Are Running Clubs Elitist?

Are you put off joining the local running club as it only seems to want to train the best? Are clubs structured to exclude beginners or those who aren't that fit and just run for fun? Or are most running clubs welcoming and open to all abilities?

Debate Started: 03 Jul 2012, Debate Closing: 31 Mar 2023

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voted against
voted on 03 Jul 2012

I've only been running for about 6 months. I would be worried about the running club being full of people who have been running for a long time. I would probably be left at the back. I always think of running clubs being full of real runners.

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voted against
voted on 03 Jul 2012

My local running club is a great motivational boost for me. If I don't feel like running or I've had a bad week of training, knowing I can go and meet some fellow runners, who like the sport as much as me, is a real push for me to get back out there and run.

The running club also adds a bit of a social aspect to a sport that I mainly do alone. I have met so many great people and I love running a bit more each time I go.

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voted against
voted on 03 Jul 2012

I've always had a positive experience from running clubs and have yet to come across a club that doesn't welcome all runners of all abilities. I do find people believe that they won't be good enough, so maybe clubs need to work on their PR ; )

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voted against
voted on 06 Jul 2012

If you want to join a very high-profile club whose athletes are internationals, then don't be surprised if you get ignored.  But most areas have clubs that cater to less rarified standards - they're often called Mytown Joggers, or Anywhere Plodders.  My club (Almost Athletes) has people from 34 min 10k runners to 1h 34m 10k runners.  

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voted against
voted on 06 Jul 2012

The club I joined was interested in nothing but results, results, results.  They tollerated me for a while, hoping I would speedily improve, but when I didn't they started leaving me behind on runs (sometimes in the middle of nowhere) and trying to permenantly push me into the 'recovery run' group doing the same five mile loop around the town.  I've since left.

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voted against
voted on 06 Jul 2012

The running club that I am a member & group leader of we have an Absolute beginners group for those who haven't run at all before and can only run/walk. And we have just added another group for those that can now run/jog for about 60 minutes and would like to get faster called the 10-12 min mile group. So we encourage all abilities to come and run with us and as a leader we never leave anyone behind..

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voted against
voted on 06 Jul 2012

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voted against
voted on 06 Jul 2012

I thought they would be but they really arent. Ours are split into groups depending on how fast you want to run and everyone is so friendly. Im not a fast runner still fairly new and mature and it really doesnt matter so go for it try a club and see what yours is like.

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voted against
voted on 06 Jul 2012

It really is a case of finding the right club, there are those that are elitist in that they cater for our top athletes and there are those which are big enough to cater for all levels.

Whatever your feeling is, the benefit in joining a club is huge when it comes to running as it is the group that gets me out when it is raining;)

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voted against
voted on 06 Jul 2012

To be sure of the local running club is suitable for you, check their website or contact the secretary with your concerns.  I've just joined a running club and there are four groups, and have run in the two bottom groups.  In each, the leader and other members were very encouraging and supportive so while I stayed at the back of the group, I did not get left behind.

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voted against
voted on 06 Jul 2012

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voted against
voted on 06 Jul 2012

The running club I'm part of isn't and it is very friendly and welcoming to everyone of all abilities and reasons for running. But I have heard that some clubs can be elitist so I guess it just depends on your experience. It'd be unfair to label all running clubs as elitist.

It does seem an unnecessary shame that some clubs are elitist, especially if there are no other running clubs nearby to join. I guess I'm just lucky where I am.

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voted against
voted on 06 Jul 2012

No, quite the opposite. Running, and running clubs, is the least elitist sport I've encountered. Very low entry cost, nearly everyone can do it and you can do it without first travelling somewhere. My local running club, Sudbury joggers, spends much more time looking after those new to the club than it spends with fast runners. The fast runners will support each other. Those new to running don't have that support base.

