For the last 32 weeks, I have been the member of a group who meets once a week during our lunch breaks to collectively help ourselves feel better. I am a member of Sweatshop's free running clubs which take place across the country in Sweatshop stores. I've been lucky enough since June to have the flagship branch of Sweatshop ten minutes from my office. Sweatshop Trump Street organise 9 free runs a weeks - a lunchtime run every day at 1pm - a 5k along the north bank of the River Thames and 4 evening runs covering different distances and abilities at 6:30pm Monday-Thursday.
So for 32 weeks now, I have dragged myself out during my lunch break and hit the streets in my trainers taking on the bankers on their salad runs, the midday shoppers and the tourists to get my card signed and get a run in. The principle is simple: anyone, of any ability, can turn up and run for free. The first time you go you will be given a card with which to get your attendance signed off - maximum of one a week. There are then milestones when you are given prizes for reaching. So if you run 5 times you'll get a run club t-shirt from Adidas. Run 25 weeks and you get a Lucozade nutrition pack, 30 weeks gets you a foam roller and if you manage 50 you'll get a pair of trainers of your choice from Sweatshop worth up to £100. The only catch is you have a year within which to achieve it. It's all a bit addictive once you start and sees daft beans like me hitting the London pavements on Christmas Eve (with my poor husband who I dragged along with me) and commuting in even when I'm on holiday to get in my run (such as a very enjoyably quiet one on 2nd January).
Last Wednesday I went to the Cambridge Sweatshop intermediate/advanced group which was a 5 mile run with interval training in the middle and a coach finishing with a cool down session. It was totally brilliant and has spurred me on for the rest of my training. Group support and encouragement is so helpful when you are training for a goal or when it's raining and you don't fancy going outside. Sweatshop run club has got me out in boiling hot conditions, when it's been raining, below freezing and during holidays. Honestly, there is no stopping me now!
So why not lace up your trainers and give SRC a go - they're fun, they're free and the guys you meet are pretty inspirational.