"I had no idea that the people I would meet over the years through Run Club would become my closest friends and my chosen family."
Rackets & Runners Run Club has been around for more than forty years. It has helped numerous athletes prepare for local and international competitions and has forged countless friendships along the way.
We sat down with some of the club’s longest active members so that they could share their experiences, motivations, and stories, and the role the Run Club has played in their lives.
Anne-Marie has been with the club since 2006. After 17 years, she’s participated in numerous running events and developed lifelong relationships in a club she is so happy to represent.
Alex just completed the Paris marathon. He likes setting himself goals and enjoys every second of the journey it takes to accomplish them. The structure, motivation and group he’s developed with the club has helped shape the runner he is today.
Brenda has been with the club since 2014 and joined as a total newbie. Running has a special place in her heart, and for more reasons than you might expect. Run Club has also helped her develop long lasting relationships, and a particularly special one at that…
Tell me a little bit about your history with running, and when did you join the Rackets & Runners Run Club?
ALEX: Well I used to run when I was younger, then, unfortunately I developed all these foot problems. Then, playing soccer I tore up my knee, which resulted in me needing surgery on my meniscus and torn ACL. A friend of mine wanted to get into running and knew my history, so as my rehab, I started running — first run-walking, then full on running. All of a sudden, we’re doing 10k every week and so I ran the Sun Run and half marathon, and I set myself a bar where, if I got under 1:40 for the half, I told myself that would be enough and I would be done with the half marathons. But then I thought to myself, “hmm, maybe I can get to 1:35”. That’s where my friend Tim — why I knew from soccer and happens to run Run Club — told me I should come run with them to get the motivation and training to achieve that level. I joined 5 years ago (back in 2018), and sure enough, a year later, I got under 1:35.
BRENDA: Initially, I started out volunteering, not actually running, at some of the smaller 5k races specifically the CIBC Run for the Cure (for breast cancer awareness for women). I did that as a volunteer for maybe six or seven consecutive years, handing out water, cheering on the sidelines, and then I started actually running in it. I remember doing my first 5k and I just about died, I’ll never forget it. I think I ran my first 5k in 2012, and then I did my first Sun Run a year or two after that. Then I joined Rackets & Runners in October of 2014 as a total newbie.
ANNE-MARIE: One week before the 2006 Sun Run I was asked by a friend if I would be interested in replacing a person who was injured on their team. I had run a bit here and there but I had never participated in a race so I said yes. I did the Sun Run a week later and that same day I decided that I had to run a marathon. In June of 2006 I did my first half marathon. I joined Rackets & Runners in July of 2006 to train for my first marathon which was in October 2006. I was hooked!
What made you want to join the R&R Run Club, and how long have you been a part of it?
ALEX: I knew a few of the members from my time playing soccer (Tim and Davide) and I live close to Rackets & Runners.
BRENDA: Initially it was because I live pretty close by, but I guess the reason that I’ve stuck with it as long as I did, was because of the camaraderie. We’re not necessarily the most competitive bunch, but we’re very supportive of each other. We love to chat during our runs and then get together outside of running. The supportive aspect is something so important to me. I did join another run group many years ago and they were a bit more individualistic, and that wasn’t really for me.
ANNE-MARIE: I joined Rackets & Runners in July of 2006. I chose Rackets & Runners to help me achieve my goal of running a marathon. I knew that I needed others to help me get through those super long runs. I also liked that Rackets & Runners did their long long runs on a Saturday morning. I had no idea that the people I would meet over the years through Run Club would become my closest friends and my chosen family.
They may have joined for different reasons, at different times, but one thing is for certain: they share a fervent passion for the sport and have developed both socially, and as athletes since joining the club.
Do you mainly run for pleasure, for gain, or a little bit of both?
ALEX: Good question, I run because I feel compelled to do it. It feels weird not to run at least 3-4 times a week. Right now, I’m playing basketball on Thursdays, but I’m super excited to go right back to interval training on Thursdays. As you get older, you have to stay on top of your game. I have to keep running, stretching, doing all the stuff I should be doing. I was up to 80k a week while I was training for Paris and at one point in January I had a foot problem that only went away once I started religiously stretching 6 days a week, 15 minutes a day.
