During my long run this past weekend, someone running in the opposite direction on the other side of the street waved and yelled, “Hello” to me. At first I did a double-take to see if she was someone I knew, but then I realized she was just being friendly. I don’t know her name, how far she was running, or what event she may be training for, but I felt as if her simple greeting acknowledged the common bond we had as runners. It was a nice reminder that I wasn’t the only runner crazy enough to run outside on a cold and windy day, and it definitely gave me a much-needed boost in the middle of my run.
Although running can certainly be an individual sport, running with others and interacting with fellow runners are a great way to boost your motivation and socialize with others. If you tend to run by yourself, here are some ways you can meet other runners, expand your social circle, and generate some good running vibes.
1. Do a relay race.
Relay races, such as the Ragner Relay Series, are popping up all over the U.S. The idea is that a team of runners break up a long-distance race with each of them running one or more legs of it. Much of the time is spent traveling with and supporting/cheering on your teammates during their legs, so there’s a lot of socializing and bonding with your team. If you don’t know enough interested runners to organize your own team, check out the Facebook pages or websites of relay organizers and local running clubs and look for messages from teams looking for additional members for upcoming relays.
2. Be friendly when you’re running.
If you typically keep to yourself during your runs, try to be more of an extrovert. You’ll be amazed at how some people react to a simple hello or a big smile from a passing runner. And the positive vibes you generate will help keep you motivated for the rest of your run.
3. Volunteer at a race.
Volunteering at a race is a great way to give back to the running community and meet others who share your love of running. The person standing next to you at the water stop could be your future running partner, or perhaps even more. (I know plenty of runners who have met their significant other through running, myself included!) Added bonuses are the appreciation you’ll get from the race participants and motivation you’ll feel from watching them race. To get involved, check with your local running club to see if they need volunteers for upcoming races. Or, pick a race that you’ve run in the past and check the race website to find out about volunteer opportunities.
4. Join a running club.
One of the best ways to meet other runners and really feel like you’re part of a running community is to join a local running club. Ask your local running shop for suggestions or check out the Road Runners Club of America to find running clubs in your area. Your health club or workplace may also have a running group that you can join. If you’re a student, see if your school has a recreational runners club.
5. Find a charity team.
If you’d like to train with a group and also want to fundraise for a worthy cause, see if you can find a charity running team in your area. Many charity teams cover your race expenses and some offer weekly group training in exchange for your fundraising. Training with a group and traveling with the team is a great way to get to know some new runners.
6. Participate in online running forums.
Getting involved with community forums on running websites or Facebook groups are a great way place to meet knowledgeable and friendly runners willing to share advice and exchange running stories. Visit frequently, and don’t just be a lurker — join the conversation! You’ll sure to learn some new running tips, and get a motivation boost, too. Checking in with other runners and knowing they’re expecting to hear from you will help keep you on track with your training.