Back when I lived in California and didn’t really have a clue as to what I was doing with running… I took a chance and went to a “group” run put on by the local fitness center. I had seen their flier in my building and thought I’d give it a try. To sum up the experience, I went once and I never went back. I spent over 30 minutes feeling like I was outsider, unfit and didn’t belong. No one asked my name…not a single person. And frankly, since the run was a block away from my building, I just decided to run back home…unnoticed mid run.
Feeling like I didn’t fit in to the “run club” world, I never went to one again.
Around a year ago, a friend invited me to a local group run near my home in Denver.
This club was hosting a shoe demo night, had snacks, route maps, route leaders, and countless people introducing themselves to one another. Everyone ran at their own pace so no one was left out or left behind. So what made this club so different from that first awkward experience? Was it me? Or was it the dynamic of the club?
Personally I believe it is the dynamic of the group that can make or break a great run club. Now, most Thursday’s I head to my usual group run, walk in and say “hi”, catch up with other members and then start the run. Some people run the short loop, others the long. Though we are never short on conversation, smiles, laughs or even pushing one another to be a stronger runner. While as a group we may not know everything about one another, we are supportive of each other’s races and goals, ask about one another’s daily lives, and warmly say “Hi! Care to join us?”when we see a new face.
I never saw myself enjoying a running club this much, as I have always liked running solo. Running with my Thursday group has become a one of my favorite weekly routines.
So what makes a run club go from good to great? It all depends on what you want from it. When looking for a group, find one that aligns with your running style and your schedule. If you like extras and events, find a group that hosts demo nights for shoes and products or that has picnics and other events throughout the year. If you want to hit the trails, find a run club that gets a little dirt on their shoes weekly. Whatever you are looking for, make sure you feel at home and enjoy those you are running with. And most importantly have fun.
So go out and find a group to run with! Whom ever they may be, make sure they make you feel at home on the trails!