Cross Training For Runners

How to Choose The Right Running Group

5 Mins read

Looking to join a running group? Then you have come to the right place.

Joining a running group is a good idea, but what if you’re worried about logging the miles in the company of a bunch of strangers?

The experience can be less than ideal when you have those fears.  In fact, for some runners, beginners and elite alike, logging the miles in a group of strangers can be scary.

But running groups exist and exist for a reason. And they can be a lot of fun.

Once you summon up the courage to join, you’ll reap the benefits yourself.

In today’s article, I’ll share tips on finding a running group that fits your running goals and schedule. By the end, you’ll have enough confidence to schedule your first group run.

The Benefits of Running in Groups

Before I get into how to choose a running group, let’s first take a quick look at why you should consider pairing up with other runners. Keep in mind that many of these benefits also apply to group training in general. 

Continuous support and motivation

Running can be hard work, especially when you have a specific fitness goal you are working towards. However, stressors from our daily lives can cause us to lose motivation for exercise. This has particularly been the case throughout the coronavirus pandemic, where one study found that stress and anxiety sabotage exercise motivation.

Running in a group can help to combat this lack of motivation. Each group member can help to support one another during the run, giving everyone the continuous motivation to see it through to the end.

Push each other to do better

Not only does running in a group help you to simply get through the run, but it can also help you to become better. As you are running as a team, you are committed to running at the same pace as the other runners. This can push you to improve your performance, increase your pace, and perhaps even set your personal best.

It’s a lot safer

Running alone can be a risky business, especially if you are a woman. One scary statistic shows that 60% of women have been harassed while running. This is especially the case when it is dark outside, as potential harassers might use the darkness as a cover.

Thus, running in a group can be a lot safer than running alone, as you will have a group of people who can protect you if anything was to go awry. If running outside still spooks you, even in a group, you can still run with your friends indoors.

You’ll never be bored

Many people like to run with their headphones on, blasting a playlist of their favorite motivational songs. However, even then, it can be quite easy to get bored! Instead of letting your run drag on and on, try chatting with your friends as you go, catching up on the latest gossip. This way, you will never get bored.

You might also be more likely to switch up your running routes, making training more interesting. Ask your running buddies for ideas on new routes and agree to try a new one together every week to switch it up.

Sense of community

It is always rewarding to spend time with people with the same interests and outlook on life. As you run with a group, you will foster a sense of community, building a network of peers you know will cheer you on even in the most trying times.

Overall, running in a group can transform how you approach logging the miles, helping us stay motivated, push our limits, and stay safe.

Other benefits include:

  • Providing friendly competition
  • Structured running routines
  • Exploring new routes
  • Making new friends with a similar mindset
  • Celebrating achievement together
  • Training for tough races together
  • Inspiring each other to be better
  • Discounts on races and gear
  • Learning more about the sport of running
  • Safety for early morning and/or night runs
  • And so much more.

How To Choose A Running Group

Here are my best tips for finding and joining a running group.

Enjoy

Know Your Pace

Your Fitness level is the main factor when choosing a running group.

In most cases, you’ll get asked about your current running pace, especially for distances such as the 5K, 10K, and half marathon. That’s why you need to know your running paces before showing up on any running group’s doorstep.

Choose the wrong group for your fitness level, and all of your fears of running in a group will become a reality.

Don’t worry if you don’t already know your current running paces. My article here should help.

Additional resource – How to run at night

Focus on Your run

When logging the miles, you shouldn’t be looking over your shoulder to check if the rest of the group analyzes every step you take.

Instead, focus on yourself and regularly remind yourself how great you’re doing. Need a distraction? Consider immersing yourself in music to take your mind off what others might think of you.

Commit to it

Commit to yourself, not just give group training a try, but maybe at least three to five times. The more you do it, the better.

Scheduling a group run once in a blue moon will keep you feeling awkward and uncomfortable, but if you do a couple per week, your brain will get more comfortable, and you’ll be building the habit much faster.

Ask A Friend to Join

Don’t know anyone in the running group? Then invite a friend you know and trust.

When you’ve company, you’ll feel more secure and confident. Even if you feel out of place, having a familiar face with you can help encourage you to keep going.

running in groups

Group of friends jogging during the morning exercise in the park near the lake

Assume The Best

Your mindset also matters. Sometimes things will go south if we expect them to do so—and vice versa. That’s why heading out for a run with a positive attitude is always a good idea.

Forget About Others

You might feel like everyone in the group is rolling their eyes at your, but they’re busy doing their own thing.

They’re either checking their pace, assessing their technique, losing their thoughts, or dealing with their insecurities.

I hate to break it to you, but you’re not that important.

What’s more?

Everyone in the group has been where you are and knows exactly how you feel. Some may even offer a few hints if you ask them for advice.

Embrace The Fear

Have a fear of joining a running club? Then listen up.

The best way to deal with your fears is to feel them and do the right thing.  You shouldn’t lose sleep over making mistakes. Once you’ve completed two-three group runs, you’ll start to get the hang of it.

Start Your Own Running Group

Can’t find any running group in your region?

Then consider starting and organizing your group runs. Then, you’ll state the rules of conduct when you have your own group. You’re, after all, the leader.

Unlike other group classes—I think CrossFit—running is pretty straightforward. You just lace up and hit the road running.

Finding Running Groups

Don’t know where to find a running group? Look in the following place

  • Local Stores – most local sports and running stores have at least one weekly group run. Ask around
  • com – The best online place to hunt for finding running groups in your area.
  • Com – In online forums, such as CoolRunning.com, you’ll find plenty of experienced runners answering questions about every burning running question you might have. Running groups in your area is no exception.

How To Choose A Running Group – The Conclusion

There you have it! Today’s post should be enough to help convince you to join a running group. I hope the guidelines shared here can set you on the right path. The rest is just details, as the saying goes.

Please feel free to leave your comments and questions in the section below.

In the meantime, thank you for dropping by.

David D.

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