Last week, I wrote about how running is a team sport, but didn’t mention how or where to find a running team. Here are some suggestions on where to find your own ‘running team.
Most running stores, and many community centres have running clinics that target specific races, ranging from 5Ks to ultra-marathons. Most clinics are between 12 weeks (for 5Ks) and 20 weeks in length (for marathons). Clinics are geared to all levels of runner—most will group runners according to ability or goal times.
Whether your aspirations are simply getting of the couch, achieving a personal best in an upcoming 10K, running your first marathon, or just being a better recreational runner, running clinics can help you meet your goals as part of a team.
Almost every community has at least one running club that meets regularly for training (and social) sessions. Running clubs usually cater to a variety of age groups and abilities. They offer a supportive environment to train; with many clubs offering coaching.
Don’t be daunted about joining a club. Most running clubs and clinics attract runners of all experience levels and abilities. Any club will welcome new people into the sport; every one of its members has been a beginner at some time. By talking with them, you can learn (and share) advice on training techniques and injury prevention, where to get good deals on gear, new running routes in your area, or recommendations for physiotherapists or masseuses.
If joining a running club or training group is too intimidating for you, or too much of a commitment for your schedule, look for a friend, neighbour or colleague to run with. You will still get the accountability and camaraderie but in a more low-key and flexible arrangement.
Online Running Communities
There are several online groups and run tracking platforms that have a social aspect. Sites such as dailymile offer a virtual community of runners from people just getting of off the couch to ultra-marathoners. By sharing their running experiences, people are able to encourage and inspire one another. Through dailymile, I have met several runners in person ant various races, further expanding my runner ‘team.’
The team aspect of running isn’t limited to clubs. Running in races is also a social experience. Beyond simply spending time with hundreds (or thousands) of other people who share a similar interest, and celebrating at the finish line, the camaraderie among runners creates a great atmosphere of mutual support.
I love seeing the same runners over and over and enjoying the camaraderie. Everyone is sweating, working hard, testing their mental and physical strength, and celebrating at the finish line. I love the energy and excitement in races.
To add to the ‘running team’ environment, many races have pace bunnies that lead groups of runners aiming to complete the race at a specified time. By following one of these pace bunnies, you are likely to find your self running with others with similar goals to yours. Along the course, you can cheer each other on, and encouragement when you need it.
This is a small selection of the various type of running groups that are out there. Please leave me comment if you have any other suggestions. Also, let me know if you belong to a running group, and if so, what you like most about it.