My running career has been rather colourful in terms of clubs. I’ve yet to find a club that’s ticked every box and I’ve been 100% happy at. Plus as I’ve changed/developed as a runner my needs/requirements for what I need from a club have changed. A few times I’ve felt I had found the club and stuck with it and a few times I thought about going unattached but rules would be I would be unable to compete in relays (not that I’ve had many options to do them), championships etc. As a master to compete on the masters circuit you are required to join your area club. For me that is Northern Masters. I’ve even considered just having them as my only claim club but again there is a lot locally I’d miss out on and have recently this year due to my affiliation being with a Manchester club. This blog post will take you through my journey from my first club to where my head is at now.
Sheffield Running Club 2013
Those who’ve followed my career from its very beginnings will know I started running back in September 2012, however it wasn’t till I started my first charity challenge and realised how hard it would be to set a personal best at every race did I consider a running club. At the time I looked a variety of clubs, from what others told me and I researched back in early 2013, I considered Steels City Striders to be too southern based, Hallamshire too elite, Penistone was fell based and thus it left me with Sheffield Running Club, so on the 16th of Feb 2013 I officially became a member. I remember heading down to Don Valley on a dark Tuesday evening feeling like a kid starting his first day at a new school. I was raw and clueless about running but the club was welcoming and over rest of 2013 I competed for them whenever I wasn’t doing my challenge. Running my first race as a member at Norton 9. I took part in my first relay for them as well as trying cross country for the first time (would be another 4 years before I’d try it again).
For the majority of my time there I was happy, made lots of friends and learnt loads. I was able to take my leader in running fitness through the club, in return I helped develop their website and I got heavily involved in the club. This is one of my flaws as I get too involved and as the year grew to a close, I was no longer enjoying certain aspects. Running wise I was stuck in the same routine, a group run on Tuesday night then a road speed session on a Thursday (this I could never understand as we had two athletics tracks and we met at Don Valley for both sessions, eventually Don Valley closed and we moved to the EIS). After Christmas I started to take my running more serious as I wanted to get better ans as such it took me to Woodburn Road on a Thursday night and I soon joined in a session with Pete Brown. After 6 weeks I noticed a massive improvement in my speed and as I had also stopped going on A Tuesday, I felt it was time to leave.
Steel City Striders 2014
So after a little over a year I begun the transfer of moving from Sheffield RC to Steel City Striders. This was far from smooth as Sheffield wasn’t happy that they had paid for my leader in running fitness and wanted their investment/money back. TBH I could’ve handled the transfer better but at the time I felt like I was in the right. I know some members at the club still hold resentment regarding me leaving. With the leader in run fitness, at the time I did it with all the best intentions and leaving to pastures new never entered my mind and since then no club has really benefited from it as I’ve chosen my own running over that of what my current clubs needs. So to the Striders, I made my debut at Wombwell 5 and the first few months at local races I got a lot of looks, whispering and didn’t realised that there was such loyalty in clubs. I’ve since learnt that some runners are in clubs till death (literally). Again my time at the club started well, the Thursday sessions went really well, I tried the Monday sessions at Heeley before it became more of a burden on family to travel across Sheffield to run when I could do same run at home in less time it took to travel! During the year I tried fell running for the first time, helped behind the scenes, set up a new website and again took too much on such as the long distance Strider. However by September there were cracks starting to appear as my views clashed with others. I had stopped wearing the vest at races that ruffled feathers however I stuck with the club until April 2015.
By this time I had started running everything bar my track session on my own as I learnt Pete’s session was open to all clubs, Mike who helped take the session and someone who over the years has given me some of the best advice was with Hallamshire. My thoughts at the time was if I want to get faster I need to train with faster runners. So I said goodbye to the Striders and hello to Hallamshire.
Hallamshire Harriers 2015
I soon befriended Daz and Tuesday we would meet at Hillsborough and do long intervals near Fletchers bakery. These sessions have become a staple part of my running even to this day. Again Daz is someone I have all the time in the world for, a top bloke and top runner. During the summer of 2015 I learnt loads and improved massively and my 5k times are still some of the fastest I’ve ever done. However I wasn’t quick enough to be able to train on the track with the club so I was still doing Pete’s session. I learnt the seniors at Hallamshire basically trained on their own and was a big club full of talented runners who only came together for major races/relays. I had my first taste of Hallamshire club relays at the Dam Flask Relays, where other clubs all knew each other and group together, the team I was in were all strangers. However the thing that did me was the road relays in October I got called up last minute but both my wife and I upon arrival felt very out of place and unwelcome and the strangest thing was I found out more information from Sheffield RC about how things worked then I did from the club manager! something that’s still pissed me off to this day. I ran my leg and proceeded to leave. I won my first race in a Harriers vest but got no recognition from the club and I already made the decision that I wouldn’t renew in 2016.
