Have you’ve ever wondered what it would be like to run with a group of others that were like-minded and shared the same interests as you? This is the definition of a running club both formal and informal. So actually what is a running club?
A running club, sometimes known as a running crew, is a group of runners who train together. Motivation, friendships, and speed improvement are just some of the benefits of training in a running club/group.
Since 2004, running clubs have grown in popularity across the states. What once was a small collection of running crews has exploded into groups focusing on various running forms, from track and field, marathons, and trail running. In this article, explore the world of running clubs!
Do Running Clubs Charge Monthly or Annual Fees?
Most running clubs charge some sort of fee for maintenance, administration, and paying coaches. In general, larger clubs like those hosted by the Road Runners Club of America (RRCA) charge annual fees ranging around $75 and $150 per person.
However, monthly paid programs do exist. Smaller clubs often charge monthly. Other large clubs offer a monthly or annual option depending on financial needs. Neither setup is universal to running clubs.
What About Lifetime Membership Rates?
Many clubs offer lifetime membership rates that, once paid, never expire. The lump-sum payment usually saves runners thousands of dollars over their running career, but the upfront fee of $500 or more may not work for most runners.
Is There Free Coaching or Discounts As A Member of A Running Club?
Many runners look for running clubs to hone their running technique. One popular benefit of many clubs is some type of free coaching.
Often, running clubs include training with a coach in the cost. However, if they don’t offer to coach members and provide only a group environment, the group may provide discounted rates with personal trainers.
Keep in mind that the size of the club impacts the discounts and influence the club can provide. For example, larger clubs sponsored by entities like Nike or Adidas may offer discounts on shoes and networks of trainers into the cost of their membership.
However, smaller clubs that focus mainly on providing a positive running environment may not have the resources to discount additional services. It depends primarily on the individual club’s administration setup and its abilities.
Sometimes being a running club member comes with additional discounts aside from coaching benefits. For example, some clubs receive deals on running gear, race registration, and even running magazines or newsletters.
Are Running Clubs For-Profit or Non-Profit Organizations?
The world of running clubs is diverse. Both non-profit and for-profit running club institutions exist. But how do you know the status of the club? And what are the benefits of joining one over the other?
Non-profit running clubs offer their services without the owners or directors benefiting financially from the club. Non-profit clubs do charge fees, but the proceeds go to charity or the club’s functions. Consider them a form of fundraising combined with running!
The benefits of joining a non-profit include:
- Running for a cause – many running clubs use membership to help fund charities like St. Jude’s Children Hospital, cancer research, or other social or economic charity programs.
- Fees may cost less than a for-profit club.
- Provide a space for like-minded runners with similar charitable focuses to meet together.
How do you know if a club is a non-profit? Non-profit clubs must abide by the following rules:
- Must be IRS tax-exempt
- Non-profits must have a board governing them. The board members cannot make a profit from their work.
- Non-profits can make a profit on their fees, but all profits must go directly back into the functioning of the club or institution if not donated to charitable causes.
For-profit clubs charge fees and make a profit off of those fees. Essentially, the directors or owners of the club can make a living off the fees for the club.
The benefits of joining a for-profit club include:
- In addition, many for-profit clubs offer discounts on products or coaching for members.
- Joining a for-profit running club helps small business owners earn and put money back into the running community.
- For-profit clubs can donate to charitable causes and still provide income for the coaches and owners.
How do you know if a club is a for-profit organization? For-profit clubs are recognized by:
- They are not IRS tax-exempt organizations.
- They have a single or group of owners who run the club as their primary or only career and earn money do it.
- They identify as a corporation or LLC in their state.
Benefits of Running Clubs
Joining a running club comes with more than just a place to run. Check out these great benefits of joining a running crew!
1. Social Events and Outings
Running clubs provide social excursions and adventures for local runners to enjoy together. You’ll learn new trails, take on new races, and connect with runners on a lively jog. In addition, many running clubs host pub runs holiday-themed races and other fun events for members.
2. Running Buddies
Sometimes, convincing your friends to run with you is challenging. Instead of trying to convert your buds, find a running buddy on the running crew. A running buddy can significantly improve your running time and provide a challenger to race against during training!
3. Running Groups Provide Safety
It’s safer to run in groups. Group runs make runners more visible and prevent vehicular injuries. Additionally, group running provides a safer environment for jogs at night or near dawn or dusk.
4. Provide Running Advice/Coaching Advice
Even if your running club doesn’t offer coaching services, your new running friends can. Veteran runners love sharing tips on form, recovery, nutrition, and even coupons on running gear.
5. Occasional Group Coaching Discounts
Many running groups get discounts on local coaching at gyms or with personal trainers. Many local races provide group discount rates, too, and running clubs benefit by already having groups put together!
6. Helps You Meet Fellow Runners
Running groups are great for people new to the area or trying to make friends.
Let’s be honest, finding people who like running can turn into a needle in a haystack. Instead of digging through hay, joining a running crew provides an instant connection with fellow runners.
7. Keeps You “In The Know” On Running Events
If you love racing or running for a cause, joining a running club can keep you informed on annual events or other fun running events before they hit social media or the local gym boards.
Drawbacks of Running Clubs
So running clubs come with a ton of benefits. But do they have drawbacks? Yes, there are a few.
1. Monthly or Annual Dues
A lot of people run because it’s cheaper than a gym membership or weight equipment. Therefore, individuals with tight finances may find the annual or monthly dues can make running clubs unattainable.
Running clubs continue to grow in popularity. Some more popular clubs can have hundreds of runners! For runners who enjoy a quieter, less crowded approach, the more populated clubs are a no-go.
3. Scheduling Conflicts
Running clubs provide opportunities for connecting and running with fellow athletes, but the schedules don’t work for everyone. Individuals with busy schedules or atypical job hours may not find time to make it to the club meetings.
Is A Running Club Right For You?
Running clubs aren’t for everyone. Consider these things when deciding if one is right for you:
Do you like running with other people?
If running is a personal experience for you or you use it for a meditative purpose, joining a running group may not work for you. On the other hand, if you like running with others and enjoy chatting on longer runs, a group may work well for you.
Do you like flexibility in your training times?
Running clubs usually follow fairly strict meeting times. They often offer several times to meet weekly, but they don’t typically have times that fit every schedule. So if you prefer running whenever you can fit it in, a running club may not work for you.
Do you mind positive peer pressure?
Running clubs naturally come with some positive challenges from group members. You’ll often find members pushing you to challenge yourself and run faster or farther. If you don’t want that kind of positive pushing, a running club may not work for you.
What’s your budget?
Individuals who run because it’s inexpensive and requires just a pair of running shoes may not want the added cost of a running club.
What do you want out of a group?
When looking for a running crew, consider what you want out of a group. For example, do you want to make new friends? Do you want to support a specific charitable cause? Do you want to develop your running skills? Then a running group might work for you.
How To Find A Local Running Club
So you’ve decided a running club sounds like fun, but how do you find one?
Hit the local gyms and ask around or check out their notice board. Many gyms offer a meeting place for running clubs and allow them to publicize their group on meeting boards.
Search The Internet
Groups like the RRCA offer search engines to find local running groups. You can usually find local groups on Facebook or other social media platforms as well.
Hit up local running haunts. Ask the clerks at the athletic store, find a local running shoe gear store, and don’t be shy if you see a group out and about. Just ask!
Running clubs provide an ideal space for athletes to train together and develop their running skills in a positive setting. Remember to consider the costs, benefits, and mission of local groups before joining. Happy running!