Changing Times – back in the club

Just over a year ago I wrote a post about Moving On which was when I stepped away from the day to day involvement with my running / triathlon club.

This weekend I went to clubs Christmas dinner & awards ceremony and even though I was on sparkling water and driving due to suffering from to a head cold the week before I actually enjoyed the evening very much.

Looking around I noted I was the only original and the longest serving club member present having been there from the beginning, but good to see so many new faces and all enjoying the evening . There were no cliques or closed groups and everyone mingled and looked smart in black tie and dinner dresses, such a change from Lycra. The evening started with fun and formalities with guess the baby/toddler from photos, then the presentation of the top runners & multi sport athletes. Last year as I wasn’t asked to the party so I missed getting my multi award trophy presented to me, a slight regret I suppose.

What do you mean, looks nothing like me ?!
What do you mean, looks nothing like me ?!

A round up of the year from the new chairman highlighted how the club has changed and progressed and this is the reason why I came to be here.

So how come I’m still a member and enjoying club life again ? After my Moving On post I received huge amount of texts, phone calls, emails and messages congratulating me on standing up and pointing out matters that needed to be raised. I also received a massive amount of support from friends and club mates. So it was bravery not stupidity after all. I just needed to have a bit of distance and concentrate on my own training needs.

After the personal public attacks and criticism from the committee in turn I received an apology from each and everyone of them which I accepted and respect them for doing so. Then out of the blue three resigned within a month of my initial post. Cue emergency AGM’s votes, new committee and changes to the constitution and promises of the club moving forward and developing.

I did stay away from the clubs one weekly activity for about six months in which time I was following my ironman training program from Coach Neil and building up my endurance and strength for the big one in Bolton, ironman UK. I rode long rides with the cycling club I joined and met up with many members at sportives, I swam in the Cotswold lakes meeting many familiar faces from previous years and  I also carried on running with friends and my step kids who I have inspired to take up running and are both doing their first marathons in spring 2015 – who’d have thought that ! I’m proud of them. The three of us and a few other friends will be running together at our local Parkrun on Christmas day.

9am Christmas day - family run - ho ho ho
9am Christmas day – family run – ho ho ho

 

Then in the summer the promised extra sessions began to emerge, an extra run session which was very social group run of 5-6miles on a variety of terrains and loops, a coached swim session allowed members to take part at the sports centre, then as autumn approached circuit training and turbo training classes have been introduced.

Whilst I haven’t been back to the main interval run session or swimming mainly due to my cracked ribs and muscle damage I have got stuck into the extra social/tempo run, circuits and turbo training group sessions. 16 weeks out of water no swimming for me. 😪 I have gained points in a few club championship races I have entered towards the end of the year and got on the leaderboard.

There have been a number of social events from duck races, skittles, off road runs and a presence at club races where flags have flown and even the slowest of runners have been greeted at the end. The old club never waited to support all runners coming in, it shouldn’t be about how fast or slow you are.
The clubs Facebook and website are updated & used almost daily and championships and races recorded quickly. Facebook is used to plan rides, runs and social events. The new online booking system for circuits and turbo is easy and effective.

So 12 months on I sat down at a Christmas dinner where the majority of members attended. The dinners were all a bit monotone the turkey plate all white and the vegetarian was all green ! Mass catering not at it’s best, but a good atmosphere in a crowded room. I got a great secret santa present, my running friends got the two club places for the London marathon and everyone mingled well and was in a festive mood. I met my vet as the practise had a couple of tables adjacent to ours and so had a quick catch up, she was asking after Jango our failed police puppy ! So a very good evening in all.

There are still some personal politics grumbling in the background but hopefully the majority of members won’t see or be affected by them. I don’t think this club is any better or worse than others, and sometimes it’s better to stick with what you know.

It was my coach, friends, the Pirates and cycling club that got me through training and supporting me in my first ironman not the my first club, but hopefully going forward I will include tri club sessions as part of my training program and our temporary separation will be a distant memory. I’m no way claiming the club turn around is down to me, I just started the ball rolling – OK chucked it in the pond and started the ripples ! – the new committee and members have collectively pulled the club forward and I for one hope it continues in this way.

Social media channels and ‘clubs’ are also an invaluable source of advise , friendship, support and laughter whilst you are training. In particular the PSOF forum on Runners World and The Ironman Journey on Facebook kept me amused & informed. The best bit was meeting online friends at races or meeting up for training rides. The icing on the cake was having people introduce themselves on course especially ironman UK. I got Pirate “Aaarrrgghh’s” and “Are you Red Stripe / Zoe Forman ? ” dozens of times. I got to ride/run & walk with people I’d got to know online over the previous months in the biggest race of my life. I even managed to take a phone call from my sister at about 18 miles into the run!

Embrace social media - great rewards in friendship & information
Embrace social media – great rewards in friendship & information

So if you can’t or don’t want to join a traditional club it’s not the end of the world and can be quite liberating being away from the club politics. Look for specific clubs – cycling, running swimming if you need training support. I’m more than happy to train alone at my own pace, distance and time to suit, but do also enjoy group rides, sportives and run sessions with company. There is no right or wrong way to go about training or joining clubs – just if you don’t like it, are not appreciated or its not working for you move on and find an alternative that works for you. Also play safe and spread yourself, don’t put all your eggs in one basket.

After a hard session or week surfing the internet is your thing then look for online support, buddies and advise. Since starting my ironman journey many of my new triathlon friends may live miles away or even in other continents but during our training and races we bonded, met and continue to chat, laugh, share online whilst planning and discussing our next challenges. We support each other through lows and injuries and celebrate the highs together. Embrace online groups we’re not all geeks !

I needed time away and the club needed to change. Both accomplished successfully. Also there are now others in the club with duathlon, 70.3 and ironman ambitions next year so maybe more triathletes will help develop the club further and there will be more opportunities to train in groups. There are opportunities for the club to go back to its triathlon roots and have more of a multi sport focus and not be dominated by single sport runners. Aside I have to say triathletes are a very friendly, more supportive bunch.

I appear to be a club ‘tart’ now as I’m affiliated or a member of many  – cycling, running/triathlon, online groups & forums ! Add in STRAVA, DAILYMILE, FITBIT, GARMIN CONNECT, Parkrun and I’m all over the place 😉 But I’ve found what works for me and in a very happy place (or places). Not forgetting WORDPRESS where I’ve had a break through year in number of visits, likes and comments.

Blog stats booming thanks to WordPress
Blog stats booming thanks to WordPress

So I moved out and back in, time has moved on and the club is moving in the right direction ! What a difference a year can make. Congratulations to the new committee and credit to the new members. Let’s move forward together…swim, bike & run together.

 

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