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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