You get to run with and learn from more experienced runners, make new friends, cheaper entry to races, drink lots tea, new t-shirt/vest.......its also cheaper than joining a gym.
Most clubs will cater for differing abilities by having runs of different lengths, an experienced runner willalways run with you so you are not alone and will run at your pace. Once a month they will hold training sessions e.g. hills and speedwork.
-you have variation in sessions;
-you have something to commit to;
-you meet fellow runners;
-you can take part in local cross country leagues and are made aware of events etc which you otherwise wouldn't;
-you get the experience of coaches and other runners to help you with training;
-its fun, running by yourself can get very boring.
-there's that bloke who you should be able to be better than but aren't quite and it really annoys you that he's going slightly faster than you and so you try and keep up with him and get out of breath and disheartened. Just me?
Well, I'm pretty new to running (about two months now), and this morning achieved my first 5km run. Felt very chuffed with myself. About 35 mins.
I've also been planning to join a local club once I had achieved this 5km milestone. So tonight I went to a local club meeting for the first time ever. I must admit - I felt a little overwhelmed. The people there are so clearly very, very fit. Maybe I need to improve my running a little more before I take this leap of joining a club. I'm a pretty shy and retiring sort of person - perhaps you lot of anonymous people will suit me better than actually belonging to a club. And yes, the people were very nice and friendly to me, but that doesn't make it any easier to expose yourself as a beginner in amongst a group of real enthusiasts.
How do I do this, guys? Shall I wait a bit to improve my own fitness levels first, or should I jump in to this social scene that sits a little awkwardly on my shoulders?
Clubs are brilliant- you have an interest in running, they have an interest in running, it's a perfect mix!
I'm also moderately confident that whilst you describe them all as "very, very fit" odds are that as in life you also probably just scoped out those who looked the fastest ignoring one or two of the less fit looking individuals! Whenever I'm at a race I always single those out that are going to be exceptionally quick and odds are, that normally, although there's always a few surprises they'll finish in the top 20. There are probably soe there at the same level as you.
They're friendly, will love to talk to you about your running and how to get better ( try finding the club guru, there's always one!) and about their own I'm sure and it'll get you really connecting with people.
Obviously some are worse than others and some are better, but it sounds like you've found a good one! Keep up your own work and quite soon you'll be right with them. To run a 35 minute 10k after only two months is brilliant, I'm quite confident that you'll be well under 30 within a few more months (clearly some natural talent there!) and this way you'll be able to measure your progress week to week compared to how you do against the others.
The only problem could be if there normal run is longer than 5k, but if so, look for little "shortcuts" on the route to get you back, and from the sounds of it, you're going to be covering all the distance you need to in no time.
Best of luck,
p.s. THe clubs that I would warn some people ( particularly with a fairly high number of beginners here) are "athletic clubs" whilst the people are often just as nice and quite a few have a large adult section the same as the running clubs, often they are also quite youth and track orientated, with few seniors, and basically much faster runners. In my training group at my AC (as opposed to my running club and jogging group), we've had senior sub 35 minute 10k runners come and join the group and they just struggled really badly to keep up on the shorter reps, and the younger group he'd have been too fast for and really too old to connect at all with. In the session we did tonight, the South of England silver medallist over 800m and inter-area champion ( beat best runners selected for South/Midlands/North) had to drop out as it was too tough for him.
Still look into ACs but check it has an adult road running section, running clubs are normally fine.
I would suggest you persevere and get to know them. I agree that it is difficult faced with guy/gals who look fit and run off leaving you behind but if it is a good running club there should be someone designated to run with the slowest runner/ newcomers so as to make everyone feel part of the club.
5k in 35mins is a good start...joining a running club will help you bring that time down sooner than you think.