How to find a running club that’s right for you

How to find a running club that’s right for you

Not all running clubs are the same because not all runners are the same. We all run different paces, we prefer different terrains and we have different motivators and goals. So if you’re thinking about joining a running club, it’s important to shop around and find one that’s a good match for you.

If you’re tried a running club in the past and didn’t have a good experience, it’s likely that there are other out there that you might enjoy running with.

Benefits of joining a running club

Being part of a running club that you enjoy going to can give your training a huge boost. It will give you that motivation to get out the door knowing that your running buddies will be waiting for you and it makes it easier to push yourself to run a bit faster or a bit further during your interval sessions. You’ll also have coaches or run leaders on hand to give you advice on all aspects of running.

If you’re joining a club that ‘affiliated’ to England, Scottish or Welsh Athletics, you’ll also get discount on entry fees at many races.

Types of running club

traditional running clubs

Longer established, more traditional running clubs might seem a little intimidating to outsiders, but they can be friendly, welcoming spaces for runners of all abilities. The Serpentine Running Club in London for example has runners who have represented England but also runs Beginner 0-5k courses. They will have a ‘committee’ and be affiliated to their governing body. You will pay a yearly membership fee as most sessions will be included.

Running Groups

More informal running groups can be set up by one or more Run Leader or Coach. These vary in size of group and what sort of sessions they provide. Some will be free while others will be charged for. You can search for groups local to you in England on Run Together or in Scotland via Jog Scotland.

Brand-based run clubs

Many brands (and not even running brands) offer free run clubs from their shops, cafes or pubs. The format of these can vary from social 5k training runs to more structured sessions and the quality of the offering can vary too.

What to look for in a run club

Don’t be afraid to email a club or group to ask some questions before you go along for your first session. Clubs that require you to join as a member should welcome you down for a trial session first before you commit to joining. Ask which session would be most appropriate for you to try first.

Who will be leading the session?

The most important thing is that sessions are led by someone who is qualified to lead or coach. This will ensure that they are safe and appropriate for your level.

When do they train?

One of the perks of running is that you can mostly do it where and when it suits you. But bringing a running group into the equation takes away some of that flexibility. Make sure the club you choose trains at times that are realistic for you otherwise you might have a nice new club T-shirt but you’re unlikely to make it to any sessions.

What type of sessions do they offer?

What are you looking for in a running club? You might just want some company for an easy run or maybe you want to push yourself and do some interval training. Make sure the club you choose is suited to your style of training.

What type of runners do they have?

While most groups will be happy to welcome you, you will find you get more out of training with a club that has runners of a similar pace to you. Nobody wants to see a bunch of runners disappear into the distance and, likewise, you’ll push yourself more if there’s someone a bit faster for you to pace.

How to find a club that fits the bill


Ask around. If you know runners locally, ask about their clubs to get a feel for what they offer.

Social media

As well as asking on social media, this is a good place to look up the social profiles of local clubs and see what they’re posting.

parkrun or races

Look out for club vests at your local parkrun or local races and look up the clubs. If you’re feeling brave you could chat to the runners about their clubs.

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