my running adventures – barefoot or otherwise
Last week, I had an impulsive thought to go and check out a local running club that a friend of mine has been going to ever since I’ve known her.
After getting the green light from my better half, I raced (in the car!) to get to the meeting point just in time to have a couple of minutes of chat and introductions to some key people in the club before we set off for a run. In this time, my friend managed to embarrass me a number of times by introducing me to a load of experienced runners like this: ‘Hey Sam/Peter/Joanne/whoever, this is my friend Tim. He’s a really fast runner but hasn’t joined a club yet.’ Great. No pressure now then!!
Fortunately, there weren’t any genuinely fast runners willing to put me through a tough pace test, as I’d only finished my evening meal about an hour before the start time for the run and I wasn’t entirely confident it would stay in my stomach if the pace was too quick.
The runners were given a choice of a 5- or 7-mile run, which I thought was a considerate idea on the part of the club, and as usual, I opted to do the harder one (harder only in that it was longer) and was introduced to a couple of friendly chaps who I ran the route with. We were also given a sheet which listed the various points we’d be running through. I guess this would have been useful if I knew my way around Breaston, Sawley and Long Eaton, but I didn’t, so that meant I had to stay with someone all the way round or risk getting lost.
We started out at a 7-minute mile pace, which we maintained throughout really. You can see the run here: http://app.strava.com/activities/47240871. I got to bend the ears of a few runners, who’d been members for varying lengths of time, and also had a chat with the club’s secretary too, who spoke at length about the benefits of running club insurance!
I really enjoyed chatting to the sociable guys (Rob, Ed and I forgot the others’ names – sorry!) and girl (Sarah) who were in the group of 5 of us (it was a low turnout tonight apparently) who did the 7-mile run. It was enjoyable to chat with like-minded people who also enjoy running, asking them about their experiences of running clubs, events, types of terrain, gadgets, etc.
I also liked running with others. While I enjoy the challenge of running alone and the mental demands that requires, it seemed easier to run at a decent pace alongside others. It was also good to have people of a similar standard to run with, although I’m saying that based on the fact we all ran at the same pace, but they could well have been taking it easy for Mr Newbie!
It seemed to me in speaking to the others that they only ran on these nights, and didn’t use running as a means of commuting (for various reasons I suspect), which is how I get my miles in normally during the working week. As such, our aims are slightly different. I’d be using the club to extend and boost my mileage, tap into a wealth of knowledge for where to run and which events to participate in. The others I ran with here would be using the club for all those reasons too, but also relying on the weekly organised runs in order to get them out running.
As I was running, my mind was trying to form a conclusion about whether to pursue joining a running club or not. By the end of the run, I’d made a decision. While I really enjoyed the set up, organisation, people, running route, indeed, the whole thing, I don’t feel it’s really a commitment I can take on and get the most from for the time being.
I like that I commute to work by running and that I’m self-motivated enough to get myself out the door at the weekend in place of my lie-in, to do a longer run. I can’t quite justify commuting only by car and bike solely so I do the running club runs. That is to say, that I wouldn’t run to work and back a couple of times a week AND do running club runs too, that would be too much.
I can’t justify the extra time out of a normally hectic working week to go out running of an evening when I can slot the same thing in as part of a daily routine without the impact on my young family.
So, while the idea of joining a running club and all the perceived benefits I had seem to be very real ones based on my experience, I think it’s a step too far at my current stage of life (and my family’s). However, when the kids are grown up a bit more and they perhaps want to take up running, then maybe it’s something I’ll consider again then.
By way of thanking the club for letting me go along to run with them, here’s a link to their website: http://www.longeatonrunningclub.com/. If you are local and are looking for a running club to join, I would thoroughly recommend them. I’m sure I’ll see some of them at future running events and will probably try and run the route they introduced me too again in the near future. A lot of them seem to attend parkruns on a Saturday morning at Colwick. I have done two at Rushcliffe so far, and hope to get over to Colwick some time soon (apparently, it is a flatter course!).
Finally, I wanted to just touch upon my longest barefoot run to date (1.5 miles). I did it in Ely while visiting family, a few days after my surprising 3rd place in the Ely to Cambridge 16 mile run (which I’ve spoken about in a previous post). My barefoot run was all on pavements around Ely and while it was cold, it was a pretty, sunny evening. As I was running along barefoot, it was funny to see the same thing happening two or three times. Two people would be walking along towards me, one of them would clock me and then, after studying my feet, would bend their head towards their friend and whisper something. At which point, their partner would quickly turn their head to look at their friend to see if they were crazy, then look at me and realise they weren’t crazy…I was crazy!).
Here is the route I took: http://app.strava.com/activities/46956369
The hardest part was the final run down John Amner Close, which I decided to do on the road. This was very uneven and not a smooth road at all. My feet did feel rather uncomfortable at times as they stood on very uneven hard ground and I had to slow down to aid my running lightly. At the end, my feet felt warm and happy, I felt refreshed and pleased I’d managed 1.5 miles (actually 1.6 now I look it up!) barefoot. A long way to go to do a barefoot half marathon, but encouraging signs in my slow and steady progression.
Going for a long run in the morning and can’t wait! Until next time, have a great run!