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voted against
voted on 06 Jul 2012

I joined a running club 4 weeks ago, I can honestly say that every one is friendly and very supportive even though I am probably one of the slowest there. There is a beginners group early on in the evening which takes out those that have just started to run. Then 3 other groups which do different activities or as a whole club. All they ask the slowest group members to do is be able to run 5 miles comfortably. If all three groups go out together on a run, then those that are fittest and fastest get to a certain point turn round and run back to those behind and run with them encouraging them... read more

I joined a running club 4 weeks ago, I can honestly say that every one is friendly and very supportive even though I am probably one of the slowest there.

There is a beginners group early on in the evening which takes out those that have just started to run. Then 3 other groups which do different activities or as a whole club. All they ask the slowest group members to do is be able to run 5 miles comfortably.

If all three groups go out together on a run, then those that are fittest and fastest get to a certain point turn round and run back to those behind and run with them encouraging them on.

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voted against
voted on 06 Jul 2012

I took up running two years ago. Having failed to find a local running club welcoming runners of all abilities,I carried on my own and completed a 5k, two 10k and a HF so far. By the way I am 73 yr old, and I kept my self confidence intact, although I believe I am missing out on the social aspect of running

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voted against
voted on 06 Jul 2012

It seems there are some that are and some that are not.  I have two local clubs, neither of which I have joined which probably makes me ineligible to comment but their websites both encourage runners of all abilities and standards.

Yet with comments above about getting left behind, or the "6 miles in half an hour" (that's incredible to ask a beginner) clearly some clubs are elitist.

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voted against
voted on 06 Jul 2012

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voted against
voted on 06 Jul 2012

My local running club Wrekin Road Runners has runners of all abilitys a great club what ever your pace.

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voted against
voted on 06 Jul 2012

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voted against
voted on 06 Jul 2012

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voted against
voted on 06 Jul 2012

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voted against
voted on 06 Jul 2012

We have an induction group at our club for beginners or people coming back to running its a good point to start of at and when u improve u are then ready to move on to other groups.

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voted against
voted on 06 Jul 2012

I was a member of a running club in the late 1980's early 1990's. I it to be elitist with no help for new runners or those who were not as quick as the fastest runners, I now run on my own and enjoy it far more.

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voted against
voted on 06 Jul 2012

I joined our local club, we start with a walk/run group and worked up, all members support each other no matter what standard they are at, Hayle Runners, Cornwall, look out for the green army.

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voted against
voted on 06 Jul 2012

It depends on the club! Some have a way of structuring their activities to exclude older, newer or slower runners.I have joined about 3 clubs over the years.One was great and catered for all abilities and made all welcome.The other two were only interested in competitive running and not very welcoming.Try a few clubs untill you feel Ok with the people.

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voted against
voted on 07 Jul 2012

no some are but most are not

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voted against
voted on 07 Jul 2012

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voted against
voted on 07 Jul 2012

My experience of having joined a running club is the complete opposite. Nothing but encouragement at all levels from coaches to other members.

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voted against
voted on 07 Jul 2012

my experience is that people are scared to join because they fear not being good enough this is regardless of how much the club tries to include people. Running clubs are for good runners therefore they are elite - competing is the reason for being in a club - competing is about winning - sport is about winning ! Alternatively, sport is about participating regardless of ability for personal health benefits. These two values are why clubs are/appear to be elitist. How many events do clubs promote but don`t mention `winning` ? N. Derbys RC, my club, and 7 other local clubs organise FREE events to... read more

my experience is that people are scared to join because they fear not being good enough this is regardless of how much the club tries to include people. Running clubs are for good runners therefore they are elite - competing is the reason for being in a club - competing is about winning - sport is about winning ! Alternatively, sport is about participating regardless of ability for personal health benefits. These two values are why clubs are/appear to be elitist. How many events do clubs promote but don`t mention `winning` ? N. Derbys RC, my club, and 7 other local clubs organise FREE  events to increase inter club competition but it also increases runners experience of running and competing and enjoying running !  

