So not a team player!

I was never one for team sports. Maybe it was because I never particularly excelled at any of the sports that were on offer at school. Netball and basketball really weren’t my thing, hockey was fun but brutal and I valued my teeth, rounders seemed more like a game for the park than a sport and as fragile little girls we were only ever allowed to play quick cricket and touch rugby. However, show me the athletics track on the school playing field and I was a happy bunny.

My love for running could probably also be attributed to an incredibly competitive streak. I love to race, be it against others or myself. You only have yourself to rely on. If you do well, it’s because you trained right and worked hard. There’s no one else to count on or blame if you have a bad race.

Having said that, running can be a lonely sport especially when training over long distances or in the cold, dark winter months. You really have to very self motivated and happy to be alone with your own thoughts for hours on end – a challenge for anyone!

That’s where running with a club is fantastic. I joined the Belper Harriers* over the winter of 2014/15. This was partly for safety as I didn’t much fancy running around Derbyshire alone in the dark but also to improve my performance. *I was super happy that my local club were called Harriers. From a young age watching British athletics on TV I had it in my mind I always wanted to be a Harrier of some description, Harriers sounded fast!

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Posing before a local league race

Despite not being a fan of team sports, club running is great. You meet a bunch of like-minded people who are happy to talk for hours on end about races, trainers, kit, terrain, training, chafing etc. There is a spread of abilities from the experienced fast group to the new runners just starting out. The beauty is that everyone is always learning from each other, there is always some new tip or invaluable nugget of advice. My two years with Belper has seen many of my race times improve by 2 minutes or more, something I didn’t think possible after plateauing for so long.

My advice, don’t be intimidated to approach your local club. A good club should cater for all abilities and if they don’t, try a different one. Shop around and find one that fits. With the growing popularity of running there is usually plenty to choose from. Happy running x

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