You've seen them running through your neighborhood. A couple nights a week your local running group jogs by, reminding you to get back on track and train for that next race.
Don't just watch them run by; join them. Running clubs can give you access to experienced coaches and scheduled workouts to help you stick to a training schedule and become a better athlete.
That's just the start. Here are 10 convincing reasons to join your local running club.
1. Socialize With Other Runners
"The social component is very important," says John Honerkamp, expert coach for New York Road Runners. The bonds formed help to motivate and inform as you train and become a better runner.
These running club friendships also foster team spirit. On race day, this can help you push through a wall or make it up a steep hill.
2. Find New Races
Your running club buddies can introduce you to races you've never heard of or thought to try. These new friends, who might already be training for that race, can help you prepare for this challenge.
Some clubs also offer exclusive access and special pricing for local races, making it more cost effective to run multiple races in one season.
3. Extra Motivation
It's easy to fall prey to junk miles—the ones that don't improve your speed or fitness. In a running club, you can focus on intentional training, even on the days you don't think you have it in you. The competitive aspect of running alongside others will push you to go faster and be stronger.
"This makes your workouts more fulfilling; you'll dig down a little deeper," Honerkamp says.
Push yourself, but be wary of overtraining with a group. If you're with runners who are too fast, you end up "racing" most days, which can lead to overtraining and injuries.
You can find any number of barriers to completing a solo run—making dinner, putting the kids to bed, or hitting the snooze button one too many times. With a group, you don't need as much willpower to get up and out. It's harder to skip on a workout when people are waiting for you.
5. Structured Workouts
When someone else is leading the workout you can focus on pace, strength and time, Honerkamp says. Take this opportunity to tune into your body and take note of strong and weak miles, GI issues and imbalances to help you prepare for your race.