If you are new to the sport of running.
- or -
If you have been running solo for years and you are at a plateau.
Then you may want to join a running group. Many have the idea that running groups are for those runners who tend to lead the pack. This is not the case. A Running Group is a community of like-minded individuals that are looking to run (run is now a loose term used for runners, walkers and run/walkers) in a supportive environment regardless of a persons ability or level. Anyone who wants to start running, whether it is to shed a few pounds, keep in shape, or win the next road race, can find a running group beneficial just from support and camaraderie. In addition, there are 4 more compelling reasons why joining a running group will better prepare you to achieve your goals. In fact, not only will it help you reach your goals, it will make you a more discipline runner and help you become a C.L.A.M, an acronym that explains the benefits of being a part of a running group. C.L.A.M stands for Consistency, Learn, Accountability and Motivation. These 4 characteristics combined in a structured running group makes running more than what you do, it becomes what you are.
There are some of us that have that natural running ability, but for the other 99.999% of us, we have to work hard at it. It has been proven that practice makes perfect. The more you practice the better you become. This is also true in the sport of running. Having a regular weekly group run can help you adhere to a schedule that will soon become second nature as a part of your weekly and perhaps even your daily routine.
Not only does running with a group allow you to meet new people, it also gives you the opportunity to tap into the experiences of other runners. Experienced runners are always willing to pass on tips, tricks and lessons learned that can help others become better runners and forgo some of their mistakes. In addition to experienced runners, some running groups even have certified running coaches available that can give advice, guidance and help you find a path that best suits your needs. The sport of running is a learning process and having collective wisdom can minimize the anxiety of being a new runner.
We all have busy lives. The voice inside our heads constantly remind us of how hectic our schedules are, giving us all the reason we should skip the run. However, when you know that others are counting on you and will hold you responsible, you feel obligated (feeling obligated when it comes to fitness is a positive emotional response). ACCOUNTABILITY, just the word alone has a psychological effect on us. One reason people stop running is because they lack accountability. A running group can be the one thing you need that will hold you accountable.
Have you ever notice that when you run alone you seem to push but you never push pass your threshold; but when you are in a group you tend to go all out. It is human nature for us to compete, and in order to compete you must put forth more effort. Group runs are awesome when it comes to motivation. When there are a group of runners all working hard to keep up with the runner ahead of them, it doesn't seem as miserable because its more of a team effort and every one has a vital role in pushing the team forward. Knowing others are there with you sharing this experience often keeps people committed and able to move forward.
By joining a running group you will become Consistent, open to Learn new running tips and techniques, will be held Accountable, and be in a Motivating environment that will foster growth. Running groups are always looking to welcome newcomers. If you are not running with a group I hope you will consider joining one. Most running shoe stores have a running group associated with it, if not you can always inquire at your local YMCA, join a group like Black Girls Run!, or you can grab a couple of friends and start your own.
McCrann, Patrick. How New Runners Can Engage With the Running Community.
Freeburg, Nathan. (2013). 5 Benefits Of Running With A Group.
Hardman & Cavanagh. (2013). Should you join a running group or run alone?.
Savannah Striders. 50 Reasons to Join a Running Club.