Sometimes I love the alone time I get during a run. It’s a chance to listen to some music or an audiobook, not be interrupted by co-workers or family members, or just be alone with my thoughts. But running by myself can sometimes get…well…a little boring. And I know that I don’t always push myself as hard during a hill or speed workout as I would if I were running with others.
Indeed, the benefits of group running are tremendous. Running with others can definitely keep you more motivated. Who wants to blow off a run when your running buddies are expecting you and you’ll never hear the end of it if you miss it? You’re also a lot less likely to get bored when you’re running with others. Plus, there’s safety in numbers – it’s tough to get lost with a group. And if you get injured or sick, there’s always someone there to help. Potential attackers are unlikely to attack a pair or group of runners.
Running with a group is also an excellent way to meet others with common interests and expand your social circle. I know lots of runners who have formed close friendships, discovered new job opportunities, or even found their future mate through a running group. I met my husband during a run while we were both training for the same marathon!
Not sure how to go about finding people to run with? Here are some ways to connect with other runners in your area:
1. Sign up for a local road race. Many races offer free group training runs to registered participants. Look on the race’s website to see if they have any organized training runs scheduled. An added benefit is that some of the training runs may be on part of the race course, so you’ll be even more prepared for race day. If the race doesn’t offer group training, see if you can recruit some friends or co-workers to do the race with you. You can form your own informal running group by training together once or twice a week leading up to the race.
2. Check with national organizations. Road Runners Club of America is a national organization that supports the development of community-based running clubs and events for all ages and abilities. Most local road running clubs offer group runs at least once a week. Check out the Road Runners Club of America website to find the club closest to you. You can also look Running in the USA’s website for lists of running clubs.
3. Stop in your local running specialty store and find out if they host group training runs. Many of them offer expert-led training runs, usually for free, that start and finish at the store. If they don’t offer group runs, ask the store employees if they can suggest local running groups to you.
4. If you’d love to help others while getting in shape, look for a charity training program. Some not-for-profit organizations offer coaching and race entries in exchange for your fundraising efforts. The biggest programs with many locations across the country include: the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation’s Team Challenge, the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s Team in Training, the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation’s Team for Cures, the Children’s Tumor Foundation’s NF Endurance Team, and the American Cancer Society’s DetermiNation. You may also find that local fundraiser races offer free group training for race participants. And don’t let the idea of fundraising intimidate you. Follow these tips for successful fundraising for charity runners.