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pixel Basic equipment includes shoes and kit. A good sports shop can provide everything you need but you should always ask for advice before buying.

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Shoes and Spikes

To begin with, a good pair of trainers are fine and can be used for most events. Suitable trainers do not need to be expensive but they should:
  • be comfortable
  • support your feet
  • fit well


Spikes are special shoes that have spikes on parts of the sole. The spikes provide a better grip, especially when you are running.

There are different types of spikes but for training and most events you can use a middle-of-the-range pair that have cushioned heels.

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pic27For training or competition, most athletes wear a vest-type top and shorts. The material should be lightweight. A track suit is also useful and is sometimes worn in the winter during training, or to keep you warm before and after training in the summer months.

You should also wear a tracksuit if you are standing around waiting for your event to take place during training or at a competition. It helps to keep your muscles warm. This is important if you want to avoid strains and injuries.

At some competitive events, you may see some men and women (especially sprinters) wearing all-in-one leotards to help streamline their body. If you compete for a team or a club, you may be expected to compete in the club's colours.

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Joining a Club

UK Clubs

There are around 1700 clubs in the UK, catering for athletes of all ages and abilities. All clubs are affiliated to one of the regional associations. Each regional association is a member of the national association. The BAF (British Athletic Federation) recognises 6 regions around the UK:

  • South of England AA - Tel: 0171 247 2963
  • Midlands Counties AA - Tel: 0121 452 1500
  • North of England AA - Tel: 0113 246 1835
  • Scottish Athletic Federation - Tel: 0131 317 7320
  • Northern Ireland Athletic Federation - Tel: 01232 602706
  • Athletic Association of Wales - Tel: 01729 456237

To find your nearest club, ring your nearest regional office for information and advice. If you need more help, contact the British Athletic Federation [See Information]


Membership at most clubs is available for those aged 11 and upwards. Some clubs run 'Fun Athletics' for younger children and teenagers up to the age of 15.

Membership fees vary from club to club, but often, juniors are charged the minimum.

pic26What do the clubs offer?

All clubs offer training, coaching and the chance to take part in competitive athletics.

Training takes places all year round.

Coaching is carried out by qualified coaches who are BAF approved.

Athletes are grouped according to age. Juniors compete within their age group - U13, U15 or U17. Beyond the age of 18, athletes are classed as seniors.

Most clubs offer a range of social activities centred around the club.


There are local, regional and national leagues for the various age groups. The more successful clubs compete in the higher leagues. Athletes from any club can be selected for the national team providing they meet the required national standards.

(Our acknowledgements and thanks to Bill Adcocks from the BAF for his useful contribution to this section. )


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Last modified on: Friday, March 6, 1998.