One of the best ways to make running a lifelong habit, is to partake in the benefits of a running group. We all know that being part of a group can provide many benefits, from accountability to motivation to consistency; in addition, in most groups there are people of different skill levels, so you are always learning as part of the group.
Here are the 5 main reasons to join a running group, along with some tips about how to find one. Don’t forget FunRunBox offers its own exclusive online running community, where you can share your success, seek the motivation you need and help inspire other runners…plus, it’s just plain fun to be part of.
Have you ever had one of those days where you just can’t motivate yourself to get out there and run? Maybe the weather isn’t accommodating, or work has been incredibly stressful or life has just plain gotten in the way.
I know when that happens, it helps to have someone who can be your cheerleader and encourage you to get out there despite all the obstacles. If you join a running group, you’ll have a team of cheerleaders there for you when you lack your own internal motivation.
And, you can be there for them when they run into the same struggles and obstacles; a running group can be like a family, motivating and being motivated by each other.
When it comes to accountability, a running group is an excellent way of holding yourself accountable; when you know someone is waiting for you to show up for a run, you are more likely to meet that commitment. None of us likes to disappoint others, and a running group focused on each other will create a level of accountability for you as a runner.
One thing we recommend is to pick out one or two people in your running group to become your accountability person within the group. We’d recommend finding someone who is at your same running level with regards to experience, pace and running goals to be that person within your running group. You’ll be able to relate to one another, motivate and encourage one another and enjoy success with that person.
I know there are times when I just need to get out there on my own and run, but there are so many other times I like the social aspect of a running group. Whether it’s just the camaraderie you feel before the run, when you’re checking in with the group about how everyone’s week is going or the laughter and good natured fun of the group when they meet up at the coffee shop after the run.
And, that’s a point you should consider when you choose a running group; does it meet your socialization goals? Some groups can be very serious, focused on PR’s and competition while others are more laid back and relaxed; choose the running group that best fits your need. Try “shopping” different groups and see which one makes you feel most comfortable and will help you become a better runner.
Many of the running groups I’ve belonged to have some element of coaching involved, some of them informal while others have been more formal. Do you need help with speed work? Or maybe you need some advice on building your aerobic base? Or, you need to better understand how strength training can help you avoid injury?
A running group will typically have people of all levels and can either formally help you with coaching or provide this help in an informal way. I belonged to a running group whose primary meeting is “long run Saturday” but some of the members meet during the week for speed work, strength training and cross training. These more structured workouts during the week typically focus on the areas members of the group have identified as needs and provide some great coaching.
Whatever your coaching needs might be, it’s a good bet you’ll find someone in your running group who is willing to help you.
Just like any group, running groups bring together people of different backgrounds with different experiences including areas like nutrition, gear, training and the like. Take the advantage of these varying perspectives to see which are best suited for you.
Maybe you’ve been looking for a new GPS watch, or struggling with your in-run hydration and nutrition; chances are someone in your running group has some advice that will help. Use your group as a “focus group” to determine what options you have, and which of these best fits you.
Consider other areas where a running group can help; where are the best places in your area to run, what are the best races for you to run, are there discounts for group participation in races, etc.
There is so much you can learn from your running group, once you join.
Finding the Right Group
How do you find one? That’s simple, you can Google local running groups or search through various platforms to find them. I recommend looking for Facebook Groups Facebook Groups, utilize the club finder feature on Road Runner's Club of America or such social platforms as Meetup to find a group that fits you.
And, remember it’s okay for you to shop a few running clubs in order to find the one that best meets your needs.
My company, FunRunBox offers an exclusive running community and monthly challenges to help runners stay motivated and inspired in addition to monthly goodies, gear and apparel.
Rich Flaherty is a middle of the pack runner and triathlete, whose only real claim to fame is his daughter Bekah Brooks qualified for the Boston Marathon in her first marathon.