Newbie, too slow, not strong enough, blah blah blah. Name your excuses.
Hey, you’ve made big decision in your life and left your old, comfortable lifestyle behind to become a runner and be fit. You probably acquire gym membership, find running routes / place or purchase / download a training plan on how to lose extra inches. Whatever path you are on, rest assured that there are tons of people like you! Your commitment to run is only the first step.
You’ve laced up those shoes and started running, but now it’s time for you to start doing some social connection to ensure that running becomes more than just what you do, it becomes part of who you are (lifestyle).
So how are you going to enjoy / join a running community if excuses abound on why you might feel like you shouldn’t reach out to others (“I’m too slow”, “they’re strong, I’m not”, “I can’t keep up with their pace” etc. etc.)?
Let’s not forget that every runner was once a beginner and someone helped them out.
Here is my “incomplete” list on how to connect or join the running community to make your running effective, enjoyable and less intimidated.
- Find a training buddy / partner – This simplest option is the most daunting, but it’s also the most effective. You don’t need someone for every single run, but you might find a buddy who enjoys running trails with you, or tackling the long runs. Sometimes even one group session a week is enough to keep you motivated and on track.
- Join a local running group – Do a quick search online, or stop one of those friendly runners you see on the open road. Often, there will be a larger running club that has options for multiple speeds and ability levels such as my group 3f Striders. You can also ask a running store; almost every specialty running store has some form of weekly running ritual like ASICS Running Dxb.
- Hit the local race scene – A little more indirect, but this is still a very effective way to make some new friends and be motivated. Find the local race series in your area, and commit to running a few consecutive events. If you aren’t the super outgoing type who makes friends instantly (like me), running several races will help you identify a few familiar faces. You are only one post-race coffee comment away from making a new connection that could help you plug the local running community.
- Track and plan your running – These days there are plenty of gadgets, running application like Runkeeper and online sites that will let you upload and track your running data. These allow you to track your runs and compare your performance against other runners.
- Find runners on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter – For the most diehard online folks, using Social Media is another option. On your account, you can update your personal profile to have a running-themed picture as well as a description about you being a runner. You can then search to find other runners or running group. You can start with using hashtag terms such as #running for example, or perhaps the name of your next race. You can follow the people you find there, and start building a relationship by putting comments, sharing their post, writing back and much more.
Finding running friends / buddies / group is critical because you are new and an experienced runner can do more than just run with you. He or she can help guide you through all of this, and help find the best path for you. You can tap into the lessons that person learned, and do a markedly better job of finding the right thing to do.
It’s a process of trial and error for everyone, but doing this with others will make the transition to becoming a consistent runner and a better runner that much easier.