joined runnung club...lost mojo


 I have been running for almost 4 years now.  i started out to lose weight and in that time have lost about 4 stone. I have gotten my 10k time down from 1 hr to under 40 mins, completed a number of half marathons and 2 full marathons.  i have only ever ran on the roads and on my own.  i have had a few injuries but have always perservered and have reached a point where my weight and times are not improving.

people have always said that if i want to take my running to the next level i should join a club. also that running in a group makes life easier and the variety (tempo runs, trail runs, track session, repeats etc) would keep me interested.  trouble is i have seriously gone backwards over the past few weeks.  i was put with a group of much higher ability than me and i think trying to keep up has affected my head.

i have been dissapointed to have to walk a little at about 17 miles in to an 18 mile run, i was a little embarrased as i dont want to hold them back. since then i have done a few runs on my own, with 10k times worse than 46 mins! what can i do to regain my confidence? i am running a marathon in 6 weeks and dont feel its worth doing if i cant achieve 3.5 hours which i should be more than capable of.

has anyone else lost thier mojo in this way? is it purely psychological? can i get over it quickly?


  • That happened to me too when I first started club running.  Is there anyone you can speak to at the club? There is usually a wealth of expertise, help and support on tap and you shouldn't be afraid to speak up.  I wish I had at the time as I hope (and know mostly) they would want you to enjoy your running.

    I ended up getting dropped on what had been relatively steady runs and then took 2 years away from racing.  Don't let this happen to you - go have a chat with someone - you may just have overdone it a bit. There will be someone who can help you turn it around. 

  • I am usually the other way round -my twice weekly run with my running club keeps me going!

    Why not go in a slightly slower group? its always a bit demoralising if you are the last man but then again anybody leading the running group should always be aware of the last runner and if necessary adjust the pace accordingly. Try the slower group and if you are in the middle of the pack or even at the front then thats fine -Try it for a few sessions then if you feel that you are going too slow (i.e. at the front and chomping at the bit) then look to going up to a faster group. Alternatively you could see who else is normally with you at the back in your current group and just go for a run with them.

  • yeah i had a bit of a pep talk from a few of them at the track last night and even though i felt tired i kept up with my group on a tempo run at 6:20 min/miles so that has helped my confidence a little bit. i have a half marathon in the morning and the guys i have been running with are pacing 90 mins. my pb is 93 mins, part of me thinks i should go with them and another part thinks that if i try and fail i could end up going further backwards.

    what do you think i should do?

  • Glad you're feeling a bit better!

    Race your own race?  It's all about you against yourself anyway isn't it? If you want to set off with them then do it - there's no rule that says you have to keep with them all the way. Why not just see how it plays out on the day?   Besides, you might be feeling better than some of them and end up doing more than your fair share at the front - who knows...

    If you have a bad run - that's just par for the course sometimes - there's always next time.  Try not to be so hard on yourself!

    Hope the race goes well by whatever success standard you set yourself.  Good luck.

  • This is one of the reasons I prefer to run alone or with people I know will run at the same pace as me.

    Firstly, consider your goals.  Your marathon is your immediate goal.  I assume you have plan for that so stick to it.  If the club session doesn't fit ie your schedule calls for fast 1 miles with recoveries and the club are doing 400m repeats, don't go to the club session; stick with your plan.  If your training pace for your LSR is 9:30 mm and the group sets off at 9:00 mm, hold back otherwise you'll be way above your slow effort and run the risk of burning out over the next week.

    Once you've completed your marathon, then it's time to think about your long term goals and what you actually want from a club.  When you've worked that out, I'm sure you'll feel the benefit.

  • Sounds like you rather got thrown in the deep end. It does rather depend on the character of the club you've joined however - some of them seem to be really single minded and very competitive, whilst others are much more social. When we get new runners we ask them about the running they've been doing then find someone appropriate for them to run with based on what they tell us. We're quite conservative about it though, so we wouldn't put them with someone who is going to batter them or someone who's going to hold them back by minutes. The one rule we insist on however is that they aren't left behind or dropped on the assumption that the next group will pick them up. It usually only needs the group to slow by a few seconds per mile in order for the person to stay with them, and that's part of what club running is about. After a couple of weeks most new members have instinctively gravitated to the group most suited to them.
  • PhilPubPhilPub ✭✭✭

    I agree with a lot of the above.  BDB's right about the club's sessions fitting in with your goals - if you push yourself to just join in whatever's going on, especially if the average pace is a little higher than ideal (or the sessions too speed-orientated for your race goal) you may get into a cycle of pushing too hard and overtraining, and mentally associating the running club with a tough training regime, when ulitmately you're doing this as a hobby.  (Which presumably, to be fair, are all the other members of the club!)

    I definitely think it's worth reassessing what you're expecting out of the club, and be a little bit selfish about it.  You're paying your subs and you want to use the club's set-up the best way you can, which doesn't necessarily mean joining in every session that's available, but ducking in and out where necessary, perhaps trying different groups to run with... or just stepping away from it for a short while, doing your own thing till you're back on track, or after you've tackled the marathon.

