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Fall is the perfect time
to join a running club
by Kate Pophal

The summer is winding down and many of you may erroneously think that the running season is also coming to an end.

But there is no exercise season. Exercise and a healthy lifestyle should be a year round endeavor. Don't fall into the - spend the winter on the couch, gorge over the holidays, and rush to get in shape for summer-trap.

You've done this routine before and you know it doesn't work. "But this is Cleveland" you say "winters here are cold, gray, and miserable. How am I going to stay motivated?"

My answer to you is simple. Misery loves company. Find someone to run with. And if you can't find somebody to run with, find lots of somebody's-- join a running club.

The media often portrays runners as lonely figures, doggedly making their way across some scorched desert or high mountain ridge, not another human being in sight. It doesn't have to be this way and quite frankly almost never is.

Runners are a pack animal, a social creature. Runners naturally band together. Let's take a quick look at the advantages of running with a group.

Structure - a running group will offer a fixed schedule and this schedule will serve as a defense against your own "no time to run today but plenty of time to watch three hours of reality TV" scheduling system.

Peer pressure - the other runners will not want to hear that it is too cold/wet/windy/snowy to run today. They are going to run today, everybody is going to run today, you have to go! Peer pressure is a good thing when it comes to exercise.

Companionship - A lot of people don't like running because they consider it boring. Why not have a nice conversation while you run?

Safety - Afraid to run in the dark gloom of winter or fear falling on slippery streets? There is safety in numbers.

Fun - With a little luck you may make some friends. You will want to see these friends, hang out with these friends. You will look forward to running no matter what the weather because running club is how you get spend time with your friends.

By this time I am sure you have become totally convinced that you need to join a running a club. The next step is finding a club. North Coast Sports Magazine is a great place to start.

After you find a club in your area contact the club leader and ask if the club can accommodate your pace and distance. Be prepared to describe your running ability by the distance you usually run and how long it takes you to complete one of the miles.

A good club leader will let you know if there are runners in the club that you can comfortably match up with. All that's left is to show up, introduce yourself and go for a run.

Remember to check the distance your group plans to run and go over the route. This way if you need to fall back or pull ahead you won't get lost and can eventually meet up with the others.

I began a running club last fall, and we ran through the snowiest winter in Cleveland history. Snow, cold, sleet, slop, wind, anything and everything Mother Nature could throw at us.

I'd like to think that I would have been able to keep up my routine all by myself but I know it was a lot easier and consistent because I had the support of a running club.

So get out there and find some support and keep running all year long.

Ask Kate a Question by e-mail at run@ClevelandWomen.Com

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