Running clubs are a great idea if you want to spend time with likeminded people, give yourself fresh challenges, stay motivated, or if you just really enjoy wearing vests.
And while joining can just be a simple matter of turning up and filling in a registration form, you should also be aware that there’s a dark and complex web of etiquette that you’ll need to follow if you want to be truly welcomed into the pack.
Luckily for you, there’s an informative and well-researched blog post that will help you navigate your way through this1.
On your first club session, choose a member at random. Then, every week, arrive at the club wearing exactly the same outfit as them, and stand really close to them, smiling. When the running starts, make sure you’re always immediately behind them. Be their shadow. This will show your new running friends that you’re one of them and are keen to be accepted.
A running club is a lot like a wolf pack. Show respect to the club leader by bringing them a dead bird or mouse at the start of every track session. To really show that you’re serious, place it at their feet and then roll over, showing your tummy.
At some point, you’ll be asked to pay a membership fee. Clubs have a lot of overheads: liability insurance, track upkeep costs, advertising, equipment, subscriptions to governing bodies. It all adds up, so it’s only fair that you’re asked to chip in, right?
Wrong! This is a trick. They’re just trying to get the measure of you, to see whether you truly understand the spirit of running or if you’re just one of the many who see it as a common hobby to be bought and sold. Running is a noble pursuit that far transcends such a crude concept. In order to be properly accepted, it’s vital that you silently ignore any requests for payment. At some point, they might give you a written demand, which is a sign that you’ve very nearly proved your worth to the elite inner circles of the running club. Simply fold up the letter, place it carefully into their shirt pocket, kiss them tenderly on the forehead and lean in to whisper “it’s okay”.
It’s just occurred to me that running kit rarely features a shirt pocket. You might need to pop the folded letter into their mouth.
The official club kit is a source of immense pride. It’s more than a vest and shorts. It’s the identity of the club, the sacred glue that binds the members together as one. Show that you understand the significance of this by refusing to wear anything else. Ever. Turn up naked to every club session until your kit is delivered. Your fellow members may try to test your resolve by asking you to cover up or by calling the police, but this is just another test.
Races are a great chance to enjoy some healthy rivalry with other clubs. But don’t be drawn in by their shameless attempts at chirpy banter or their wicked, venomous camaraderie. You are not “all in this together”. These people would love nothing more than to see everything you love burn to the ground. If any of these tawdry little wastrels tries to strike up a conversation with you at the start line, you should immediately push them over and throw their shoes in a pond. If one of them tries to overtake you during the race, the only reasonable response is to hurl a fistful of burning hot gravel into their eyes.
(If you’re questioning where you’re supposed to find fistfuls of burning hot gravel in the middle of a race, you’re clearly not taking this thing seriously enough).
1 Probably. Somewhere.