  • last place wrote (see)

    .  i was put with a group of much higher ability than me

    Why?  Whose decision was it to do that? 

    I agree with everything the others have said, particularly if club training does not fit with your own training. I joined a club for a while, I was made to feel very welcome and for the first few weeks, all newbies were taken out by an exisiting club member, divided into two or three groups based loosely on pace / distance ability.  At the end of that time, groups / club sessions were recommended based on the individual's ability and training goals and as BOTF says, most people managed to gravitate towards the groups best suited to them.

    I'd be a bit wary of a club that's prepared to treat you like that - it doesn't really benefit anyone, pushes you too much and if you're holding up the group, then they won't get the training that they were expecting out of that session.  But if you carry on and still aren't happy, either talk to someone and see if you can join a different group within the club or find another club altogether.

  • thanks guys.

    jeepers - this club organise the local park run so they knew my 5k time was about 19.5min which they equated to roughly 3.15hr marathon.  so i guess as a little push they decided to put me with the sub 3hr marathon group.  my marathon pb is only 3.36 (these guys are running 2:45).  At the track sessions i am in a slower group (which feels fast to me) and the group who i long run with go past us many times while tempo running, so dont know why i'm in that group.

    but the social side does come in to it. i like the group i have been running with even though they do drop me about half way through most long runs, then i struggle back as it has been too much.  i dont think there is a slower group who are marathon training just now so i might take your advice and step back from that group until after the marathon.  I can run on my own for the next 6 weeks.

    are we all agreed though that once the marathon is over, that club running has to be good for me?

  • DeanR7DeanR7 ✭✭✭
    it wasa poor decision of your club to put a 3.36 man in a group full of 2.45ers.  No wonder you couldnt keep up.  time to find the right group and your mojo will return
  • last place wrote (see)

    are we all agreed though that once the marathon is over, that club running has to be good for me?

    As long as you're getting something out of it and it contributes to your training / improvement.

    If not, then IMHO, it's a waste of time.

    It's all very well to run a fast 5k, (not meaning to be disrespectful to you), but there's quite a big difference between running a fast 5k and a fast marathon.  TBH, I can't see why they put you in that group, IMHO, it's too big a difference.  On top of that, if they drop you part way through the run and you struggle back as it's too much, I'm struggling to see what you gain out of it.

  • They put a projected 3:15 with people training for 2:45?  Even with my poor grasp of maths I can work out that that is a over a minute a mile faster.  What were they thinking?  No wonder you found it hard but that is no reflection upon your own aims.  Find the right group with the right pace or do your own thing on the long runs until after your marathon.

    Good luck.

  • Does your club have a qualified coach?

    The coach should find out what your capable of and set you into groups of ability, this can be a problem with small clubs, I know from personnel experiance when I first joined my club, we all set off at 6 min/mile and after two weeks I ended up injured.

    I totally agree with Jeepers, we have a couple of really quick runnrs up to 10k... but I doubt if they could complete a half marathon ( will do when they get a bit older) let alone sub 3.15 in a marathon.

  • I joined a club in January and I ran the first week with another new person and one of the coaches. We've since been split up. I've moved up two groups in terms of speed and that's due to the coach knowing how far she could push me in terms of pace.

    I think that I would have gotten discouraged had I been placed immediately with my current group, although I'm a firm believer in doing anything with someone who's slightly better than you and you'll improve.

  • compo 1compo 1 ✭✭✭
    I am a non club runner but am a member of my local lesuire centre and go when ever i want

    i do all my running on my own and do well in races
  • thanks again for the advice guys.  just a point, the club is one of the best known and respected in northern ireland. it is not a small club and has some very well qualified coaches. 

     I had the half marathon on saturday, a few from my running group (the 2:45ers) were pacing for 1:30 they wanted me to come with them but i got chatting to a slightly slower guy from the club and went with him instead. i finished in 1:40:07 which is about 4 mins off my pb but not bad given my current form. I was happy with that.

    we went out drinkiing after, and i had a good chat with them, i have decided not to run with them between now and the marathon (6 weeks). i met two runners who are closer to my ability on saturday so we are going to start a little group of our own for the next while.

    my confidence has started to return already, i have just come back from a 10k run which was 4 mins faster than the same route ran a week ago! i think i agree now with you all and the guys from the club that the problems were in my head, i hope that i can start to get over it now and start posting some better times again.

    cheers again for the advice!

  • That's great news, congratulations and glad you're feeling happier about it all.

    Sometimes some of the "best known" etc places are too up their own backsides and lose sight of what they're there for.

  • You were definitely misplaced initially, I'm glad that you have now sorted out a compromise that works for you. Speaking personally, I love the social side of the club and the group runs along with the winter and summer cross country leagues. I do most of my structured training on my own ( anti social or what?) and spend club runs chatting at an easy to steady pace. The exception is if we have fartlek or rolling hill runs, which are generally "out and return" so we all stay more or less together. It works for us.
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