Running has seen an upsurge in participation over the last few years and has become more accessible than ever. So if you have been umming and ahing about whether to get your running trainers on then give this a read.

My running story started in 2011 when I first heard about a parkrun local to me. Many others have also got the running bug through taking part in these weekly events so I'd definitely recommend starting here.

parkrun

At the time of writing this there are over 20 parkruns in and around Greater Manchester. But what is a parkrun I hear you say? To put it simply, they are a series of timed 5k events taking place every Saturday, completely free and open to runners and walkers alike. There are also junior 2k events for children aged 4 to 14 on Sundays.

For me, parkrun is always the first thing I mention to people who want to get fit. It's not just walking or running, it's getting outside, meeting like minded people, being part of a community and getting that feeling of achievement all before your Saturday morning is over.

Click here to visit their website and find out more about parkun.

Join a club

When I speak to people about potentially joining a running club, there's normally a bit of doubt that creeps in, "Clubs are for fast runners aren't they?"

If this sounds like you then fear not. Most clubs include runners of all abilities and offer different training groups to suit. To find a club local to you then visit England Athletic's club finder.

Here are some clubs local to us in Greater Manchester, who I've spoken to about joining as a beginner.

Burnden Road Runners

Let’s start off with my old club Burnden Road Runners. This was the club I joined when I first started running.

For beginners, the club organises two groups yearly, based on the Couch to 5K programme. The first of these is in early spring, as soon as lighter evenings kick in, with the second in late summer. These groups are ideal for complete beginners or those returning to running after a long layoff.

For anyone new to running, I would always say give it a go. I’ve seen many people go through the beginners running programme with Burnden and go on to achieve far beyond their expectations.

If you’re able to comfortably run 5k, you could join the club’s main group, with two or three sessions to choose from on Monday nights. These sessions cater for runners of all abilities and are led by an experienced coaching team.

www.burndenroadrunners.co.uk Facebook: Burnden Road Runners

Radcliffe Athletic Club

Next up, Radcliffe AC, where I am currently a member. Since joining at the beginning of 2019, I have seen a great amount of newcomers at this growing club. Call me biased, but I think the growing membership is down to an awesome coaching team and a welcoming and friendly atmosphere.

I’d recommend you have the ability to run at least three miles before joining Radcliffe. Once you’re up to that distance, the club puts on a variety of sessions catering for all abilities. On a standard Monday night, we’ll be able to choose from a 5k, 7.5k or 10k route, all led by the England Athletics trained coaching team. On Wednesdays we run a speed session, such as interval training, which again is suitable for all abilities.

You can take part in a few sessions as a guest before joining, a great way to find out if the club is for you.

www.radcliffeac.co.uk Facebook: Radcliffe AC

Ramsbottom Running Club

I’ve had the pleasure of training with Ramsbottom and have to say there’s a great selection of sessions on offer and they are a very welcoming bunch. They also meet at the local brewery, another plus point for me!

Runners of all abilities are welcome and even walkers. For beginners, Ramsbottom will be hosting a 10 week Couch to 5k group in the New Year – ideal timing if you want to make running a new year’s resolution.

For those with some running experience; Ramsbottom’s main group meets every Tuesday at 7pm and with various sessions and routes to choose from. There is usually a walking route, 5k, 7.5k and 10k option with additional 'leisurely' versions of each route.

You don't have to be a member to take part and can just turn up on the night, pay your £1 subs and join in. Each route is led by a qualified Run Leader with a designated back marker so you will not be left behind.

http://www.ramsbottomrunningclub.co.uk/ Facebook: Ramsbottom Running Club @rammyrunclub  

Swinton Running Club

Of the four clubs in this article, Swinton is the only one I’ve not trained with. I can feel an invite coming my way?

Swinton are offering a 10 week beginners running course starting on Wednesday 8 January. This group is perfect for absolute beginners and would also suit anyone returning to the sport after some time away. On completion of the course you’ll be able to run 5km and will be encouraged to race over this distance if you’d like to. I’m told these courses can sell out, so be sure to book your place if you’re wanting to get involved.

For anyone who isn't an absolute beginner, you can join in with Swinton’s main training sessions. Lots more detail about the club and their sessions can be found on their website.

www.swintonrunningclub.org.uk/ Email: beginners@swintonrunningclub.org.uk

I hope this has given you some ideas if you are thinking of starting running this January. Both parkrun and running clubs give you the opportunity to take part in the sport alongside others. For me having others to run with is a source of motivation. You are sure to make friends and find plenty of encouragement along the way.

Thank you to the four clubs who contributed to this article.