ANNE-MARIE: I run because it makes my life better. I run mostly for pleasure but I like to challenge myself too and see if I can improve my race times.
BRENDA: I do it for the mental boost that it gives me. It does something for me in my head, I don’t know if you know what I mean. Take the early morning Saturday run for example, I get in 15-16k and I feel like that just sets the tone for my entire weekend. As soon as that run is done, I feel a sense of accomplishment and I am in a fantastic mood for the rest of the day. That good feeling lasts the whole day.
Are you currently training for anything in specific?
ALEX: Not me, the Paris marathon was the big goal this year. But I’m probably going to keep the marathon training going because I like the idea of a destination marathon (like Paris was). I got inspired for running this marathon because I watched one of the fast guys in the Run Club train for a marathon in Victoria, and I thought maybe if these guys around me can do it, I could too.
BRENDA: I’m not really a competitive person and I personally find that racing takes away from some of my enjoyment in running. I find it a little bit stressful because I put a lot of pressure on myself and I really just enjoy running for the sake of running, and the mental clarity that it gives me. Let’s just say, I run because if of how it makes me feel, and if I have a problem, I’ll just run it off and I’ll feel so much better afterwards.
ANNE-MARIE: I am doing the Run for Women in one week and then I am doing the Victoria Half Ironman at the end of May.
Alex and Anne-Marie explain that running to accomplish a specific goal or time can be incredibly rewarding, but Brenda reminds us that it doesn’t have to be taken so seriously. If competing adds an element of stress to your life that you simply don’t need, remember that sports are fulfilling on their own merit, not simply because of the potential for competition.
Sports, in particular cardiovascular activity, are fantastic for the mind. They help boost our serotonin levels and can instantly flip a switch in our mood. That’s before even mentioning the social benefits. Remember, running comp
What does running with other people give you that running alone doesn’t?
ANNE-MARIE: Running with others motivates me so much. I love that sometimes I am the one who can "carry" someone through a run when they're having a tough day and I appreciate the same when I am the one who needs to be "carried." And you really get to know people as you cover those kilometres - there's so much to talk about!
BRENDA: On days where you’re not really feeling it and really struggling to find the motivation, just having a chat with the person next to you can make you totally forget that you’re struggling with the cardio. I honestly don’t even know if I would want to run if it wasn’t with a group of my good friends. I know that I wouldn’t be able to push myself as much, that’s for sure.
ALEX: Well for once it forces me to get out of the office! I know that I don’t schedule anything after work Tuesday or Thursday, and Saturday morning. That structure helps keep me accountable and make sure that I do get out to do the training. Running is like anything else, if you don’t do enough of it you’re not going to be competitive.
And running with others helps your performance! Last Tuesday I started running ridiculously fast without even noticing it because I was going on some rant about something while we were talking and running. That happens when there’s other people, when it’s just me I think “ah why not go a little slower”.
The bottom line is; cardio sports are tough.
It’s easy to get into your own head about just how much you are suffering. Having people around you not only gives your mind something else to observe, but it also gives you the chance to talk through what you’re feeling, or maybe discuss something else altogether. Giving your mind that little bit of escapism can be exactly what you need to push your performance to the next level, and enjoy the session that much more.
Has Run Club helped you develop a sense of community in the sport?
ALEX: 100%. The Run Club has a great mixture of fast runners and slightly slower runners but we all love running. We all follow each other on Strava which is great and sometimes we even get together socially.
ANNE-MARIE: 100%! I can't imagine my life without the running community in it.
BRENDA: Oh it certainly has. On that very first day of run club back in 2014, I met the man who is now my husband, Tim, the Run Club leader. I met him on day one and that was, that was the start of it. So our marriage is really all because of Rackets & Runners, and, as you can imagine, the store carries a very special place in our hearts.
Well, I don’t think I could end it any better than that. You heard it from Brenda, join the Rackets & Runners Run Club, and you could find a partner or life. Wow!
The R&R Run Club runs year round and you can join at anytime.