I think you need to have a word with the Chairman about this. Clubs should be providing safe runs for all club members and should not be leaving anybody to run on their own, particularly lone women after dark! If the Chairman is running near the front however, or if nobody tells him there’s a problem then he won’t necessarily realise that something is going wrong.
I'm a club chairman, and I constantly have to remind the members not to leave people behind. They get into their zone and simply don't pay enough attention to what's going on around them, or they assume that if someone drops off they'll get picked up by the group behind, without checking how far back that group is or even if there is one! We started to find that a lot of the slower runners (and I’m talking 10 minute miles or more) were simply not coming any more. They’d turn up and find no-one to run with, and feel guilty when someone faster volunteered to run with them, so they’d stop coming which just made the situation even worse, as the less the slower runners came the less chance there was of finding someone to run with. I ended up instigating a mailing list specifically for the slower runners so that they could talk to each other and make arrangements with each other in advance as to who was coming, how far they were going to go and at what pace, and this has working really well, with several members saying that’s it really re-energised their running.
Bof TF- It does become a bit of a vicious circle as you say... the fewer slower runners the more difficult it becomes to find someone to run with and you end up giving up...
Thanks everyone for the encouragement. To be honest I've only experienced one club so I have nothing to compare it to and just assumed it's how things are done... Maybe should do some exploring.
We always invite new people who come along to run with us for a few weeks before deciding whether to join, as we know we won't suit everybody. Sometimes you just have to try a few clubs until you find the one that fits. Don't give up though - there will be a club that suits you out there.
Big clubs could possibly organise specific groups, but the problem all clubs find is that to do it requires people willing to take on the role. And it's not just one person, as you need several for each group so that there is always at least one organiser for each group at each session. Sadly these people are often hard to find, especially in smaller clubs where you might only have a core of 20 or 30 people that actually show to every session with another 30 or 40 floaters who come along when it suits them. Quite often a lot of people seem to expect the club committee to just step up and do the role, but that's not really fair on them as it's not what they signed up for.
People are also very time-presured these days - they only have limited running time and so if they're training for something specific it can be very important to them that they can make the most of all sessions they do with the club. In these circumstances it not really fair to ask them to potentially compromise their run in order to manage a group of people. A lot also depends on the mix of people you have. As a small club we're lucky to have a really good mix of runners, both in age and ability, many of whom have known each other for a long time. This makes the social aspect of the club very strong which helps immensely. We organise all our speed sessions so that by running loops or laps everybody is running together and no-one can be left behind, but until recently we still had difficulty accomodating runners who wanted to run over 9:30 minutes per mile for our Thursday 7 mile runs.Thankfully however we seem to have found a solution that seems to be working.
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