As a beginner to running, or of any sport, one typically has questions and concerns regarding equipment, training methods, and general information. If you don’t, you should. Why? Because one of the most common reasons people quit pursuing athletics is the feeling of failure, or in some cases, actual failure. When you lack good solid information or you receive misinformation, there is a huge probability that you will experience problems. This can push you closer and closer to quitting.
For example, the first time I accomplished 3 miles on the treadmill, I was thrilled. However, I ended it with a substantial list of woes: toes were numb, toenails very sore, right knee twitched with pain and my chest was sore (too much bouncing). Here’s the surprising news… I had received advise on running from a friend, a female, who was an avid runner. So what went wrong? She was giving me advice that worked for her. And as I have mentioned repeatedly in Running 101 posts, everyone is unique and you must find what works for you.
So where do you turn for great information that provides you with a broad spectrum of options to explore? The Internet. Some may also subscribe to a sport specific magazine, such as Runner’s World. These sources are great and will typically lead you to seek out physical sources like your local athletic shop. Specialty stores such as Fleet Feet where the employees are typically athletes experienced in their field. Not mass chain stores where the employees are just that, employees who may or may not have any experience in your sport.
So you have the information, or the data. But what happens when the information is confusing or there are just too many options to decipher which is the best for you? Where do you turn for support? Where do you go for clarity and encouragement? Your local running club.
Running clubs exist for this very reason: as a support network for like minded individuals. It doesn’t matter if you are just staring to run or an accomplished marathoner. A running club will provide you with tools you need to successfully engage in running. This goes beyond the cumulative knowledge and experience base a running club will provide. Two other key elements that exist within the club are encouragement and motivation. It is much easier to charge that hill when you have a friend at your side cheering you on. Likewise it is more than motivating to finish that last mile on a long run when group accomplishment is hanging over your head.
As many of you know, I am training for my first half marathon with Team In Training (TNT). They are a tremendous support network of genuine athletes who are focused on helping each other succeed. I could not have accomplished as much in such a short period if it were not for the guidance and ever present support network. I’m also a member of Rockstar Runners, which is a national group led by 2 musicians, Glenn Lavendar & Jeremy Thiessen. While Jeremy is local and their are several team events, much of the information and support primarily comes from the blog.
So where do you find a running club in your area? Hit the Internet for a search. Stop by the local specialty shop. Pay attention to the local races and see who is helping to sponsor. And what do you do if you dont have one in your area? Check out one of my favorite sites: Runner’s Lounge. It has a search feature that connects you to other runners in the area. Drop them a line and see if they are a part of a team or club. If their not consider starting your own. Maybe it’s with other runners in the area. Maybe it’s just a few friends who commit to getting together and learning together. Either way there is one thing that is likely to occur. You will stay with it longer, especially as a beginner, and successfully reach your goals.