Running has myriad benefits, from improved fitness to better mental health and more. Add friends to the equation, and those benefits multiply. As group runs return in earnest, it's time to find (or reconnect with) your running community. Here's how to build your own running network so you can reap the benefits of group runs.
Run with a pack
Many runners love to get social. With a little groundwork, you can be part of the action. With running groups for every kind of runner, from social and casual to uber-competitive and everything in between, your running community is out there waiting.
Like to combine an evening run with a nice craft beer afterward? There's probably a group for that nearby. The same goes for morning runners who love to share a cup of coffee. If you're gunning for a personal record or going after a new distance, there's probably a weekly group track session in your area, too.
How to find your running group
First, though, you have to find the right group.
Start by checking your local running specialty store — often the starting point for weekly or biweekly group runs. If the store doesn't have its own, its staff might have suggestions on where to find like-minded runners. They might point you toward the Road Runners Club of America (RRCA) website. The RRCA has a massive database of registered clubs all over the country. Plug in your city and state, and see what turns up.
Next, check out running posts on all your favorite social channels, from Twitter to Instagram and Facebook. If there's a local club, odds are they spread the word via social media. Use hashtags to narrow down your search to your local area. If you're a Strava user, have a look at local, popular routes and give them a try at busy times — you might just fall into pace alongside a friendly runner or two. Meetup is another site worth trying. A quick glance shows running groups to investigate around distance, ability level, and favorite time of day to work out.
Check out local races
Does your town sponsor an annual road race? What about a holiday fun run or a benefit for the county animal shelter? Often, these events offer up free training runs on the course in advance of the race. Sign up, show up, and make some friends. Don't overlook the races themselves, either. Most have food tables post-race where runners mix and mingle, sharing war stories over a bagel and banana. Jump in and share yours.
Running with others isn't just fun, it's beneficial. Spending time with a running community can deliver a sense of belonging, foster shared experiences, and sometimes, yield lifelong friendships. You'll have running buds to motivate and inspire you, pushing you to set and achieve new goals. Odds are your running community is already out there, waiting for you to join.
Our writer's advice is intended for informational or general educational purposes only. We always encourage you to speak with your physician or healthcare provider before making any adjustments to your running, nutrition, or fitness routines.