Come out, come out where ever you are. Ha just kidding, kind of. If you haven’t participated in a local running group, you are missing out. I know, it can be totally scary. My first group run, didn’t quite go as planned.
I had joined a local running group, on Facebook. I lurked for a month or two and was sure I was going to get dropped on some crazy super long run. People were posting these seriously long runs, like 20-30 mile runs. At the time, I was really excited I could reach 6 miles without stopping. I had just finished my first 10k. I was completely unaware of where I fell, speed-wise, within the running community. The only thing I had to compare was high school and collegiate athletes. I was nowhere near that speed, as an adult who had taken 7 years off from running.
Finally, I saw a friend of mine post on the group page. I knew I could run with her. She coached and taught with me, at the time. So I agreed to meet up, 5 am at our local trail. Everyone was so nice, chit chatting, energetic, hugging and kind of crazy. Honestly, I thought to myself, “Its 5am people, why are you so cheery?” The group starts, right on time. These ladies and gentlemen were on a mission, and it was to get some miles in before work. We take off, and somehow I began shuffling to the front. I am following behind two gentleman who are carrying on an interesting conversation. One of the guys was really chatty (you know who you areJ) and began asking me questions. We chatted for a while when our watches went off. We were at two miles and I suddenly realized I was in the middle of the woods with two complete strangers, awkward! Somehow we had sped off and left the rest of the group. Woops.
Fast forward two years and now I am one of the crazy cheery 5 am runners, especially when I have to coach and don’t get home from cross country and track meets until 9 pm a couple nights a week. I go to every group run I can make, all of them. There are so many awesome running groups in the KC running area. The more runners I get to know, the more fun it has become. Not convinced? Here are 10 reasons to join a running group
- It’s already organized and on the calendar. You don’t have to do anything but show up. I love this part, I know many of my regular running friends will be there week after week. It gives me something to look forward to.
- You will make new running friends! I love meeting new runners, or runners I don’t already know. We get to share our goals and experiences. Once you have hit the road a time or two with someone, you have a pretty special bond. Races become big social events, and all those neat techy apps that you log your runs into become more fun sharing and tracking workouts with other running friends. Strava is my personal favorite.
- Motivation and accountability. It’s definitely a lot easier to get myself motivated for a group run and I know many of the other regulars will be checking in on me when I miss. This is a huge help when you feel like you are hitting a slump or getting burnt out.
- Safety in numbers. Unfortunately, bad things happen and there are some weirdos out there. Running in a group keeps you safer. If something does go wrong, someone will be by your side to help you.
- Get recommendations-You can get all kinds of recommendations from other runners. I have found massage therapist, physical therapist, chiropractors and doctors all who are used to working with runners. I have saved money on expensive gadgets that weren’t worth the trouble based on recommendations.
- Learn new routes, trails– It’s easy to run out your front door every day, but that gets boring. Meeting up with a group allows you to learn new unfamiliar routes and run in areas you don’t normally run in. This really helps break up the monotony that can occur during a training cycle.
- Pay it forward– As you become more familiar with the group, you can share your wealth of knowledge and experience. Help support other new emerging runners. It feels great to help others.
It can be intimidating to get out and try a new running group. In the end, you will be so glad you did. If you are in that KC area there are so many great running options. KC running company has awesome group runs from both their Lee’s Summit and Leawood stores, (click here for details, times and days vary by store). KC Track Club Lee’s Summit posts runs throughout the week including a weekend long run. (Click here to see their Facebook page and join in!)
If you aren’t local to KC, I recommend checking in with your local running store. If they don’t offer group runs, I bet they can point you in the right directions. It’s one of the many, many benefits of local running stores.