Q When I turn up to my running club I always join the group that's running too fast. I end up running too hard - even though it's not my night for a speed session - and either struggle to finish, or end up trotting back to the clubhouse alone. How can I stop club night becoming a weekly race?
A Joining a fast training group can be an issue for many runners when there are several paces to choose from. It can be tempting to join the group that is running a speed (and perhaps distance too), that is at, or even beyond, your limit. This is fine if you are trying to stretch your abilities by training hard, but if it's supposed to be the easier part of your schedule, then this habit of joining the faster (for you) group can be counterproductive.
Instead of letting your weekly club run turn into a race or opportunity to show how fast you can run, try this instead: think about what your goal(s) for the session are. This might be based on a training plan, if you have one, your level of fatigue, and your current routine (is it time for a change perhaps?).
For instance, is your goal to achieve a certain mileage, a certain pace, or to run with certain people? If you have a target in mind, you can work out the best group to join. If your goal is to run at a slower pace, for example, keep this in mind when you arrive at training and you'll be less easily persuaded to join the faster group.
Ignore club mates who might try to convince you to join the same group you usually do, and keep your ego in check. You can race them another night when you choose to. You'll find that your running improves by varying the group you join for the club run, and you'll feel more satisfied because you have followed a thought-out plan.
Dr Victor Thompson, triathlete and sports psychologist, www.sportspsychologist.com