Running Clubs

As a race organiser, I see an increasing number of "unattached" runners entering the races I organise.

There are many unattached runners who enter so many races each year they weould save money by joining a runing club, but they don't.

I'm just curious and interested to find out what prevents unattached runers from joining a running club.



  • I think it's a fear of not realising that you are "good enough" to join a club as the other club members will be so much faster than you.

    That's the reason why it took me so long to go to a club. It was totally unfounded though as I have found out that, even though there are a lot of faster runners, there are a large amount of runners around my standard who go out as a group.

  • For me it is not being able to run when I can/want to, plus I have kids that would need sorting if I joined a club.  Too much hassle for now.. perhaps when they are a bit older.

  • A) Without a car I just can't get to them


    B) Last time I went to join one. The people running the club, just took off and left everyone behind. There was no support and I went back to help some of the slower runners that were struggling on their own. I just thought whats the point? so went back to training on my own. If anything I was tempted to start up my own club myself after seeing how they ran theres...

  • MG!!!! Hello gawjuss image
  • I'm a member of a local running club, but to be honest its a flag of convenience. I never run with them, and probably only turn out to marshall for them at races two or three times a year. I don't really know many of them that well, although some appear to know who I am and come up to chat at races.

    I'm actually IRL quite shy, and I dont particularly enjoy the social aspect of running in a group. If I find myself running with someone in a race I'll have a yatter, but in the main I'm happier on my own.

  • I think there are probably as many reasons for this as there are unattached runners.

    In my case, the excuse I come up with most frequently is that the demands of my job and home life are such that I cannot commit to regularly being in a given place at a given time - I tend to fit my running in around everything else and do what I feel like rather than follow a rigorous plan.  This thinking leads me to decide (probably wrongly) that whatever a club is doing on any given evening wouldn't fit with what I want/decide I need to do on that occasion.  I also have a problem on occasions with other people making my plans for me.

    I'm also honest enough to admit that I don't want to feel obliged to turn up to club organised events either as a runner or a helper regardless of anything else that may be happening.  Again, this is a question of a work/life balance - I do help out occasionally at races but I'm also heavily involved in events at the school my kids attend.  The pressures (real or perceived) of supporting a running club are just something else I don't need at the moment.

    The alternative excuse that is sometimes offered on my behalf is that I'm simply an antisocial git.

    As a means of saving money on race fees, I did join the Trail Running Association (the FRA and RRC would have offered similar benefits) - unfortunately, in most cases, that now been lost following this ruling (that I still don't understand despite the many debates on here) about affiliation to UK Athletics - TRA members aren't affiliated through the club therefore we don't get the reduced fee in most cases.

  • I like running (even though I'm slow) but it is just one of many things I enjoy in life.

    I don't want running to become part of a routine, something I "have" to do at a certain time on a certain day, or something that regularly takes up more time than I can devote to it (which is not to say I don't train for races).

    That's why I'm not a member of a running club. 

  • Local clubs don't meet at times/places which are convenient to me. For example one of the largest in the area has its LSR which starts at 8am (therefore no buses) about 7 miles away from my house. Another club I investigated meets on the same night I'm already committed to 2 children's weekly activites and my own monthly group meeting for another hobby.

  • I know that myself, and several of my friends, have declined to be personally affiliated to England Althetics, so have become 'unattached'.

    I don't need to be on yet another database, and for the few races we do each year, it's not costing us much.

  • Just to clarify, we are members of a club, but as we are not personally affiliated we have to enter races as 'unattached'.

  • I prefer running early in the morning and my local club runs in the evenings (I hate running in the evening).  Also, I enjoy running on my own, it gives me time to clear my head.

  • I've recently joined a running club having run for years unattached - previously, my racing attitude was to pass as many runners in club colours as I could so will have to rethink that one now!  What prompted me to join was running slower this year - decided I'd got into habit of training at my own pace/avoiding working too hard.  I do find hill work/access to a track is helping and it's easier to stay motivated in a group.  One thing that strikes me with the club though is the way they all compete against each other - I don't mind this but in races I'm more aware of time than which individuals are ahead of or behind me.
  • Don't want to make, and probably couldn't honour the committment of running at particular times each week..  I run when I feel I need to /want to.

