Maybe you’ve been pondering a running group for awhile. But something is holding you back..
I won’t know anyone.
I’ll be the slowest person there.
They might be zombies.
All right fine, only the first two are the reasons I hear at least once a week from new runners who are longing for a running group and yet too terrified to show up.
The truth is yes you will be the new kid on the block and maybe you will be the slowest. I’ve now run with groups in cities across the US and have to get past those thoughts every time because the result is worth the discomfort (hmmm does that sound like a runner mindset or what?!)!
Reality…runners don’t care! Runners LOVE meeting other runners, anyone who will allow us to talk about our chosen passion and relish all the little details that make our dear friends eyes glaze over.
Let’s talk about how to find a running group, and why you should join a run club!
How to Find a Running Group
Step one of enjoying a running club, is really just finding one that’s a good fit. Here are a few of the best places to look for a group:
One of the easiest places to start looking for groups in your area is MeetUp.com, you’ll often find the beer run group, the speed work group and the run/walk group.
Local Running Stores
Most local running stores from the large chain likes Fleet Feet to your single store have at least one weekly group run.
Charity teams like Team in Training or World Vision are a great place to start a they will have a coach and immediate accountability. You’ll train together weekly with the focus on a specific race. A shared common goal is an easy way to bond.
Online Running Groups
Obviously I’m partial to our Virtual Run Club, but the truth is you can find a number of groups. Many are lead by a coach and will help provide you support if you’re still not quite ready to jump in to the live running groups or just prefer to go the miles solo, but want some support!
How to Join a Running Group
All right now, that you have found yourself a run club. Let’s work through some of the nerves to ensure that you can go and get the most from it!
Step 1: Show Up
When you started running, the first key was simply putting on your shoes…then getting out the door. Guess what, it’s basically the same process here! You have to simply choose to show up. Put it in your calendar and do it.
Worst case scenario you’ve stumbled upon an awful group and never have to go back.
Step 2: Assume the Best
Just like going in to a run with a positive attitude always makes it go better, the same can be said of trying to insert yourself in a new group! Remember you’re all there for the same reason: you love running and want to do it with others.
Step 3: Find a Leader
If you’re too nervous to just chat up someone in the group look for a group leader. They will be able to tell you about the different pace groups so you can ensure you’re running with people at a similar speed.
Step 4: Engage with Other Runners
Let’s kick things off with a few conversation starters:
“what pace are you running?”
“have you run with this group before?”
“do you have any races coming up?”
“have you done any races lately?”
Any of these will start a conversation and if you happen to be chatting up a gold medal winner, they will happily point you to a few people in the group that are your pace before the run begins.
Step 5: Remember to Kiss a Few Frogs
Listen running groups can be a little like dating. You may need to test out a few different ones to find a good fit. If you feel excluded or have a bad experience at one, remember it’s just one! There are so many more.Worried about being too slow? Tips for joining a running group #runchat Click To Tweet
Benefits of a Running Group for Beginners
While I might tend to lean towards solo running, there are some massive benefits to a group that should have you excited to find one that’s a good fit.
- Accountability to show up for workouts
- Celebrate achievements together
- Structured workouts
- Access to experienced runners with tons of knowledge
- It will give you reasons to run that don’t involve calories
- Ability to help other new runners stick with it
- You’ll find yourself getting out despite the weather and the relishing it later
- They will push you to hit key paces on speed work
- Someone to race with
- Great friends mean great fun for running and life
- People who will gladly talk about all aspects of running
- Discounts on gear and events
- Safety for all those dark early morning
3 Tips to Start a Running Club
Can’t find a group near you? Start one, then you can control the atmosphere and make sure everyone feels included, welcomed and excited to run!
If starting a running group sounds too hard, I’d like to remind you that you are a runner…what you do every time you lace up is hard and yet you have found the strength.
Don’t worry about being too fast or too slow.
Every group will evolve overtime on it’s own to cater to a variety of paces. Just get started and keep showing up like you do for your runs. Many great friendships and relationships have been born out of a running club!=
1. Pick a Running Group Name
Consider naming your group something that immediately tells people what the group is about or simply where you are located. i.e. Miami Run Club, Boston Women’s Track Club, Fast Moms with Strollers or Slow Runners Trail Group.
As you begin posting online or in stores the name will be important to help people understand who you want to attend.
2. Start Recruiting for Your Group
It takes just one or two friends to create a group. But once you’ve decided to expand your circle here are some other tactics:
3. Select a Location for Your Meet Ups
Some groups choose to move each week and run in different areas, while others always meet at the same spot. When you are first starting the group it’s easiest to start from the same location, at the same time on the same days every week. This pattern ensures that other runners see you and can find you.
Important thoughts for selecting your starting point:
- Consider starting from a local running store. Many stores will provide 10% off on group run nights and they’ll be more likely to promote the run.
- Ensure parking is easily available.
- Ensure the area is well lit for safety. Remember that while it may be light during summer runs, once winter hits you want everyone to feel comfortable and safe in the dark.
Once you’ve put it out there the only thing left to do is show up.
Just like you lace up your shoes to tackle new challenges, you will lace them up to tackle this too.
Don’t worry if it doesn’t take off right away, just keep putting one foot in front of the other and before you know it you may just have met your new best friends for life in a club you created.Can't find a running group near you? Find out how to start one! #runchat Click To Tweet
Looking for more running tips:
- 12 Ways to Avoid Marathon Training Burnout
- Embrace the Benefits of Solo Running
- Learn more about online group training
Were you nervous to try a running group?
Any other tips for first time groupers?
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