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voted against
voted on 07 Jul 2012

I have found my local club Newmarket Joggers to be very friendly. I started competetive running aged 59, and joined the club at 60. There are people of all ages in the club up to around 80 and they even have a junior section for school children, so everyone is made to feel welcome regardless of their ability. In our local inter-club races, everyone who runs gets at least one point towards the total, which is a great idea to encourage all runners to participate. There is also a Grand Prix based on Age Rated performance in certain club league events...more motivation for us old'uns. I live... read more

I have found my local club Newmarket Joggers to be very friendly.  I started competetive running aged 59, and joined the club at 60.  There are people of all ages in the club up to around 80 and they even have a junior section for school children, so everyone is made to feel welcome regardless of their ability.  In our local inter-club races, everyone who runs gets at least one point towards the total, which is a great idea to encourage all runners to participate. There is also a Grand Prix based on Age Rated performance in certain club league events...more motivation for us old'uns.

I live a few miles away from the club headquarters and only occasionally run at evening club meetings during the week.  I prefer to run in my village and nearby sports field in the mornings.  However, I always try to enter club races when I can to support the team. e.g.  We have a 5K league in summer and 5 mile XC league in winter.

To be able to participate in these club events is well worth the yearly subscription fee.  Then of course you get £2.00 off all outside running event fees so it's a great incentive to join a club to join a club.

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voted against
voted on 07 Jul 2012

I'm in a running club. I'm quite slow, and if I'm at the back (most of the time!) I'm never on my own, and I'm more than happy to encourage other people to run too and keep them company at the back. Running clubs are definitely friendly.

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voted against
voted on 07 Jul 2012

We at Biddulph Running Club welcome EVERYONE! We even hold 6 week New to Running courses aimed at the complete beginner getting them up and running 5k in 6 weeks, these are extremely popular and successful,  we even have a waiting list for the next course which is due to start on 4th Sept :-)

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voted against
voted on 07 Jul 2012

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voted against
voted on 07 Jul 2012

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voted against
voted on 07 Jul 2012

My club is very friendly. We're not all elite runners but are made to feel welcome.

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voted against
voted on 08 Jul 2012

Absolutely no chance! My local running club does wonders for getting people going! A sign of a great running club is one that caters from young to old! By that I mean ... Whilst the junior members get great coaching the parents ( who may never have run in their lives before!) get the chance to learn to run (on the same track as those elite athletes and at the same time!) rather than stand on the sidelines watching what could have been! What's elitist about that!???

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voted against
voted on 08 Jul 2012

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voted against
voted on 08 Jul 2012

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voted against
voted on 08 Jul 2012

Most running clubs cater for all ages and abilities and would recommend joing one. Just be aware of cliches within clubs

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voted against
voted on 08 Jul 2012

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voted against
voted on 11 Jul 2012

I guess some clubs may come across as elitist but it's certainly not my experience. Our club (Wolverhampton & Bilston) and others I have come across are very welcoming.

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voted against
voted on 12 Jul 2012

I've joined my local running club's beginners' course

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voted against
voted on 12 Jul 2012

In my experience when trying to find out about joining a club they will specify whether its for advanced, intermediate or beginners. If not then they will usually say you need to be able to run a certain distance for example as long as you can run say 3 miles comfortably in an hour. This should help you determine which club to go to so you will never feel like you would hold the group back. There is usually a running club for all abilities nearby somewhere.

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voted against
voted on 15 Jul 2012

My running club caters for all ages and abilities. We are all made welcome

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voted against
voted on 16 Jul 2012

Running clubs are not elitest but more a case of the better a runner is, the more likely they are to join a club. You may look around and find that the pace and distance for an easy training run with one club would have you full out sprinting and still dropping off the back. The club would still be supportive and encouraging though you may not enjoy it. Never been a member of any myself but not known people who were to be elitist.

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voted against
voted on 17 Jul 2012

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voted against
voted on 21 Jul 2012

I thought they were until I joined one.  It caters for all abilities and encourages beginners to join in. Maybe a small number are but these are most likely athletics clubs not running clubs.

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voted against
voted on 23 Jul 2012

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voted against
voted on 06 Feb 2013

Just recently joined my local club, have a beginners group (10-12 minute mile )feel very welcome. i am the slowest but that means i always get a buddy to chat/run with. :)

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voted against
voted on 08 Feb 2013

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