After completing my very first 5K in years, I quickly became motivated to get back into running! I now have my sights set on completing a 10K and have been training ever since. But after just a few weeks, I really needed to break the monotony of running on the treadmill.
So I did a little research and found a running group just minutes from my office. I joined the group and have been running strong ever since!
But, for those of you who are like I was and aren’t really sure what to expect from a running group, here’s what I’ve learned thus far.
1. They’re Easier To Find Than You’d Think
When I think of Oklahoma, “fitness” really isn’t the first thing that comes to mind, so I thought a running group would be near to impossible to find. However, it really took one trip to my local running shop to find that there were tons of different running groups in my area.
If you’re having a hard time finding a group online, go to your local running store; and I’m not talking a Nike or Under Armor, I mean a true running shop. The shop workers should be pretty plugged in to the local running scene and can give you guidance on which group is right for you.
2. You Don’t Have To Pay A Fortune To Join One
When I first started looking for a running group, I was already unsure of what I’d find, but I was also unsure of what I’d have to pay to join one. But I was happy to learn most running groups are absolutely free! (Training groups, on the other hand, are another story)
3. You’ll Meet A Ton Of People
Runners are pretty friendly people, but they’ll also respect your space. If you’re a little more outgoing, finding new friends won’t be a problem. And don’t be surprised if you learn about other local running groups from members. A lot of runners are a part of multiple groups.
4. You’ll Notice Yourself Getting Better
One of the great things I’ve learned about most running groups is that you can usually find people who run around your speed. Personally, I suggest finding someone who is slightly faster than you and stick with their pace for as long as you can. Doing this alone has really helped bring my time down! Plus, there’s just something about running in a group that makes you just want to run a little faster.
Since joining my running group, I’ve shaved 30 seconds off my mileage pace, bringing my 5K time down almost 2 minutes!
5. Don’t Be Intimidated!!
One of the absolute most important things you need to know about joining a running group is you should never feel intimidated!! I know this from experience.
My very first time at my running group, I almost quit before I started. I overheard a conversation where some of the runners were pretty much making fun of one of another group member for not qualifying for the Boston Marathon! With my skill level, I shouldn’t even be allowed to purchase a plane ticket to Boston! Needless to say, I was beyond intimidated.
Luckily, a lady saw the look on my face and kindly reassured me that sure, there were elite runners in the group, but there were also runners of all skill levels here, just to have some fun. I’m so glad she was there, because if it weren’t for her, I would’ve driven away and never turned back!
If you’ve found the right running group, it’ll be full of people who motivate and cheer you on, not make you feel bad if you’re not an elite athlete!
6. Don’t Tell Yourself You Can’t!
This goes hand in hand with my previous point, but I really want to emphasize this! (Notice why the font is bigger than the rest ?)
I’m not a very fast runner, yet since my very first run with my running group, I’ve never felt like I don’t belong or that I just can’t do it. In fact, as I finish the route (in the back of the pack, as usual) people always ask me how my run was or compliment my efforts.
No matter is you run, jog, walk or even crawl the route, do what feels comfortable to you and remember that you can do it! You’ll thank yourself later!