    Also I actually prefer being on my own, I like concentrating on my pace (I am little obsessive with the Garmin Forerunner..image).

    I can see the benefit in terms of social, varying training, having people around to push that bit harder than you'd perhaps go yourself etc.. but not enough to make me want to join!

  • I'd be astonished if any club anywhere required (or even asked) any of its members to train in 'official' sessions. There is absolutely no commitment! Train with the club if you want, don't if you don't.
  • Swerve is right - you go along when you want to, or not.

    No-one will give you a hard time if you miss a session, or only go to certain sessions.

    Similarly, you can run on your own when you want, too - joining a club doesn't stop you doing that.
  • When I was a racing cyclist (track, road-race and time-trial), and thereafter a triathlete, I belonged to clubs because the facilities required to train effectively were more readily available as a club member.  Now I have reverted to being simply a runner - something I regard as a solo sport - I don't need the framework of a club around me, though I have belonged to them in the past.
  • I used to enjoy our semi-competitive club runs - there was a group of runners who were about my pace and we would do 6-7 miles gradually winding up the speed until the last few miles when it would end up in an all out race .    This may not be ideal training but it's what I enjoyed.    After a while fewer of that crowd turned up so often there would only be a couple of you in what was our faster group - it didn't seem worth going all the way to the club just to run with one other person or on a couple of occasions on my own.    So for me  the club became too uncompetitive - though I should say all the people were great and very friendly and for anyone who wanted to run at 8-12 minute miles it would have been fine.    Then I got into cycling which seemed to offer that semi competitive sort of training all the time and had more people my sort of age which then was mid30s, the running club was mostly older.   I sometimes wonder if I had been in a different running club whether I'd have gone over to cycling. 
  • Swerve/Wilkie - you're right of course that clubs don't impose conditions or require commitment to turn up to particular events/sessions but I, personnally, would impose such conditions upon myself.  I don't have a problem with the 'flag of convenience' approach but don't think it would work for me - I would have to 'get involved' to make club membership seem worthwhile - I stuggle to see the benefit of paying a club membership fee then not participating in club activities, particularly now that the membership does not, of itself, grant the reduced race entry fee.
  • I think the average age of the membership of many clubs is off putting to younger runners in their 20's & 30's who are possibly looking for a social life as well as people to run with. 

    Clubs can be cliquee.

    Training isn't always structured to any particular goal and can't be because of the wide number of goals people have.

    Clubs don't always have starter groups.

    When I joined a club affiliation was cited as one of the benefits of club membership given the saving on race entry, however with membership at £25 the stipulation that a club vest should be worn £15 and now an affiliation fee of £5 (that was the point of joining a club) I would have to race 23 times per year in order to save.........£1.

    One of the reasons I joined a club was to lend a hand with races, as I had benefitted from clubs marshalling races I had run, however with the suggestion that UKA are going to allow clubs to keep the unattached fee and instead charge clubs £200 or so for race permits, I can see why in the future people like myself would feel less of a need to join clubs if they were being directly charged in this way for not being a club member.

    There are some very good clubs around but given that a lot are small and therefore the pool of organisers limited, I would guess that many clubs just don't have much to offer.

    Forums such as this probably offer better advice and support than some clubs, not all of which have coaches.

    My subscription is due soon and I'm wondering why I need to belong to a club at all.

  • Personal choice isn't it - and the work life balance thing is a real problem.

    But I would hate to think that people were put off because they thought it was cliquey..generally they are full of great people, very down to earth and love a drink tooimage

     compared to local  football clubs I have been members of there is no comparison!!

