Tricks for Making Your Running more Fun and Social
It seems that the idea that running is a solitary endeavor is as old as the sport of running itself. The “loneliness of the long-distance runner” is a theme that popular media perpetuates, with the image of a singular runner plodding along by him or herself, and surely this notion also leads many to believe that running is a boring, anti-social sport. However, There are plenty of ways to make it fun.
The funny thing about running is that while yes, it can be a solitary endeavor – and many people revel in that downtime to be free from distractions from work, their family, and other day-to-day commitments – running can also be an incredibly energizing and social activity. Plus, it’s usually much easier to get out the door to train and race when you know you’ve got a training buddy (or a few) counting on you to show up.
If you’re a running novice and are wondering how to make your new-found sport more social, or even if you’ve logged a ton of mileage but haven’t taken the plunge to make running as social as a happy hour, here are some ideas to get you started:
Connect with a local running/sports store that offers “fun runs”
Many stores offer “fun runs” during the work week and weekend and open up these runs to the entire community without any strings attached. There are typically a range of paces available, so you don’t need to feel like you won’t have anyone to run with. Plus, many stores also give fun run participants in-store discounts and offer contests and friendly competitions. Fun runs are a great, low-key, and free way to connect with other runners in your community.
Fundraise for a cause, and train with your fundraising team
Especially prevalent at large-scale races are charity teams who require that their participants fundraise on behalf of their cause. Fundraising can be intimidating – very few people enjoy asking others for money – but aside from doing some good for the world, joining a charity fundraising team can introduce you to many new (and like-minded) runners. In fact, many people attribute joining a charity fundraising team to why (and how) they became runners.
Sign up for a race, and scope out the local team competition
Local races are great places to search for local running teams to join. Oftentimes teams wear the same-colored singlet with their team logo front and center. Don’t be shy; approach a runner after the race and ask for more information (or alternatively, do an internet search for running teams in your community). Teams are great for camaraderie, finding people your pace (or faster) to train with, and it’s not uncommon to create long-lasting friendships with your teammates.
Create your own running group
Though it may be a little more challenging initially, you can also foster interest in running among your own communities – with your co-workers, neighbors, fellow congregants where you worship, and the like – and in the process, create your own training group. Going out for a mid-day run during lunch, or meeting up for some mileage with a neighbor before work, can become much easier when you’re already well-acquainted with the other person(s) and share something in common outside of running.
Connect with other runners on social media
Runners love social media, and it has become nearly effortless to connect with runners near and far through various social media platforms like Instagram, Twitter, facebook groups, and through many running-specific apps and programs like Strava, dailymile, Nike+, and runkeeper (among many, many more). Post some pictures of your runs (with hashtags) or participate in online running-related conversations (like #runchat on Twitter), and you’ll be surprised with how quickly you can “meet” other runners.
Start a running blog
Finally, many runners love to talk about their training and racing, so there is no shortage of running-related blogs on the internet. If you’re looking to connect with other runners, consider starting a blog to document all the ups and downs of your racing and training endeavors. Similar to other social media platforms, blog-writing can present you with many opportunities to meet runners (both virtually and in real life) and enrich your running.
Running has many positive attributes, and I think the chief point among them is how easily our sport can be both a solitary or team endeavor, depending on what we’d like it to be. Social media has bridged barriers and made the running community a tightly-knit and incredibly social community. Regardless of your pace or preferred race distance, there is another runner out there for you, and just like with the sport of running, sometimes taking the first step – joining a team, racing, starting your own group – this can be a difficult task, yet also a most gratifying one.