DIARY: One of the Crusaders - Join a Club!

I decided some time ago that I was going to join a club, the only big question was, which one?

My decision had to lie between Rathfarnham and Crusaders AC as they are the two geographically closest to both my work and where I live. I finally opted for Crusaders as I know quite a few of the runners there, and their facilities seem superb (the red and white colours of the club can't be coincidence either can they!).

Crusaders AC
Crusaders is an old club (you can read about them here) and features quite a few prominent mountain runners such as Paul Mahon, winner of Kippure 2003 and incidentally an acquaintance of my work colleague Jayne Doone, the leading female mountain runner since Beth McCluskey moved to biking: Orla McEvoy, the ever-present Cholmains (Niamh, Mary, and Diarmuid), and, of course, Aoife Joyce.

Getting there - Irishtown Stadium
So there I was, well-knackered after Wednesday's race, but eager to follow Aoife's advice on doing a recovery run with the club instead of on my lonesome (it's actually wiser to do it on your own, but I'll come back to that).

More importantly I had to pay my fee and get the registration form handed it. Once that is done, it'll allow me to help out with points in the Team Competition. The three best finishers in each race from each club contribute to the points of their club in the Team Competition, and my rankings in all of the 5 Leinster League races this season would have contributed positively to the Crusaders results. Shows I picked the right club, as my results would have contributed positively only once to Rathfarnham's squad!

The Run
The run itself was great. The weather was glorious for running next to the Sea, strong winds, and medium rain, giving for a truly refreshing experience. The run took us out towards the light house at one of the main piers, and running out there against the soaring wind really woke me up, and I was disappointed that we weren't going the whole way out (maybe wiser in hindsight, but who wants wisdom!).

It couldn't help but remind me how I was brought up running. I never got any real running done back home, but when I did go out for my short disorganised trips, it would mostly be in weather conditions like these. Being soaked, and harassed by winds, was just the way for a flatland Danish runner, and I still feel strong running against the wind. Hopefully, the autumn races will see some terrible weather conditions descend upon us...

Solo Recovery = Real Recovery
One downside I noticed was that when running with other's, you easily push yourself to far. When doing recoveries, it's important to "stay in the zone" meaning your AT1 zone (for me the 144-165bpm zone), otherwise it's not a recovery run, and it's bound to be counter-productive to your training (any training).

I'm fortunate that the base area is my strongest as a runner, and I can go to 165bpm before I leave the area that I use for "recovery". The next ranges are very thin, however, and just hitting 170bpm skips me two ranges up into the AnT1 area (anaerobic, where serious damage can be done to the recovering body).

I think I'll most likely use the club in winter, however, my "coach" Emma Cutts presented me with a training programme for June/July, and it looks like it won't suit well with the club dates. But more on that in the next article...

Why a Club?
For you other unaffiliated runners out there, there's another question to deal with first obviously, the why?

Truth be told, I cannot tell you why you should join a club, but my reasons were simple:

1. More inspiration for training
2. Access to better facilities
3. Get the social element into the sport

The Lone Runner
The third element was particularly important to me, as running can easily turn into a lone wolf sport. Now we're not all hermits or loners (though people who see the cave I live in might suspect so), and there is a much better social scenes than in most athletics disciplines (were you barely get to know your competitors before the few minutes of competition has passed).

Problem with running in this day and age is that it's a hard hobby to share with most of the people around you. Most people's idea of fun consists of the night's out during the weekend, and everything else is just the countdown to that more or less. And for the rest beaches, mountains, and forests are only sceneries to be enjoyed while lapping up sun in a chair or lying on a towel.

Needless to say, selling the idea of running up and down a few hills, is not easy!

So by joining a club at least you can socialise with people that won't shake their heads as you leave that party early Friday, when you chuck down 5 alcohol-free beers the day before a big race, or when you announce that your next holidays will be running the ridge of some extinct volcano, bare-footed...