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While many people think of running as a solo activity, finding your group of people can make or break your experience.
Human nature tells us that we need social interaction and finding it within running can actually be used as a helpful tool to motivate you and take your skills to the next level. Just take a look at group classes or even personal trainers!
When we involve another person, it’s natural for us to become more passionate and more invested in the sport we share.
No matter what your goals may be, running clubs can help you exponentially. We know that it can be difficult to just find one, however, what with the huge array of running clubs available today.
That’s why we’ve gone ahead and created the user-friendly guide, below. This guide will give you some handy tips and tricks to finding the group that’s perfect for your needs!
What is a Running Club?
First things first, what even is a running club? There are probably many different definitions, so we’ll go ahead and clarify what we’re talking about. If you’re already an experienced runner, you may feel you can just skip over this part.
- Running Club: A running club is the perfect tool to help boost your skills and motivation. It’s normal for us as human beings to immediately improve our performance when we’re around others. It’s almost like they’re holding us to unspoken standards that we never want to fail. Not only do running clubs provide you with this, but they may offer you other incentives, too (depending on the club). Some even give you the chance to travel to races in other cities and states as a group. This is not only fun but offers you the opportunity to further bond with your clubmates. You should expect to pay membership fees if this is the case, but we can promise you it’s more than worth it.
- Group Sessions: If you’re really just starting out and aren’t sure that you’re going to enjoy running enough to shell out the yearly membership fee, then no worries. There are many people who are a bit iffy on putting money on a new hobby. If that’s you, then try out some group sessions! These don’t require quite as big of a commitment, and you can skip a class without feeling bad about it or that you let your group down. These sessions are often held at a local park or gym, and are also a nice little intro to a club-style workout.
- Boot Camp: The words “boot” and “camp” may strike a bit of fear into you due to the hardcore connotation that often comes with them. Maybe that’s a good thing! If you’re an absolute beginner, you may want to leave this one off the table until you build up your strength and stamina. If not, you may find yourself with an injury or overly exhausted, and that’s not working to anyone’s benefit.
How Do You Find a Running Club?
You aren’t going to get very far if you can’t even find a club in the first place! So, let’s take a look at the most tried-and-true methods of finding a club that works with your goals and personality.
- Find Your People: You may already know members of your future running club! Oftentimes, groups advertise themselves in your local running store or gym. Take a look at the bulletin board if they have one, or sometimes groups leave little flyers on the check-out counter of running stores. If you don’t see anything, then the manager or other staff will probably have some valuable information on other avid runners or groups in your area. Heck, we’ve even found running clubs advertised at the grocery store, so keep your eyes open!
- Getting Down to Specifics: The last method is helpful when we’re talking about general running, but sometimes we want something that’s a bit more niche. Perhaps you’re looking for a running group of parents who bring their children with them in strollers, or a group that’s looking to compete in a very specific race. If that’s your case, then it’s time to boot up your computer because there are a few websites you need to check out.Our favorite and probably the most widely used is Running in the USA. It features the largest online directory of both races and clubs and comes with a relatively user-friendly interface to quickly find what you’re looking for.The next site, while not necessarily runner-specific, is Meetup. Here, you can find just about any kind of group you’re looking for. While you find your running group, you may just find one to learn a new language or cook a new type of cuisine!
Contact: Once you find a group that you feel you’d fit in well with, make sure you contact them! Usually the best way to go about this is to shoot the organizer an email or text (if their number is provided). Don’t be nervous about reaching out, as groups usually want more people! If you’re unsure of what to ask, here are some ideas:At what pace does your group typically run?
- Are wearing headphones/bringing strollers/dogs okay?
- How does your attendance policy work? Is attendance required or optional?
- Do you have a “no-drop” policy if I’m having trouble keeping up with the rest of the group?
- Where does the group meet up and at what times during the week?
- Would I be able to try out a run with you before officially joining?
- If you are interested in marathon training, are there other runners with similar goals?
If you liked the responses to your questions, then go on and meet up with them! It’s never a bad idea to show up a few minutes early to get your bearings and to have time to meet the organizer and other members of the group.
While there are countless running groups out there (depending on where you live), it’s important that you feel that you’re a good fit. Getting along well with the other members of your group is crucial to your performance. You want to be not only in a good state physically, but mentally as well. It’s also a great way to find new places to run that you may not have known about.
If you’re surrounded by people who you’re not exactly a fan of, it’s not worth it! We have a feeling, though, that after following our guide above, that you’ll wonder why you didn’t join your group earlier!