Benefits of joining Chew Valley Snails
The club is affiliated to the Association Of Running Clubs. Our annual membership fee represents great value, and at £10 for the year (1st April to 31st March) entitles you to:

  • Unlimited free social runs throughout the year
  • £2 discount on ARC-affiliated race entry fees
  • 10% discount from shoes at Up & Running in Henleaze, Bristol
  • 3rd party insurance when running

To join, just ask your Run Leader for our bank details. The word 'Member' will appear on your RunTogether account when you are registered. Note: Couch to 5k participants get free membership for their first year.

Local runs

There are so many local running opportunities and other running-friendly support options in and around the Chew Valley - we're spoiled for choice! Anne says: "When I first moved to the area I bought an OS map and simply set off each time to explore the local footpaths." However, running is at its best when it's sociable, so here are some regular group running opportunities which are within striking distance:

  • parkrun - free, weekly timed 5k runs which take place at over 600 locations around the UK every Saturday at 9am (9.30am in Scotland and Northern Ireland, and 7am to 12pm worldwide). Simply register online (once), print your barcode, and you can walk, jog or run at any parkrun in the world. We recommend arriving 15 minutes early so you can hear the first-timers' briefing, have a nervous wee, and be ready for the start. Our local runs are:
  1. Ashton Court - hilly, out and back course with stunning views over Bristol on the way back down
  2. Pomphrey Hill - three laps of the park with a little hill on each lap to keep the legs warm
  3. Chipping Sodbury - a flat lapped course, great for setting a PB (Personal Best)
  4. Bath Skyline - a loop through beautiful wooded trails, complete with a set of woodland steps
  5. Eastville parkrun - an undulating three-lap course (each lap is slightly different) on tarmac around Eastville Park in central Bristol
  6. Somerdale Pavilion (Keynsham) - aka the Curly Wurly! Two laps of a cyclocross course on a mix of grass and trail paths 
  7. Clevedon Salthouse Fieldsthree laps, on tarmac paths, along the seafront, virtually flat, with lovely views.
  8. Thornbury parkrun - three laps of an undulating and at times muddy course, on grass and paths
  9. Burnham & Highbridge, Cheddar,  Weston... lots of other locations within an hour of the valley.
  10. We also like to tourist, and have been far afield from Wimbledon to Bedgebury to Congleton to Seaton to Harlow to Killerton to..... Copenhagen, PoznaƄ, Düsseldorf, Singapore,  Rome and beyond!

Many of the local running clubs also have Recreational Runners, Social Runners, Improvers and similar groups which meet regularly.

Races & events (during COVID check each website for updates and revised dates)

We have many race opportunities in the area, with listings on websites such as Runners World and the local RunABC South. You don't have to be a member of a running club to enter any of these, but often there is a discounted entry fee if you are a member of the Chew Valley Snails. Some of our annual favourites are these:

Race For Life / Pretty Muddy: 5k and 10k options

Colour Run / Color Vibe etc: 5k runs with coloured paint for a gentle, colourful day

Weston Prom Series (Weston AC) - September to May one evening a month, 5 miles

Bath Half Marathon - March

Tyntesfield 10k (Nailsea Running Club) - May

Chew Valley 10k - June (our local and the ideal goal for our Couch to 5kers!)

Sodbury Slog (Bitton Road Runners) - November 2017 (one of the muddiest around!)

Pensford 10k - April (t's a hill, get over it!)

Castle Combe Chilly 10k - a firm favourite with our Snails! Can you beat Pip's time of 53 minutes? (Pip started C25k in April 2017, graduated in July 2017, then smashed out this amazing time in November 2017!)

Weston Christmas Cracker 10k

Great Bristol 10k in May and the Great Bristol half marathon in September

Other local race organisers we love are Relish Running, Aspire Running Events, D B Max and White Star Running. They offer lots of races for all distances over all sorts of terrain and are generally lovely people. Have a look at their sites for the full range.

Got a race you'd like us to include here? Please contact us.

Other runner support

Dynamic stretches before exercise: Arm swings / circles, high knees (slowly), high knees (fast), skipping, walking backwards straight legs, squats, walking lunges, side lunges, back lunges, leg swings, bottom kicks, karate kicks, "open the gate" (hip flexor and hip mobility), "shoo the chickens" (hamstring sweeps), "close the gate" (reverse hip action). Check out Ben Andrews' exclusive Chew Valley Snails stretch videos on YouTube.

Static stretches after exercise: try to stretch every muscle group you have used, to help reduce stiffness and allow your muscles to return to their 'resting' length and state. Only hold each one for 10-15 seconds, but do both sides. Shoulder stretch, side bends, quads (front of thigh), calves, hamstrings (back of leg), glutes (bum muscles), hip flexor (forward lunge and stretch up), inside of thigh (side lunge). Gentle spine rotation and arm / shoulder stretches can be helpful too.

Gait analysis and shoe fitting
Gait analysis is a way of looking at your anatomy and running style, then finding the right running shoes for you. Many shops who offer this only look at your lower leg, whereas you should be looking for somewhere that will video your running style all the way up to the hips and pelvis. Allow at least an hour for an appointment!We recommend Up & Running in Westbury Park, Moti on Whiteladies Road in Clifton and Easy Runner on St Michael's Hill.

One of the trueisms of life is you should always pay for the best quality item you can if it'll go between you and the ground. This includes mattresses, tyres, and (of course) running shoes. Expect to pay a hefty whack for shoes which are properly fitted to your feet and your anatomy. As shoes age through use, their cushioning changes and compacts. This will change how you run and will have a knock-on impact for ankles, shins, knees, hips, back and so on. Changing your shoes after 250+ miles, or when you feel those first niggles, is a good idea. If your shoes are several years old then go for a gait analysis as your body will have changed over that time, and shoes which were right for you then may not be right now. The proper shoes in a good fit are a worthwhile investment.

Please, never tumble dry your shoes. Trust us on this: it will harm them. If soaked then stuff them loosely with newspaper and place in a warm dry pot - not directly on a radiator - changing the newspaper regularly as they dry out.

Shoe fit: most runners go up at least half to one size from their normal shoe size. Your feet will expand while you run, and tight shoes will cause nothing but pain, blisters and misery. Conversely, loose shoes can be just as bad. Getting a shoe fitted will help to avoid those little problems which can ruin an enjoyable jog. Have a look at the heel-locking technique video on YouTube if your trainers are a good fit, but a little loose on the heel.

Sports Massage
Sports Massage is an incredibly useful tool not only in helping you to feel better after exercise, but also to help prevent injury and keep you moving in between sessions and races. There are many Sports Massage therapists in the Chew Valley area and further afield. Our go-to is a it of a trek but always worth it:

  • Ben Andrews - he's a keen runner, massage therapist and Personal Trainer.

More locally we have:

If you pick up an injury or have a chronic condition, you may need the services of a physiotherapist. Our local go-to physio is Sarah Pike in Chew Magna (Chew Magna Physio), Donna at Blue Sky Physiotherapy at Yeo Valley, Blagdon. Physios use a range of techniques from mobilisation to acupuncture to taping to ulrasound, but it's not a magic cure and you do need to follow their advice and complete the exercises they give you afterwards for the maximum benefit.

Other resources to help running

Osteopathy: Chew Valley Osteopathic and Therapies Practice

Yoga and Pilates are both fantastic ways to build a strong core and foundation on which to build your running, as is swimming and aquafit.