In reply to Ava Adore: one of our local clubs (keighley & craven) do specific sessions for women wanting to get into (or back into) running, with no pressure and lots of support. But lots of clubs will have a group running about that pace - look for one whose website talks about beginners' groups and "regrouping" - I think the only ones where you wouldn't be welcomed would be some of the gnarlier racing clubs - but even they tend to have people who aren't exactly at the pointy end of the field.
> Is there any place for a slow (10:30 minute mile pace max at the mo) runner in a running club? How would your running club feel about such a runner joining?
Yes, our club has quite a few folk running at that sort of pace, so you'd be quite welcome. A decent club will accommodate all sorts of abilities and standards.
We have one woman running with us who at the start of last year weighed about 18 stone. She's now half that weight, puts in a terrific amount of effort and is happy to volunteer with club activities such as marshalling at races. She's still not fast, but she's a much more valued member than the dilettante who shows up for the occasional race, doesn't help out with club activities and doesn't generally make a contribution.
We'd welcome you with open arms. We were a bit rubbish when I joined - 'can you run 8 miles? try not to get dropped'. We started an improvers group doing about 4 miles where nobody gets left behind. Its one of the reasons the membership has doubled in the last 2 years.
Anyone is welcome at http://www.longeatonrunningclub.com/. We are a big, very well organised and happy club that have recently been accused of too much emphasis on cake. Probably around 60 runners meet and go out in various groups down the canal, river, and fields every Tuesday and Thursday, leaving at 7pm.
For the next two weeks lots of people are running the Holme Pierrepont Grand Prix. So club nights are virtually suspended. After that just turn up and join in. It's a very good website. Have a look though it.
Thanks all, very encouraging. I contacted my local club at the weekend who responded really promptly but I was mildly put off by the fact that even though they have two club nights, the Thursday night (the only one of the two that I can make) is "really for medium paced runners". They did say they would accommodate me but it kinda felt like someone would have to put themselves out for me. I'm probably being over-sensitive.
Ava, if they are a good club then they'll be supportive and welcoming even if your pace is a bit slower than the rest of the group. When I joined my local Athletic club (more track and XC than road), I had trouble keeping up with the warm-up! However the coach scaled back the training to what I could manage, and it's amazing how quickly you improve training with others so wasn't long before I could complete a full session (still bloody hard work, mind).
Are there any other clubs in the area? I would suggest looking them up on Facebook and joining/liking their page to get a real feel for the club, members and the sorts of activities they get up to outside of the official club nights.
I struggle to make my clubs two weeknight runs but through the power of Facebook I can usually hook up with someone for a weekend jaunt which tends to be more accommodating of all abilities.
There are a few clubs close to you and most seem to include runners of your pace.
I can think of very few clubs that don't accommodate most runners at the mid to low speed end (it's less the case for very fast runners, and most seem to gravitate to one or two clubs). For longer easy or tempo runs it's common to separate, and speed work is easy to adapt to a wide range of speeds without either impacting the other. As others have said, just go and give it a try.
Finally went to a running club last night and had a great time! Opted to do their speed session - I struggle to do speed sessions on my own - and it was really hard but felt very rewarding. And even though I was right at the faaaaaar back of the pack, everyone was very encouraging and supportive.