  • i've been to a few clubs but as yet haven't ever actually joined one...i think most of the reasons have already been covered...i find it hard to go every week at the set time, I have to drive a good 20 minutes to get there, worry i'm too slow, feel very young (i'm 24) and slightly out of place (at pretty much all the ones i've tried the younger members are the fastest and although the older members are lovely it's not quite the social scene I'd hoped for) i get easily put off by other people's pace/conversations (prefer to run with my ipod) and all the clubs i find always train on the same nights as the other activity i'd want to do (rowing) and i hate having to choose. I've no doubt i'd probably improve more if i went to a running club, but i don't necessarily enjoy it and would therefore run the risk of it putting me off completely! if i go out and have a bad run on my own i can stop and go home...with a club i feel more pressure...
  • DustinDustin ✭✭✭

    yep its the timing thing for me, however tempted to join so I can run in the counties xc and maybe make a return to the track next summer (after a 20+ year absence).

    My eldest has started running with the juniors on a Tuesday and I occasionally join in with the grown ups, and don't feel left out or too slow. But the 6.30pm starts is a squeeze: leave work early, train home (1+ hr) in at 6 pm , out at 5 past, then 25 minute drive (if traffic OK). If I'm slightly late they are already off somewhere, so an hour on th streets is my fall back. Club long runs are usually later too (like 9am), but thats no biggie - I run with a couple of buddies at 7am every saturday.

  • Very interesting that the perception of being a club member commits you to attending all / lots of sessions is quite strong on this thread - my club would have kicked me long ago if that were the case with us!

    I can see the pain of having to drive to a session (as I do) but on the other hand it does give you a variety of starting points and thus routes for a change of scenery as well as a kick up the rear when motivation flags (as mine frequently does)

    Sounds like most of you are very strongly personally motivated and thus don't need the club support and that's one reason for not joining

  • The club I belong to is a flag of convenience and is aimed almost exclusively at the FLM for which the organisation I work for gets a generous allocation of places.  I have tried a 'proper' club, but it isn't really suited to very slow long distance 'runners' (in my case I use that in the loosest possible sense).  I found myself staggering along with the newbies - and struggling to keep up image - who were excited at the prospect of their first 5K, whilst I was plotting my next ultra, it made conversation a little tense.
  • Well, I am a member of a running club.  I pay my annual membership and enter races without paying the unattached fee.

    I have been to one AGM of the club in the last 5 years, so I do not find a time problem.

    Also because the club do not have any meets at all really there is no feeling of 'not being good enough'.

    As long as I enter enough races in a year I will carry on paying my membership, once the frequeney of my races drops off it is no longer worth paying the membership I will stopp the membership.


  • I belong to a club but never run with them as I run at odd times, plus I don't like the fact that they have become so large as a group, but it saves me money on races.
  • Like many others here, it's a timing thing for me. I moved 6 months ago and now live a mere 5mins walk from the local club but... all their sessions start at 6pm and as much as I want to join, I really struggle to get home from work on time to make it practical. As a result I do all my running either on my own or with other unattached runners that I know.

    Quite frustrating as I do enjoy the social aspect of running and I'm sure my running would benefit from belonging to a club.

  • i also am struggling with this decision,there is a very good local club just down the road from where i live  and to be honest i might go and have a couple of runs with them just to see what the club can offer. Newbie running 5 mile on a Sunday and 3 - 4 mile runs in the week, at this moment in time i cant really see any benefits i would gain from  joining a club.
  • I joined a running club as the kids were members and it was only £20.00 for me to be a member as well.  Ive entered a 1/2 marathon in February and said on the online entry i was a club member and paid a slightly reduced rate.

    Does this mean i have to run in their colours?  Ive never even trained with them once.  Id worry they were too fast for me.


  • In a cheap club (7 quid a year) for cheap entries. Run in club colours if I remember to wear their not very comfortable vest (5K, any more and it itches like hell), never see other members as they only seem to run in club events not commercially staged ones.

    Went to one event once to learn how to spell, understand and experience clique ostracism but distance memberships suits me and seems to suit them so....

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