Wanted – Running group. Must be supportive and fun loving. Willing to run early mornings and drink IPA beers after races. Interested in exploring new routes and suffer through hot, humid days of summer. Must be willing to sacrifice pace on occasion if group member needs company. No runner left behind.
Running is very often a one person sport, especially when training for longer distance races. During my half marathon training last year, I did 100% of the training runs alone. Partly this was due to the fact that I don’t like the pressure of trying to run at someone else’s pace. I am a slower runner and when I try to run with others I often start to feel bad about myself because I can’t keep up. I’ve found solace in music and meditation as I run, but it sure would be nice to run with others. Definitely would make the miles go by faster.
This year as I get ready to begin training for the marathon, I’ve decided to try again to run with others. Now, I just need to find my tribe – people who run at a pace similar to mine, or are willing to run with me regardless of pace. I am a member of an online running club and love how supportive this group is. When I ran my first half marathon, it was with this club. We all met in the shadows of the steel stacks in Bethlehem, PA for a weekend of running events at the Runners World Festival. These people were my phone and computer friends, none of which I had ever met in person prior to that weekend. I must say it was slightly unnerving to attend an event with strangers, but I just knew it was going to be awesome.
Sub30 is a group of runners who share the goal of running a sub 30 minute 5K race. But, it is so much more than just that. It is a club that includes people from all over the country. They share many goals, the most important of which is positivity. The heart of the group is the ideal that we lift others up and no subber is ever left behind. During my weekend at the Runner’s World Festival, this running club’s support was incredible to see and receive. There were people pacing others, sacrificing any PR goals to support another to their goals. There were people cheering at every race for anyone in the club, strangers or not. And, there were people near the finish waiting to run in with members of the club, those last steps. What a true testament this club is to the running community. It was something so wonderful to experience in person.
With this club experience in mind, I decided this year to try to participate more in my local clubs. I had joined two last year but never attended any of their group runs or events. This week I attended my first group meet up with a local running club. While everyone was friendly enough, I didn’t get the same feel as I did from the Sub30 group. It just seemed like I went to this event to run alone leaving me wonder if I really needed to drive there to do that. I will definitely give it another try though. Perhaps on other evenings there will be others who run at a slightly slower pace. The whole experience left me wishing my Sub30 crew lived closer and wondering why all clubs don’t embrace the same goals.
I have a second club that I’m a member of which is not quite as local. It is in Manhattan and they meet up on Saturday mornings. I get a really good feeling about this running club, but the location makes it more challenging for me to get to. It’s hard to commit to driving in to Manhattan on Saturday mornings when I generally go to Queens to check in on my parents. I’m trying to work out the logistics though because I’d love to see how this club operates.
I used to prefer to run solo, but recovering from these last two injuries have left me really struggling to regain my confidence. I’m afraid of re-injuring myself each time I lace up. I’m questioning my abilities as I struggle through what used to be so easy for me to do. I’m wondering when running became so hard and how even though I ran with broken toes all winter I’ve lost so much conditioning. I know that if I could find a good, supportive tribe I could regain my confidence. The support of the running community is what I need now to push me through. Running doesn’t have to be this hard and the energy of others will lift me up.
After struggling to keep up with my training schedule as my injury healed, I have finally decided I cant do this alone anymore. It’s time I step outside my comfort zone and find a running club, or partner, that I can actually run with on a regular basis. Going to the local meet up this week was the first step and even though it wasn’t amazing, it won’t be the last.
Do you have a local running club you run with? How did you find your tribe? I’d love to hear about how the power of this human connection impacted your journey. Be sure to leave a comment below.