5 Tips on Finding a Running Group

I’ve been meaning to share how I found my running group for quite a while and like I mentioned yesterday, it’s been a popular topic amongst my blogging friends lately.

I had just had my son (July 2013) and was so antsy to get back to running. I did my first race, a 5k, six weeks post partum and I was the happiest ever, ever.

A month after the race, October, my husband and I went to San Francisco and of course we ran while we there. We talked a lot about running and I told him I wanted to run a marathon. Like the following year. Like that March. He laughed and said I was crazy but that’s why he loved me and that I could totally do it. So at the airport, on my phone waiting to get on the plane back, I signed up for the Phoenix Marathon.

When we were home, I began looking up training plans and as I was searching I thought about how I wished I had more running friends. I’m a part of several great online running communities but I really wanted to meet up with other runners. I started thinking about how I could find a running group. So of course I started with  Google.

Tip 1: Google

  • Search using key words like your state + running groups or your city + running groups
  • Also use the word “club” instead of group to see if anything different pops up
  • Try neighboring cities as well
  • Do a national search and just type in “Running Group”. Sometimes national groups have sub groups organized by state or region.

Tip 2: Facebook

  • Do a search using the same key words as Google
  • Some groups are closed but don’t let that stop you from joining and lurking for a while to get a feel of it

Tip 3: Visit your local running/shoe store

  • If you don’t know of any near you, Google first and then go (or call). Ask someone there if they know of any running groups in the area. It’s very likely that people who shop there are a part of one.

Tip 4: Go the mall

  • If you’re like me, I’ll take any excuse to go the mall lol! But seriously, go to the mall and visit athletic shops like Lululemon, Lucy, and Athleta. Often times, those places have their own meet-ups for running and workout sessions. My local Lululemon store meets on Thursday nights for a 3-5 mile run and Sunday morning for free yoga.

Tip 5: Swing by the gym

  • You don’t have to be a gym member, just visit one, or a few, close to you and ask the help desk if they know of any groups in the area that meet up to run. A lot of groups use gyms as meet up spots (mine does!).

Okay, I know this might sound like a lot of work, but trust me, get out of your comfort zone for a while and do it!! You will be so happy you did.

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Once you find a group (or groups), here are some other suggestions:

1. Give it a test run (ja! See what I did there?) If you find a group, or several, see what meet-ups work for you and go! Give it a shot–you really have nothing to lose. If you’re not digging the vibe, no sweat–you don’t have to go back. If you like the people you meet, then awesome!

1a. Take it easy on your first meet up. You don’t want to over exert yourself.

2. If you’re more comfortable joining a group’s Facebook page first, go for it and lurk around. I actually found two groups in my search that interested me so I joined both of their Facebook pages and lurked. I found out one had a membership fee and that kind of turned me off–it wasn’t much, but still. I also didn’t really like the vibe I got.

But the one I did eventually join I felt good about what I saw. The page was very active, which I liked. And I could tell that people were actually friends with each other. <—this was what actually kept me from meeting up. Which leads me to…

3. Don’t be afraid to jump in. I loved how the group all joked and talked with each other but I was afraid to go to a meet up because I felt like everyone had known each other for years and I would just be a newbie all by myself running alone. During one conversation, I decided to take the plunge. I commented. Once people saw a new face (me) everyone was SO nice! They asked me when I could come out for a run, how long I’d been running, and if I was training for anything. I was still pretty busy with my then really, really young son and couldn’t make it to a run until about 2 weeks after my comment introduction but when I did, everyone was super friendly and welcoming. Best decision ever, seriously.

4. You don’t have to be “fast” This is the number 1 thing I hear from people who are afraid about joining a group–that they’re not fast enough. What I love about running groups though is that more often than not, you’ll find one with people of ALL abilities. Everyone there has something in common despite one being faster than another–they love running!! Plus, when you run a race with a running group, no matter how fast a person is, you all cover the same distance. You’ve all experienced something together. It’s seriously an awesome feeling having people who know what you went through after you’ve finished a race.

I’ve had a blast with my running group. I ran my first marathon with them, crossed the Grand Canyon twice with them, and most recently, ran 16 miles at night in the middle of nowhere with them. I’ve done so many things that I’m pretty sure I would never have done by myself. I’m pretty excited for what’s in the future–I know it’s going to be great!

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–Are you in the market for a running group? Think you’ll join one?

–Are you part of a running group? How did you find them?

–What other tips would you give people looking for a group to run with?

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39 responses

  1. I looove my run group! I joined in the beginning of March and had the WORST RUN EVER with them. Like, crying running because I was so miserable and wanted to go home. I swore I would never go back, but…. here I am 3 months later and I join them at least 2x a week.

    I found them because I knew Nike had a running store in a neighborhood closer to me than their flagship store. I’m glad I stuck with them and didn’t stop after that first run because I am creepily in love with everyone there. They are so awesome and encouraging!

