Do you always run by yourself? If so, you might be missing out on the perks a running community provides you.
Have your sights set on a big race? A running group can motivate you to do your best, broaden your social and support networks, encourage you to go the distance, and achieve your goals. Plus, being a part of a community of passionate, like-minded people can add an extra layer of fun and camaraderie to your training.
But how do you go about locating the perfect group? Here, we share our best ways to find your running community.
1. Check out Road Runners Club of America (RRCA).
Founded in 1958, the Road Runners Club of America boasts the title of being the oldest and largest national association of running organizations. RRCA strives to create community-based running clubs and events for runners of all ages and skill levels. RRCA clubs are located throughout the United States, but some clubs or activities may involve a small membership fee.
2. Ask your local running store for recommendations.
Most running stores are in the know about the running communities in their area—many host their own events. Take Chicago’s Fleet Feet Sports, for example. They offer several “fun runs” during the week that are free and open to the public. They prefer that runners don’t run alone, so there are several pacing groups for novice through competitive runners. Ask the local running store in your city for recommendations; chances are you’ll discover similar opportunities to run as part of a community.
3. Search Facebook.
A quick Facebook search for “running groups” in your desired city will yield a long list of results. You’ll discover closed running groups, which you can join (like RunSmart’s Members group), where runners ask questions, exchange information, and support one another.
In some cities, you’ll see public Facebook pages (such as RunSmart’s public group), which may have a list of running groups in your area. Additionally, you’ll find articles written by a mix of local, news, and running organizations detailing some of the most popular running communities in your town.
4. Try Meetup.com.
Meetup helps you connect with people in your city who share the same interests as you. In fact, you may find very particular, niche running groups like the vegan running club, runners who like beer, or a Sunday brunch running club. To explore the running adventures that await you, click on the “Sports and Fitness” section and type “running” into the search box, and presto! You’ve got a range of groups at your fingertips.
5. Volunteer at a local race.
There’s no better way to meet prospective running pals than to be right in the middle of all the action on race day. Whether you’re checking in names at the registration table, directing runners where to go, or handing out water bottles at the finish line, ask your fellow runners if they’re a part of a community. There’s a good possibility you’ll walk (or run) away with at least a few recommendations to try.
6. Create your own community.
Perhaps you live in a small town and can’t find a running community in your area – why not create one of your own?
In all likelihood, there are probably runners at your work or in your neighborhood who are interested in forming a group. But if you can’t find other running enthusiasts close by, pick one of our other ideas and advertise your group. Soon, you’ll be hitting it off with other people who share the same drive and devotion to the sport as you do.
It might take you a few tries to find a running group that’s the right fit for you and your abilities, but keep at it. Eventually, you’ll find a community that can push you, inspire you, and share your love of running.