I would say that the best thing that I’ve ever done for my running is join a running club, in particular one that runs specific sessions. Before joining the Rugby Runners, I was running with a local running club on the development where I live, but it was far more social than sessions and, whilst that can be equally enjoyable as completing drills, it was never going to improve my speed.
I am sure many clubs are similar, but the Rugby Runners run a total of four groups (that I am aware of, there may be more) every Tuesday and Thursday evening. There is a beginners men’s group and a ladies group, followed by mixed beginner/intermediate and mixed advanced running groups, all offering a variety of sessions. The cater-for-all sessions are inviting for newcomers and keep them coming back. This weeks Tuesday session for the intermediate group was 4x 1200m, followed by 2x 400m. There must have been around 15-20 runners in attendance. This is on top of the mass of ladies that we passed on our way out and the equally large number of advanced runners passing us as part of their warm-up.
The numbers are impressive, but it’s the type of sessions set up by the coaches that keep everyone interested. From those wishing to push hard and get faster to those wishing to turn up for a social run, everyone really is catered for. At the end of an interval, everyone waits for the rest of the runners to regroup before commencing the rest period. The rules for hill reps is that as soon as the person in front of you turns around, you do too. Another session is a slow out and fast back. This could be 22 minutes out, with the aim of getting back in 18 minutes. Or 24 out, 20 back. All of these are designed with the idea that everyone starts and finishes at the same time, regardless of the pace ran during the run.
As I’ve said, I’ve been really impressed since running with the Rugby Runners. If you’re stuck in a bit of a rut, or if you want to improve your running, I would seriously recommend joining a proper running club. The support is encouraging, the advice helpful, there is always someone to chase and the hard sessions will improve your running no end.