    • Jaja!! I LOVE how you say you’re creepily in love with everyone because that’s exactly how I feel! Everyone is so nice–like seriously, everyone. How awesome you found such a great group and that you stuck with it!!!!

  2. I’d love to be a part of a running group but it would require hiring a babysitter 90% of the time and that’s just not in the budget – I’ll take my free treadmill at home for now. My goal is to one day (when we are all together) is to join a running group.
    Great tips! And I loved how you signed up for your first Marathon!

  3. I love my group. 🙂 I found them through word of mouth and was SO NERVOUS to meet up with any of them. I joined the Facebook group first, but then started attending their events and the people are so nice and helpful. Best decision ever.

  4. Great list. I wish I had this about six months ago. I actually obtained the TnT flyer by accident at the tempe road runner store. I haven’t had a lot of runs with the group but everyone is super nice, helpful, and very encouraging. Great group! Oh and I want to do the rim to rim soooo bad lol.

    • Do it! Even though I found one, I figured there might be others searching too so I started a local chapter of Moms RUN This Town when I saw there wasn’t one for my city. It definitely takes getting out of your comfort zone, but hey, we do that every day when we run right?? 🙂

  5. Ahhh this makes me want to join one so bad! I’m in Seward right now and there is no running group here (believe me, I checked!) but there are a few in Anchorage where we plan to live in the fall. I’m totally going to try to join one of these! Plus I need to make friends somehow and that will be a great way to do it. I hope I find a group as awesome as yours!

  6. Long before I had any knowledge of running “groups,” I found a running club first. Through them I found a number of groups that I’ve become a part of and participate in different group runs with them. I love my running groups!!

    • I use the terms group/club interchangeably lol! That’s awesome you’ve got a few that you like! I found mine that I meet up with but am a part of quite a few online groups that I love 🙂

    • Do it!!! Even if you are the slowest, which I doubt :), people are there for support and encouragement. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with coming in at the end of the pack. Go, go, go!!

  7. Congrats on your baby, who will soon be celebrating his birthday 🙂
    I found my running group at the gym. I’m lucky because it was already formed and everyone is totally cool with new members. Fun times.

  8. I’ve thought about joining a running group but I am definitely worried about my pace. My local running store does a group run twice a week and they cover my normal route. One time I planned my run so that I would casually bump into them … but I didn’t say anything. I just kind of trailed behind at the very, very back … way back … so much so that I’m sure they had no idea I was following them. Or maybe they did notice and thought I was a total creeper! 🙂 I should just suck it up and say hello one of these days… but the people are also mostly out of my age group (they tend to be a bit older) so I’m not sure what we would talk about??? running I guess!

    • Jaja!! I love that story! You should totally say hi and introduce yourself. They’re missing out on your awesomeness 🙂 A lot of people in my group are older but you’d be surprised–I’ve found I talk to them way more than the ones that are my age

  9. I would love to find a regular running group! It sounds like you’ve had such a great time with yours. I did find a trail running buddy and have done a couple of group runs with some of my Hood to Coast team mates. Those miles definitely go a lot quicker than solo runs.

  10. This post is just spot on! I’ve been trying to find a running group in my area, so I could start running with them. Unfortunately I didn’t find one using the “traditional” approach, but your ideas are great and I have to admit I didn’t think about a few of them. So I’m starting again with the search for a running group and I really hope I’ll find one. If not, I am thinking about starting one. 🙂 Why not, right?!

    • Totally! Even though I found a great one, I figured there were people in search just like me. I was a part of a moms running community online and found that there wasn’t a chapter for my city so I started one! Just like you said, Why not?? 🙂

  11. Great post!! I started my MRTT chapter from scratch and now have over 900 members!! It’s a wonderful community!!

  12. Ah I’m so envious you have a great running group – it’s seriously cool how much you’ve accomplished with them 🙂
    I joined one when I first moved to MD last year, but it was well over 100 people, and my last club average about 15-20 runners per run. I just didn’t vibe well with the people at the new club, nor did I like that every run started in the same area and was the same exact route, so I bailed 😦
    I’ll be moving again within a few months though (oh the joys of being single & in your mid-twenties!), and am hoping to find one that better fits what I’m looking for there. *fingers crossed*

  13. i love this so much! i’m seriously on the same journey myself. i have one or two running friends, but i really have been wishing for a group. i joined a facebook page, and seriously…it’s like you were reading my mind. i’m so intimidated that they all know each other and i’m not going to have anyone to talk to…

    i’m not very fast, but i seem to be faster than most of the group meet-up estimated paces. i hate the idea of showing up and then end up with no one to run with still…

    i’m getting ready to go to an informational meeting at the local running store, hopfully that will open up some more options.

    did you ever go on the lululemon runs? i’m not entirely sure i’d fit in with that crowd either…they all seem so young and hip. and i’m a silly 35 year old mom 🙂

  14. Pingback: When Two Groups Collide | hellyontherun

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