By their very nature, running clubs contain a wide variety of runners, all wanting different things from their training. Many large clubs cater for the variety by putting on different types of sessions but, in smaller clubs, it may not be uncommon for middle distance and long distance runners (and sometimes sprinters or field athletes) to train together more regularly.
This blog entry refers to one of the issues surrounding smaller clubs where a smaller variety of sessions means that every published session has to be inclusive.
Some runners like to focus their training in a way that a more general (more inclusive) session doesn’t always allow. As an example, I am a marathon runner, and like to run longer intervals with shorter (or faster) recoveries. But there aren’t many people who would be interested in joining me for 4 * 15 minutes with 3 minutes jog recovery on unlit country lanes with dangerous ‘loocal’ [additional ‘o’ intended] drivers for company. Among my ‘training partners’, it is relatively widely known when I train, and anyone who wants to join me is welcome to do so.
All running clubs thrive upon having enthusiastic athletes, coaches and volunteers who are able to increase the variety of training sessions that are on offer. The more people, the more enthusiasm, and the more focussed the club’s publicised sessions can become. This increase means sessions can be designed for more specific disciplines and, as such, may not be recommended for everyone. Furthermore, it could be argued a more focussed group, containing a small number of runners of a very similar ability, has a greater (positive) impact on training, because each athlete can work closer together to push the others further.
In an ideal world, a running club would offer more sessions like this, tailored to groups of people with more specific needs in addition to the more inclusive, general runs. These could be extended to include beginners’ sessions, gym/weights sessions, long easy runs, short easy runs, middle distance track/interval sessions, long distance track/interval sessions, hill sessions and so on. However, they require enthusiastic people who are prepared to take them on.
So, for all the club members out there, whatever the size of the club, I urge you to be enthusiastic, organise your own thing (that suits your own needs), and give a little back to the sport by inviting others along with you at the same time. If it proves successful and the times tumble, celebrate it. If not, learn from it and move on. What’s stopping you?
Meanwhile, I’m about to discover if my own training plan has been a success and is worth pursuing…