Since joining a running club in April, I’ve noticed quite a few things about the running culture here in London and how it differs from American running culture as I know it.
1) Clubs. It seems like most semi-serious runners here in London join at least one club, if not two, in order to do group workouts, represent the club in competitions, and just be part of a team/fit community. The clubs are highly organized, and the running club culture means that there are sub-groups actively competing in adult cross-country and track leagues in addition to your standard road races. This is in contrast to the States — and when I say the States I’m largely speaking from my knowledge of the running culture in Rochester, NY; it could be different in other cities — where there are many free training runs offered by shops, so one doesn’t have to pay to join a club. That said, the more elite runners do join clubs to wear the team singlet at races. But most recreational runners just head to free group runs, which in London seem to be few and far between.
I personally love being part of a club here. It has been wonderful to feel like I’m part of a running community. The annual fees for my club are low enough that I don’t feel obligated to attend every single workout in order to get the most out of my investment. The group workouts are awesome, though, and make being part of the club worth it, both for the workouts themselves and the other club members I’ve met. All members are encouraged to race and join in the track and cross-country leagues, but there is no obligation. I feel proud to wear my Heathside vest (singlet) during a race.
2) Hand Timing. It seems archaic, but I ran a 10k a couple weeks ago that was hand-timed. Pretty much every race I’ve run in the States in recent years has been chip-timed. That said, I’ve also run UK races that have been chip-timed, but it’s something small that I noticed.
3) PR/PB. In the US, I grew up saying “PR” — “Personal Record” — for when I ran a personal fastest time. In the UK, I more frequently hear “PB” — “Personal Best.” Not a big difference, as both terms mean the same thing, but interesting nonetheless.
Have you experienced running culture in the UK, US, or somewhere else? Tell us about it by commenting below!