How to Find a Running Group

For many runners, one of the greatest joys of the sport is belonging to a running community. Running friends give us motivation and encouragement. They empower us to get out of bed when we don’t feel like running. They understand the ups and downs of the sport, and they don’t judge us for our snot rockets.

So if you’re new to running or moving to a new town, how do you find your people?

First, see what’s available in your area.

Check the following options online:

  • Your local Fleet Feet or other running store for training programs and fun runs.
  • Facebook. Try “your town name + runners” to find groups
  • Road Runner’s Club of America (RRCA)
  • Strava. The online fitness community can help you find local running groups, common routes and show you who you pass on your runs. Give kudos and see if you can start together next time.
  • Local races. Pay attention to what groups or teams are there, plus which organizations put on the race or sponsored it.

Second, consider: What kind of group are you looking for?

  • If you’re new to running and want to pursue a goal: Look for a beginner-friendly training program with a goal race, like a 5K. As a beginner, it’s helpful, fun and motivating to work out with others who have similar goals. That way, you're less likely to burn out or become discouraged.
  • If you want to meet people and run for fun: Look for local pub runs, casual runs or volunteer groups. Many towns have casual groups that meet at various times of day and parts of town.
  • If you want to get faster: Look for a group that will push you harder than you can push yourself alone. Many running stores or race teams have training groups that you can join. Some require a fee to pay a coach, but not all do. You may benefit from joining a race team and seeking a coach who can help you reach your goals.
  • If you’re all about the trails: Want to get away from city noise and pounding the pavement? Look for a local trail running group. Trail groups can help you navigate the area, find the best overlooks and show you hidden spots you didn’t know existed.
  • If you’re looking for a long run buddy: Whether you’re training for a marathon, an ultra, or just like to go long, the miles go by faster with friends and conversation. If you join a training group, you’re likely to meet others with similar goals and paces to your own. A casual pub run is also a great place to find runners of all levels and abilities.

Everyone is different, and you might find that you like multiple running groups. Some won’t be the right fit, and that’s OK. Try a few groups to find one that’s right for you.

Where to Find Your Running People

Once you've done an online search of your area, it's time to check places out in person. And most importantly, get out there and run! The best way to discover which group is right for you is simply to join in, talk to people, and see where you fit.

Your local running store

Running stores across the country are truly the best places to scout out the area and get a feel for the scene. Your local Fleet Feet is likely to have running clubs and training groups for every level, surface and distance you may want to explore. Most employees will also know about other running clubs in your area, the best places to run, and how to get involved.

While you’re talking with an employee about how running shoes should fit, ask about what’s happening on the local scene and how to get connected. Ask:

  • What social runs can you tap into?
  • What are the favorite races in town?
  • Where can you volunteer?
  • Is there a local relay running team that needs another member?

The local race scene

Whether you’re racing or volunteering, races are a great way to find your community. If you want training partners, look for folks who run at a pace similar to yours. If you’d like to join a race team, look for groups of people in matching singlets and ask them about their group.

Talk to the race organizers and volunteers. Cheer on the runners. Find ways to be helpful, make friends and get connected.

Local running-based organizations

Finally, explore organizations that need volunteers. Races are an easy place to start, but there are plenty of other options. For example, check out a local animal shelter. Many shelters have volunteer groups that run or walk with dogs that need exercise.

If mentoring is more your style, you could sign up to be a coach or running buddy at a local chapter of Girls on the Run, or Junior Olympics. Volunteering is a great way to build relationships and community.

Keep Reading