New Fitness Goal: Join a Running Club

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Yesterday, I went to an event at NIKETOWN in New York City called Treadmiles. It was a fun opportunity to test out the Nike Free 3.0 Flyknit, which is part of the new Nike Free 2014 Collection created to celebrate the 10th anniversary of Nike Free (can you believe the brand’s minimalist running shoe has been around for that long?). When I got there, I had a locker full of fun gear waiting for me (check out the sweet shoes and tee above!), and I got to participate in a group interval treadmill workout led by two instructors from Barry’s Bootcamp. After a warmup on the treadmills, we alternated running and recovery, increasing the incline as we went.

I’ve done my fair share of races, including two half marathons, but here’s the thing: I’m not really supposed to be running right now. At all. After suffering from intense heel pain last fall, I went to a podiatrist and learned I had heel spurs and plantar fasciitis—so I’ve been banned from running, jumping, and anything too high-impact since November. But last night, when I saw those shiny new shoes and the bright red T-shirt, I decided to cheat. After all, my heels have felt OK for the past few weeks (I’ve been pretty diligent about doing the stretches that are supposed to help), and I have an appointment with my podiatrist next week, at which I’m hoping I’ll get the green light to start running again.

Last night was the first time I’ve run since Halloween, when a five-and-a-half-mile trek home from work left me limping for days. Being back on a treadmill felt AMAZING. And guess what? No heel pain today! Granted, I tried to go slower than I would have pre-injury—and we probably only did about 15 minutes of running, considering all of the recovery periods in the workout. But still!

I’m taking this as a good sign—and a reason to get excited about something else I learned more about at yesterday’s event: Nike’s running clubs. Before I found out I had heel spurs, I was considering joining a club organized by a running store near my apartment. And last night, one of the women who works with Nike kept talking about how amazing the community of people who belong to its running clubs are.

I love running on so many levels: I love the physical sensation of rushing through the air, I love how empowering it feels to know you’ve just run fill-in-the-blank miles, I love that running keeps me healthy. But I still have to drag myself out, mentally kicking and screaming, most days. And while I like the idea of joining a running club, I also have some serious anxiety about it: What if I can’t keep up with the other people? What if their pace is significantly slower than I want to go? Is it OK to keep one earbud in when you run with other people, or is that rude? Are you expected to talk the whole time? Should I plan on hanging out for a little while afterward? These are the types of questions that have kept me from joining a running club (or even running with friends). But doing a group run last night reminded me how much more fun working out is when you turn it into a social activity (even if we were on separate treadmills in this case). So I’m vowing right now: When my podiatrist gives me the go-ahead to start running again, I’m going to at least try a running club. I think spending time with other people who enjoy running will keep me more invested in it—so I’m not as tempted to default to the elliptical.

Have you ever belonged to a running club before? Do/did you like it? What are the unspoken rules I need to know about before I join one? And please cross your fingers that I’ll get the OK to start running again next week!

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