Striders the return 2016
I made the decision, be it a rushed decision to go back to Striders and run in Striders colours for first time since mid-2014 at Dewsbury 10k. However I never felt like it was right and despite taking part in the first few races of club championships, there were cracks. Some who knew me from last time didn’t really want me there, others took exception that I ran in a custom vest, due to a brand ambassador deal with Tribe Sports. I turned up at the new Hillsborough training session on a Weds to find no one wanted to run 7:00/mi – 7:30/mi pace so despite turning up for a few months most weeks I’d run on my own while others ran in other slower groups. Again it became pointless travelling down on bus for 45 mins just to run on my own. By April I was running in neutral running kit and was only a member in name alone. There is a saying, never go back and in truth I shouldn’t have gone back to Striders.
Belgrave Harriers 2016
This was a very short spell, that lasted the summer of 2016. I joined as my job was to take me to London during the week and being down there I would have been doing my track sessions and racing locally however I broke my ribs while back up north, which basically ended my summer of racing. By the time I begun running and racing again. I had moved positions at work and was back up north. I did a couple of races in late August, early September up north in Belgrave but as I wasn’t going to be in London anymore it made no sense to stay with Belgrave.
Penistone Footpath Runners 2016 & 2017
So I ended up on my third club of the year. I took part in a session on a Tuesday night and soon became good friends with the Brooms amongst others and my daughter joined the junior section. The autumn of 2016 and early 2017 I had my most successful road running spell setting PB’s from 5k up to 30k, winning races and really enjoying my running. I again then made the fatal error of getting too involved become track secretary, parkrun champ organiser and this is when things started to turn sore. After having a bad marathon to which I never really recovered from on the road, I ended up having to sacrifice my own track goals to make sure we could field teams at the first two meets. My wife ended up having to do a lot of work when I was racing, too be honest it was too big of a job for one person and the club wasn’t big enough to warrant doing the track league as too many of runners, either was afraid to run on the track, wouldn’t venture out of their own back yard, preferred fell running or have other commitments which meant our pool of people willing to take part was slim. I ended up clashing with others in the club and in the end got that pissed off I quit and walked away. I never learnt from my footballing past not to get involved. I enjoyed my time at the club and made close friends with a few people but as soon as I got involved it went wrong. I really need to start listening to Sarah!
Manchester Harriers 2017 – 2018
I spend the summer running on the track and then I decided I wanted to try a cross country season but didn’t want to do the South Yorkshire XC league as wasn’t prepared to join another club or run in a Penistone vest as was still annoyed about how things had panned out, Manchester had a good league and got talking to the league secretary about running as a guest. Brenda was awesome and explained it would be cheaper to join her club (Manchester Harriers) as second claim then it would be to take part as a guest. So that’s what I did. However I only managed to do the first league meeting and one relay for the club, either I was ill or it clashed with a road fixture. Then in January I got injured, I managed to do the Norther Masters XC but was very unfit and then Molly got ill so it meant I wouldn’t start training again till April properly by then the XC season was over. With work taking me over to Manchester and the support they had shown, I opted to stay with them. I ran in the only track league meet I could get to. Plus as the masters track champs were coming up I opted to keep with them but as I’m now full based back this side of the hill, I am very much doing all my training on my own, due to road works I can’t even get to the track like I used to, thankfully short track and road 5ks midweek are helping with my speed but as I look to the autumn I need to look at my options closer to home. Plus again I never trained with them and hardly knew anyone at the club so felt when I turned up at races, I felt like an outsider looking in, not through anyone’s fault but I could not expect to be part of the club if I lived, trained and race pretty much other side of the hill. .
Northern Masters 2017- present
My masters area club is a fab club but they are my 2nd claim club. I like helping behind scenes but unlike previous times I won’t take on any official rolls. Offering to help out without any pressure of an official role. I just need to find a local club to compliment them. I’ve discussed my options with my wife and hopefully come September I will have made a decision and be with my 7th club.
Clubs are not for everyone as I’ve learnt, each one I’ve been with has its good points and bad points. It also depends what type of person you are. I’ve never been someone to be clicky clicky and be in social groups. I’ve never been one to just do things because that’s what the club/group is doing. I’m very much my own person, I do try and fit in/make friends but then I end up clashing with others with my views, or getting too involved behind the scenes. I probably don’t help when I don’t drink or eat curries which rules out 90% of all social gatherings most clubs have. However, I know what I need from a club now which makes my choice a lot easier. I will admit I have my faults and reasons times at clubs have turned sour have been my own doing by taking too much on and having my own views, but I feel having experienced many clubs, I know I just need to do my own thing and not get involved.