts of club volunteers that there are any races to run in. You might want to join a club to give something back to the sport.

For most road races, clubs do not select a team. Everyone can take part: the winning "team" members are just the first members of the club, wearing club colours, to finish. Only if there a limited number of runners – such as in a relay, does the club need to select runners to represent it.