How To Start A Run Club
One of the best things about running is its solitude. It’s a time for reflection, de-stressing, and time spent doing something for ourselves. One of worst things about running is its solitude. Because sometimes running can be lonely. And if you are a runner finding yourself wishing for running buddies, it might be time to start a run club.
It can be intimating to start running with a club for the first time. For this runner, it was years of running before finally making the leap into socializing among other runners. I told myself for a long time that I enjoyed being alone during my runs. I did and still do. But a major reason why I stayed away from finding a run club was out of pure shyness. To top it off, feeling too slow as a runner made me think I would struggle to keep up. With few family members or close friends with the shared passion, running was only for my own two feet.
But after building my confidence up as I improved in the sport, by chance I was invited to join a running club and was brave enough to try it. It wasn’t until running in a pack did I notice the importance—and powerful feeling— of having that sense of community. Running longer distance miles didn’t seem so long when running and chatting among comrades. I instantly become even more motivated, dedicated, and had people to hold accountability with. I did keep up the pace and actually improved in speed.
But while my running club adventures are positive, many have negative experiences. This includes being left behind when others are too fast, and not clicking with the new clique. So why not start your own run club? It may seem like a hard venture, but these tips will have you running side-by-side your new run buddies in no time.
Recruit Your Members
The first step is to find others who enjoy running to come along for the ride. But it’s also a good idea to reach out to those who express interest in running for the first time. For them, it can motivate them to start. And running with others might interest them since they won’t have to do it alone.
Invite family members and friends to join the run club you start, as well as neighbors. Think local. This means inviting those who live nearby and can make meetings and group runs, as well as sign up for races in the area together. Church, popular restaurants or other hang out spots are great places to leave a flier with information. Running at a local park and asking other runners, joggers or walkers is also a great way to recruit members.
All you need is two members and a club is formed, but what do you call it? Since it is your baby, you get to name the club. Think of something that is general enough for all types of runners to join if that is your goal. This would be something like the” Name of Your Town” Runners. Let the name reflect if it is a male or female only run club. Make it catchy and easy to remember.
Pick A Date
Sunday runday. Or any other day of the week is good for a run. The point is to pick a date when members meet and keep it that day. Consistency is key. Even if not a lot of people join the first run, the numbers will grow over time through word of mouth. Make sure to always have group runs on the same days so that all members new and old know when the club plans to run.
A good way to establish this is asking the members what day of the week and time works best for them. Weekends generally are best since many are home from work. Early morning might work best for some before the kids wake up or other plans happen.
Only cancel if the weather is so bad that it is not safe to run. But find a local indoor track if available!
Location Is Key
This brings us to the next thing on the agenda to choose: the location. Group runs are the best at parks since it has paved courses or trails without traffic. Select a popular or beautiful park that is centrally located and have most weekly runs held there. Encourage club members to run as often as they wish, and invite others if they want to join outside of the scheduled weekly runs.
And while having the same location is ideal for consistency sake (and so that newcomers know where to meet), it’s a good idea to switch things up and choose a different park every once in a while so that members don’t get bored of the same course.
Find a local 5k race that the entire club can sign up for together, and use that as a schooled event.
Use Social Media
Be social—when it comes to social media. Create a website (for free using WordPress, for example) to make your presence known online. This can include information about the weekly runs. Then start a Facebook page and invite members to join and post. Share running selfies, race photos, and encourage others to do the same. Using social media is a great way to get the club’s name out there, while also helping to recruit new members.
Remember this is a fun club all about sharing the passion for running. Don’t ask members to pay to join. Running should be freeing and free. Make sure to also be warm and welcoming to new members, shouting them out for joining on their first run. We all know how scary it can be to join others we don’t know and wonder if we will be judged on how we perform. Chances are over time your run club members become really good friends.
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