Monday, 7 August 2017

How to Choose a Triathlon Club

The best way to progress in any hobby is usually to join a club, be that knitting, stamp collecting or triathlon. That's the theory. But choosing the right club for you plays a BIG part in how much it will help you, if at all. Case in point; I'm currently a member of THREE triathlon clubs. There appears to be no rule about how many you can be a member of (I wait to be corrected), unlike with running where you can have a first and second claim club but it gets a bit complicated. I don't intend to stay a member of all three clubs, and I joined each with the best of intentions, but it's taken me a while to work out what I want from a club and therefore which suits me best. Here are my tips to help you get it right first time!

Do you want to be able to benefit from training and coaching sessions? Some people might just want the social side and support, but most people looking to join a try club will be looking to do so to get some affordable training. Which begs the questions, do they train when you can train? There's no point joining a club whose sessions start at 6pm when you don't get home until 7pm.

Where do they train? Two of the clubs I'm a member of have swim training on a Friday night, around 8:30pm. One is a 20 minute drive away, the other is a 3 minute drive away. Guess which one I'm going to favour on a winter's night!
If you're a beginner, are there bridging or introductory groups? I've found that some of the sessions, particularly the bike ones, tend to be a little beyond me, which is why the Cake Rides are so great as it's all abilities and very social. But any good club will try to ensure there's a way to progress you from one group to the next, or to help you get started in the first place.

How active are the members outside of the set training sessions? The first club I became a member of has a monthly Ladies only Cake Ride which I LOVE. I've found that another club has a few members that organise weekday morning ride outs because of shift work, which will suit me well.
Thames Valley Triathletes
What's the social scene like? I don't just mean beers and cake, although if that's important to you, find out whether there are regular social events or if people hang out after sessions. If you're a social media user, take a peek at their accounts. How active are they? Does it seem supportive or elitist (yet to find one like that). How do people respond to "silly questions"? Are there lots of good luck wishes for events and rallying interest for others? Does this fit with what you'd like? In a nutshell, are they likeminded people?

Is there a tradition of turning out to support events? This can be really motivating. The first two clubs I became a member of in particular have a strong tradition of tracking fellow members at events and being on the sidelines as well. Seeing it in action is very powerful.

Are they affiliated to Triathlon England? If so you will be able to get a discount on membership to Triathlon England and events, plus you won't have to pay for a day membership for events you sign up to.

Do you like the kit? Really superficial one this but I have to admit, this does play a bit of a part for me. I won't be likely to wear team colours and make myself known at events (thereby missing out on support) if I don't like the way it looks. Sorry, folks, but it that's the way it goes.
3 Counties Tri
There are elements from each club that I really like, and while I'll be sorry to let memberships lapse, I think I've decided which one is going to be best for me, and which one I can be a proud and active member of.

Have you fallen in and out of love with a club or struggled to find your "home"? Any other things you would look for in a club?

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